In 10 Words or Less
Living next door to the zoo ain't half bad
Loves: Animation, Noggin, Kids shows that remember adults need to watch too
Likes: A catchy theme song
Dislikes: Kids shows that are too preachy
Kids television can be neatly divided into two categories: series adults don't mind watching and series that make them want blind and deafen themselves in short order. It all depends on whether the creators give any thought to the fact that there are parents who watch TV with their kids (instead of turning it into a babysitter.) Those that do, turn out shows like "Jack's Big Music Show" or "Beakman's World." Others give us shows like "64 Zoo Lane." That's not to say it's not a good kids show, or that my little girl doesn't sing along with the incredibly catchy theme song with a bright-eyed smile, from episode to episode. It's just not a show for me.
Why does she enjoy it? Well, each episode features a lucky little girl named Lucy who lives next to a zoo (thus the address.) Every night, Georgina the Giraffe meets her at her bedroom window, to help her down to see her animal pals, so they can tell her a bedtime story. Each 11-minute story, with imaginative names like "The Story of Herbert the Warthog" or "The Story of Toby the Tortoise," focuses on an animal the zoo dwellers knew back in their days of freedom and includes a moral, like remembering to respect your elders or be polite. When the story is done, Lucy is either very tired or asleep, and returns to her bed with Georgina's help. Nice and neat.
Though the morals are certainly worthwhile, the episodes are pretty simplistic and you can see how they'll work themselves out from a mile away. Plus, the bad behavior of the characters is a bigger part of the episodes than the inevitable lesson they learn, which may make it easy for kids to replicate the unsavory portions of the show. Sure, they are all adorable little animals, but when you see a duck bitch out her pals for nine minutes before finally getting her comeuppance, the nine minutes, which are much more vivid and active, stick with you more.
The DVD offers up eight stories, which equals out to four episodes from TV, or 88 minutes of "64 Zoo Lane," a healthy amount of cartoons for any kid (and especially for adults, who will be unable to get the theme song out of their brain after hearing it 16 times.) I can't say there's anything here I would say is the best of the bunch, but the "Wally the Wombat" story is a bit more interesting than the usual episode, tying in Outback lore and Australian zooology.
- The Story of Nelson the Elephant
- The Story of Adam the Armadillo
- The Story of Herbert the Warthog
- The Story of Pauline the Pelican
- The Story of Toby the Tortoise
- The Story of Doris the Duck
- The Story of Wally the Wombat
- The Story of Melanie the Moose
Packaged in a white single-width keepcase, this one-disc release features a slightly-animated full-frame main menu with options to play all the shows, select individual episodes and check out the extras. There are no audio options, no subtitles and no closed captioning.
The look of the series is that of a children's book come to life, with a color style that clearly displays brush strokes and pen marks in the backgrounds (and on some of the characters.) It gives the full-frame transfers a cute, but not very detailed look that should appeal to little ones. The color on the disc is bright and vivid, and there's no noticeable dirt or damage, nor are there any obvious compression artifacts. The only negative is the pixilation seen occasionally in thin black lines, a standard issue for traditional animation on DVD.
The audio is presented as Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks, which are clear and distortion-free, delivering the show's somewhat limited audio right down the middle. There's not much to the sound of the series, but the DVD does a good job with it.
The only extra is a pair of trailers for other PorchLight releases.
The Bottom Line
"64 Zoo Lane" is a cute series and the messages presented with each episode's story are positive and important for kids to learn, but it's also the kind of simple children's television that will bore the grown-ups in the room. The DVD looks and sounds solid, but there's really nothing as far as extras go, so you're going to have to be satisfied with just having the eight episodes to enjoy, since the show is rarely on TV anymore, having been relegated to middle of the night and early in the morning status on Noggin.
Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or follow him on Twitter
*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.