Moon and Me is the latest addition to the CBeebies lineup for young children. It seems pitched as an In the Night Garden replacement/alternative but I’m not sure it’s quite got the traction that got on its initial release yet. My two young daughters love it though, so when I was surprisingly offered Studiocanal’s forthcoming DVD release of six choice episodes of the series to review I simply had to go for it. It’s not the usual type of thing I review for the site and I’m not the target audience of course, so I thought I’d take a different approach to this coverage and let my kids review the release. Below you can find a special mini bonus-episode of the Blueprint: Review podcast in which I ask my two girls (aged 3 and 5) to give their thoughts and I’ll give a review of the series from a parental perspective below that.
Moon and Me sees the toys Pepi Nana, Mr. Onion, Colly Wobble, Sleepy Dibillo, Little Nana, Lambkin and Lily Plant live together in a big dolls house. Every night they come alive and Pepi Nana writes a letter and sends it to the moon. Moon Baby lives in a cave up there and comes down to the dolls house on Earth after reading the letter. When he arrives, the toys have fun together and usually tell each other a story. Moon Baby then uses his magic kalimba to bring the friends into the story.
The series follows a similar structure every time. Like other programmes aimed at very young children such as In the Night Garden and Teletubbies, it uses this repetitive structure to create a comfortable experience. In general, the series has a very calming atmosphere. It’s perfect viewing in the lead-up to bedtime as it’s all very warmly lit and slow-paced. There’s very little drama too. The stories are very simple – the toys invent a new game or they walk across a bridge or have a tea party. As such, it’s not a series that will appeal to adults as some kids shows can. There aren’t any subtle adult jokes slipped in as you get in Peppa Pig and such. The series is purely an innocent one aimed at the very young. My five-year-old loves it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she lost interest in the next year or so.
I like the style of the series. As mentioned, everything looks very warm with pastel colours and orange lighting in the dolls house and bright summer sunshine in the story sequences. I’m not 100% certain on how it’s animated but it looks like puppeteering rather than animation, though there looks to be some stop motion in use and CGI to smooth everything over. It’s very nicely done and there are some lovely touches such as the way the characters have little actions they perform when they’re excited. I also love the way it transitions between the ‘real’ dolls house world and the fantastical story world. It’s done in a magical and beautifully crafted fashion.
Each character has their own unique style of movement and personality. Some of their quirks are quite fun, like Dibillo doing everything with his ears as he’s too sleepy to move around or use his arms. Like Night Garden they speak in repetitive phrases with the off-screen narrator explaining what they’re talking about. I have a soft spot for Mr Onion, who says nothing but “onions” all the time. My eldest said she likes “Lambkin and Little Nana the best”.
The music is sweet too. There’s usually a short song in each episode as well as a background score. You probably won’t be humming any of the tunes afterwards, but they wash over you and the kids like a calming wave.
Overall then, it’s a sweet and charming show that’s perfect for the 5-and-unders but it’s a little too slight for parents to happily chain watch with their kids. If you want to lull them to sleep as bedtime approaches though, this deliberately paced and gentle programme is just the ticket.
Moon And Me – Pepi Nana’s Letter & Other Episodes is out on 15th July on DVD in the UK, released by Studiocanal. The picture and sound quality is remarkably good for an SD release, with colours coming through nicely and a pretty sharp and detailed image. There are no special features included unfortunately. I’d have been quite interested to see how the programme was animated.