She's back! And four-year-old Lola is just as charming and cheeky and willful and darling as ever. She hasn't calmed down one bit, thank you, and that's just the way we like her. Seven-year-old Charlie is back, too, and he's just as patient and calm -- and delighted with his sister's antics -- as we are. Charlie and Lola: Volume Two continues where Charlie and Lola: Volume One left off, with six more episodes from the celebrated BBC cartoons, based on the children's books of Lauren Child.
Trust me: you won't get that whistling little theme out of your head once you hear it, either. I found myself softly whistling it the other day, in an elevator, and a young mom with her daughter said, "Charlie and Lola. I know; I can't stop, either." And yes, my four year old daughter, Jane, is still running around, insisting in a perfect English accent that she wants her pink milk (Lola's favorite) and a "tin of biscuits." Hilarious.
Charlie and Lola is the perfect cartoon to watch with your young children, during that precious time when they're still innocent, and not jaded. Don't be surprised, though, if some of your older children also peek in now and then, and laugh along with delightful Lola -- of course, until they see you watching them enjoy a sweet little cartoon, and they take off running. Through irrepressible Lola, we see how a child can't quite comprehend why the world doesn't see things exactly the way she or he does. And importantly, we see how Lola, through her strength of character, continues to insist on seeing the world her way. It's a good message for little girls to see. Charlie and Lola, with its shifting perspectives within the story lines, perfectly captures the way children can have fantasy and reality exist side by side in their daily lives, in the perfectly reasonable and logical way that little children have, through the power of their imaginations.
Just one very small note of complaint about Charlie and Lola: Volume Two. The first volume of cartoons, Charlie and Lola: Volume One, contained seven 11 minute episodes. This volume only has six episodes. While the length of the disc is just about right for any youngster to get through, before their attention starts to wane, it would have been just as easy (and perhaps more commercially attractive to parents) for both discs to have been combined in one volume of 13 episodes. Again, it's a small complaint, and in no way should it discourage you from purchasing these little gems.
Charlie (Jethro Lundie-Brown) and Lola (Maisie Cowell), and their friends Marv (Ryan Harris) and Lotta (Morgan Gayle) have six new adventures in this volume. Here they are:
I Am NOT Sleepy and I Will NOT Go To Bed
But That is MY Book
BOO! Made You Jump!
I Want to Play MUSIC Too
The Most Wonderfulest PICNIC in the Whole Wide World
You Won't Like This Present as Much as I Do!
Shown in enhanced 16:9 widescreen, the video, as in the first volume of Charlie and Lola, is flawless on this disc. Your child will love the dazzling colors, and fun animation.
The stereo mix is crystal clear. Jack up the volume and watch your kid dance around to the theme song.
This second volume contains four games of Hide and Seek, that are quite fun to play, ending with four different scenes of Lola's adventures. Kids love to do these things over and over, so they won't be bored. Again, as in the case of the first volume, the case also promises hidden surprises and funny outtakes, but as far as I can tell, they're one and the same -- a little montage of Lola interacting with the love of her life: Sizzles the dog. Again, the kids won't really mind, since they'll just repeat the montage again and again until they're bored with it. The animated menus are fun.
Charlie and Lola: Volume Two is a great companion to the first volume of Charlie and Lola cartoons. I understand that there are still more Charlie and Lola cartoons to come, but I'm not sure I want to see them. As with the original Charlie Brown cartoons, the children's voices rapidly change, and new actors are hired. I'd like Charlie and Lola to stay just the way they are here, giggling away in their bright, sweet little voices. But of course, just like with real kids, you can't stop the clock. Highly recommended.
Paul Mavis is an internationally published film and television historian, a member of the Online Film Critics Society, and the author of The Espionage Filmography.