Tuesday, August 4, 2009

'Dive Olly Dive!' makes a splash with CC

Raising a daughter who learned to say "beach" before she could say "burger," I'm always happy to reinforce her learning on all things aquatic.

That's why when I received a copy of the "Dive Olly Dive!" DVD "Ship Shape Sub" -- a title I'd never heard of before -- I was eager to see what CC and I had been missing. And, for the most part, the episodes made a splash.

The animated series, which airs in the U.S. on PBS Sprout, chronicles the underwater adventures of Olly, a submarine in training; his BFF Beth, another young sub; as well as frenemy Skid, who all report to the likable Aussie boss Diver Doug.

While Olly (the overeager one), Beth (the practical one) and Skid (the transport vehicle who longs to be a sub, too) investigate oceanic life, they also engage in behavior that mirrors life on the playground.

That is, there's conflict.

In the first of five short episodes, "Haunted Ship Prank," Skid dares Olly and Beth to spend the night on a supposedly haunted wreck -- a Diver Doug no-no. Once they take the dare, they start hearing mysterious noises all around them and are understandably terrified. Is it a ghost or the prankster himself?

This is definitely a plausible scenario among kids -- albeit kids a little older than CC -- and the animation is absolutely fantastic. Incorporating underwater elements into the storyline, such as sonar and how cool it is for the young subs, is also an innovative touch. But because this was the first episode on a DVD of a show I'd never watched, I had some expectations and one key misunderstanding.

First off, Diver Doug never appeared in this episode. (He doesn't get face time until a couple episodes into the DVD.) I wasn't sure if he ever appeared, but I was surprised that a key character was missing from the introductory segment.

However, "Ship Shape Sub," which hits stores today, is the second DVD in the series. The first is "Dive Olly Dive! The Adventure Begins in the Sea," which was released earlier this year.

That might explain why I thought Skid was the underwater equivalent of the class bully. "Haunted Ship Prank" gave me that impression, but he isn't really. He's actually the character who wants to be something else and overcompensates a bit. He is genuinely liked, despite his efforts to prove his superiority, and he genuinely likes his teammates. Glad that was cleared up in later episodes.

All that said, CC loved every episode. We had to take breaks from watching, but she was attentive, engaged and entertained. She asked about lobsters, a seal (cleverly named Luseal) and kelp. There was lots of "What's that? What's that?," which is something I love to hear her say.

While she couldn't really relate to the relationship issues -- the prank; the idea of disguising a weakness ("Navigation Consternation"); or the embarrassment of finding something out the hard way ("Don't Tell Beth") -- CC enjoyed the look, the sounds and the characters.

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