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Lions Gate presents
Sing-A-Long Around the World with Madeline (2000)

"Exploring and singing are always more fun if you do it with friends."
- Madeline (Andrea Libman)

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: March 27, 2002

Stars: Andrea Libman
Other Stars: Christopher Gaze, Stephanie Vallance, Brittney Irvin, Chantal Strand, Veronika Sztopa, Michael Heyward, French Tickner
Director: Judy Reilly

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (happiness and whimsical fun)
Run Time: 01h:00m:59s
Release Date: March 26, 2002
UPC: 031398792420
Genre: animation

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+C+B- D

DVD Review

Based on the popular series of children's books by Ludwig Bemelmans, the Madeline cartoon follows the adventures of a group of Parisian schoolgirls who live with their teacher, Miss Clavel, and are led by the feisty Madeline. It's a very popular series, one that manages to capture much of the charm of the timelessly classic storybooks while tying in simple educational elements, such as the importance of good manners. The animation is fairly simple in terms of character movement, but the backgrounds have the lush look of a watercolor painting, adding eye-catching dimension to every scene.

Like many children's programs, Madeline features one or two songs in every episode—simple, memorable melodies that reinforce that show's particular theme or moral. This compilation DVD provides a collection of the best songs from the series. Each of these two episodes is organized around a loose theme.

Sing-a-Long Around the World with Madeline

This episode features songs that have something to do with monuments, other lands, and other cultures.

Jambo Africa
Madeline and friends visit Africa with Miss Clavel, and learn about all the animals, and, most importantly, how to greet others with a friendly "Jambo!" (hello). They do not, however, visit the Congo, nor do they travel down any treacherous rivers on a quest to discover a certain Mr. Kurtz.

Pleased to Meet You
The girls all learn how important it is to be polite when introducing yourself. From there on out, though, rudeness is ok. Just as long as you curtsey.

The Ants are Coming!
While visiting New York, the girls pull an Orson Welles, broadcasting a fake news report and driving the city into a panic. Yes, girls, your cute song about rampaging ants was good for a laugh, but that doesn't excuse the five innocent victims of the resulting panicked melee.

Hope is All You Need for Christmas
This must be the richest school ever. The girls go on a field trip to the North Pole (where, humorously, there actually is a big pole... ingenious!) and end up filling in for Santa when all the elves get sick. Yes, hope is all you need for Christmas, especially if you are hoping that little Timmy will be healed. It's all you're getting, anyway.

I've Always Dreamed of Flying with Santa
Madeline flies around the world with Santa, helping deliver toys to all the good children. Yes, Santa is a great guy, even if he does show wanton disrespect for child labor laws.

What Would Paris Be Without the Eiffel Tower?
The girls sing their praises to one of man's greatest architectural achievements, but make troubling allusions to the tower of Babel by calling it "heaven stories high."

Everything Else But a Flea
The girls visit a flea market with Miss Clavel and get their first taste of life's bitter irony when they discover that they can find anything there they want except fleas.

Long Live the King of Chocolate
The girls sing a harmless ode to chocolate. Or do they? "Follow the King of Chocolate, oh what sweets he'll bring," they proclaim. So many troubling connotations.

We Can Can Be Friends
In a delightful bit of synergy, the girls visit the Moulin Rouge and perform the legendary Can- Can. No sign of Toulouse or the Green Fairy.

You Can Never Run Out of Love
The girls proclaim Paris the city of l'amour, and sing a song about "loving all the way to Mars." Disappointment looms.

Sing-a-Long with Madeline and Her Friends

This episode doesn't have much of a theme to the song selection, except, as the title says, they are all sung by Madeline and her friends.

At the Hotel Riche
The girls make like rock stars when they visit the Hotel Riche and, after specifically promising not to, they run around having fun and committing acts of petty vandalism.

We Can Make Our Own Fun
Proving themselves to be good little Utilitarians, the girls sing a song about the most important thing in life: having fun! Encourages kids to use their imaginations, as you are the only friend you need to have fun!

