A special shout out to Duggee for making life bearable in 2020... a whole heap of parents salute you!
EP 27 THE GAMESHOW BADGE
Ok everybody, it’s time for another round of guess that TV show!! The Squirrels have played all their board games (Guess Who and Monopoly get a quick mention), so it’s down to Duggee to set them up on the Woofety Woof game show! They’re playing the EggHeads – Sorry, AcornHeads, so it’s a pleasant welcome back to Mrs Weaver, Nigel and Buggee.
We get a whistle-stop tour through Woodland versions of University Challenge, Through the Keyhole (complete with Loyd Grossmouse), The Generation Game, Who Wants To Be a Millionaire and Mastermind. Based on her own ego, this is set up for Betty to own everyone, but wouldn’t you know it, Roly gets to save the day with his knowledge of potatoes. And bobble headed wavy bugs.
Mastermind really used to stress me out as a kid – the music and tension was way too much for 7 year old me to take… but based on my own kids, my specialist subject would now be Disney Princesses. The 7 year old me would be aghast at that.
EP 28 THE ROUNDUP BADGE
The Squirrels watch a herd of cows passing through the woodland, accompanied by Rodeo Horse – He and Duggee have the best secret handshake ever, ending with a cheeky fist bump. They start reminiscing over what happened in the past (there’s a sweet Toy Story “Snake in my Boot” reference), but Roly causes the cows to stampede (yeah nice one Roly). Rodeo Horse dresses the Squirrels up as cow hands, all with hobby horses, and they go off to find the missing cattle. They travel far and wide, and have a nice little campfire singalong. I say nice – bit of a howlalong really. Eventually they manage to round them all up.
Fun fact: Rodeo Horse is voiced by Sandra Dickinson, who used to be married to Peter Davison, the fifth Doctor.
Even Funner fact: Sandra Dickinson and Peter Davison sang the theme tune to Button Moon. If you know, you know.
EP 29 THE FAVOURITE BADGE
Duggee goes documentary! He explains to The Squirrels about what a favourite is, but they can’t decide what their favourite things are, so they ask other people to get insight. It’s great – we get to see our favourite characters again in the vox pops, with some great subtitles. John Crab saying that Nigel is his favourite thing is so sweet. I love how the angry Bull is a locum primary school teacher, and loves mid-90s ambient music (this got a “huh?” from my eldest). Once the Squirrels realise you can have more than one favourite thing, they do a top ten, straight from an 80/90s top of the tops (Paul Hardcastle music era - check out the top 40 from 1987). And at number one? Duggee, of course!
We also find out the Hippy Rabbit’s name - Percy De Lautour. I did not see that one coming.
EP 30 THE TOPIARY BADGE
Of all the high falutin’ things to teach our kids, topiary was not high on my list, but every day is a school day…
After a quick lesson from Duggee, the squirrels get stuck into trimming their bushes, and come up with some amazing shapes. Happy makes a tap, Roly makes a potato, Tag makes a car! Anything is possible in the woodland…
As it happens, Tag drives his topiary car into the dark wild woods and gets lost. The Squirrels take their new found skills and tame the wild woods into an amazing fairytale forest, complete with cute woodland animals and a Snow White style bed for sleepy head Tag. A nice, calming episode in amongst all the madness!
EP 31 THE A CAPPELLA BADGE
What. An. Episode. There’s almost too much for my tiny brain to take in – we have Hot Cheep(!), an A Cappella bird band, who get scared away by Roly (I’m seeing a pattern here). From there, Duggee teaches the Squirrels who to make music using just their mouths. This ends up with Roly beatboxing like Siri, and the Squirrels indulging in a bit of a Glee style a cappella singalong. Hot Cheep return and join the Squirrels in a use mashup, which is pretty epic. Finishing with Norrie giving it a Fat Amy “Crushed it” at the end and you’ve got an honest to god classic on your hands. We’ve been Boots ‘n Catsing around our house ever since this episode, it’s just too damned catchy! I’ve summarised it in 150 words, and haven’t done it justice. In my opinion is better than the Stick Badge. Just watch it. Please.
EP 32 THE CHRISTMAS BADGE
Well, it isn't Christmas without Buddy the Elf now, is it?!
In this special treat of an episode, we get to meet Clarence, a good friend of Duggee's who has lost his Christmas cheer. He seems a bit down in the dumps and fed up of it all. The commercialism of Christmas can do that to you... But there's something familiar about Clarence - I wonder if he has another job?
Duggee and the Squirrels remind him of all the little things about Christmas - the food, the company, the music. This is what makes it a special time (that, and drinking all day whilst cooking does it for me). Just in time he finds his Christmas cheer and... climbs up the chimney? Has reindeer?! Could Clarence really be Father Christmas?! I asked the youngest this, and deadpan, she said "yes he is, but don't tell anyone". (she's three)
So I haven't told you that. What I can tell you is that the voice of Clarence is non other than Mr Cholmondley-Warner himself, Jon Glover.
