The World Wars Is One Of 2014’s Top New Documentaries

Courtesy:  A&E Home Video/History Channel

Courtesy: A&E Home Video/History Channel

History Channel’s new powerhouse documentary The World Wars is easily one of this year’s best new documentaries hands down.  It is the proverbial icing on the cake that the network started baking earlier this year with the release of 100 Years of WWI and continued working this summer with 75 Years of World War II.  And along with the PBS documentary Day of Days: June 6th, 1945, it makes complete the collection of any history and military history buff this year. The first and most important aspect of this double-disc set that audiences will appreciate is its depth of information.  100 Years of WWI and 75 Years of WWII were specifically directed at the technology and battles of WWI and WWII.  This presentation is far broader in its content.  It focuses on the history of both wars and more specifically how the events of WWI would lead four specific figures to be the most important individuals of World War II.  The combination of re-enactors and footage of the wars together heightens the content provided across the presentation.  That is the second factor that audiences will appreciate in this documentary.  And last but not least worth noting is the breadth of bonus material included in the program.  The bonus material included in the Blu-ray and DVD presentation of The World Wars gives even more depth to not just the history of the wars but to those most important figures of the wars—Patton, Stalin, Hitler, and Churchill.  Each figure receives special attention in its own bonus special feature.  These bonuses are just some of the many bonuses added to the DVD and Blu-ray to enhance the overall viewing experience.  And they do just that.  The bonus material together with the rich content and the focus on the wars’ primary figures make this program an absolute must have for any lover of history whether it be military or history in general.  It is just as invaluable a tool in the classroom or in the living room.  It proves that much more just why this presentation is one of the year’s best new documentaries.

History Channel’s new military history documentary The World Wars is one of this year’s best new documentaries.  The central reasoning for this argument is the documentary’s sheer breadth of information.  The network already released earlier this year a pair of documentaries centered on the World Wars in the form of 100 Years of WWI and 75 Years of WWII.  Those documentaries presented more directed content than this presentation.  Where 100 Years of WWI and 75 Years of WWII focused on more directed content—they focused primarily on the technology that was developed as a result of the wars and a couple of the wars’ more important battles—The World Wars offers audiences a far more broad picture.  It leaves absolutely no stone unturned in its telling of how both wars started.  From the political and economic causes of the wars to their political and economic ramifications and much more, audiences might find themselves shocked at some of the material included in this four-and-a-half hour presentation.  Among the most interesting facts to learn in watching the program is that then President Woodrow Wilson actually tried to prevent the League of Nations from forcing economic penalties on Germany as he and others knew the potential problems with doing so.  Audiences will be just as surprised to learn that Hitler actually escaped death three separate times throughout his time in the German army in WWI.  One of the academics tapped to help add to the story explains that the very first of those times was a showdown between himself and a fully armed British soldier.  He asks hypothetically can audiences imagine how much the world’s history would have changed had that first encounter led to Hitler’s death.  It’s definitely a mind twist when one really sits down and thinks about it.  There is even mention of how the Japanese, despite having contributed troops to the Allied efforts in WWI were shut out at the conference that led to the crafting of the Treaty of Versailles.  It goes without saying that the representatives at the conference were probably a bit upset over this, potentially leading to part of the motivation behind Japan’s negative feelings toward the U.S. before its attack on Pearl Harbor.  These are just some of the examples of how much content is shared throughout The World Wars’ near five-hour run time.  There is far more material and information proving how much depth this program possesses and why that depth is key to the program’s success.

The amount of information shared throughout The World Wars’ four-and-a-half-hour run time is key to the presentation’s overall success.  The amount of information included throughout this program could rival any college level history course.  The additional combination of actual footage from both wars alongside re-enactors goes a long way towards helping viewers grasp the material being discussed in each segment of the program.  The actors make it clear through their portrayals that they understood the importance of what they were doing, too. They did so by not overacting. It showed that they understood they weren’t in a “based on actual events” major Hollywood blockbuster, but a still professionally produced piece nonetheless. It just so happened that the piece in question is a straight forward historical documentary.

The in-depth content provided throughout The World Wars by itself makes this historical documentary well worth the watch by itself. That content would have been nothing without the addition of the program’s actual wartime footage and re-enactments. The World Wars would have been a success if it had only been highlighted by these factors. Of course, those behind the semi-mini-series didn’t rest on those laurels. They also included a bevy of bonus material that puts the presentation over the top. Included as bonus material is a collection of profiles on the most important figures of World War I and World War II, and a pair of short features on both the technology developed in the wars and life in the trenches. There is also an in-depth piece that adds even more background on the wars in which one of the most important statements is made. One of the historians interviewed for the program notes here that the Treaty of Versailles was essentially the catalyst for the start of WWII because of its language. She goes on to note that WWI and WWII were in reality not two wars, but two parts of one global conflict. It’s just that the world rested for two decades before the second part of that conflict re-ignited. It’s really an interesting concept to consider. And in hindsight, watching The World Wars in whole, her statement makes quite a bit of sense. It becomes perhaps one of the most important statements of the entire presentation. There are plenty of other important notes and facts shared throughout the bonus features included in The World Wars. Whether it be those notes and facts, the profiles or the other bonus material included in the package, the bonus features are collectively a final fitting touch to a documentary that is one of the year’s best new documentaries if not the best of the year.

