MICHAEL BODEY

DVD LET­TER­BOX

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

THE pres­ence of a 21/ 2- year- old tyro au­teur in the DVD Let­ter­box house­hold has cer­tainly opened my eyes to the cav­al­cade of chil­dren’s en­ter­tain­ment avail­able.

It also even­tu­ally numbs you to the re­lent­less monotony that trusted brand names such as The Wig­gles , Play School and Thomas the Tank En­gine can have on a child’s up­bring­ing, no mat­ter how lit­tle they watch or how pro­tec­tive a par­ent may be.

Of course, the lit­tle au­teur’s fa­ther is not shy about forc­ing his own child­hood favourites on him, even if he has to plan and ex­er­cise some cau­tion.

Some of those clas­sic an­i­mated se­ries are not quite as strong as we re­mem­bered or they are in­cred­i­bly vi­o­lent or send some ques­tion­able mes­sages to im­pres­sion­able young brains.

For in­stance, a re­cent foray into Tom and Jerry lasted 20 sec­onds be­fore I de­cided re­peated hits of a ham­mer to Tom’s head were not suit­able be­hav­iour to show a young boy who has al­ready taken a shine to Dad’s tool kit.

So, the 50th birth­day of Padding­ton Bear and the re­lease of a new an­niver­sary DVD is op­por­tune.

Safe and quaint are the first two words that spring to mind when re­call­ing the cud­dly bear from ‘‘ dark­est Peru’’.

Not­with­stand­ing is­sues of border se­cu­rity that the or­phaned stow­away raises, Padding­ton — so named be­cause he ar­rived at Lon­don’s Padding­ton Sta­tion with a sign on him ask­ing to be looked af­ter — is a kindly char­ac­ter that still holds great ap­peal for chil­dren.

He’s prac­ti­cal, cute and in­vari­ably in­volves him­self in short episodic ad­ven­tures that teach the kids some­thing use­ful.

Not the least of th­ese is the man­ner in which he uses hon­orifics very po­litely, a be­hav­iour that can’t be im­pressed on young­sters early enough ( my son’s al­ready call­ing me Bodey, and I think he’s tak­ing the mickey).

Stylis­ti­cally, the 1970s se­ries is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent. The BBC pro­duc­tion used the stop- mo­tion bear in a three- di­men­sional space in front of two- di­men­sional back­grounds fea­tur­ing two- di­men­sional an­i­mated char­ac­ters.

Even to­day, the el­e­men­tary pro­duc­tion tech­nique holds a vis­ual in­trigue and is some­thing quite dif­fer­ent from the rash of sim­i­lar stop- mo­tion Bri­tish an­i­ma­tions on

DISC WATCH: No Coun­try for Old Men

our screens, in­clud­ing Bob the Builder , Lit­tle Red Trac­tor, Post­man Pat and oth­ers. ( Should I be em­bar­rassed that I can rat­tle off their names so eas­ily?)

I can’t re­call Padding­ton Bear be­ing the most vis­i­ble television char­ac­ter when I grew up not so long ago ( cough). We knew him more as a lit­er­ary char­ac­ter through the books cre­ated by Michael Bond or as a fluffy bear that sat at the end of so many beds.

Those books were an in­cred­i­ble suc­cess, sell­ing more than 30 mil­lion copies world­wide, as were the cute bears, al­though I don’t think I’m alone in be­liev­ing that the bear who loves mar­malade dropped off our cul­tural con­scious­ness.

That may soon change, as late last year Warner Bros an­nounced plans to bring Padding­ton Bear to the big screen, with a com­puter- gen­er­ated Padding­ton liv­ing in a live- ac­tion world.

Let’s hope it bet­ter re­flects the spirit of the char­ac­ter than the Garfield movies.

Un­til then, we have the new dou­ble DVD 50th an­niver­sary edi­tion avail­able through Mad­man En­ter­tain­ment.

It in­cludes more than three hours of the orig­i­nal TV episodes, a cou­ple of specials and some lovely old- school vi­gnettes for the lit­tle au­teur in your life.

bodeym@ theaus­tralian. com. au

( Paramount, MA15+, $ 29.95) The Os­car win­ner for best pic­ture will be a win­ner on DVD, too, if only be­cause we all want to try again to make sense of its con­clu­sion.

Mar­malade rules: Padding­ton Bear

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