Shout! Kids’ Latest Pound Puppies Compilation Is Another Great Watch For The Whole Family

Courtesy;  Shout! Factory/Shout! Kids/Hub/Hasbro Studios

Courtesy; Shout! Factory/Shout! Kids/Hub/Hasbro Studios

Shout! Kids released the latest collection of episodes from Hub’s award-winning series Pound Puppies this week.  The latest collection of episodes from this update on the original 1980s series is just as much a jewel as the series’ previous compilation DVDs.  The episodes included in this compilation make it so enjoyable first and foremost because of the episodes’ writing.  By connection, audiences will appreciate the subtle lessons taught through some of the episodes.  Intentional or not, there are some subtle lessons taught through some of this set’s episodes.  It makes the set all the richer.  And last but not least, viewers (especially parents) will appreciate this latest compilation is the list of guest appearances.  Some very big names lend their talents to Pound Puppies in this collection.  Whether it be the guest talent, the lessons, the writing or all three factors together, Pound Puppies: A Perfect Match proves to be another wonderful set of episodes for the whole family.

The writing behind this collection of episodes is the central point of impact for this DVD.  Those that are familiar with this incarnation of Pound Puppies and with the original series from the 1980s know that both series emulate the classic WWII-themed sitcom Hogan’s Heroes in their theme songs.  The new Pound Puppies has taken things to a higher level, actually giving Ace and his canine friends an underground base just like Col. Hogan and his Allied forces friends in Hogan’s Heroes.  As viewers will see in this set’s opening episode, the writers even emulate Hogan’s Heroes in terms of the writing, too.  In “The Yipper Caper”, viewers see McLeash bring in a giant dog feeding machine just to impress his superiors much like Col. Klink would do in Hogan’s Heroes.  Klink was always taking on some wild, hair-brained scheme to impress his higher-ups.  On the other side of things, audiences hear Ace tell Yipper that the Pound Puppies have homes outside the shelter, but they stay there to help others.  Audiences familiar with Hogan’s Heroes will again recognize quite the similarity there.  This writing is a wonderful homage to the golden era of television and takes things one step farther than the original Pound Puppies series.  That homage is just the tip of the iceberg in what makes the writing so fun in these episodes.  Just as impressive to note is the fact that the show’s writers are able to time and again find ways for the Pound Puppies to complete their missions without McLeash ever knowing.  This is the case throughout all five episodes, not just the opener.  Again, this is an homage to Hogan’s Heroes.  It’s one more way to potentially get young viewers started on the road to an appreciation for television’s Golden Era.  And for that, the show’s writers are more than deserving of their applause.

As one should be able to tell by now, the writing behind the episodes included in the latest Pound Puppies compilation DVD is key to the collection’s overall enjoyment.  Even older viewers will appreciate the writing thanks to its throwback to what is one of television’s greatest ever sitcoms.  Just as important to these episodes are the lessons taught through the episodes.  “Hello Kitten” teaches a not so subtle lesson about the ability of people to get along and be friends despite opposing backgrounds.  It does this by having the youngest of the pound puppies help a kitten find his perfect person.  There’s just one problem.  The Pound Puppies’ feline counterparts, led by a feline mirror image of Ace is set out to keep the young kitten from becoming friends with dogs and finding a person for the kitten themselves.  In the end, the cats learn that it’s okay to be friends with dogs.  The secondary lesson taught here is that one must let go of things from the past.  All holding onto the past does is make a person bitter.  “Beauty is only Fur Deep” teaches a lesson about being one’s self when a much talked about dog comes to Kennel 17.  The Pound Puppies have their hands…*ahem*…paws full when the seemingly humble dog turns quite self-centered on getting a new coat of fur.  It creates lots of problems for the Pound Puppies especially when he shoots down the little girl they said was his perfect person. He of course learns a rather valuable lesson from this experience that viewers of all ages will appreciate.

