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 Cold Winter Day, it's pretty much on par with past collections: less than half the episodes deal with the upcoming winter season, and the others don't (at all). Heck, one of 'em involves Peppa and her family going swimming outdoors. Either way, it's all in good fun as these bite-sized adventures are simple, sweet, and breezy enough to entertain younger folks and won't irritate their parents too much...aside from the brain-burrowing theme song, which is played no less than twenty times in less than an hour. "Thunderstorm" and "The Sleepy Princess" are standouts of the non-winter variety; the former is especially nice, as it once again provides calm reassurance during a potentially scary event that every kid will go through many times during their life. The latter episode, similar to the like-minded "Bedtime", is another exercise in simplicity that's accessible to just about everyone.
Cold Winter Day hasn't been released on disc before...and though I'd much rather have a proper season-by-season collection (or at least one with more than 10 episodes), those familiar with Peppa on DVD should find this one right in line with past volumes. It's priced low enough, 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. This one-disc set is housed in a white keepcase along with a cute Mini Poster; a promotional insert and shiny embossed slipcover are also included.
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. Cold Winter Day follows the trend set by other Peppa releases, serving up 50 minutes of content along with a decent A/V presentation and no extras. Those choosing to go the streaming route needn't bother, though, as there's not a high level of replay value here and less "bang for your buck" than on most kids' DVDs. Until a larger, multi-disc collection (or better yet, proper season collections) materializes, bite-sized collections like Cold Winter Day will have to do. 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.