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're being released on DVD in its native United Kingdom and here across the pond.
At least half a dozen Peppa discs are currently available in Region 1, including last year's School Bus Trip and Cold Winter Day; like most kids' shows, these are piecemeal collections that each follow a loose theme, rather than the preferable "volume" or full-length season sets. Needless to say, collecting 'em all is a real headache. The Golden Boots is the latest Peppa compilation: as expected, it prominently features that 15-minute theatrical short with a handful of the standard 5-minute episodes thrown in for good measure. As for the main feature, it's practically epic in comparison to the show's usual bite-sized format: once a duck wanders away with Peppa's prized
yellow golden boots, she enlists the help of friends and family members to get them back before the big mud puddle-jumping competition. Featuring a handful of songs and more locales than usual (outer space, even), it covers a good amount of ground in just under a quarter-hour, and also served as a loose foundation for the current "Big Splash" Theatrical Tour.
As for the shorter episodes, nine are included here: "Horsey Twinkle Toes" (Peppa and George argue over a gift sent from their aunt), "Shadows" (Peppa and friends learn about shadows and how they work), "Kylie Kangaroo" (visiting friends prompt a barbecue and jumping contest), "Captain Daddy Dog" (Danny Dog and his mom are happy when his dad returns from a trip at sea), "The Little Boat" (The Pig family attempts to solve a river-crossing puzzle), "Going Boating" (paddleboats, sailing ships, and motors), "Grampy Rabbit in Space" (Peppa and friends listen to Grampy Rabbit's astronaut tales), "Desert Island" (Grandpa Pig, Granddad Dog, and Grampy Rabbit are stranded), and "The Fish Pond" (Daddy Pig takes the piglets on a trip to his old stomping grounds). These shorter episodes originally aired during the show's fourth season (or "series") in 2011-2012, so young viewers may have seen them already.
The Golden Boots 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 ten 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 embossed slipcover are also included. No bonus features, though.
Peppa Pig continues its run on Region 1 audiences with another modest collection of episodes. Though it's the bulkiest single-disc collection to date and features a 15-minute theatrical short, everything here can be breezed through in less than an hour and, as a result, The Golden Boots doesn't exactly offer the most bang for your buck. But it's still a half-step better than most of what passes for kids' shows these days: it's obviously more entertainment than education, serving up plenty of colorful charm to please the little ones without annoying parents too much. Entertainment One's DVD package is right in line with past volumes, offering a decent A/V presentation but nothing in the way of extras. Recommended if your kids are already hooked, but streaming may be a better option at this point.
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.