DOOZERS: MEET THE POD SQUAD

PrintE-mail Written by Ian White

DVD REVIEW: DOOZERS: MEET THE POD SQUAD / DIRECTOR: MERLE ANN RIDLEY / SCREENPLAY: JIM HENSON CO. / STARRING: MILLIE DAVIS, TREK BUCCINO, JACOB EWANIUK / RELEASE DATE: JANUARY 26TH

Remember Fraggle Rock and the tiny little green guys with the hard hats who used to march uncomplainingly around doing all the work while the Fraggles lounged about reading postcards from their Uncle Travelling Matt (still the best name for a character ever) and singing songs that planted themselves inside your brain like particularly annoying mind worms?

Well, those tiny little green guys were called Doozers and now they’re back and so are their kids - nope, my imagination didn’t want to take me there either (although it’s good to know the Doozers did get some down-time when they weren’t building edible towers for the Fraggles to eat) – and it’s those kids who are the stars of Doozers, the new animated TV show from The Jim Henson Company, nine episodes of which are included on this charming DVD.

The Doozers have come a long way since Fraggle Rock days. There are no signs of Fraggles and the musty caves the Doozers used to live in are just distant memories. Doozer Creek is bright, sunlit and psychedelically colourful and, although the Doozers are still busy building inventions and farming radishes, the young Pod Squad is always on hand with some crazy ideas to save the day.

Spike, Molly Bolt, Flex and Daisy Wheel are the Pod Squad (somewhere in Doozer-land there has got to be a Doozer called Monkey Wrench) and they love nothing better than to imagine, design, and build new inventions to make the Doozer’s lives more playful and productive. Amongst their adventures they repair an underground train tunnel, build a catapult to launch radishes across a gorge, solve a hiccupping epidemic caused by jumping beans and rework one of the Doozer’s old inventions into a scratching machine, not to mention building a zip-line to help harvest peaches and trying to find ways to make a Doozer baby laugh.

The Henson Company deserves their reputation. Very few of their films and TV shows are less than excellent and Doozers: Meet the Pod Squad is another triumph, although it doesn’t share the cross-generational appeal of most of their output: normally, a Henson product will contain something for everybody but, apart from the occasional slapstick moment, Doozers is a series aimed squarely at the pre-school audience it’s intended for. The stories are simple, energetic and fun and packed with ideas that will spark the young viewer’s imagination, the CG animation is smooth, sharp and almost three-dimensional in its clarity, and the characters are so cute and engaging it’s almost easy to forgive the fact they’re not genuine Muppets (because, let’s face it, genuine Muppets come with a puppeteer’s hand stuffed inside them, right? Henson’s characters always lose a certain charm when they’re turned into cartoons). Even the obligatory catchphrase ‘There’s nothing to it when you do do do it!’ isn’t so annoying you’ll want to take hostages every time you hear it, which is always a plus.

Doozer this up as a fantastic slice of educationally-conscious Henson magic that young fans will want to watch so often the Doozers will eventually have to come and repair your DVD player.

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