The Play's the Thing
The girls put on a show and everyone fights over the lead roles, until Madeline points out that without the supporting cast, there could be no performance. She's quite the diplomat, ain't she? Of course, she ends up with the lead role. Sneaky, too.

Do the Job Together
The girls realize the importance of working together towards a goal when some idiot gives them free reign over a perfume factory and they half trash the place before finally getting their act together.

One Size Fits All
Madeline is feeling sad about being so short, but Miss Clavel sings a song about how everyone is different, and that small, medium, or large, size doesn't matter. A song that everyone should take to heart.

Nobody's Better than Me
The girls are jealous of one of their classmates who gets to be painted by a famous artist and is acting very bigheaded, so they put paint on her hairbrush (hope it wasn't lead based), and become even more exasperated when it turns out that the artist loves the new look! They fume until Miss Clavel sings a song about ignoring those who say they are better than you. Yes, it's the motto of the white European.

One Little Lie Leads to Another
The girls learn the danger of telling little white lies, as they can quickly snowball into big lies, and telling the truth becomes very hard. They sing, "From the pan into the fire, that's what happens to a liar," and I wonder if there are still a lot of Puritans in France.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf
The classic fable, Madeline-style. Luckily, the part about the mauling is eliminated, leaving the "truth=trust" moral intact. Though "lie=die" is equally compelling.

We'll Always Be There for You
Madeline is feeling down, but her friends convince her that they will always be there to cheer her up. They do not specify "when the rain starts to fall, like they've been there before, because she's there for them, too," but it's assumed.

Company Company
One of the girls throws a big birthday bash, but everything goes wrong. It turns out that all you need to have a party is a few good friends. A good argument for money-conscious parents to reinforce at birthday time.

Pleased to Meet You
Woah. Déjà vu.

All told, a highly enjoyable collection of songs that kids will want to listen to over and over. And perhaps the catchy melodies will help the educational elements to stick in their brains?

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The image here is a bit problematic, due mostly to apparent problems with the source material, which appears to be a video master. Colors are bright, but appear a bit muddy at times, and overall, the image seems rather fuzzy. Some scenes show a bit of video noise, but it isn't visible from a distance. It's not a bad looking transfer, really, but it isn't as strong as those on other similar releases (like the DragonTales series).

Image Transfer Grade: C+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: Audio is serviceable stereo. There's no separation between the channels or any effects of any kind. Rather, the music spreads out over a fairly narrow front soundstage, providing just a bit more breadth than a mono mix would. By dynamic sound isn't really necessary here, and it's enough that the audio as is sounds clear and that the track is free of any background hiss.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Animated menu
Scene Access with 4 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Madeline: Manners Matter, Madeline: Halloween Spooktacular, Super Sonic, Mario’s Movie Moments
Packaging: Alpha
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Trivia Game
Extras Review: Madeline features roughly the same extras as the other discs in the fine DiC DVD collection, with one notable exception. On other releases, answering the fairly simple trivia game (six to eight questions) got you a complete bonus episode of the show. Here, the prize is simply a three-minute animated art gallery of the show's scenery and backgrounds, with no musical accompaniment.

Also included are previews for other DiC releases (including Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Madeline: Manners Matter, Madeline: Halloween Spooktacular, Super Sonic, and Mario's Greatest Movie Moments) and a forced trailer when you insert the disc that highlights all the DiC properties, which hopefully means they are coming to DVD, because I used to love me some, like Dennis the Menace.

The overall presentation is geared towards the wee ones, as the menus feature optional help from Inspector Gadget, who guides you through the basics of using a DVD remote. There are English subtitles for the feature and an inadequate four chapter stops.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

This Madeline sing-a-long should be very popular with your kids. The songs are very bright, bubbly, and catchy, and the lessons are presented in a very straightforward manner. Be prepared to have them stuck in your head all day, though.


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