Gabby Gets the Hiccups
Kitty Cat Cam
MerCat Gets Her Sparkle Back
Every year a whole wave of new children’s TV comes storming out the gate hoping to grab a child’s attention long enough to make it a hit. In an era of iPads and tablets, mobile games and YouTube, it must be increasingly difficult for show creators to find a solid premise that will hold a child’s attention. Gabby’s Dollhouse is the latest to try its hand and based on this showing it could be a winner.
Given how endearing cats are to preschoolers, this hook is amplified through every facet of the production to make everything cat-themed. In its simplest form, Gabby’s Dollhouse combines elements of Blues Clues, Dora The Explorer and Doc McStuffins to create a wonderful cat-tastic hybrid that should please kids. The show seems to be designed and tailored for girls (although some boys may enjoy this too) complete with songs, colourful characters and engaging segments for kids to get involved with.
The set-up here is simple and pretty similar across every episode. Each chapter begins in the real-world as our cat-loving Gabby receives some mail through her meow, meow mailbox. Once opened, our heroine then shrinks down into her cat dollhouse, ditching reality for CGI graphics to engage in an adventure that takes up the rest of the episode.
These adventures range from pirate-themed days, gameshow re-enactments, creating healthy snacks and even trying to cure the hiccups. It’s all relatively straight forward stuff and there’s a decent amount of variety between each episode to keep things fresh.
Fleshing out the world are a host of memorable cats (and a Panda called Pandy Paws) that have their own quirks and personality traits. Mischievous blue cat CatRat is essentially Meowth from Pokemon. Cakey is a hyperactive cupcake cat, complete with sprinkle tears.
MerCat is a mermaid cat, Babybox is the crafting cat and, of course, Floyd is the real cat who pops up from time to time. Across each episode Gabby visits these characters and enlists their help or goes on a mission to help them. Themes of friendship, love and joy are big mainstays here and help keep everything feeling suitably warm and cuddly.
Each episode also includes a musical number or a crafting gig at the end too, which is a really nice way to break things up. As a minor gripe, some of these do feel a little repetitive, with the aforementioned pirate and hiccup episodes using identical ingredients to make a face but in a slightly different way. This really isn’t that much of a deterrent though and to be honest kids will hardly notice.
Gabby’s Dollhouse has a lot going for it and to be fair, Netflix are usually pretty good with their animated offerings for children. This one throws a lot of different influences into the hat but manages to conjure up a cute, bubbly show that may strike a chord with kids.
It’s definitely worth putting on an episode or two for your preschooler to see if this one sticks. If it does, there’s a lot of episodes to blast through that should keep your little ones busy for a while.
Verdict - 7.5/10