New Apple TV+ children’s show Eva the Owlet is a typically cute entry into the streaming service’s very respectable collection of kiddie fare. Eva and her friends, her family and her pet bat, Baxter, get into one misadventure after another in the little village of Treetopington.
The animated show, which premiered Friday, is about creative problem-solving and making room in your heart for everyone. Memorably animated and earnestly performed, this one’s an easy recommendation for kids.
Eva the Owlet review: Season one
Season 1: Eva (voiced by Vivienne Rutherford) is an ambitious little owlet with all the usual problems that assail kids. She wants to be impressive in all things and help the other animals closest to her, but she can’t always make her ambition and her relative skill align.
Take, for instance, her desire to win a prize for her teacher, Ms. Featherbottom (voiced by Kenna Ramsey), at a cooking competition. Ms. Featherbottom needs a new smock for painting, and the prize at the contest is a shiny new apron. Wouldn’t it be great to surprise her with that? Of course, it means Eva must compete against her try-hard classmate, Sue (voiced by Sarah Vattano). And then when they knock into each other, their desserts accidentally combine, so they decide to enter together. Problem solved.
Later, the appearance of a ghost sends Eva and her friends off in search of the supernatural, only to discover that they have new corporeal neighbors following a map Eva’s mom (voiced by Jessica DiCicco) drew for them as a housewarming gift. They’re just flying so fast that they look like ghosts.
And when Eva and her brother, Humphrey (voiced by Sasha Yurchak), look after their infant sibling, Mo (also voiced by DiCicco), they need to get him to bed. The trouble is, they underestimated how good their parents are at parenting — and how ill-equipped they are to step into their shoes.
When the sun goes down and the moon comes out
Eva the Owlet is based on The New York Times bestselling Owl Diaries book series by Rebecca Elliott and shepherded by Annabeth & Connor (Annabeth Bondor-Stone and Connor White), two educators and illustrators who also worked on the Apple TV+ show Helpsters.
The show’s computer-generated animation exudes a charming, hand-drawn feeling. I’m a fan of the fact that the owls kind of look like they’re stuffed animals or pillows. Pilot director Damien O’Connor has a lot of high-profile stuff under his belt, from working for Nickelodeon to releasing an apparently very highly lauded series of Frank McCourt adaptations on Netflix. That’s a hefty resume for an animator, so I feel a little silly that this is the first I’m hearing his name.
He also brought with him his fellow Doc McStuffins crew member Mark Rusk. Another Eva the Owlet director, Dries Naudé, was also unknown to me, but based on this alone, they’ve all got a distinct visual sensibility, a gentle nature and a way with their voice actors. I was impressed.
Welcome to a charming world in the treetops
It’s very cozy indeed to spend time in the world of Eva the Owlet. The show’s setting, a perennially nocturnal world high in the treetops, has roots in all kinds of fantasy literature (think Lothlórien in The Lord of the Rings or the canopies of Venus in the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs). It’s an idea that never gets old or hard on the eyes.
I also appreciate that the only real throughline from episode to episode is that Eva is a burgeoning writer. She keeps track of her strategies during her problem-solving sessions as well as her emotional state. She’s a critical thinker and a diarist, and that’s never a bad thing to get kids to think about. It shows them the power of remembering things while they’re still fresh in your head, and being as forthright about your responses to problems as possible.
It’s a nice little show, this.
Watch Eva the Owlet on Apple TV+
You can now watch all eight episodes of the first season of Eva the Owlet on Apple TV+.
Watch on: Apple TV+
Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the author of Cinemaphagy: On the Psychedelic Classical Form of Tobe Hooper and But God Made Him A Poet: Watching John Ford in the 21st Century, the director of 30 feature films, and the director and editor of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.