AND THE BLUE CAT
Second Sight DVD Region 2
The Magic Roundabout found a following with stoned
hippies finding entirely imaginary drug references scattered throughout
the five minute episodes, then the 1972 feature film version,
Dougal and the Blue Cat, is definitely the Bad
Acid version - chock full of freaky, disturbing scenes that would
have kids squealing with delight even as their tripping older
siblings climbed the walls.
all your old favourites (including the kids who never seemed to
appear outside the opening titles), the film introduces a new
character to the Magic Garden - Buxton, the sinister blue cat
of the title, who entrances everyone except the cynical Dougal,
who imagines that he's up to no good. And indeed, that' the case,
as Buxton enters the realm of the Blue Voice and - after passing
a series of tests - is declared the Blue King, with the mission
to rid the world of all other colours. As Florence, Zebedee, Brain
and the rest of the gang are held captive, only Dougal can save
on DVD for the first time, the film looks great, with vibrant
colours that leap from the screen. The animation is as crude as
ever, but the film more than compensates for this with the wild
visuals and rampant imagination on display. The film flips from
familiar Magic Roundabout locales to weirdly
creepy nightmare sequences that have a Tim Burton flavour to them,
and even takes time out for a trip to the moon in a sequence that
must have influenced Nick Parks when he was planning A
Grand Day Out. And for a feature film based on such slight
shorts, it holds together surprisingly well from start to finish.
for the controversy. One thing I hated as a kid with British shows
was the single narrator who behaved as though he were reading
a story, describing things that you could see happening all too
clearly. All British kid's shorts did it - The
Clangers, Bagpuss, Ivor the
Engine... and The Magic Roundabout.
Like referring to TV shows as being 'by' the writer, it felt like
a dated theatrical hangover that made UK shows look much less
modern than their US counterparts. In the case of this show, it
was well known that Eric Thompson simply watched the shows and
made up new stories to go with them, his personal xenophobia making
him refuse to listen to the French originals. It's a similar level
of xenophobia that has made it the perceived wisdom with British
commentators that this version must be superior to the
this DVD allows you to find out, because the French version -
Pollux et le Chat Bleu - is also included here.
And guess what? It's much better. With each character
played by a different actor, it's livelier, louder and actually
seems to move at a faster pace - subtitles aside, this is the
version that most kids would prefer to Thompson's dry, laconic
but sometimes overly indulgent narration, which feels very staid
in comparison, even with the concession of having Fenella Fielding
memorably voice the Blue Queen in the film (Thompson provides
all other voices, and yes, still needlessly adds things like "...
said Florence" and "Brian, Ermentrude and Dylan
made the bed" as if working for radio).
may violently disagree with my thoughts, but the great thing about
this DVD is that you can now decide for yourself, with both versions
to choose from. Also on the disc are interviews with Thompson's
wife Phyllida Law and daughter Emma Thompson, Fenella Fielding
and, God help us, Mark Kermode.
beautiful and fun for young and old alike, Dougal and
the Blue Cat is well worth a look, and for those of you
who think you're familiar with it, this DVD offers a
whole new perspective for you. Recommended.
IT NOW (UK)