The bonus material included in The World Wars by themselves are impressive in their own right. They offer their own depth and enjoyment for any military history buff or history buff in general. Along with the content of the primary presentation, and the footage and re-enactments, the bonus material included in the package makes the entire presentation that is The World Wars complete. Collectively, everything noted here proves that its various reality TV series aside, History Channel does in fact still offer quality content worthy of being called one of the year’s best new documentaries if not the year’s best new documentary. The World Wars is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered online direct from History Channel’s online store at http://shop.history.com/the-world-wars-blu-ray/detail.php?p=567846&v=history_show_world-wars. More information on this and other History Channel programs is available online at http://www.facebook.com/History. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Buddy’s Halloween Adventure Offers Plenty Of Family Friendly Frights And More

 

Courtesy: PBS Kids/PBS/The Jim Henson Company

Courtesy: PBS Kids/PBS/The Jim Henson Company

PBS Kids’ new Dinosaur Train DVD Dinosaur Train: Buddy’s Halloween Adventure is yet another wonderful addition to any child’s Halloween party this year.  The DVD, which is just the latest of the series’ compilations to be released this year, offers plenty of enjoyment for viewers of all ages.  The first and most important aspect in the enjoyment of this collection of episodes is the writing behind each of its episodes.  The series’ writers have expertly balanced the series’ educational content with its more entertaining side once again in this collection.  Another reason that families will enjoy this new DVD is its animation.  Because the shorts included in this collection take place in fall settings, the colors seem even more vivid than in previously released Dinosaur Train DVDs.  Last but not least of all worth noting is the inclusion once again of more activities and coloring pages for the whole family to enjoy together as bonus material.  All three factors are impressive in their own right.  Collectively, they make Dinosaur Train: Buddy’s Halloween Adventure a great addition to any family’s Halloween festivities this year.

The main point of success in Dinosaur TrainBuddy’s Halloween Adventure is its writing.  Once again, the series’ writers have balanced expertly the series’ educational side with its more entertaining side. Included in this collection of episodes are two fall-themed episodes and a pair of Halloween-themed episodes.  The Halloween-themed episodes are totally family friendly.  Parents especially will enjoy seeing the Pteranodon kids go to the *ooohhhh* haunted roundhouse where the Dinosaur Train is kept.  That’s because the party going on in the roundhouse includes lots of activities that are universal and timeless.  There are decorations of course.  There are also little things like having guests reach into a large pot for some creature’s eyes, etc.  Of course it isn’t that, as the conductor assures the kids.  Along the way, the kids meet a new nocturnal friend and learn more about nocturnal creatures.  The kids also learn about nocturnal creatures in the DVD’s opening episode “Night Train.”  Neither episode is too scary for younger audiences. And both episodes offer plenty of interesting educational content, too.  “Fossil Fred” and “Big Pond Pumpkin” are both welcome additions to the DVD, too.  Both episodes are specifically fall-themed episodes in which the kids learn about more kinds of dinosaurs.  All the while, the episodes get young viewers into a fall mindset, getting them excited about the change in the weather and going out to pick pumpkins, etc. That balance of education is just as prevalent in these shorts as in the previous pair mentioned.  And together, all four shorts make for plenty of family friendly viewing as Halloween gets near.  For that matter, all four episodes are just as great a choice for any family’s kid friendly Halloween party.

The writing behind the shorts included on PBS Kids’ new Dinosaur Train do more than their own share in terms of making the DVD a welcome addition to any family’s Halloween festivities this year.  Not to be ignored in this collection is the “animation” of each episode.  While the animation is the same, what stands out in terms of that animation is the use of color in each short.  Those familiar with Dinosaur Train know that while some of the series’ episodes take place at night, those episodes are far outnumbered by the episodes that take place in the daytime.  So seeing episodes that take place at sunset and even in the dark is something somewhat different than other episodes.  The show’s animators obviously went to great lengths to make the colors match the episodes’ settings.  And that work paid off, too.  Little things like the way the sunlight and moonlight work against the characters and the backdrops make the scenes so rich visually.  Even little things like the pumpkins in “Big Pond Pumpkin” were given their own special detail and coloring. The use of color against the light and dark in “Night Train” is another good example of that work.  It shows that the animators didn’t just toss something together and call it done.  They really wanted to give the shorts a feel that was as realistic as possible in terms of its visual effects.  That goal was accomplished quite well.  It proves in the end to be one more prime reason that viewers of all ages will enjoy this new release from PBS Kids and The Jim Henson Company.

