Lionsgate’s Latest Power Rangers DVD A Good Watch Any Time Of The Year

Courtesy: Lionsgate/Saban/Saban Brands

Courtesy: Lionsgate/Saban/Saban Brands

Nickelodeon is set to close out the latest installment of Saban’s hugely popular Power Rangers franchise this weekend.  Power Rangers Super Megaforce will close out this Saturday on Nickelodeon.  Before it closes out Saban and Lionsgate have released a new featuring a holiday episode from this season.  Power Rangers Megaforce: Robo Knight Before Christmas brings to audiences yet another new holiday tale from what has over the years become a worldwide phenomenon.  What audiences will appreciate most of all in this episode is the fact that yet again, the people behind the franchise have switched things up in this episode instead of repeating the same story as in previous Power Rangers seasons.  This is especially important considering some of the redundancy that can be seen in the seasons that followed the franchise’s original seven-season run.  The lessons taught in the central episode tie directly in to that originality.  It’s another reason that audiences will appreciate this installment from the Megaforce Rangers.  Speaking of lessons being taught, the lessons taught in the companion episodes are just as important to the overall presentation.  The episodes themselves may not be Christmas-themed.  But the lessons shared in said episodes are just as applicable during the holidays as they are any other time of the year.  Those lessons coupled with the lessons taught in the DVD’s central episode and said episode’s originality combine to make this DVD one that any Power Rangers fan will enjoy whether during the holidays or any other time of the year.

Over the course of its now twenty-ne years on television, Saban’s Power Rangers franchise has made a tradition of running a new Christmas-themed episode in every season.  And every season’s Christmas episode has proven to be different from the last.  This applies both stylistically and in terms of their stories.  Power Rangers Megaforce: Robo Knight Before Christmas is no different in that fashion.  Given, it is for all intents and purposes a clip show.  And it’s not the first time that Saban has used clip shows in previous seasons of the Power Rangers.  But through the use of the various clips, the story is more than just another typical clip show.  For that matter, it’s also not just another piece telling about the “true meaning of Christmas.”  The show’s writers incorporate the values commonly associated with Christmas into Robo Knight’s own attempt to better understand humans.  The end result is something of a third person vantage point that helps to better illustrate the morals and values that are so important not just during the holiday season but during any time of the year.  The show’s writers accomplish this goal without being overly preachy about it, either.  Sure there’s some sappiness.  But it’s still a good non-traditional piece that focuses on the holiday season and its associated values.

The lesson centering on Christmas’ values and Robo Knight’s own attempt to understand those values couple to make Robo Knight Before Christmas another enjoyable Christmas episode of Saban’s Power Rangers franchise.  Staying on that same train of thought, the two Power Rangers episodes included as bonuses offer audiences their own positive lessons.  Neither episode takes place during Christmas or even the holiday season.  But they still teach invaluable lessons.  Power Rangers Wild Force’s episode “Team Carnival” teaches an important and invaluable lesson about self-worth.  The interesting thing of the episode is that the writers behind that season actually also took a non-traditional route in presenting said lesson.  In the case of this episode, that season’s writers presented the lesson through the use of the season’s villains Toxica (Sin Wong) and Jindrax (Danny Wayne).  When Jindrax sees that Toxica has her own family in the fight against the Power Rangers, it makes Jindrax feel worthless.  He ends up teaming up with his own family member to fight the rangers and still learns his own valuable lesson about self-worth in the long run.  It’s interesting to see any episode of the Power Rangers make a villain a sympathetic character.  But it works here.  That and the lesson centering on personal self-worth makes this episode its own invaluable addition to this DVD.  It’s one more reason that this latest Power Rangers is another *ahem* mega-hit for audiences.

