I grew up with the DVD releases of the classic Holly Hobbie episodes. I remember them most for their simple idea of a traditional country theme with somewhat of a modern twist. I also found their messages about friendship very charming and original due to the relationships that the girls formed with many of the adults in Clover. But the aspect that I found most admirable was the main characters and how much they strived to help others in need. However, pretty much all of these aspects were either ignored or forgotten about in this special.
One thing that a lot of people complain about is the difference in the voices from the previous specials. This difference wouldn't bother me as much if it didn't sound so heavily edited. Not to mention that Holly's singing voice doesn't even match her singing voice. The worst voice-over is that of K.T McGee. I really like Kathleen Barr and she's really talented but K.T has this really congested voice that gets incredibly grating after a while.
The plots really aren't much better. Having a story take place in a school setting can work if you find a way to make it unique or charming. For example, Wicked added a good amount of charm to the story by focusing on the relationship between Elphaba and Glinda. Monster High and Ever After High added a creative twist to this type of story by adding small details that give the schools their own identities. The best way I can describe the plots in this episode is Mean Girls Junior which is especially annoying if you're not a fan of Mean Girls like me.
One of the worst elements of this special is the characters. Holly was once this sweet girl who would do anything in her power to help others. Now she's just your generic heroine who solves her problems with fashion and clothes. Carrie was once Holly's cautious friend who would stay by Holly no matter what. Now she's an athlete who faults Holly for making friends with the class geek. Amy was once the wacky character who believed in aliens. Now she's just a third wheel who never even acknowledges the existence of aliens. The new characters are even worse than the returning characters. Becca is your typical popular girl who's only existence is to bring misery to others. K.T is definitely the worst out of all the new characters. Aside for her congested voice, her constant web-abbreviation language really gets on my nerves. Aside from that, the only other characteristics she has are that she's into computers and she wears weird clothes. In short, she's just a shallow, stereotypical nerd character.
Most of the complaints I listed are merely annoying. However, there is one factor that really upsets me and that is the messages that they deliver. This episode treats most of the bully characters as horrible people who only exist to cause trouble for others. I feel that it is important for kids to understand that people bully for different reasons and that they usually feel bad about themselves. Then there's the fact that almost all of the problems are solved with clothes and accessories. In reality that isn't a useful or even healthy way of solving problems. We should be teaching little girls that you have to have something to be proud of other than the way you look.
This episode is an insult to the previous works in the series. It was obviously cheaply produce with the only intention being to make a quick buck by making something that the team thought that little girls would like. If you're looking for a cartoon with a story like this, I would recommend Holly Hobbie and Friends: Best Friends Forever. That one was obviously made with more care and effort. The relationship that is touched upon is much more charming and it delivers a much better message. As far as this one, I wouldn't recommend it especially to people who are big fans of the original Holly Hobbies cartoons.
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