The lessons taught through the episodes culled for Pound Puppies: A Perfect Match and the general writing that pays homage to Hogan’s Heroes both make this latest compilation of episodes just as enjoyable as previous Pound Puppies DVDs. There is one more factor to consider in this DVD that makes its episodes so fun. That final factor is the list of guest stars that lent its talents to each episode. J.K. Simmons (Spiderman 1 3) and Tress MacNeille both share their talents in the episodes included in this DVD. Go figure, Simmons voices a character in “Working K-9 To 5” that is a newspaper man. Hmmmmm, now where have we seen that before? His character is even presented much in the same vein as J. Jonah Jameson from director Sam Raimi’s Spiderman Trilogy. MacNeille (The Simpsons, Futurama) voices a fellow canine in another episode. It’s only a bit part. But parents that know McNeille’s voice will love hearing her voice here, too. And of course, the true queen of comedy herself, Betty White, returns once more as the voice of McLeash’s not so nice mother. These are just some of the guests that appear in the episodes collected for this DVD. Also on board on these episodes are: Tara Strong (Rugrats, The Powerpuff Girls, The Fairly Odd Parents), E.G. Daily (Rugrats, The Powerpuff Girls, Chalk Zone), Diedrich Bader (Batman: The Brave & The Bold, Napoleon Dynamite, The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy), Danny Cooksey (Salute Your Shorts, Diff’rent Strokes, Tiny Toon Adventures) and so many others. The fact that so many well-known actors and actresses would lend their talents to these episodes shows just how respected a series it proves to be. Parents will recognize most (if not all) of the names mentioned here. And that alone is enough to give the DVD just one watch if not more. And it is most definitely deserving of far more than just one watch.

Pound Puppies: A Perfect Match is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered online direct from Shout! Factory’s online store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/product/pound-puppies-perfect-match. More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory and Shout! Kids is available online 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.

New Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts DVD Another Example Of Comedy Done Right

Courtesy:  StarVista Entertainment/Time Life Entertainment

Courtesy: StarVista Entertainment/Time Life Entertainment

The world is in a tough place, right now.  Political and economic strife dominate the news every day.  And television and movies are more dominated by sex and violence than ever before.  Thankfully, StarVista has stepped up once again to offer audiences what is a great escape from all the death, destruction, sex and violence dominating television and movies.  StarVista Entertainment has stepped up and offered an escape from it all in the form of the latest Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts box set.  This collection, the second in a set of three boxes, is just as worthy of applause as the first Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts box set.  That is the case first and foremost because of the laughs that fill each episode in this set.  Audiences will also appreciate that the episodes contained in this set are presented just as they originally aired.  And last but definitely not least, the packaging itself is well worth mentioning, too.  StarVista Entertainment has once again quite wisely packaged each of the six discs that comprise this box set.  The company has also included as part of the packaging, a bonus booklet that serves as an episode guide for viewers.  That inclusion as part of the set’s packaging, along with the equally impressive quality of the show’s footage and the nonstop laughs, makes The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts: Fully Roasted one of this year’s best new box sets for adults.

The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts: Fully Roasted is one of the year’s best new box sets for adults.  The primary reason for that is the fact that these roasts are just as funny today as they were in their original broadcasts so many decades ago.  Given, some of the jokes are a little bit off color.  Case in point, actress Lawanda Page’s (Sanford & Son) jokes aimed at her fellow roasters in the roast of Betty White (Password, Golden Girls, Hot in Cleveland).  But there are just as many jokes that are pure laugh riots throughout each of the set’s sixteen total episodes.  One great example of this is in the celebrity roast of George Washington.  Yes, George Washington.  Famed historical impersonator Jan Leighton played the role of the nation’s first president.  And Audrey Meadows filled the role of George’s wife, Martha.  This roast is one that every viewer will love.  Whether it be the roast of George Washington, Betty White, or any of the others included in this box set, every one of the included roasts will most certainly leave viewers in stitches.  They will find themselves laughing so hard that they cry.  And that’s just the starting point of what makes this box set so fun.  The quality of each show’s footage makes the set even more enjoyable.

The jokes churned out throughout each of this set’s sixteen total episodes are certain to leave viewers laughing tears of joy.  If not for the work of those charged with restoring and transferring each episode, the set (and its predecessor) would not be worth the purchase.  Thanks to their work, the decades old footage still looks just as good as it did in its original broadcast.  StarVista made certain to include a disclaimer on each disc informing viewers that there may be some issues with the footage quality.  But this critic will attest to the fact that any issues with the quality of the episodes’ footage are minute at best and barely noticeable.  To that extent, the quality of each episode’s footage will create a welcome sense of nostalgia for older viewers that order this box set.  That sense of nostalgia in turn adds even more overall charm to the set, making it even more of a must have for any classic TV lover.

The impressively restored footage and the nonstop laugh riot roasts together are the collective cornerstone to The Dean Martin Roasts: Fully Roasted.  They aren’t all that make this new release such a joy.  There is still one more factor to consider in the success of this set.  That factor is the overall packaging of the set.  StarVista Entertainment  established a tradition of smart, quality packaging with previous box sets including the previous Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts set and all of its current Carol Burnett Show sets.  That tradition has been carried on in this set.  Each of the set’s six discs receives its own spot on either side of a handful of “inserts” inside the set’s box.  This protects the discs from scratching one another and it helps to save a certain amount of space on any viewer’s DVD rack.  Add in a bonus booklet that serves as an episode guide and gives background information on each episode, and viewers have what is another complete and completely impressive package from StarVista Entertainment and Time Life.  They flesh out a package that is in the eyes of at least this critic, one of the year’s best new box sets for adults.