The second of the bonus episodes included in the new Power Rangers Megaforce DVD, “The Spirit of Kindness,” comes from Power Rangers Jungle Fury.  The most important lesson taught through this episode could be argued to be that of the golden rule so to speak.  As audiences will see in this episode, Casey (Jason Smith)  finally wins over an old nemesis in Whiger (Jared Turner) and convinces Whiger to join him in fighting Whiger’s own former evil ally.  Whiger admits before disappearing that he fought alongside Casey because Casey was kind to him unlike the season’s other villains.  He finally realized in that final moment before his own demise the importance of kindness.  It taught Casey that kindness can be just as powerful as fighting, too.  That in itself is an extremely important lesson to be taken away from this episode.  It’s one more lesson that is just as important during the holiday season as any other time of the year.  This lesson combined with the others presented on this DVD shows once more how much the Power Rangers franchise has to offer audiences even two decades plus after it first debuted.

If the lessons taught in each of the DVD’s trio of episodes isn’t enough for audiences, then the fact that the DVD comes with a bonus digital copy will win over audiences.  Having that digital copy means that audiences can take all three of these episodes with them wherever they go.  So the lessons and the entertaining stories can be shared with any viewer without having to lug around the DVD.  It is the finishing touch to yet another DVD that any Power Rangers fan will appreciate.

Power Rangers Megaforce: Robo Knight Before Christmas is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct from Lionsgate’s online store at http://www.lionsgateshop.com/product.asp?Id=31609&TitleParentId=9994.  More information on this and other titles from Lionsgate is available online at:

Website: http://www.lionsgate.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lionsgate

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.

Fitz & The Tantrums Performing Live This Morning On ABC’s GMA

Courtesy:  Elektra Records

Courtesy: Elektra Records

Fitz & The Tantrums will be live on TV this morning.

Fitz & The Tantrums is scheduled to perform live on ABC’s Good Morning America this morning. The group will perform its new single ‘Fools Gold’ on the national broadcast. The performance is scheduled for 8:45am ET. The performance is part of the group’s current North American tour in support of its latest album More Than Just a Dream.

Fans can check out the group’s current tour schedule and get all of the latest updates from the band online now at:

Website: http://fitzandthetantrums.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/fitzandthetantrums

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.

Lionsgate’s Latest Family Friendly CG Centerpiece Will Entertain The Whole Family

Courtesy:  Lionsgate

Courtesy: Lionsgate

Lionsgate’s latest CG animated feature Jungle Master is one of the year’s more welcome family features to come along so far in 2014.  Unlike so many of the movies released in recent years by Dreamworks and Disney/Pixar, Jungle Master actually takes the road less travelled.  The movie’s animation is the most obvious way in which it takes that road less travelled.  Despite being a CG presentation, it doesn’t bare that cookie cutter appearance of the movies released by Dreamworks and Disney/Pixar.  Another reason that it stands out is its run time.  The movie’s run time comes in at just under the ninety-minute mark.  That’s a very good thing and will be discussed later.  Last but not least of all that makes this movie stand out is its script.  The story lifts lightly from The Wizard of Oz believe it or not and adds in a touch of Avatar for good measure as well as other sci-fi flicks.  The end result is a story that the while it may never be as big as anything from Dreamworks or Disney/Pixar, is still enjoyable in its own right.  It proves to be a movie that the whole family should watch together and will enjoy together when they do watch it together.

Jungle Master is not one of the most well-known family flicks to be released by any of Hollywood’s major studios this year.  That aside, it still proves in the long run to be one of the year’s more welcome family friendly flicks.  One reason for that is the movie’s “animation.”  Lionsgate’s CG features are completely unlike those of Dreamworks and Disney/Pixar in the realm of animation.  It’s almost impossible to tell Dreamworks’ CG movies from Disney/Pixar’s because they all look alike.  The only way to really differentiate the two studios’ works is by the studio names.  That speaks volumes.  Lionsgate on the other hand has strived to keep itself separate from the mold used by those studios in terms of its animation.  The look of Lionsgate’s CG movies is rawer for lack of better wording.  But it isn’t raw to the point of looking like some pieces from perhaps independent studio Engine 15 Media Group and others.  There is actually some attention paid to detail with Lionsgate’s CG movies, including this one.  That attention to detail helps Jungle Master maintain its own identity separate from its bigger name counterparts from Dreamworks and Disney/Pixar.  It even helps the movie to maintain its own identity from Lionsgate’s previously released CG features.  That mostly original look is just one of a number of positives that surround Jungle Master and make it stand out among this year’s crop of CG movies.