The writing in each of the episodes on this DVD offers plenty of enjoyment for viewers of all ages, just as with every previous Dinosaur Train DVD. The animation stands out even more than ever here because the episodes take place largely at night at dusk.  While nighttime episodes of Dinosaur Train aren’t completely unheard of, they are far less prevalent than the regular daytime episodes.  It’s something minor.  But it is important nonetheless to the overall presentation’s enjoyment.  Last but not least of all that makes this DVD another hit for every family is its bonus material.  Included as bonus material on this DVD, is a great lesson from the episode “Dinosaurs A to Z.”  Parents can print out a chart with the names of the dinosaurs introduced on “Dinosaurs A to Z” in this activity and use it in conjunction with a group of index cards also containing the names of said dinosaurs on one side and letters of the alphabet on the other.  It is a dual lesson of sorts that makes the overall viewing experience even more enjoyable for the while family.  There are also printable coloring pages for the kids.  These bonuses collectively serve as one more positive factor to the overall presentation that is Dinosaur Train: Buddy’s Halloween Adventure.  Together with the episodes’ writing and their animation, audiences of all ages get one more wonderfully enjoyable addition to any family’s Halloween party and DVD collection in general.

Dinosaur Train: Buddy’s Halloween Adventure offers plenty of enjoyment for viewers of all ages.  It is a great tool for any parent looking to give kids a safe and fun Halloween memory this year.  The episodes themselves offer plenty of kid friendly frights and fun.  They also offer wonderfully crafted animation that is rarely seen from other episodes of Dinosaur Train.  And the bonuses offer their own entertaining and educational content for kids and parents alike.  Each factor plays its own part in the overall success and enjoyment of this DVD.  Together, they make it even more proof of why Dinosaur Train remains one of PBS Kids’ most beloved series and why any family will welcome this DVD whether on Halloween or any other time of the year.  It is available now on DVD and can be ordered online now direct from the PBS online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=42447476&cp=&kw=dinosaur+train+buddys+halloween+adventure&origkw=Dinosaur+Train+Buddy%27s+Halloween+Adventure&sr=1.  Kids and parents can check out even more episodes of Dinosaur Train and play Dinosaur Train games online now at http://pbs.org/dinosaurtrain.  Families can also keep up with the latest Dinosaur Train updates online via Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/DinosaurTrain.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Say Hello To Shalom Sesame Again This Fall

Courtesy:  SISU Home Entertainment

Courtesy: SISU Home Entertainment

SISU Home Entertainment will re-issue the Sesame Street series Shalom Sesame next month.

The twelve-episode series is spread across six discs with two episodes on each disc, all of which chronologically follow the Jewish calendar. It all starts with an introduction to Israel and Hebrew. From there, viewers are taken on a trip through the various important dates on the Jewish calendar with the whole thing culminating in a trip taken by beloved Sesame Street resident Grover and guest star Annelies van der Pol (That’s So Raven, Broadway’s Beauty and the Beast). Throughout the trip, the duo highlights the importance and richness of the Jewish culture and its associated traditions. Each half-hour episode pulls from those traditions and culture in general to teach young American audiences about the Jewish community. The episodes include lessons on Hebrew letters and words, unique sites in Israel, and Jewish values.

It was originally released on DVD October 11th, 2011. The new upcoming re-issue will see the series contained in a thin pack gift box, which will retail for MSRP of $99.95. It will include a free bonus DVD that features two episodes from the classic Shalom Sesame series—“Jerusalem” and “People of Israel.” Also included in this upcoming re-issue is a free 30-day trial of download of the program “Welcome to Israel.” That program is the first episode from the original Shalom Sesame series. It is currently available online at http://www.sisudigital.com.

Along with the main series and its bonus DVD, Shalom Sesame also includes a number of bonus features. There is a trailer for another series titled Grover’s Video Player, sing-alongs and a chance for young viewers to do their own karaoke with songs such as ‘Aleph Bet Song,’ ‘’Rosh Hashanah Hannah (a spoof of Disney’s Hannah Montana), and even the most beloved Sesame Street song of all, ‘Rubber Ducky.’ The catch with that final song is that it is done entirely in Hebrew. And Annelies van der Pol is not the only celebrity to make an appearance throughout the series. Fellow celebrities Jake Gyllenhaal, Debra Messing, Matisyahu, Eva Longoria, Christina Applegate, Greg Kinnear, Debi Mazar also make appearances throughout the series.

