Care Bears Welcome to Care-a-Lot - Compassion -- Not! - Beastly and Grumpy Bear

After hyping up this new show for weeks the premiere came and went without any comment. Why, you might wonder? Well as a Canadian I do not have access to the Hub, but fear not as the “first” episode of Care Bears: Welcome to Care-a-Lot is now available for viewing online at the hub’s web site, for a limited time, to people who live in the US. I found the show decent, with some nice animation, some nice characters and a few good jokes, but ultimately probably too juvenile to find a home with adult fans.

Care Bears Welcome to Care-a-Lot - Compassion -- Not! - Penny arrives in Care-a-Lot

One thing to note is that this was in fact not the first episode. This is episode 5 “Compassion — NOT!”. Why start with episode 5? I can’t pretend to understand the thought process of network executives. Perhaps this was a stronger episode they thought would hook more fans? All I know is that it not being the first episode was a bit annoying. From one of the preview clips we knew that “Care Kids” were transported to Care-a-Lot via a “Care and Share Charm”. This information would have been helpful to tell audiences in this episode, instead a girl named Penny is brought in by a rainbow and seems very unsurprised to be transported to this magical world of talking Bears who she’s meeting for the first time. Her acceptance of this incredible situation is something I can only compare to the unsurprised reaction of various characters from Megaman Upon a Star when Megaman enters the real world from the video game world. Another annoying situations is that Wonderheart Bear clearly has a belly badge, although a plot point of the first episode will obviously be her getting one.

Care Bears Welcome to Care-a-Lot - Compassion -- Not! - Grumpy Bear

My favourite part of this show, or at least this episode, were the characters of Grumpy Bear and Beastly. Grumpy Bear has a great kind of hostile kind of sarcastic attitude which plays off great against the super happy super positive world he’s in. Beastly, looking nothing like his counterpart from the 80s cartoon, actually sounds quite a bit like the old character. I suppose he’s some kind of villain, but he really doesn’t come off as a terribly bad guy, and the other Bears don’t seem too concerned about him being out and about. He seems more like a kind of jerk friend that everyone kind of tolerates. Oh yeah and him and his little buddies are excessively cute!

Care Bears Welcome to Care-a-Lot - Compassion -- Not! - Beastly's sidekicks and Grumpy Bear

In fact most characters in this show look very … well huggable. There seems to have been a great deal of effort into getting the fur just right to make kids want to run out and … oh I don’t know, buy a toy version of one of these toyetic characters. The animation in general is a real mixed bag, with the Care Bears looking really fantastic, with really interesting movement in their ears, with motion captured actors giving their movements life, but at the same time some of the backgrounds seem a bit simple, and the human characters look decent, but lame in contrast to the vibrant Care Bears.

Care Bears Welcome to Care-a-Lot - Compassion -- Not! - Fur close up

Most of the other characters aren’t much to write home about. They’re happy, positive, kid friendly Care Bears. Oh yes and Harmony, who sings all the time, is excessively annoying. There’s no excuse for that. I had been hoping to hear some My Little Pony voice actors in this show, but there were none as this show is recorded at Salami Studios in Los Angeles, while My Little Pony is recorded in Vancouver. The best performance comes from Doug Erholtz who voices both of the great characters Grumpy Bear and Beastly. As the show still has no imdb page, I’ve included a list of the voice cast below:

David Lodge as Tenderheart Bear
Michaela Dean as Wonderheart Bear
Patty Mattson as Cheer Bear
Stephanie Sheh as Share Bear
Doug Erholtz as Grumpy Bear and Beastly
Nayo Wallace as Harmony Bear
Michael Sinterniklass as Funshine Bear
Katherine Shepler as Penny

Ultimately the overall story of the show was fairly standard. Grumpy Bear got in a fix and Funshine Bear just wanted to have fun, so he had to learn a nice lesson to go save the day. In an unintentionally humourous scene Penny apologizes to Harmony Bear for only wanting to have fun and neglecting to help Grumpy Bear. Yeah that’s great, but maybe she should apologize to the guy who’s stuck in quick sand … you know AFTER she helps get him out of it.

Care Bears Welcome to Care-a-Lot - Compassion -- Not! - Grumpy Bear stuck in the mud

There was a lot of buzz online about how The Hub was trying to make lighting strike twice by having Care Bears: Welcome to Care-a-Lot gain a similar following to what My Little Pony had gotten. This upset “Bronies”, many of which chose to discount the show without seeing it, ironic for a group so often judged by those who do the same. I don’t feel this show has the same quality that caused My Little Pony to be appreciated by older fans, but as far as the Hub is concerned this means very little as long as it manages to gain some acceptance amongst young children who are the show’s target demographic.

Care Bears Welcome to Care-a-Lot - Compassion -- Not! - Care Bear stare

I enjoyed Care Bears: Welcome to Care-a-Lot and will probably be checking out future episodes. Tune in to the Hub Saturdays at 8am to see the show for yourselves and let us know how you like it, and whether or not you’d like us to keep covering news about it.

Care Bears Welcome to Care-a-Lot - Compassion -- Not! - Beastly

Care Bears Welcome to Care-a-Lot - Compassion -- Not! - Tenderheart Bear and Wonderheart Bear

Care Bears Welcome to Care-a-Lot - Compassion -- Not! - Harmony Bear, Grumpy Bear, Funshine Bear, Share Bear and Cheer Bear