The largely original look of Jungle Master plays a key role in the movie’s ability to keep audiences engaged through its entire eighty-two minute run time.  That run time is another reason that families will enjoy this movie.  It doesn’t even reach the ninety-minute mark.  That relatively short run time drastically increases the chances of keeping audiences engaged from start to finish.  This is especially the case with the movie’s target younger audiences.  Most of the CG movies released since 1995—which is when Pixar broke the mold and released Toy Story—have averaged about ninety minutes.  There have been a small number of movies that have come in just under that time.  But most either reach the ninety-minute mark or go well over it as was the case with Toy Story 3.  That movie came in at almost forty-five minutes.  Luckily its story worked well enough that it still succeeded and quite well at that.  Speaking of story Jungle Master’s story works wonderfully with its run time.  Its story combines elements of a number of other movies to make a story that somehow actually works.  It’s one more way in which Jungle Master works and makes itself one of this year’s more welcome family films.

Both the look of Jungle Master and its run time are important to the movie’s overall success.  They each play their own important role to the overall presentation as they both have an impact on whether or not audiences are kept engaged.  Luckily, both factors succeed by themselves and together.  As much as they succeeded, the look of Jungle Master and its run time are not all that made this direct-to-DVD feature work.  One would be remiss to ignore the movie’s script as an equally important part of the whole.  The movie’s script centers on a twelve year-old girl named Rainie (pronounced rainy) who runs away from home ater her mother forgot about her birthday.  It is assumed by the fact that Rainie was upset enough to run away that her mother (who remains nameless throughout the movie) has probably left Rainie alone more than once.  Her decision to run away ends up taking her to al alien planet  and a much biger adventure that is directly linked to the company for which her mother works.  It’s thanks to her adventure that Rainie realizes her mom hasn’t intentionally ignored her, obviously leading to an eventual reconciliation between mother and daughter.  The central story of the parent/child relationship is obviously anything but new.  It’s been done more times than a person can count on his or her own two hands.  However, the story’s execution is what makes this plot work.  Screen writer Steve Kramer lifted liberally from the likes of The Wizard of Oz and Avatar to make this story.  While he obviously lifted from the noted movies, Kramer didn’t try to just remake them and mix them together.  He used them more as influences for his story about family.  What’s more he balanced said elements quite well; well enough in fact that audiences will be moved to overlook the references to said movies and enjoy the presented story.

Kramer’s re-telling of original writer/director Xu Kerr’s story is one of the most important of this movie’s aspects in considering its level of success.  He obviously used at least a couple of rather well-known movies that have come before as both influences and elements of this movie.  But he also didn’t try to just rip off either work.  He balanced them together to make a largely original story that centers on family.  That creativity and homage still is not all that makes this movie work.  One should also take into account the movie’s cast and even its bonus shorts.  Victoria Justice (Victorious, Victoria Justice, iCarly), Jane Lynch (Glee, Hollywood Game Night, Wreck-It-Ralph), David Spade (Just Shoot Me, The Benchwarmers, Tommy Boy), Josh Peck (Drake & Josh, Ultimate Spiderman, Ice Age: Continental Drift), Christopher Lloyd (Cyberchase, Back to the Future 1 - 3), and John Lovitz (Saturday Night Live, The Critic, Gorwn-Ups 1 & 2) make up the movie’s cast.  Lovitz proves to be the real star of the story with his comical antics voicing Mulla.  The fact that so many well-known names overall would feel confident enough about such a movie makes it even more worth the watch.  And the bonus shorts included with the movie will entertain children for a little while after the movie ends.  These extra positives combined with the positivews already noted make Jungle Master a movie well worth at least one watch together by any family.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other releases from Lionsgate is available online at:

Website: http://www.lionsgate.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lionsgate

Twitter: http://twitter.com/lionsgatemovies

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.

