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    The Saddle Club - Adventures at Pine Hollow
    ABC/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 84 mins . PG . PAL


    Set in a riding school, and featuring a gaggle of 12-year-old girls about to make the transition from horses to boys, The Saddle Club falls at too many hurdles to really be a winner.

    The three heroines of the piece - Carole, Stevie and Lisa - are bland and boring - the horses have more character. The only person with real life is the evil Veronica, a 12-year-old version of Alexis from Dynasty - she can pout to perfection, and has a snooty accent any girl from Lauriston or Ascham would die for.

    The best children's material, whether books or television, has a timeless appeal. Harry Potter spans all ages, as did Enid Blyton for that matter, and I'm never sure whether The Goodies were intended for children or adults - it hardly mattered; they appealed to all.

    But The Saddle Club appears to have been crafted to appeal to a very narrow age group, and one which is considerably younger than the PG rating the DVD carries. It lacks universal appeal, and will not, I fear, win classic status.

    This 84-minute film version of the television series has been edited down from the first 15 half-hour episodes of the series. It hangs together pretty coherently and will provide a harmless afternoon's entertainment for children aged 10 to 12.

    Back in the days before DVD, I taped a few episodes of Play Sschool with the dynamic duo of Noni Hazlehurst and John Hamblyn, and I think hardly a day went by without one of my three children demanding a repeat viewing. I can't imagine anyone wanting to view The Saddle Club more than once - it's definitely a renter only. There again, I might be underestimating the demand for this sort of material - there could be a whole sub-culture out there of horsey children whose idea of heaven is watching films about other kids on horses.


    This is a decent full-screen transfer of made-for-television material.

    The extras, grouped together under the heading 'Inside the Saddle Club' will be fine for the age-group it's reaching. They carry full illustrated profiles of the characters - children and horses!

    There is a guide to the story, and a short Picture Gallery. That's all there is, but it seems enough for this release.

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  •   And I quote...
    "Juvenile fodder for the horsey set..."
    - Anthony Clarke
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