Shalom Sesame will be available Tuesday, October 14th on DVD. Parents and children can view trailers for the series online now via YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/shalomesesame. More information on Shalom Sesame is available online at
Website: http://www.shalomsesame.org
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ShalomSesame
Parents can also order separate stand-alone episodes of Shalom Sesame online now at http://www.sisuent.com.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

PBS Kids Releasing New Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood DVD Gift Set Next Month

Courtesy:  PBS/PBS Kids

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Kids

Officials with PBS announced Tuesday that the network will release a special Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood gift set this fall.

PBS and PBS Kids will release Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Daniel Tiger’s Happy Holidays in a special gift set on Tuesday, October 14th. The special gift set includes Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Daniel Tiger’s Happy Holidays and a Daniel Tiger toy. The DVD features seven more episodes from the award-winning series, one of which—“Snowflake Day”—is a two-part episode. Everyone in Daniel’s neighborhood celebrates “Snowflake Day” each year. In celebration, the neighborhood holds a community play. And this year, Daniel is the star of the play.

Daniel learns how letters are mailed off in the DVD’s second episode, “Something Special For Dad” after he sees how happy his dad having received a letter from Grandpere in the mail. Seeing how happy the letter made his dad, Daniel wants to mail a letter to his dad, too. So he and his mom go to the post office where they learn how mail is sorted and mailed. To top off his visit, Daniel even gets to join Mr. McSpeedy on his rounds and hand deliver his letter to his dad.

“I Love You, Mom” is another wonderful addition to this compilation of episodes. In this episode, Daniel wants to tell his mom how much he loves her, but wants to do it in a special way. So he and his dad go to Baker Aker’s bakery where they learn how bread is made. While they are there, Daniel gets to make banana bread for his mom. Banana bread is one of her favorite foods. Daniel and his dad bring the bread back and surprise her with the bread, which she then shares with Daniel and his dad.

Grandpere Tiger makes a special visit to Daniel and his parents in “Thank You, Grandpere Tiger,” the fourth episode included on this new DVD. There’s just one problem. Grandpere can’t stay for the neighborhood’s annual “Thank You Day” celebration. That makes Daniel sad. In the process, Daniel learns to be thankful for the time that he and Grandpere get to spend together and gets a very special surprise when it turns out that Grandpere is at the neighborhood’s annual celebration.

Following up on Grandpere’s visit, the DVD continues with the episode “Neighborhood Thank You Day.” Viewers learn all about the neighborhood’s annual “Thank You Day” celebration in this episode. Every year during the “Thank You Day” celebration, everyone in the neighborhood puts a note in the “Thank You Tree” as a way to say thank you to one another. Daniel can’t decide who he wants to thank with his note. He does finally come to a decision. It all ends with a special Thank You Day feast that includes everyone in the neighborhood.

The DVD’s penultimate episode, “Katerina’s Costume” features on Katerina as she is trying to decide what outfit she wants to wear for the neighborhood’s annual Dress Up Day. Daniel and Miss Elena, on the other hand, have no problem deciding on their costumes. Katerina does eventually make her decision.

“Dress Up Day” closes out the DVD. Much like the case of Halloween, Daniel and his friends go to all the stores in their neighborhood, showing off their costumes on Dress Up Day. They get different stickers at every store they visit.

The upcoming DVD gift set will be available Tuesday, October 14th. It will retail for MSRP of $14.99. the DVD will also be available alongside the gift set as a stand-alone presentation. It will retail for MSRP of $12.99. It can be ordered online at PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=45475006&cp=&kw=daniel+tigers+happy+holidays&origkw=Daniel+Tiger%27s+Happy+Holidays&sr=1.

Parents and children can watch more episodes of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and play games together online at http://pbskids.org/daniel. Parents and children can keep up with the latest news from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood online at http://www.facebook.com/danieltigertv. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

The Rescue Bots Are Back On The Job With Another Fun DVD For The Whole Family

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Shout! Kids

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Shout! Kids

The latest compilation of episodes from Hasbro Studios’ Transformers Rescue Bots is another great collection for any fan of this kid friendly series.  The compilation, which was released last Tuesday, September 2nd, is especially well-timed considering the proximity of its release to Halloween.  That is primarily because of the five episodes featured in the disc.  The episodes presented on this disc offer their own not so scary stories that are still a good fit for any child’s Halloween party.  For those that might be new to this series (like this critic), said audiences will also appreciate the series’ animation.  Being another product of Hasbro studios, it should come as no surprise that the series’ animation plays a role in its enjoyment, too.  And last but not least of all worth noting in the overall presentation is the series’ list of voice talents.  The actors charged with putting a voice to the series’ characters are largely well-known figures.  They are figures that have quite the resume when it comes to animated programs, children’s programs, and sci-fi shows, too.  Some have experience in all three realms, making their acting all the more believable and in turn enjoyable.  The combination of those experienced voice talents and the series’ animation and writing makes Transformers Rescue Bots: Mystery Rescue just as enjoyable for those that are new to this series as those that are more familiar with the show.

