There aren’t many television shows for children that really capture both the energy and imagination that children have. But then again, who really ever knows what kind of energy and imagination children have anyway?
There are a few shows that are incredibly popular among children: the venerable Sesame Street, Rugrats, and the more comparable SpongeBob SquarePants. What Charlie And Lola has in common with SpongeBob is that both shows are really accurate in visualizing the wildness and limitless wonder that goes on in a child’s head.
Again, granted no adult could ever really definitely say for sure what specific things a child could think about in any given moment, but the fact remains that a child’s imagination is all over the place and not many ideas could remain in a child’s focus for very long. This is why Charlie And Lola fits so well into a child’s mindset. Not one episode last longer than twelve minutes and not one episode is ever really about one thing.
Based on Lauren Child’s book series of the same name, the animated television series follows the brother-sister duo of Charlie and Lola. Charlie is the older child and amazingly is extremely close to his little sister, even taking the role of parent – which is supposedly to be many more years older. But Charlie is wise beyond his years, and the respect that he commands is to be commended. Both love each other very much and the two get into some pretty interesting situations because Lola is “small and very funny.”
In “I’m Just Not Keen On Spiders,” Lola finds a spider in their flat and tells Charlie that she doesn’t like spiders that much. Charlie tries to comfort her, but the two choose to catch and release the spider outside. But it rains, and Lola finds herself worried about her spider friend.
In “I Love Going To Granny And Grandpa’s, It’s Just That…,” the two children are going to visit their grandparents. They love seeing their grandparents, but in the process of packing for their visit, Lola starts to think that being away from her parents will make her miss them. And in turn, they will miss her. Charlie tries to comfort her.
Lola is both an energetic and emotional little girl. She has all the enthusiasm to try whatever she wants to do. She has passion to explore. Part of this passion enables her to pretend as if she’s really an office manager, a café owner, a dentist receptionist, and a librarian with such devotion that even Charlie wants her little sister to stop pretending so that the two can play a game of flip/flop in “I’m Far Too Extremely Busy.” Usually it’s the younger child who can’t stop trying to get the attention of his/her older sibling, but in this case it’s Charlie wanting the attention of his busy little sister.
It’s cute to see Charlie beg Lola to play with him, but it’s even cuter to see Charlie be a true older brother and help Lola when she needs it. When it’s doing whatever it takes to make Lola as comfortable as possible when she is ill (“I’m Really Ever So Not Well, Achooo!”), or when it comes to trying to get her to eat those all important fruits and vegetables (“I Will Not Ever Never Eat A Tomato, Yuk!”), or when it's trying to get Lola to go to bed even if she insists on not being sleepy (“I Am Not Sleepy And I Will Not Go To Bed”), Charlie never ceases to be anywhere other than at Lola’s side.
Although that role is somewhat reversed when Lola has to keep from Charlie his secret birthday present (“It’s A Secret, Shhhh!”). I guess there’s a belief that little kids can’t keep secrets, but Lola does despite many many times of wanting to tell and almost telling him – but finally keep the secret, which enables him to have a quite pleasant surprise when his birthday present is finally revealed.
Charlie’s parenting skills are to be commended, but my one reservation about his character is that sometimes I think his way with Lola can either be described as being two things: being outside the box and scheming. Getting through to children is difficult, but in some instances you can construe Charlie’s actions as diabolical. In “But That Is My Book,” whenever Lola goes to the library, she only picks out ‘Beetles, Bugs And Butterflies’ to read because it is her favorite book and it has more pictures than words. But the book isn’t on the shelf, and Lola becomes very upset and is at the tail end of many shushes. “Let me think,” says Charlie about how he will try to get Lola to read another book. It may not seem like much, but Charlie can be seen as being manipulative to Lola. But if he is, then I guess all parents can be seen as that too, right?
In the end, Charlie does really love Lola. The brother genuinely cares for his sister, and the series shows it perfectly. There is an infectious innocence to both the series and its characters. Charlie is wise and loyal. Lola is carefree and fun loving. Together, they take care of one another and teach each other the importance of family.
The show is presented in 1:78:1 widescreen with 16:9 enhancement. It’s a bit odd to watch a children’s show is widescreen, but the animators make very good use of the extra screen space. The colors are very vibrant. There aren’t many special features on the two discs, except for outtakes which I don’t think the detectives on CSI could find and two games. Vol. 1 has a very basic jigsaw game and Vol. 2 has a hide and seek game. These DVDs are already out.