Completing or commencing the good times had by our Cat and Dog friends, From Here to There wraps up my series of reviews for four El Perro y El Gato DVDs from HBO Family/ HBO Latino. This educational cartoon isn't serialized, and these DVDs all hit the street on the same day, so we prefer to view them as an ongoing experience anyway. Yet we must ask, why not refrain from milking buyers with four 24-minute DVDs when one or two would suffice? El Perro or El Gato could tell us in Spanish or English, but they're keeping mum on the subject.
This simply but stylishly animated pair, a cheeky Chihuahua and a bulbous purple cat spend time together experiencing all that the world has to offer, as Perro narrates the heck out of everything, and Gato flummoxes or tries to eat stuff. (We all know the cat's the smart one.) What's special about this program is its genuine take on bilingual education. This isn't Dora the Explorer teaching five Spanish words over 20 minutes, it's Perro explaining everything in both English and Spanish, so that each language gets equal time.
Each sequence in the show is super short, light, and often pretty kid-funny, though there's lots of deadpan humor for adults, too, and getting goofy is the name of the game, done in peppy yet droll manner. Perro's twangy enthusiasm is the spice to Gato's surreal somnambulism. This back and forth never fails to amuse, for young and old alike. Simple, sharp animation maintains focus on vocabulary words, which flash on the screen in both languages. Different types of repetition, then, plus contextual action, help with memorization and comprehension.
Beyond simple storylines from the other DVDs, (such as doing yoga or eating at a restaurant) this edition of El Perro y El Gato brings in the depth-enhancing world of imagination, and some contemporary adult humor. While asking kids (indirectly) to imagine what they'd like to be when they grow up, the pair examines different occupations, leading to a C.S.I. parody that's sure to be over most kindergarteners' heads. In the end, effective teaching methods, appealing characters and simple humor make El Perro y El Gato a quality, bilingual educational cartoon. But wouldn't it be nice to not have to pay 10 dollars for a 24-minute DVD?