Transformers Rescue Bots: Mystery Rescue is the fifth compilation of episodes from the Hub network’s hit children’s series.  The compilation was released just last week in stores.  Its timing could not have been better taking into account its episodes and the fact that Halloween is a little more than a month away.  The episodes collected for this compilation each present their own not so scary but still entertaining story for kids at their Halloween parties this year.  The DVD opens with a mystery that sees everyone in Griffin Rock suddenly disappearing after a horde of robotic bugs infests the town.  It’s up to Cody, his friends, and the Rescue Bots to solve the mystery.  The second episode sees some “ghosts” suddenly appearing.  It turns out though, that things aren’t always what they appear to be when Cody and the Rescue Bots investigate the “hauntings.”  There’s even a little twist that parents and kids alike will like, regardless of whether or not they are believers.  “Spellbound” is the third episode chosen for the DVD.  One could argue that this episode lifts lightly from Stephen King’s novel Cell as cell phones are being used to take over the minds of the Griffin Rock’s citizens.  This is an especially enjoyable episode not only for this reason, but for its emphasis on caring for the environment.  “Blame The Gremlins” is another great addition that parents and children will appreciate as it offers its own frightful fun.  When Cody’s big brother Kade (voiced by Jason Marsden) starts having nightmares about gremlins, those nightmares become reality and invade Griffin Rock.  Parents that are familiar with Rod Serling’s original Twilight Zone series will appreciate the subtle homage to the episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” in this episode.  One could even argue that there’s a subtle reference to a certain gremlin from Warner Brothers’ beloved Looney Tunes franchise.  “Feed The Beast” closes out the DVD with a little tale of Griffin Rock’s own version of the legendary Sasquatch.  As with the discs other episodes, it offers its own frightful fun for younger viewers.  All of the episodes together will keep young viewers fully engaged from start to finish.

Of the stories included on this disc are not enough enjoyment by themselves, audiences that might be new to Transformers Rescue Bots will appreciate the fact that the episodes are kid friendly.  They don’t have the level of violence and deep, thought provoking material that makes up the original Transformers franchise or any of its offshoots over the years.  It makes for a fun and safe way to ease younger viewers into the Transformers universe.  It could be argued that to that extent, it actually takes a page from the likes of Tiny Toon Adventures, The Flintstone Kids, Taz-Mania and others that came from that era.  That’s because while many critics came down hard on the series, the reality was that they were in fact a way to slowly and gently bring younger viewers into the likes of Looney Tunes, The Flintstones, Scooby-Doo and other classic franchises.  To that extent, the very concept of this franchise makes the writing all the more valuable and enjoyable to the overall presentation that is this latest compilation.

The writing that went into the episodes on this DVD makes them (and the franchise in whole) a joy for both children and adults.  Its mix of family friendly stories and its more grown-up pop culture references will make watching them as a family a fun time.  And especially today, families need as much time as possible together.  It’s not all that makes this collection enjoyable, either.  The series’ animation also makes the episodes presented here fun, too.  Audiences that are familiar with Hasbro Studios’ properties will find it no surprise that this series’ animation bears a somewhat similar animation style to that of both Pound Puppies and Littlest Pet Shop.  It is safe to suffice that the same individuals charged with crafting the artwork for those series were also behind Transformers Rescue Bots, too simply by watching these episodes.  Even with its similarities to those series, it does bear its own identity apart from them.  The differences lie mainly in little things like the contours of the characters and the backgrounds and even the coloring. Other than that, this series’ animation lies in the same category as those others from Hasbro Studios already noted. Even as similar as its animation is to those series, it still is nice to see animation today that can look so much like it was hand drawn instead of all of the cookie cutter CGI shows out there for younger audiences today. It’s just one more part of what makes this new DVD so welcome in any family’s DVD library.