ATK Still Television’s Top Cooking Show In Its Fourteenth Season

Courtesy: PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS released the fourteenth season of its hit cooking series America’s Test Kitchen to DVD this summer.  For those that might not be familiar with the long-running series, it is the on-air companion to Cook’s Illustrated Magazine.  It is also the only series on television today worth watching by anyone that has a love of food and the culinary arts.  In comparison to all of the celebrity-based cooking shows that pollute today’s television spectrum, America’s Test Kitchen has always focused on the food and not the familiar faces.  This latest release continues that long-held tradition from the hit series.  It’s just one reason that makes this season just as enjoyable as its previous thirteen seasons.  Another reason that audiences will enjoy this season is its list of dishes presented throughout the season’s episodes.  From fine dining to even the simplest dishes, host Christopher Kimball and company bring audiences lots and delectable dishes.  And instead of just saying do this or that, they actually discuss how each dish is made.  They even add educational content, explaining the significance of the processes and ingredients in each dish.  For those wanting to try the dishes out for themselves, a number of printable recipes have been included as PDF files complete with fully outlined directions, ingredients and a picture of the finished product.  That bonus rounds out the box set, completing what is even more proof of why PBS truly is the last bastion of worthwhile programming on television.

America’s Test Kitchen has proven for years to be in this critic’s view the single greatest cooking series on television.  The only real contender to that title is its “sister series” Cook’s Country.  It just so happens that Cook’s Country is hosted by Christopher Kimball, who also hosts America’s Test Kitchen.  And go figure, both series are run by PBS, which is really the last true bastion of worthwhile programming on television.  Anyone that might not be familiar with America’s Test Kitchen will see instantly in the DVD release of the series’ fourteenth season why it has remained a hit for such a long time.  The central reason for its continued success fourteen seasons in is the fact that it is not celebrity driven.  That goes completely against the standard used on the shows that make up most of Food Network’s programming and that of the cooking shows on Fox, NBC, and ABC.  It actually makes the food the star, not the people.  It’s such a welcome change in comparison to those other shows.

The downplaying of the host as the star of the show is the cornerstone of what has made America’s Test Kitchen a hit among true foodies and lovers of the culinary arts for fourteen seasons now.  Audiences will appreciate that unlike all those commercially-based cooking shows, the food and cooking equipment are the stars, not the hosts.  Just as worth noting is the variety of dishes that are presented and the manner in which they are presented.  Unlike all of the commercially-based cooking shows, Kimball and company don’t just say “this is what you do”, flying through each dish along the way.  Rather, they take their time.  They explain the significance of the ingredients and the processes that the dishes undergo as each ingredient is added to the various dishes.  That extra educational content shows the importance of cooking not just as some random activity but a science of sorts.  There are so many chemical reactions that go on in preparing and cooking different dishes.  It is really something interesting to consider.  Speaking of the dishes in question, the dishes featured this season range from something one might see on the menu at a four-star restaurant to an update on something as classic and simple as a grilled cheese sandwich.  There is even an easy meals made with pasta, seafood, and corn (yes, corn).  And what’s more audiences can pick and choose which dishes to check out.  They don’t have to sit through episode after episode to get to their dish of interest.  That makes the whole experience even better for any foodie and lover of the culinary arts when watching Season 14 of America’s Test Kitchen.  The positives don’t end here, either.  PBS has once again included a number of printable recipes to complement the dishes presented in Season 14. That inclusion rounds out the set, proving once more why this is the only cooking show worth watching on television today and why PBS is the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television today, too.

