The 'Saddle Club' is a modern version of Walt Disney's 1955-58 'Spin and Marty'. It is set in Australia and 'Pine Hollow' replaces the 'Triple R Ranch'. It has Stevie (Spin), Lisa (Marty), and Carol, the friends who call themselves the 'Saddle Club'. Both shows are hard to beat because a fantasy shared by most kids is to hang out with horses-ALL THE TIME. Instead of singing songs around the campfire, the girls are shown singing in a recording studio in the closing credits (which adds to the fantasy).
Both Saddle Club and Spin & Marty are little gems that kids will love until ages 11-13, secretly watch for another year, and then come back to in their mid-20's, wishing they were that age again. Most of the critical comments here are from kids who want to demonstrate to themselves that they have outgrown this stuff. I see little basis for criticism because 'Saddle Club' is pretty much up front about what it is and it delivers what it promises. If you don't want or need a straightforward story about the values of friendship, personal responsibility, and saddle club hugs; then don't watch.
While it is true that the episodes are somewhat formulaic, full of positive values, and almost always conclude with a mandatory happy ending; the plots revolve around some very serious subjects and bad things do happen to good people. Horses die, Carol struggles to come to terms with her mother's death, kids make mistakes that have serious negative consequences for themselves and others, and people that the kids are very fond of go away. It is not as lightweight as it first appears.
The show is amazingly strong on all areas of technical production. The camera shots are often very tight on the characters' faces and lots of reaction shots are used, the audio is excellent, and the editing is fast-paced and logically sequenced. Most shows could learn a lot from the way 'Saddle Club' is shot and edited.
The acting is a little weak, especially by the supporting characters. But Lara Marshall (Lisa), Keenan MacWilliams (Carol), and Heli Simpson (Veronica) are all solid. If they weren't solid they would not survive all those close-ups and reaction shots, the director would have abandoned his tight shot style since it exposes acting weakness.
The real gem of this cast is Zachary Bennett's little sister Sophie (Stevie). She looks like an expressive Lindsey Lohen and has made her character the most interesting of the group. Sometimes this is a self-fulfilling process as the writers pick up on who is the strongest actor and place more demands on them. Bennett is a fine dramatic actress who also teams well with Heli Simpson for comic relief. And Stevie's unlikely semi-romance with Phil has a strangely 'real' feel to it.
together we are, brighter than the sun; together we are, the calm inside the storm;
together we are, everything we need; together we are, more than the sum of us
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.