The animation in Transformers Rescue Bots: Mystery Rescue and the writing in its episodes together make this latest collection of episodes welcome in any family’s DVD library. The last factor to note that makes it such a welcome addition to any family’s library is the series’ list of voice actors. Those behind the characters in this series are no strangers to voicing animated characters. The cast includes Jason Marsden, Kath Soucie, Levar Burton, Mauriche LaMarche, Tim Curry, Diamond White and so many others. While their episodes are not included in this DVD, Mark Hamill (Star Wars, Batman The Animated Series) and Danica McKellar (The Wonder Years) even offer their talents in a couple of episodes, too. Having such a who’s who of actors lending their talents to this series is a tribute to its popularity and the popularity of the Transformers franchise in whole. Jason Marsden is known for his work on Nickelodeon’s The Fairly Odd Parents and as the voice of Nermal in Cartoon Network’s The Garfield Show. He has worked on a number of other series and movies, too. These are just a couple examples of his body of work. Kath Soucie and Levar Burton both worked together on Captain Planet and the Planeteers early in the 1990s. Soucie is also known as the voice of Phil and Lil DeVille in Nickelodeon’s beloved Nicktoon Rugrats. Not to omit Mauriche LeMarche or Tim Curry, the resume of these two actors could fill pages and pages. Needless to say they are quite the well trained and well-respected actors. And having them on this series’ cast is quite the statement. Newcomer Diamond White has already started building up her own resume with voice acting credits including work on Disney’s Phineas and Ferb, and Sophia the First. She also plays the role of Sophie in Nickelodeon’s teen-centric series The Haunted Hathaways. Needless to say, the cast that was tapped for the roles in Transformers Rescue Bots more than did its job with this latest collection of episodes. Their years of training and experience helped them to interpret each episode’s script and in turn make it each story all the more enjoyable. The end result is a collection of episodes that the whole family will enjoy again and again while they wait for the next collection of episodes from this surprisingly entertaining show.

The A-list voice cast tapped to voice the characters in this latest collection of episodes from Hub’s Transformers Rescue Bots goes a long way toward validating it and the series in whole. Parents will note the celebrities’ names and want to check out the actors’ work for themselves. They will also appreciate some of the subtle pop culture references thrown in for good measure in some of the episodes included on the DVD. Kids will enjoy the animation and stories in general. All things considered, there is a lot that makes Transformers Rescue Bots: Mystery Rescue a hit for the whole family. So much in fact that it could potentially end up on this critic’s list of the year’s best new DVDs for children and families. It is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered direct from Shout! Factory’s website at https://www.shoutfactory.com/kids/kids-animation/transformers-rescue-bots-mystery-rescue. More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory is available online now at http://www.shoutfactory.com and http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Peg + Cat’s First Outing On DVD Is Fun For The Whole Family

Courtesy:  PBS/PBS Kids

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Kids

PBS Kids’ new children’s series Peg + Cat has proven to be a big hit among audiences in its first season.  And now families and educators alike can enjoy a handful of the show’s episodes any time thank to the brand new release of the series’ first ever DVD compilation Peg + Cat: Chickens on the Loose and other REALLY Big Problems.  The primary reason that audiences will appreciate this brand new DVD is the list of episodes collected for the compilation.  It features eight shorts from the series’ first season.  The episodes themselves serve a number of purposes including not just problem solving but also encouragement of creativity among audiences and basic math skills.  Another reason that audiences will appreciate this collection of episodes is its animation.  Those that are perhaps new to the series will appreciate that the show looks in every way like it was drawn not just by hand but by a child.  That makes it even more relatable to younger viewers.  And rounding out the compilation’s positives is the inclusion of a number of bonus features that prove to be just as fun in the living room as in the classroom.  All three factors together make Peg + Cat: Chickens on the Loose and other REALLY Big Problems another welcome addition to the collection of any teacher and family.

Peg + Cat has become a fast hit among its key audiences ever since its debut last fall. Now almost a year after it made its debut on PBS Kids, will release its first ever DVD tomorrow, September 9th. Whether or not audiences are familiar with the series, viewers will all agree in watching the episodes collected for this DVD that the central point of the series’ success is its writing. The series teaches basic math skills and general problem solving skills for children ages four up to perhaps six years old. PBS Kids’ already has a show that teaches math skills for older children in the form of Cyberchase. But the network hadn’t had such a show for younger viewers until Peg + Cat came alone last year. Parents and teachers will appreciate the ability of this series’ writers to balance both skills throughout the course of each short without letting one take the focus more than the other at any one point. What’s more, the episodes are written on the level of the series’ young viewers. This makes each episode easily accessible by those viewers. Add in short run times that don’t challenge the attention spans of the series’ writers (each episode runs roughly ten to thirteen minutes depending on the episode) and those lessons become even more enjoyable. Collectively, the episodes’ run times and the writing that easily reaches the series’ young viewers make a solid starting point in any discussion of what makes Peg + Cat: Chickens on the Loose and other REALLY Big Problems another welcome addition to the collection of families and educators alike.

The writing that went into each of the episodes included in the brand new debut Peg + Cat debut DVD is a solid starting point for any discussion on what makes this series such a favorite among its young audiences. Another aspect worth discussing is the show’s animation. The show was animated as if it had been drawn by a young child. This makes the show even more relatable for its key audiences. Just as interesting although more subtle is the use of the infinity sign for clouds within the world of Peg + Cat. And the “infinity clouds” even move in the background. It’s all drawn on a sheet of grid paper with small math problems doodled at various points throughout the paper. This adds even more feel of their world having been created by a child. The end result is even more easily suspended disbelief among viewers. And on a slightly similar note, the animation looks somewhat similar to that of Nickelodeon’s short-lived Nicktoon Chalk Zone. It’s not a direct mirror image. But the similarities are there. Taking into account the amount of work that went into the animation behind Peg + Cat, that animation becomes even more an important part of the whole that makes this brand new collection of episodes worth the watch. It still is not all that viewers will appreciate about the episodes collected for this DVD. The last aspect of the DVD that makes it such a joy for children and adults alike is the amount of bonus material included on the disc.

