It’s somehow ironic that the freshest fare from the Disney Channel’s new lineup should be so reminiscent of the past that it veritably embraces the essence of the earliest days of animation. Yet, the irony is welcome, as it takes the best of modern technology, the seamlessness of computer graphics, and melds it beautifully with traditional, uncomplicated storylines, sweet scenarios, and dialog replete with expressions like “swell,” “spiffy,” “nifty” and “gee willikers,” all long since retired from contemporary slang.
The talents of artist William Joyce are wonderfully evident in every moment of “Rolie Polie Olie,” which was created as a short poem. The fantasy world is so developed that even adults can be easily enthralled by the antics of Rolie, the quintessential every-kid, his little sister, Zowie, his dog, Spot (a classic throwback to “The Little Rascals’ ” Petey, Mom, Dad, Pappy and Olie’s best friend, Billy Bevel.
The world where Olie resides, Planet Rolie Polie, is inhabited by all things round and happy. Bright colors and soft lines are sure to fascinate and entertain the audience it is geared for: 2- to 5-year-olds. The people are robots, in a 1930s style, decades before robotics were anything more than science fiction. An antenna spring from each of their heads as they awaken to smiling beds, dressers and lamps. Olie bids his room “good morning” as the furnishing begin to sway to the perennial music around him. His existence is nothing short of idyllic, where every object is equipped with a personality and a sunny disposition.
The house is a smiling teapot, chairs lower themselves to accommodate the children and trees attentively grin as Olie and Zowie play in the yard. Children watching may ask if the grass has a face, and does the sky smile? But such thoughts from a child mean Disney deserves kudos, as their robots touch on reality just enough. “Rolie” doesn’t attempt to hold attention with loud noises and rapid-fire antics. Rather, it eases itself into a child’s world with round shapes, vibrant colors, smooth movements, sweet voices and familiar scenarios set in a highly imaginative, unfamiliar world.
For the very young, this nonconfrontational sweetness will appear innovative, fresh, and totally unheard of in this age that has long since graduated from shiny aluminum fantasy futures into gray plastic electronic reality.
The stories are ultra simple, but with a mechanical twists, like Pappy’s dentures “escaping,” leaving Olie’s ingenuity to capture them. But when Mom and Dad are faced with getting the children off to bed they say, “nighttime, sleepytime, jammy time,” it’s all part of a yesterday that strikes a friendly and familiar chord with parents, stylized with art deco charm that has been CGI translated into a ultra-smooth movements.
“Rolie Polie Olie” is a Sunday morning well spent with the little ones.