I have a soft spot for stop-motion animation, largely because of the way it feels like you can just reach out and touch the puppets, models and set pieces that constitute the characters and their world. It’s a strangely tactile viewing experience, one made even more surreal when viewed in 3D; in fact, stop-motion animation is one of the few genres that I would generally prefer to see in three dimensions all the time, just so I can feel fully immersed in the magical stories that medium tells. So, you can imagine the smile that came to my face upon receiving a collector’s edition set of a stop-motion series based on Michael Bond’s beloved Paddington Bear books, conveniently timed to piggyback off of the popularity of the recently released film Paddington.
Now, I am not just a sucker for stop-motion; I am also, unabashedly, a connoisseur of cute. (Seriously, one of the highlights of my day at work is turning the pages on my “Kittens and Friends” daily calendar.) Therefore, the combination of stop-motion plus a cuddly teddy bear is really too much for someone like me to resist. For indeed, Paddington is portrayed in this series by the most fuzzy and cuddly of stuffed teddy bears, so cuddly that if I had seen this series as I child I would have immediately demanded that my parents buy me one so that I could act out my own stories starring the friendly and cheerful bear from “darkest Peru.”
The program aired during mid-Seventies and Eighties and is, like its protagonist, stuffed with fluff. Included in this three-disc set are 56 five-minute episodes, three half-hour specials and thirteen episodes of the (not stop-motion and so slightly less adorable) animated series “The Adventures of Paddington Bear.” The majority of the stories revolve around Paddington getting into such lighthearted shenanigans as being forced to go to school, accidentally becoming a waiter at a society party, and, of course, eating far too many marmalade sandwiches. Like a cupcake crowned with a cloud of frosting, this show is mostly empty calories; if you expect your kids to gain valuable life lessons and moral fiber from their television viewing, you’ve come to the wrong place. However, if you want them to just have some simple, sweet fun, Paddington Bear: Collector's Edition will deliver.
There are no DVD special features, but with this much cute, you don’t really need any.
"Paddington Bear: Collector's Edition" is on sale November 25, 2014 and is not rated. Directed by Barry Leith, Ivor Wood. Written by Michael Bond.