Included as bonus material in the brand new Peg + Cat DVD are: four flipbooks, a pair of coloring sheets, a board game, and a couple of craft activities for families to enjoy together. Each of the flipbooks comes with cells completely pre-illustrated. All a child has to do to make them complete is print out the cells and follow their included instructions to bring the flipbooks to life. The coloring sheets are self-explanatory. One sheet presents a frame from the show’s opening sequence while the other features a scene from the DVD’s lead episode, “The Chicken Problem.” The bonus board game also comes with all the necessary items and instructions. The goal of the game is to get all of the peaches from the center of the board. The included craft activities encourage young people to get their parents especially involved. Kids will love having their own Cat sewed by their parents. And they’ll enjoy just as much having their parents help them make their own Peg and Cat puppets. As with the other activities, the necessary materials are provided. All parents and children have to do is print out said materials and lay them over construction paper before cutting out the included shapes. The rest is easy when children and their parents follow the included directions. It’s one more way that children and their parents will have a great time together playing with Peg and Cat even after watching the episodes featured on this disc.

The material included on Peg + Cat’s debut DVD is in every way true bonus material. It is that piece that pushes this DVD over the top and makes it another must have for any educator or parent of young viewers. Together with the wonderful, thought out animation and equally considered writing, Peg + Cat: Chickens on the Loose and other REALLY Big Problems proves to be a wonderful first release from a series that will hopefully have a long life on PBS Kids. It also collectively proves this DVD to be not just a must have for parents and educators but also one of the year’s best new DVDs for children and families. It will be available tomorrow, September 9th in stores and online. It can be ordered direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=42447736&cp=&sr=1&kw=peg++cat&origkw=Peg+%2B+Cat&parentPage=search. Families and educators can play more Peg + Cat games and watch even more episodes of the series online at http://pbskids.org/peg. More information on the show is also available online at http://www.facebook.com/PegPlusCatTV. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Denver The Last Dinosaur The Complete Series Was Well Worth The Wait

Courtesy:  Cinedigm/VCI Entertainment

Courtesy: Cinedigm/VCI Entertainment

Children’s programming today is nothing like it was in its golden era.  One quick scan through any carrier’s channel lineup proves that.  Children’s programs of the 80s and 90s actually had heart.  They had substance, too.  By comparison, that heart and substance is nearly nonexistent in programs aimed at tweens and teens today.  Thank goodness some companies out there have stepped up and released those classic cartoons from the golden era of children’s programming to show today’s youth what real kids’ shows look and sound like.  Mill Creek has stepped up and released most of the original animated Dennis The Menace series.  Shout! Factory has more than stepped up in its own right with planet of classic kids’ shows.  And now Cinedigm and VCI Entertainment have stepped up and added their own contribution with the release of Denver The Last Dinosaur: The Complete SeriesDenver The Last Dinosaur didn’t last too long in its original broadcast.  It ran for a grand total of fifty-two episodes.  But even in that short run, it offered audiences so much enjoyment.  And audiences of all ages will see that for themselves when Denver The Last Dinosaur: The Complete Series is released September 16th on DVD box set.  The main factor in the overall enjoyment of this series is its writing.  As with so many children’s series of that era, the writers mixed fun adventures with subtly placed lessons for young viewers.  Also worth noting of this box set is the original presentation of the episodes.  And last but hardly least of all that makes this set so enjoyable is the companion booklet.  The booklet includes not only a full episode listing, but also a short summary of each episode from start to finish.  The companion booklet works alongside the full, proper presentation of the episodes and the episodes’ writing to make Denver The Last Dinosaur: The Complete Series an absolute must for viewers of any age.  That isn’t to discount the set’s packaging, its bonus interviews, or its bonus cartoons.  They are all well worth noting, too.  They round out the whole presentation to make Denver The Last Dinosaur: The Complete Series one of the definite best new box sets for children and families this year.

