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Magic Cellar Reviewed

In my experience, whenever expectations run high and there is excessive anticipation prior to watching a program, very often reality falls short. In the case of Magic Cellar, there was already anticipation, this being Africa?s first representation in a 3 dimensional animated series. When I learnt that it had received two bronze Telly awards in the ?Children? and ?Use of Animation? categories in addition to the recent REMI award, expectations shot up to the sky but Magic Cellar rose to the challenge. My fellow reviewer, my two year old daughter who is captivated by the program completely agrees and requests to ?see it again? repeatedly.

Magic Cellar is a co-production between the South African Broadcasting Corporation, Morula Pictures and Chocolate Moose Media. Each episode is just over 10 minutes long and contains an African folktale or legend embedded within another story which revolves around the life of a group of children living in the same neighborhood. The first episode begins with Pula, a little girl who goes to live with her grandma, Gogo after her parents divorce. In Gogo?s magic cellar she and new friends, Josh, Navitha and Marcus meet Gecko and Mr. Zee, two creatures who take them on magical journeys to hear and experience African folktales. The children are typical of kids all over the world ? they play, they fight, they are happy and they have fears. The stories are narrated by the wise Mr. Zee and the children learn a lesson which applies to their current situation.

There is definite satisfaction in seeing African folktales come to life in such vivid color for the first time and most importantly, stories familiar to African children are now packaged in an entertaining form that can be easily shared with the rest of the world. Magic Cellar has great animation and superb production; it is no surprise that it is already collecting awards so early in its life. The characters are sharp & colorful but the voices of some of the children appear a bit forced like an adult doing a poor job of mimicking a child?s voice. This obviously has no effect on my daughter who is still jumping in excitement at the introduction of every new character after watching the same episode for the 5th time (or 6th?) while I write up my review. Also, the distinctly South African theme music is just plain memorable.

Magic Cellar which currently airs only in South Africa deserves a lot more exposure. For more information, visit the official site.



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