America’s Test Kitchen: Season 14 brings with it every one of the traditions that have made it a hit with viewers ever since its premiere season.  It includes once again explanations of each dish’s ingredients and the processes that occur in prep and cooking.  This proves that cooking isn’t just cooking.  It proves cooking is a science of sorts.  This is something that no commercially-based cooking show does.  It also makes the food and the cooking equipment the star, not the show’s hosts.  This has been a tradition since the show’s beginning so many years ago, too.  One more tradition that is carried into this season is the inclusion of printable recipes lifted right from the season’s episodes.  Obviously not every dish could receive its own printable recipe.  Sure it would nice to have the recipe for every single dish presented throughout each season.  But that just isn’t possible.  However, the dishes presented in this season’s selection of printable recipes  is delectable in its own right.  There’s a recipe for grilled corn with basil and lemon butter complete with recipe for the basil and lemon butter baste.  For those looking for something *ahem* meatier, there are recipes for grilled chicken, baby back ribs, and even grilled glazed pork loin.  Those viewers with a bit of a sweet tooth will enjoy the recipes for peach pie, lemon chiffon pie, and marbled blueberry bundt cake among other dishes.  There are plenty of other recipes included on the set that audiences will find their own favorite from the extensive selection offered.  That diverse selection perfectly rounds out the set and is sure to leave any viewer’s mouth watering in anticipation of trying these dishes themselves.  It proves once more why even now in its fourteenth season, America’s Test Kitchen remains the only cooking show worth watching on television and why PBS in whole is the last bastion of true worthwhile programming on television.

There is so much that can be noted of America’s Test Kitchen that makes it so enjoyable even now in its fourteenth season.  From the printable recipes to its in-depth episodes to the very fact that it continues to focus on the food and not the hosts, it continues to do so much right.  Any lover of the culinary arts and any foodie that has yet to see why this show continues to be so successful should order this four-disc box set now.  After watching through it, those viewers will join the ranks of those (like this critic) that already know why it is indeed the best cooking show on television today.  It is available now and can be ordered direct online via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=35446656&cp=&sr=1&kw=americas+test+kitchen&origkw=America%27s+Test+Kitchen&parentPage=search.  More information on America’s Test Kitchen is available online at:

Website: http://americastestkitchen.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/americastestkitchen

Twitter: http://twitter.com/testkitchen

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.

The Wonder Years Season One Is A Wonder-Ful Box Set

Courtesy:  Time Life Entertainment/StarVista Entertainment

Courtesy: Time Life Entertainment/StarVista Entertainment

Twenty-one years ago, one of the greatest television series in the modern era of television came to an end after six seasons.  The series in question is none other than ABC’sThe Wonder Years.  The Wonder Years was and is today one of the greatest series in the network’s history.  Few shows have made as much of an impact for ABC as The Wonder Years before or since.  That’s not to say that there are none.  There are those that obviously have.  But for that network alone, The Wonder Years remains today one of the network’s absolutely most beloved series.  While The Wonder Years did see some VHS releases after it ended its initial run, it had not seen the light of day since then.  That is until now.  Next Tuesday, October 7th, StarVista Entertainment and Time Life Entertainment will release the first season of this hugely acclaimed series to audiences alongside a pair of full series set for the series’ most diehard fans.  The complete series box sets are a bit pricey, needless to say.  That means that many fans will be aiming more for the first season box set that will be released alongside those boxes.  There is just as much to appreciate about the stand-alone Season One box set as those full series sets.  The most obvious factor that audiences will appreciate is the inclusion of all six (yes, six) episodes from the series’ first season.  The companion booklet included in the box set adds to the enjoyment factor even more.  And last but not least is the bonus material included with the set.  All three of these factors together make The Wonder YearsSeason One one of the most welcome new box sets this year.

