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Case Number 15506: Small Claims Court

Buy Ni Hao, Kai-Lan: Celebrate With Kai-Lan! at Amazon

Ni Hao, Kai-Lan: Celebrate With Kai-Lan!

Nickelodeon // 2008 // 99 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Dan Mancini (Retired) // January 21st, 2009

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The Charge

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The Case

Ni Hao, Kai-lan is the latest in a growing army of Dora the Explorer copycat shows for preschoolers. It debuted on Nickelodeon in early 2008 with a mission to challenge tykes with some problem solving and teach them a little Mandarin. The show follows a Chinese-American little girl named Kai-lan Chow as she learns Chinese culture from her grandfather Ye Ye and has educational adventures with her anthropomorphic animal friends, Rintoo the tiger, Hoho the monkey, Tolee the koala, and Lulu the rhinoceros.

Each 24-minute episode of the show is structurally identical. The first half of the show sets up the plot and allows Kai-lan and Ye Ye to introduce a few Mandarin words to the audience. In the second half of the show one of Kai-lan's animal pals gets upset over something that happened in the first half. Kai-lan sings, "We gotta-gotta try to find the reason why." She reviews the events of the first half to see if she can identify why her little friend is troubled. Once Kai-lan has identified the problem (with the assistance of her young audience), she sings, "What can we try? It's up to me and you to figure out what to do." Kai-lan then presents the moral of the episode (for example, "everyone gets to play when we take turns"), thus solving her friend's problem. The gang sings a little tune ad nauseam in order to hammer the moral into the brains of their toddler viewers. The end.

Ni Hao, Kai-lan: Celebrate with Kai-lan! presents four episodes from the series:

• "Happy Chinese New Year!"
When Kai-lan, Hoho, Tolee, Rintoo, and Lulu get to carry the dragon costume at the Chinese New Year parade, they learn that every job on a team is super, super important.

• "Safari Pals"
While on a safari, Kai-lan, Rintoo, Hoho, and Tolee meet Stompy the elephant. Rintoo wishes he was as big as Stompy until he learns that his own gift of speed is super, super important, too.

• "Kai-lan's Campout"
Kai-lan and her friends spend the night in a tent in Ye Ye's backyard. Tolee learns the value of sharing when he lets his friends play with his favorite stuffed animal. Everyone gets to play when we take turns!

• "Tolee's Rhyme Time"
Kai-lan and her friends are putting on a music show. Tolee is frustrated by his inability to rhyme and quits the show. With Kai-lan's help, he learns not to give up, that he'll get better if he tries, tries, tries.

As with most Nickelodeon releases, the DVD presentation of Celebrate with Kai-Lan is mediocre. The good news is that the episodes themselves look quite good. The full frame transfers sport bright, solid colors in keeping with the show's design. The animation is rendered without any combing artifacts or other digital flaws. The 480p transfers are slightly better than broadcast television quality. Audio, however, is a utilitarian two-channel stereo mix. Bass response is decent and dialogue is crystal clear, but there's little depth to the mix.
With the exception of some previews for other Nickelodeon shows, the disc contains no extras.

Since Ni Hao, Kai-lan is essentially a Mandarin-centric clone of Dora the Explorer, right down to the repetitive format of each episode, I'm not sure why I liked it better than Dora. I'm guessing it has something to do with Kai-lan not having characters anywhere near as annoying as Dora's Swiper and Map. In any event, young children are bound to enjoy Ni Hao, Kai-lan. Mine did.


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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 85

Perp Profile

Studio: Nickelodeon
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 99 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• All Ages
• Animation
• Instructional
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• IMDb
• Official Site

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