Will contemporary kids embrace the gentle exploits of Jean de Brunhoff's creation Babar the Elephant as interpreted in this HBO series which aired between 1989 and 1991? It's hard to say. As choices in children's programming have expanded, these moralistic stories told in a simple and straightforward animation style certainly have a pleasing nostalgia factor. I'd like to think that the sweetness and innocence of Babar and his cadre of pals will still have an appeal to modern audiences, but some kids have become jaded by the various alternatives that have flooded the entertainment market. Does Babar lack a certain visual sophistication? Perhaps. But over eighty years of success in books and on television seem to indicate an enduring attraction to this story. Babar, for those unfamiliar with the optimistic pachyderm, is a curious soul who after having traveled to the city brings lessons about civilization to his small tribe of family and friends. There are plenty of adventures and challenges in the stories, but with unwavering fortitude and a positive attitude--all things are possible.
"Babar and Father Christmas" is being released under the Classic Series label, but it actually predates the HBO series by several years (it came out in 1986). Although the vocal talent is different, the Christmas special is done is a similar animation style and fits quite comfortably into the feel of the show. It is a rather short and sweet holiday treat as Babar journeys to meet Father Christmas. Even if you don't know about Babar and pals, this is a suitable introduction to the characters that little ones should enjoy.
This Classic Series DVD release also includes two episodes of the show that share thematic connections with the Christmas subject matter. The programs themselves have been digitally restored and remastered, and the DVD runs (with the three episodes) around the seventy minute mark. Also included is a small, and relatively unremarkable, 8 page coloring book--but hey, it's free! I'm not a big fan of TV shows releasing random episodes as opposed to full seasons, but at least they tried to pair titles according to a central message.
With holiday messages aplenty, these are the included episodes:
Babar and Father Christmas (1986 Special)
The Gift (Season 2, Episode 6)
A Child in the Snow (Season 5, Episode 9)
I hope your kids love Babar! This is the best animated representation of the lovable elephant so far (the reboot about a decade later was a bit less successful to my mind). Great storytelling, but simple and sweet. KGHarris, 11/11.