The Wonder Years was one of the greatest series to ever come to television.  It is still one of the greatest in television’s modern era to this day.  The series worked so well because like so many series of its time, it had such substance and originality.  There was also so much heart to the show.  It all showed through clearly thanks to the hard work of the series’ writers.  This is the case even in the series’ debut season.  Audiences that pick up Season One will hear the cast and crew discuss in the bonus features that heart and substance among many other topics.  That will be discussed at a later point.  Getting back to the point, the writing within Season One’s episodes is the most important of factors in this season’s enjoyment and success.  That’s especially the case considering the fact that Season One lasted all of six episodes.  Audiences are taken back to 1968, well before most of the show’s audiences had even been thought of.  Despite this fact, the themes carried within each episode are timeless.  Families having to deal with personal loss, young love, and the general coming-of-age themes are ones to which even today’s audiences can relate.  Given, times have changed.  So the situations portrayed in these episodes might have evolved in a manner of speaking.  But by and large, they still remain just as relatable today as they were in the episodes’ original broadcasts.

The themes presented within each of Season One’s episodes are timeless.  They are themes to which audiences of all ages can relate even today.  That in itself is quite the statement to the work of the series’ original writers.  Collectively, they make up what is just one part of the whole that is such a joy for all audiences in The Wonder Years: Season One.  Another part of Season One that audiences will appreciate is the set’s companion booklet.  Yes, that’s right.  The booklet carries just as much weight as the episodes themselves presented in this season’s set.  The reason that the set’s companion booklet is so important is that it serves as far more than just another ordinary, run-of-the-mill episode guide.  Audiences get in the double-disc set’s companion booklet an episode guide.  They get a thorough history of the show, too.  There are in-depth notes about the show’s production, from Kevin (Fred Savage) and Winnie’s (Danica McKellar) first kiss to personal thoughts on the episodes and even music listings from each episode and more.  Audiences that might not have known will be interested to learn that Kevin and Winnie’s kiss in this season was also the very first for Fred Savage and Danica McKellar.  Both actors offer more insight on that moment in the bonus features included with the set.  And the show’s runners offer their own insight into the episodes and specific characters throughout Season One both in this booklet and the bonus features included in the set.  Again, the bonus features will be touched on later.  The music listing included in the set’s companion booklet is especially important to the whole as it was in fact that music rights that held up the series’ release for so many years.  Now, audiences get to hear all the great classic music from the series’ setting and even learn about said songs thanks to their listing and a brief history on those that performed said songs in each episode.  The inclusion of that brief history on the songs makes for a great introduction to a whole new world of music for audiences of all ages.  It helps to introduce them to music to which they might not have otherwise previously had knowledge or interest in those songs.  All of the collective information and insight provided in Season One’s companion booklet enhances the overall viewing experience.  Together with the timeless, solidly written episodes, the two factors make this set all the more of a must have for anyone that grew up a fan of this modern classic.

The timeless, solidly written episodes that make up The Wonder Years: Season One are themselves more than enough reason for fans of this modern classic series to add this set to their personal collections.  The companion booklet that comes with the set heightens the enjoyment of the box set even more.  That is because of the amount of information and insight included throughout the booklet.  It isn’t just another run-of-the-mill episode guide.  In direct connection to both the episodes and the set’s companion booklet, the bonus material included in Season One’s box set rounds out the package.  The most important of the bonuses included in this set is “With A Little Help From My Friends: The Early Days of the Wonder Years.”  This feature includes interviews with the cast and crew, including the show’s creators Neal Marlens and Carol Black, and from lead actors Fred Savage and Danica McKellar.  There is also some insight from actor Daniel Stern (Home Alone, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, City Slickers, Bushwhacked) in regards to narrating the series and how closely certain episodes actually mirrored his own personal life.  As noted before, both McKellar and Savage discuss that first kiss.  McKellar laughs as she discusses the slight discomfort at having an audience for the scripted kiss.  That was the case being that it was the first kiss period for both actors both on screen and off.  Co-stars Josh Saviano (Paul) and Jason Hervey (Wayne) share their own thoughts on the show’s early days alongside Dan Lauria and Alley Mills who played Kevin and Wayne’s parents Jack and Norma.  The cast reunion highlights and personal interviews also included as bonuses each offer their own enjoyment.  But the look back at the series’ early days offers the most enjoyment of the bonus features.  That is because it is a direct compliment to the episodes themselves and the set’s companion booklet.  Together with the booklet and Season One’s timeless, solidly written episodes, that one bonus feature alone serves to make this box set complete.  It is that proverbial cherry on the banana split that is The Wonder Years: Season One.  Audiences will see that for themselves when they purchase this box set or order it for themselves when it is made available next Tuesday, October 7th.

