She’s here, she’s finally here! The porcine answer to Eloise has made it to Nickelodeon – or she will on the 26th – and we offer a look-see at Olivia the pig’s first day on TV.
For those of you who haven’t met my favorite piglet, she’s the book version of author Ian Falconer’s niece. Prone to driving her mother bananas with the things a six and three-quarters kid does best (opting out on naps, recreating her favorite paintings from the museum on her bedroom walls), Olivia has earned Caldecott Honors on the page.
Now the star of Olivia Saves the Circus, Olivia Forms a Band, and, of course, Olivia, has her own half-hour show on Nickelodeon. Abandoning Falconer’s favored clean black and white – with splashes of red for a passionate pig – the animated version is full-color. But what it loses in terms of artistry, the TV version gains with the time allowed to bring Olivia’s winsome “sixness” to life.
Broken into two storylines, the premiere episode explores the big sister/little brother rivalry made famous on Falconer’s pages – putting Olivia in a tizzy when her father reveals baby brother Ian will one day grow up to be bigger than her. After all, what’s the point of being the big sister if you aren’t the biggest? Olivia tries convincing Ian to stop drinking milk, and warns he’ll miss out on the fun of hide and seek and game time if he grows up. But when Dad reveals there’s fun to be had in grown-up-land, and big sisters will always be big sisters, the sibling rivalry drops back down to normal levels.
Part two takes a snow day for a spin, and imagination takes over the house. With the flakes flying, Olivia’s mom brings home her brood and two of Olivia’s friends for a playdate – while the piglet turns her family house into the luxe accomodations of the Olivia hotel. Ian plays the hotel’s ghost – and scares the guests – until an electric outage taxes even Olivia’s imagination of how to make the hotel to the stars keep running.
Olivia makes great strides toward improving brother-sister relations in kid shows. Olivia is annoyed by Ian, but the two cobble together a friendship of sorts – with a bit of gentle pushing from their parents. The show makes a point not to celebrate Olivia’s irritation with Ian, but not to downplay it either. It highlights the imperfect relationship between brothers and sisters in the best way – allowing for improvement. The result is somewhere in the middle of the perfection that is the Pinky Dinky Doo and Tyler symbiosis and the domineering Ruby to misunderstood bunny Max.
If I sound like I’m gushing, I’m sorry. I was biased walking into a screening of the first episode; after all, I named my dog Olivia after Falconer’s books. But with repeated requests from my pre-schooler to watch Olivia again. . . and again . . . and again . . . I’m not the only one who sees a hit. Airing at 11:30 a.m. eastern and pacific on the 26th, all-new episodes will air all week long. Can’t wait? The family can get ready with a pile of Olivia crafts, iron-ons and games over at the Nick Jr. site.