This is the latest of many Noddy adaptations for the small screen. A joint venture between the American, British and French it has been made by DreamWorks (the people behind Shrek and Kung Fu Panda). It has been showing in the UK on Channel 5’s Milkshake slot for younger children.
A DESCRIPTION FROM THE SHOW’S OWN WEBSITE
Created by Enid Blyton in 1949, Noddy is one of the most beloved UK children’s characters, having entertained families for generations with stories set in the colourful world of Toyland. DreamWorks’ Noddy, Toyland Detective reimagines Noddy in the new role of investigator; exploring mysteries and searching for clues in Toyland while encouraging viewers to explore and make discoveries in their own world. Using his trusty tablet, Noddy sets out to answer the big questions of who, what, when, where, why and how every time he opens a new case. Enthusiastic and inquisitive, Noddy is joined by friends new and familiar including his iconic car as well as Big Ears and Bumpy. The voice of Noddy is provided by Louis Ashbourne Serkis in his first leading voice role.
Louis Ashbourne Serkis, as I have just discovered, is the son of Andy Serkis (Gollum from Lord of The Rings/The Hobbit).
Wikipedia has a character list which gives us a bit of an indication of what the show will be like.
Noddy – Noddy is an investigator, rather than a taxi-driver.
Big Ears – Big Ears is now Noddy’s neighbour but still his mentor. He is also a squeaky toy brownie. In the American dub, he is called Mr. Squeaks.
Bumpy Dog – Noddy’s pet dog.
Revs – Noddy’s red and yellow car. Much like in the books the car is alive and communicates by beeping his horn.
Pat-Pat – Pat-Pat is one of Noddy’s closest friends, a replacement for Tessie-Bear it seems. She’s Panda plush toy and has three smaller panda friends called the Pockets.
Deltoid – Deltoid is a futuristic superhero toy. He aspires to be brave and noble, but is sometimes afraid and naive.
Smartysaurus – A dinosaur toy. She’s a super-smart scientist.
Fuse – An emotional, but gleeful modern robot toy.
Farmer Tom – A friendly farmer and near neighbour to Pat-Pat.
Tractor – Farmer Tom’s tractor. Like Revs, he communicates by honking his horn.
Well, it doesn’t sound too much like the original, then. Each episode is only ten minutes long, though, so I hope it can’t be too bad!
NODDY AND THE CASE OF THE BROKEN CRYSTAL MEMORY GAME
Most of the episodes are available to watch on Channel 5’s catch up page, so I may end up watching more than one if they are not too terrible. I had actually recorded a random episode onto my Virgin box when I spotted it, but being me, I’m going to start with episode one online.
Despite being the first episode it doesn’t attempt to introduce us to the characters or explain that Noddy is a detective. We start with Noddy about to race with Deltoid, Pat-Pat and Smartysaurus. Big-Ears is officiating and a crowd of other toys are watching.
Noddy steps up to investigate (with no explanation) when Fuse reveals that the Crystal Memory Game is broken. In a rather expositionary fashion Noddy explains that the game is an important part of the race, and he must investigate to discover who broke the game and why. Otherwise, it may happen again and that would ruin the race. A brief song indicates that Noddy will investigate the who, what, why, where, when and hows.
Being only ten minutes long, the episode doesn’t contain any serious detecting (or half of the promised questions above). He and Bumpy-Dog find a notebook belonging to Pat-Pat, who admits practising the game earlier but reminds him she’s not tall enough to have jammed a star crystal in the top square.
Noddy’s tablet seems to be programmed to instantly bring up relevant information as soon as he touches it, as it then shows him the Crystal Memory Game and then all of the race entrants beside it so he can see who is tallest.
He goes to speak to Smartysaurus who denies breaking it (because it’s too easy a game) and Deltoid who makes an excuse and drives away. Being an entirely unsuspicious character, Noddy returns to the game and finds tri-bike tracks and a broken crystal square. Hang on… doesn’t Deltoid have a tri-bike? Bumpy-Dog has to remind Noddy that he didn’t directly ask Deltoid about breaking the game, and they go to see him. He admits it right away – he was practising the game as he can never remember the order.
The game is repaired, the race is held and Deltoid wins.
For an adult it is not a particularly satisfying story. It’s a shame because even shows aimed at very young children can be clever and funny enough to appeal to adults – or at least make watching them on repeat bearable (I actually enjoyed Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom much of the time because it had a really good sense of humour).
My main gripe, however, is the Crystal Memory Game. Crystal Maze it ain’t. Every time it is played you put three shapes into the holes in order. The same order. Star, triangle, square. Even for a three-year-old that’s hardly a challenge. I expected it to at least change the order!
I did like some of the details of the show, though. Noddy’s jumper and hat have a knitted texture to them which is so often missing in computer animated TV shows now. So often everything is just flat and brightly coloured. Deltoid’s house also amused me as he has stairs that move like something from a 90s plastic marble game.
Over-all, it was OK. It didn’t make me cringe too much (but them I am quite used to really awful kids’ TV) and I didn’t hate it.