The episodes that make up the first season of The Wonder Years are some of the most impressive from the debut season of any series in television’s modern era.  Their themes are timeless.  The result is a group of episodes that audiences of any age will appreciate today.  The companion booklet included with Season One makes this box set even more enjoyable because it isn’t just another run-of-the-mill episode guide booklet.  It offers an episode guide, yes.  But it also offers a history on the series, on the series’ music, and a certain amount of insight on the season’s episodes in particular.  That depth makes the episodes even more enjoyable for viewers.  And the bonus features pick right up where the companion booklet leaves off, rounding out the whole package.  The people at StarVista and Time Life obviously went to great lengths to make sure that each of these elements would make the biggest impact possible for fans of The Wonder Years.  They did that and more.  All three factors together prove The Wonder Years: Season One to be one of the most welcome new box sets of 2014.  The Wonder Years: Season One will be available in stores and online next Tuesday, October 7th on DVD.  It can be ordered online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Wonder-Years-Season-1/dp/B00L9OPFTC/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1412286805&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Wonder+Years+Season+One.  More information on this and other releases from Star Vista and Time Life is available online at:

 

Website: http://www.timelife.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TimeLifeUs

Twitter: http://twitter.com/TimeLifeUS

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.

NYPD Blue’s Seventh Season Is The Series’ Best So Far

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory will release the seventh season of ABC’s former hit crime drama NYPD: Blue next Tuesday, September 30th.  The series’ complete seventh season is one more example of just why it remained so popular for so many years.  Regardless of whether one is new to the series or is more familiar with it, all audiences will agree in watching these episodes that the main reason it remained so popular in its seventh season is its writing.  Unlike Dick Wolf’s now mostly defunct Law & Order franchise, the writers behind NYPD: Blue continued to craft wholly original stories that didn’t have to be “ripped from the headlines.”  At the same time, the series’ writers managed to balance that with continued focus on character development and storylines within the department.  And in this season, there are most definitely some interesting developments among the show’s characters.  The ability of the show’s writers to balance these aspects so expertly is key to its continued success in its seventh season.  Just as important to the series’ success in its seventh season is its trademark look.  Even years after it started, audiences will see that it still maintained a certain gritty look that helped to set it apart from its counterpart over on NBC.  Where the season’s writing left off, that look picked up and continued to make suspension of disbelief even easier and in turn the show’s enjoyment all the greater.  The series’ writing and its look both play pivotal roles in the success of NYPD: Blue’s seventh season.  Last but hardly least worth noting is the show’s camera work.  That, too is something that had been established early on in the series’ run.  And much like the writing and look of the series, it too continued to set the series apart from the likes of Law & Order and other crime dramas.  All these factors taken into consideration, NYPD: Blue’s seventh season is one more must have for any fan of this modern classic crime drama.