While it might not have lasted nearly as long as some of the other cartoons that made the 80s and 90s so great, Denver The Last Dinosaur was still an enjoyable piece in its own right.  The central reason for its success lies in tis writing.  WEP president Ted Koplar puts it best in his bonus interview that what really makes Denver The Last Dinosaur work so well is that presented here is a fish out of water story.  Denver is for all intents and purposes, an outsider trying to find his place in the world with all of its technology and its mores and values.  Even with the series being as old as it is, that theme of finding one’s own self and one’s  place in the world is one to which even today’s young audiences can relate.  And as Bob Koplar, WEP VP notes, kids can also relate to Denver because he is this figure that gets into so much trouble yet he gets away with it every time.  Koplar notes in his interview that every kid wishes that he or she could get away with Denver’s antics.  That couldn’t be more right, even today years after it ended its original run on television.  Add in the fact that these episodes have been endorsed by the National Education Association (NEA) for their nonviolent themes and general story, lines, and audiences see even more why the writing behind this series is so important and successful.  This is extremely important to consider especially when comparing this classic series to so much of what is available for younger viewers today.  Hopefully other parents out there will take all of this into consideration and give Denver The Last Dinosaur a try for the first time or for the first time again when it is released later this month. If the bonus interviews included in this set are any indication, the writing behind this series may very well entertain today’s younger viewers just as much as those other programs if not more so.

The writing behind Denver The Last Dinosaur is a solid starting point in the discussion regarding what makes the series’ new box set so enjoyable.  No discussion on the series is complete without a note on the set’s presentation.  A slate is included before the episodes noting that the episodes have been re-mastered for this presentation.  Those charged with re-mastering the footage are to be commended for their painstaking efforts.  That is first and foremost because their efforts resulted in no footage being lost in the process.  This means that every single episode from the series’ original broadcast has been included in this box set.  And every episode is presented in its original video format, too.  They haven’t been squeezed down.  And they are just as bright and vibrant as ever.  The audio is just as clear, too.  To some the re-mastering of a show’s video and audio is a minor issue.  But the reality of the situation is that there are some companies out there that don’t put the necessary effort into properly re-working various shows to make them appear as they appeared in their original broadcasts.   The end result is a product hardly worth the purchase. VCI Entertainment and Cinedigm are not among those companies in this case.  It’s one more factor that makes the set in whole all the more enjoyable for viewers of all ages.  There is still more that has gone into this set making it worth the purchase by any now grown-up child of the 80s, including the companion booklet.

The writing and re-mastering work undertaken by those at VCI Entertainment and Cinedigm are both equally integral parts of the whole that is Denver The Last Dinosaur: The Complete Series.  Eve having taken these factors into consideration, VCI Entertainment and Cinedigm didn’t stop there.  They paid great tribute to the series’ original fans in so many ways with this set.  Those are two a couple ways in which they did so.  Another way in which the companies paid tribute to the show’s original fans is in the inclusion of a companion booklet.  The booklet outlines the series’ entire episode list from start to finish.  It shows the set includes the episodes here are presented exactly as they originally ran on television.  It also gives a short summary of every episode.  This allows viewers to look back and say, “Oh, I remember this episode” or “that episode.”  So not only does this allow audiences to decide which episode(s) that they want to watch, but it even helps maintain that sense of nostalgia already full established thanks to the full, proper re-mastering of the episodes and the inclusion of every episode.  It still isn’t the end of what makes Denver The last Dinosaur: The Complete Series such a hit for audiences.  There are the bonus interviews, which have been noted in small part already.  And there are even bonus episodes culled from other VCI Entertainment collections included as bonus material.  They give a glance into other series with which some viewers might or might not be familiar, adding even more of a sense of nostalgia.  It makes the set complete and a complete joy.

VCI Entertainment and Cinedigm have gone to painstaking efforts to make Denver The Last Dinosaur: The Complete Series the release that fans of this classic series have wanted for so many years.  Needless to say, their efforts were definitely not in vain.  The writing proves even to this day to be enjoyable and relatable for audiences of all ages.  The painstaking efforts taken to bring back to life every episode of the series makes things even better.  And the full, proper episode guide included in the set’s companion booklet is a fitting final piece to the presentation.  That is not to discount the in-depth bonus interviews and the bonus episodes of other releases from VCI Entertainment.  They add their own enjoyment to the set in whole, too.  All things considered, Denver The Last Dinosaur: The Complete Series proves in the long run to be a wonderful alternative to all of the material claiming today to be children’s programming.  It is everything that the series’ original fans have waited for so long to hold in their hands and watch on their televisions once again.  Simply put, this box set proves itself in the end to be one of the best new box sets for children and families this year.

Denver The Last Dinosaur: The Complete Series will be available on DVD, Tuesday, September 16th.  It can be ordered online direct from VCI Entertainment’s website at http://www.vcientertainment.com/DENVER-THE-LAST-DINOSAUR-COMPLETE-SERIES/Film-Categories?keyword=denver.  More information on this and other releases from VCI Entertainment is available online at http://www.vcientertainment.com, http://www.facebook.com/VCIClassicMovies, and http://twitter.com/vciclassicfilms.  All the latest news from Cinedigm is available online at http://www.cinedigm.com and http://www.facebook.com/Cinedigm.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.