We’re going to find adventure!
Justin Time is a show for preschoolers featuring the titular character Justin (Gage Munroe, I Declare War). The thing about Justin is he spends the majority of his time playing with his imaginary friends Squidgy (Scott McCord, Total Drama) and Olive (Jenna Warren, The Doozers). With an extremely catchy theme song Justin Time tries to impart life lessons to youngsters. Instead of focusing on learning numbers, colors or shapes it focuses on being a nicer, more polite, and well-adjusted person.
Each episode plays out roughly the same way. Justin is confronted with a situation in his real life he needs to address. It can be as simple as not wanting to follow directions when building something or as complex as his mother looking for her phone, with Justin feeling guilty since he was playing with it and can’t find it either. Regardless of the situation, as soon as Justin is alone Squidgy appears and they begin to talk, with the scenery changing to reflect the imaginary scenario. Then Olive comes along, dressed to fit in with whatever locale is presented and acting as a guide, adopting various professions from photographer to horse groomer. Her real job is to teach Justin and Squidgy as they go on an adventure, the end result being Justin learning how to deal with whatever is waiting for him when he returns home.
Justin Time: Amazing Adventures! is a collection of four episodes from the show’s first season.
* “The Missing Mask / the Very Large Book of Pets”
Justin helps Olive find a mask which a mischievous monkey has stolen. Then the gang tries to find the perfect pet for Justin.
* “Roman Racers / Show and Tell”
Justin and Olive have fun racing chariots before learning about the Galapagos Islands and the animals that dwell there.
* “Big Sub Hubbub / the Great Wall”
Justin and company go underwater and learn about keeping the oceans clean before they travel to the Great Wall and engage in kite flying.
* “Giddy Up, Wrong Way! / Wiki Wiki Wipeout”
Justin rides a very easily distracted horse and then he and Squidgy help Olive collect flowers for a luau.
I enjoy Justin Time and Justin Time: Amazing Adventures! in particular. While there are lots of preschooler shows out there, not too many choose to focus on the characters and their growth as people. Fewer still use a child’s imagination not only as the premise for the entire show but for the action and learning within the show as well. Justin’s exploits are clearly shown as products of his imagination, as are Squidgy and Olive. This move allows the audience to connect even more closely to Justin, as they too can go on their own adventures and even have Olive and Squidgy along if they choose. I especially appreciate how Justin solves his own problems and is not afraid to ask for help. It’s refreshing to watch a show where kids are learning common courtesies.
The animation is reminiscent of South Park in the sense that basic shapes which appear to be cut out of paper are used, though Justin Time is clearly highly processed computer animation and is much slicker looking. It has a surprisingly pale palette which is highlighted by pops of color, creating a rather distinct look for the show. It plays well on the 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer and has enough movement inherent to keep little ones’ interest. The audio track is a somewhat disappointing Dolby Digital 2.0 track, which is serviceable, however music is used frequently within the episodes so I would like to see an upgrade.
There are no special features.
Justin Time: Amazing Adventures! is worth a look. There are plenty of kids’ shows which teach basic skills necessary for children to enter school and Justin Time stands out for teaching what it means to have good moral character. The stories are quick, the animation is just different enough to be catchy, and the theme song will get stuck in your head.