Just in time for Halloween, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has released the first four episodes of the new Disney Junior series Vampirina on DVD. The series is based on a series of children’s books by Anne Marie Pace and is executive produced by Chris Nee, the creator and executive producer of Doc McStuffins.
Vampirina is about a young vampire girl, Vampirina (also called “Vee”), who becomes the new kid in town after her family moves from Transylvania to Pennsylvania. Vee tries to change and suppress who she is in order to blend in, but she quickly learns to celebrate what makes her, and her friends, unique.
I caught the first episode of Vampirina when it premiered earlier this month, and even though the show is obviously aimed at a younger audience, I found it to be a lot of fun. I think the voice acting is particularly strong here — Isabella Cramp (Vampirina), Lauren Graham (Oxana), James Van Der Beek (Boris), Patti Lupone (Nanpire), and Wanda Sykes (Gregoria) are among the series “regulars,” while Falsettos star Andrew Rannells appears as an Egyptian mummy in one episode included here.
I like the character designs and overall look of the show, but I think what really sets Vampirina apart from the crowd is the music. I tend to think that everything would be better if it were a musical, so needless to say I was pleasantly surprised to find that the show includes original songs, and they’re quite good!
The four episodes included on this release — “Going Batty” and “Scare B&B”, “The Sleepover” and “Portrait of a Vampire”, “Vee’s Surprise Party” and “Vee Goes Viral”, and “The Plant Predicament” and “Mummy Mayhem” – are all quite fun and make for an impressive start for the show. The first episode nicely introduces the world and characters of the show, but I maybe would have liked for the first episode to be an hour-long special (like The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar) to give us just a bit more “world-building” and character development before getting going. Having said that though, I do like that each 22-minute episode actually consists of two shorter, 11-minute episodes — the show has a good sense of pacing, and I’m not sure if it would be as engaging in a longer format.
I was initially concerned that Vampirina might feel derivative of similar properties like Hotel Transylvania, but I’m relieved to report that so far, Vampirina is fun, fresh, and, as the DVD cover proclaims, “fang-tastic.” I can’t say that I’ll be tuning in for every new episode, but I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a five-year-old who wouldn’t enjoy this show. In a world with a seemingly boundless amount of content for young viewers, it’s good to see something that doesn’t talk down to its viewers and that parents can genuinely enjoy watching with their kids.
Purchase Vampirina Volume One on DVD
Edited by: Hannah Wilkes