EP 33 THE BABYSITTING BADGE
There’s a plumbing emergency at the old deers house! Duggee has to go and sort their pipes out. Problem is, who is going to look after The Squirrels? King Tiger to the rescue! this should be fun… KT is barely capable of looking after himself…
Anyway. It becomes apparent that King Tiger’s experience in babysitting is at a much younger level, so ends up entertaining the Squirrels by way of a glove puppet called Polly Paw. The Squirrels start to run riot, taking his crown and as expected, he has no real life experience, struggles to control the kids, doesn’t really know how to feed them and falls to bits.
In the meantime… Duggee is having all kinds troubles fixing the leak at the old dears house. It’s taking him much longer than expected, and Poor KT is in trouble!
In the end, the Squirrels take over and let KT take a nap. I think when you’ve been left alone all day with the kids who can be RELENTLESS we can all sympathise with King Tiger – I was gutted when my kids grew out of daytime napping… that would be the chance that I would get to nap too!
Nice take on the Luis Vuitton bag – his has KT all over instead of LV. It's a Luis Kitten.... I'll get me coat.
EP 34 THE COMIC BOOK BADGE
As a comic book nerd, this episode fills me with great joy – Duggee is going through his comics with The Squirrels, and he introduces them to Detective Puppy.
The Squirrels get caught up in the story, wait for the next issue, but OH NO!! Detective Puppy Comic was discontinued… The Squirrels decide to finish the story and make their own comic. They script it and colour it in, which Duggee reads with great delight. To be fair, they did a pretty good job!
There are some great easter eggs in there with nods to Snoopy, Action Comics 1, Iron Man (complete with biscuit logo), Guardians of the Galaxy, and infinity stones. Plus Power Puppy from The Super Squirrel Badge (S1 E8) But one of the best gags is in plain sight – The Watchdog poster, a clear tribute to The Watchmen.
EP 35 THE SENSES BADGE
Roly has lost his favourite potato! (Happens to us all at least once in our lives…)
Duggee sniffs it out to the amazement of The Squirrels, who explains what the senses are. They each take it in turn to explore a sense (touch, sight, smell etc). The way they approach this is great because it’s getting the viewer to dig a little deeper into the sense – not just see something, but really take in the detail of how it feels, tastes, and sounds. Duggee starts to expand onto the sixth sense, also known as the parenting sense – when you know that there is mischief going on! This episode is a cosmic, calming one, like having a cuddle in a blanket that’s just come out of the tumble dryer. Now use your senses to imagine that – aahhhh!
EP 35 THE DIPLOMACY BADGE
If you have a 3 year old, you will know they aren’t very diplomatic… Daddy, your breath smells… Daddy your jeans look tight… Mummy I can see white hair on your head… or even worse, THEY DO IT TO A STRANGER!! (youngest pointed out to a man in the changing room at swimming that he had a big tummy. He's not forgotten it)
We all know Betty isn’t very diplomatic. She is, well, let’s be honest, bossy. Sarge Ant is pretty much the same. They bond over being bossy buggers. Duggee tries to help by a bit of role play (not that kind). These characters have great names – Alan, Laetitia, Ace, Fabrizio all trying to correct behaviour and communicate in a more constructive manner… To be honest there is something that we could all learn from this episode – especially as a parent. Asking someone repeatedly to pick up their shoes doesn’t always work, whereas making a game of tidying up does (sometimes).
BTW if anyone recognises the names and outfits in the role play please let me know – there is something familiar about Alan’s outfit…
EP 37 THE BUDDY BADGE
A welcome return for Mrs Weaver!!
It turns out Mrs Weaver is a bit of an adrenaline junkie, and enjoys a bit of kayaking, but her kayaking buddy seems to keep fobbing her off (Mark Corrigan, is that you?!). So she needs to find a new one! It turns out there’s a few creatures in the woodland who need a new buddy, so this is the opportune time for Duggee to set up some speed dating so everyone can find their ideal partner – sorry, buddy. And to be honest, if you were going to a speed dating event, one run by Duggee would be pretty awesome (although light on the booze I reckon).
Soon enough, everyone finds a buddy – Diesel the Bull and Roly are BIRDWATCHING BUDDIES, Betty finds a guinea pig who likes science and there seems to be a weird kink between Sarge-ant and Lord Fingal (or am I just imagining it?). What a happy ending…
EP 38 THE BRIDGE BADGE
Duggee and the Squirrels are in the desert, looking at rocks, when they encounter 2 tribes of arguing gerbils, with the best accents ever – part smurf, part viking, all cute! There is a dispute over which tribe settled there first, and whether it should be called Nut Hill or Pear Valley (first time on a kids TV show I’ve heard the insult “nut breath” and get away with it). It turns out many years ago, the tribes worked together to create a drink called Blergen – a nutty pear concoction tastes like the first day of summer (allegedly).
Yet again, the gerbils argued and the tribes were split by a huge crack in the rock (earthquake) and for many years have been divided. And Blergen free. The Squirrels encourage the tribes to build a bridge to make Blergen again. Aided by Duggee’s blueprints, they build an amazing bridge, exchange gifts and get onto the serious business of making Blergen and partying hard.
And at the end, as The Squirrels get their Duggee Hug, look out for the 2 gerbils having a little loving hug together too – like a happier version of Romeo and Juliet…