The seventh season of NYPD: Blue has what proves to be some of the best writing that the series had seen up to this point.  That writing is the core of what makes NYPD Blue just as successful at this point as when the series kicked off so many years ago.  The stories presented throughout the series’ seventh season continued to separate NYPD: Blue apart from its crime drama counterpart on NBC as it didn’t use stories “ripped right from the headlines.”  Rather the stories continued to be wholly original.  Ironically enough, as original as the stories prove to be, the fact that they weren’t just adapted from actual headlines makes them all the more believable.  Case in point is the season premiere episode, “Loogie Nights.”  This episode sees Sipowicz and Sorenson handling a case of a fatal police beating.  Considering recent headlines and the focus today on criminal cops, it’s proof positive as to why the series’ writers didn’t need to take stories from the news and adapt them for their “own” works.  There is also a case of a young woman being gang-raped in another episode.  And a close examination of this season also reveals that while the series’ writers continued to craft wholly original and gripping stories in each episode, it also reflected the real world as there seemed to be more focus on and acceptance of the gay community throughout this season.  That is just this critic’s thought.  But it seems to be more prevalent than in previous seasons of the series.  That in itself is a starting point in another discussion, proving once more just how important the writing is to this series.

The work put into the episodes that make up Season Seven is by itself a major reason for the show’s continued success.  The stories themselves though are just part of what makes the writing work so well.  Audiences that are familiar with this series see even more development among the characters both by themselves and within their daily interactions.  Audiences will especially enjoy seeing Sipowicz’s personal growth as a father and a person after his wife’s death in the series’ sixth season.  He hasn’t lost any of his edge while on the job.  But while spending time with his son, he exhibits so much humanity.  He encourages his son and actually acts like a father should.  It’s enough to make even the hardest person smile and tear up.  Sipowicz’s personal relationship with Sorenson matures, too.  While their working relationship continues to appear as dysfunctional as ever, those that know Sipowicz’s history and personality know that things have actually gotten between the two detectives.  Even more impressive about this is that the writers didn’t let either of these character development factors overtake the rest of the show.  They balanced the character developments expertly with the stories with the end result being another group of stories that by themselves prove once more why the writing by itself makes Season Seven well NYPD: Blue’s best season yet.

The work of the writers behind NYPD: Blue shows exactly why this crime drama remained a hit among viewers even well into its seventh season.  Their work was just part of why the series continued to be so successful seven seasons in.  The work of those responsible for the show’s look deserve their own applause, too in this season.  The gritty, more realistic look of NYPD: Blue established early on in the series’ run is maintained even here in its seventh season.  Much like the show’s writing, that look helped to maintain the series’ separate identity from the other crime dramas that were on television at the time; more specifically from NBC’s Law & Order franchise.  It’s one more element that continued to help maintain suspension of disbelief, and in turn, enjoyment of the series.  It’s one more way in which the series continued to shine even in its seventh season.

The writing behind Season Seven’s episodes goes a long way toward making this season another hit for the series’ fans.  The continued realistic, gritty look and feel of the show also helps in its own way.  Last but not least of all is the series’ camera work.  To some, camera work is something minor.  But those that are more production minded will take note of the show’s short, fast paced shots throughout each episode.  Again, this is something that other crime dramas on TV at the time were not doing.  Such use of the cameras helped to heighten the tension within each episode.   It also helped with the scene transitions, too. Those scene transitions set NYPD: Blue apart from its counterparts just as much as the series writing and its look.  The fact that the series’ heads and those behind the cameras maintained this aspect of the series, too only serves to make Season Seven all the richer and more enjoyable for audiences.  Together with the noted writing and gritty look, it makes Season Seven just as much of a must have for fans of the show as the show’s previous full season sets.

The camera work incorporated into the seventh season of NYPD: Blue is one aspect of the show that had been there from the series’ first season.  It’s nice to see this element of the show maintained so far into the show’s run. The same can be said of the show’s gritty look.  The two elements, along with the wholly original stories and character development come together in this season to make it another collection that any fan of the series will welcome in their collections just as much as the series’ previous season sets.  NYPD: Blue Season Seven will be available next Tuesday, September 30th on DVD.  It can be ordered online via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tv/crime/nypd-blue-season-seven.  More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory is available online at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: 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.

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.