Neville Astley and Mark Baker's popular Peppa Pig has carved out quite a large slice of the preschool pie since 2004, airing four complete seasons of approximately 50 short "Peppasodes" apiece during the next eight years and spawning a series of books, other merchandise, and even a small theme park. Though the show has been dormant since 2012, a 15-minute special called "The Golden Boots" premiered in UK theaters back in February and was received strongly, ensuring that we'll probably see more Peppa in the future. For now, more than 200 episodes are in the archive...and slowly but surely, they've been released on DVD in its native United Kingdom and here across the pond.
To call Peppa Pig a small or insulated show would be an understatement: this is about as basic as kids' entertainment gets, and the show's sweet and simple atmosphere is fine enough in small doses. Either way, that's what you're getting here: each "Peppasode" runs about five minutes---including the short opening and closing credits, mind you---which means that problems are resolved quickly and the show's surface-level formula is rarely broken. Whether at home, school, or play, young Peppa's family (including Mummy, Daddy, and little brother George) and playmates (Suzy Sheep, Rebecca Rabbit, Pedro Pony, Zoe Zebra, etc.) are almost always on hand to provide love, support, and the occasional bit of friction. While part of me yearned for something more ambitious than what the average episode actually delivers, most viewers in the show's target age group (3-5) probably won't feel cheated.
Parents might feel cheated, however, once they realize that all ten "Peppasodes" included on this DVD clock in at 50 minutes total. Titled School Bus Trip, most of these episodes center around Peppa's playgroup and their in and out-of-school adventures. Highlights include "Mister Skinnylegs" (banned in Australia, as this story of "befriending a spider" doesn't jive with their deadly native varieties), "The Play" (the school stages a production of Little Red Riding Hood), "The Quarrel" (Peppa and best friend Suzy Sheep have a falling out), and more. There isn't a stinker in the bunch...but they're too short to make a huge impact either way, which tends to limit the series' replay value.
School Bus Trip doesn't appear to have been released on DVD before, so this disc-and-book gift set (which also includes a paperback version of "Class Trip", originally published in 2013) appears to be the only way to get it. Luckily, it's priced fairly well at just under $10 on Amazon, even if everything can be breezed through in less than an hour.
With a few reservations, Peppa Pig looks good in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio with bright colors, modest image detail and even some a few textures on some of the characters and backgrounds. But this is obviously a show with a limited visual scope: it's extremely flat and basic with little in the way of flair, designed to appeal to younger kids by retaining a child-like style. In that sense, it's hard to criticize Peppa Pig since it's supposed to look a bit messy by design; in fact, the only objective complaint I have about this DVD presentation is a moderate amount of interlacing and a few chunky edge artifacts along the way. Still, I doubt kids are going to notice or care all that much...and for the most part, these drawbacks almost add to the series' low-budget appearance and humble, everyday charm.
DISCLAIMER: These compressed and resized screen captures are decorative and do not represent this title's native 480p resolution.
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 and sounds fine under the circumstances. Voices and music are crisp and clear without fighting for attention, while a modest amount of channel separation gives some of the action and music a bit of punch. Unfortunately, no optional subtitles or Closed Captions are included during these episodes.
Seen above, the interface is basic, colorful and easy to navigate, but a few ads and warning screens must be dealt with beforehand. This one-disc set is housed in a standard white keepcase along with a cute Mini Poster
; the case is tucked inside an outer box which also includes a small Paperback Book
titled "Class Trip"
, which is nice. FYI: the book fits inside the DVD case for easy storage, so you won't need all that extra packaging in the long run. Other than those two printed goodies, however, no bonus features have been included as part of this package.
Peppa the Pig is a breezy, harmless animated import that pre-school aged kids will most likely enjoy, even if the episodes' five-minute lifespan tends to work against it. School Bus Trip is another DVD collection of ten "Peppasodes" that largely stick to the theme of school-time adventures, which is timed nicely for the upcoming season. While the idea of serving up a scant 50 minutes of content on a single disc seems extremely outdated, the addition of a themed paperback and this set's low price point make it a bit easier to swallow. Unless you'd like to go the streaming route (and I wouldn't blame you), School Bus Trip is a decent impulse buy and comes mildly Recommended.
Randy Miller III is an affable office monkey by day and film reviewer by night. He also does freelance design work, teaches art classes and runs a website or two. In his limited free time, Randy also enjoys slacking off, juggling HD DVDs and writing in third person.