DVD REVIEW: PAJANIMALS: MEET THE PAJANIMALS / CERT: U / DIRECTOR: VARIOUS / SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: VICTOR YERRID, ALICE DINNEAN, JOHN KENNEDY, DONNA KIMBALL / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
The Pajanimals are four colourful little characters; a lispy duck called Squacky; Apollo, a rocketship-obsessed green and purple dog; a buck-toothed horse called Sweetpea Sue; and CowBella who loves unicorns and princesses and is – you guessed it – a cow. As the catchy lullaby informs us at the start of each twelve-minute episode, the Pajanimals are ready for us and ready for sleepy time too, although sleepy time is when their adventures begin so obviously the Pajanimals have a hidden agenda to turn us all into insomniacs.
Meet the Pajanimals is a collection of ten episodes gathered from the show’s first two seasons. In each show the Pajanimals have a problem; Sweetpea Sue is afraid of octopi so the other Pajanimals take her under the sea to meet a friendly octopus; Squacky worries he’s different from the rest of the gang so his friends take him to a turtle called Granny Pearl for some reassurance; when the Pajanimals are sad because their Mom and Dad have to go to work, they travel to the land of Build-It where busy beavers Hank and Frank tell them why work is so important; and when CowBella refuses to have a bath, the other Pajanimals ask Ellie Octopus for advice... it’s the usual ‘wash, rinse and repeat’ format that small children love and Jim Henson Studios are so wonderful at, with lots of singing and dancing in every episode and something to be learned by the end of every story. The pre-schoolers will love every minute of it but (and I never thought I’d write this about a Henson production) the parents who have to watch it with them might not be so thrilled.
Hensons are excellent at creating shows that, on some level, can keep both small people and big people entertained (Exhibit A: The Hoobs, Exhibit B: The Doozers, Exhibit C: Bear in the… you get the gist, the list goes on forever) and, unlike 99% of other young children’s shows, repeated exposure to a Henson project will hardly ever make a grown-up want to take hostages, but (and I know I’m inviting the End of Civilisation As We Know It ™ by writing this) The Pajanimals is too cutesy to be tolerated by anyone over the age of three or four – and I’d bet most four year olds would toddle screaming from the room after the first twenty minutes. Maybe the whiney voice-acting is at fault, maybe it’s the far-too goody-goodyness of the Pajanimals and their saccharine bath time antics, or maybe it’s because Sweetpea Sue the horse looks alarmingly like a hippo, but Pajanimals is that rarest of species… a Jim Henson misfire.
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