It’s ‘Chuggers to the Rescue’ on April 5

Chuggington_Rescue_2.jpgChuggington’s appealing train-yard toddlers … er, trainees, are ready to ride into your home on Anchor Bay Entertainment’s DVD Chuggington: Chuggers to the Rescue, released April 5. In each of the six 10-minute episodes starring the young locomotives, Brewster, Wilson and Koko eagerly rush into a new escapade in their pleasingly pastel world much like any human child would do.

Which is a big part of why the TV series connects with its 2- to 5-year-old audience. And the simplified sets add to the sense of playfulness. But there’s a serious lesson within each adventure as the three trainees test where the limits are and learn what the consequences may be for not listening to the older-and-wiser trains.

In the first episode, trains not only talk but they fly. Not with wings, of course — grounding the fantasy with a little reality, the trains achieve this feat by being outfitted with jet packs. But it’s no joy ride. In “Jet Pack Wilson,” the threesome take training from Action Chugger, a Superman-like hero who makes girls swoon but keeps a level head and concentrates on the rescue at hand. Training isn’t the fun and games that Wilson, Koko and Brewster had anticipated, as they push and pull heavy loads up steep hills to build stamina. Even the practice rescue of a kitten from a tree seems a little silly to Wilson, who points out the practice “kitten” is a teddy bear. But Action Chugger stays serious, pointing out, “I can’t put [real] small creatures in danger while you learn.”

Always the hot-headed one, Wilson finds some jet packs in the train yard and takes off with them in spite of Koko’s and Brewster’s warnings that he’s not ready yet. He can’t handle himself in the air, and, after Action Chugger saves him, Wilson admits, “It looked easy in the movies.” Action Chugger drives home the point: “Real life isn’t like the movies.”

In “Wilson and the Wild Wind,” it isn’t just himself whom Wilson puts in danger. Dunbar, another mentor for their training, has created a weather simulator and can call up wind storms, rain storms, even thunder and lightning so the trainees can learn how to handle such weather. The simulator responds only to Dunbar’s voice, so Wilson practices copying it — and sets off gale-force winds that blow the train yard topsy turvy. But at least Wilson remembered one lesson, that they should couple-up in a headwind so they’ll be heavier. Hooking together their couplings, Brewster, Koko and Wilson chug back to the weather simulator to try to turn it off. “I didn’t think about what could happen,” Wilson admits to Dunbar. 

In spite of the main characters being metal machines, there’s a sense of warmth among the characters. And whatever the challenge, the fear factor stays in the mild range, just enough for young viewers to understand that something bad could happen without being so alarming as to send them hiding under the bed.

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