EP 22 THE MIXTAPE BADGE
Our children will never experience the highs and lows of making a mixtape: the careful curation of tunes for someone you're trying to impress... The careful design of the cover to show you care, you really do. Our kids will never know any of this - to them it's just a playlist. But it was much more than that. It was an art form. This episode tries to teach kids this.
The Squirrels are up in the attic, sorting through stuff (mind the holy grail and the Faberge egg) when they come across a cassette tape – no idea what it is, but when Duggee puts it on, they hear the music that Duggee recorded many years ago, in his experimental phase. To put it plainly, some of it sounds bonkers, but as the images flash up, you can see Duggee as Robert Smith from The Cure, Orbital, Bjork, possibly Dave Grohl, and the saxophonist is Ornette Coleman. The Squirrels then decide to their own mixtape for Duggee, remembering all the great times they had on their badges. It’s at this point that we see memories from other badges THAT WE’VE NOT SEEN ON THE TV. This drove my eldest mad – “Those badges don’t exist! They don’t exist!” I love the Mario Kart and Mary Poppins references in these memories – I hope they appear as future episodes. Please?
EP 23 THE TASTE BADGE
Duggee makes an Anchovy smoothie. Grim. Some of the Squirrels love it, some hate it. Our wise narrator states, no-one is wrong, but it is a matter of taste. Duggee talks them through all the different parts of the palate, and they make their own smoothies. Once made, they go through a bit of a wine tasting moment of smelling, swilling around the mouth. To be honest, I’m quite keen on Roly’s smoothie – carrot, ginger and chocolate. That gets my vote. Tag is quietly munching his way through all the smoothies, and gets a bit of a stomach ache – his squeaky fart at the end has all of us in our house creased up. Yes, I know I’m immature, but you’re the one reading a blog about a kids show!
Cute little tribute to Eric Carle's Very Hungry Caterpillar in there too – “Cabbage!”
EP 24 THE BIOLOGY BADGE
Hey Duggee tackles Inner Space! Duggee starts to talk to the Squirrels about biology, when Enid starts making weird noises. This appears to be the perfect opportunity to build a fantastic flying machine (or Biology bus). To be honest, if an animal starts making retching noises, the last place I want to be is inside it – I’m more concerned with getting them out the house.
I digress – The Squirrels miniaturise themselves, and travel inside Enid to see what the problem is (why can’t they just take her to the vet FFS?). After passing through, seeing her brain, heart and lungs, they enter her stomach and see a huge furball. This is the cause of the problem. And it needs to come out!
Little nod to Star Wars with Roly’s “Punch it, Duggee!” If anyone needs it, here’s a punch it supercut.
EP 25 THE PUDDLE BADGE
Now we have a Roland Emmerich style disaster movie - a pastiche of Independence Day but more significantly, Godzilla. Happy finds a puddle, but what he doesn’t realise is that the puddle is home to a colony of midges, who can see this green giant threatening their way of life. Happy just wants to be Happy and splash (the anarchist that he is). All the movie clichés are there – Harsh general, eccentric scientist and maverick pilot. Back in the real world, Duggee explains that a green puddle is usually not a great one to jump in, as it can stink and also make you ill. Happy steps away, and midgetropolis is saved! And the beauty of it is that love saves the day.
Blink and you miss it Marge and Homer Simpson appearance – designers on point and showing their own loves onscreen!
EP 26 THE ELECTION BADGE
A timely delivery by Studio AKA! Released on the day of the 2019 UK General Election, this episode sought to give youngsters an insight into the electoral process - albeit with far more palatable candidates...
Lord Fingal and Buggee are both campaigning for the opportunity to manage the Summer Fair following Eugene's resignation. It's a battle between the rich and powerful, and the literal little people. The Squirrels are split across both parties, but still remain friends - take note, grown ups! In the end, it's a hung election, and both Lord Fingal and Buggee work together to make it the best Summer Fair ever. Top marks too for the mock up of the swingometer, and Duggee in full Jon Snow get up (no, not that one - although that would be a sight to behold!)
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.