The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts: Fully Roasted is available now on DVD and can be ordered online direct from Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HHVFW6M/ref=s9_simh_gw_p74_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=11FD228VXVZ0KKRE2FY4&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1688200382&pf_rd_i=507846.  More information on this and other releases from StarVista Entertainment is available online at http://www.facebook.com/TimeLifeUS and http://timelife.com.  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.

StarVista, Time Life Announce Release Date, Details For Mama’s Family Season Three

Courtesy:  StarVista Entertainment/Time Life

Courtesy: StarVista Entertainment/Time Life

Thelma Harper returns this winter!  StarVista Entertainment and Time Life have announced that they will release the third season of the hit sitcom Mama’s Family on February 25th, 2014.  There are changes for the Harper family in the series’ third season.  The most noticeable of those changes is the departure of Vint’s kids, Buzz and Sonja.  The pair was replaced in Season Three by a new character named Bubba Higgins.  Bubba was the child of Ed and Thelma’s daughter Eunice.  He was played by Allan Kayser.  His sudden appearance is explained by his having been previously incarcerated in juvenile hall.  It is explained that he decided to move in at Thelma’s because Ed and Eunice had moved to Florida.  It’s not the only change that viewers see this season.  Ellen (Betty White—Golden Girls) goes under the knife, and Thelma’s sister Fran (Rue McClanahan—Golden Girls) dies.  Of course, Thelma doesn’t let it remain a somber occasion.  She harps on Ellen for how she did her hair for the funeral.  There are plenty more laughs from this, the penultimate season of Mama’s Family in its original run.  The upcoming box set’s release’s bonus features and guest appearances will impress, too.

Mama’s Family Season Three comes packed with its own share of bonus features.  Fans of The Carol Burnett Show that weren’t lucky enough to get their hands on any of the stand-alone box sets or the complete series set get yet another classic “The Family” skit taken from said show as a bonus in this set.  Also included is a profile of Bubba Higgins, an interview with Allan Kayser, and a Mama’s Family cast reunion.  If the bonus features aren’t enough for viewers, maybe the guest star lineup will.  Golden Girls star Betty White returns again.  Brent Spiner (Star Trek: The Next Generation), Dr. Joyce Brothers, Jack Dodson (The Andy Griffith Show), and Lewis Arquette (Best in Show) all make appearances, too.

All twenty-five episodes of Season Three are included across four discs.  The set is listed at an MSRP of $29.95.  More information on Mama’s Family Season Three and other releases from StarVista Entertainment and Time Life is available online at http://www.facebook.com/TimeLifeUS and http://www.timelife.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.

Time Life, Star Vista Score Another Hit With Mama’s Family Season Two

Courtesy:  Time Life Entertainment/StarVista

Courtesy: Time Life Entertainment/StarVista

The second season of the hit classic sitcom Mama’s Family is one more wonderful addition to the home library of this show’s fans.  While it might have been edgy for its day during its original television broadcasts, it still had its own comic value.  In comparison to the fare being offered to today’s audiences, it is just as valuable for that same reason.  Season Two offers audiences just as many laughs as the show’s first season thanks to its writing staff.  Audiences see Thelma get a job working alongside Naomi in what is one of the season’s best episodes.  Fans also get in the season premiere, one of the most relatable of storylines when Thelma teaches Buzz and Sonja about the “good old days.”  And Thelma’s “help” with Fran’s advice column hits some hilarious highs, too.  These are just a few of the great episodes offered up in Season Two.  And they’re just part of what fans will appreciate in this season’s box set, too.  Fans will also appreciate the StarVista and Time Life Entertainment have included a bonus booklet with the set.  The booklet in question offers viewers a brief yet thorough synopsis of each episode contained on the set’s four discs.  Completing Season Two is the inclusion of the original TV movie Eunice that would eventually lead to the creation of Mama’s Family after The Carol Burnett Show ended.  These aspects and much more make Mama’s Family Season Two all the more worth adding to any fan’s home library.

Mama’s Family Season Two offers up to fans twenty-one complete episodes.  One of those episodes, “Mama for Mayor” is actually split into two separate episodes, bringing the grand total to twenty-two episodes.  What audiences will appreciate most of all from these episodes is that unlike the previous release of Mama’s Family in 2006, these episodes (as well as those in the release of Season One) include the famed introductions by Alastair Quince (Harvey Korman).  These introductions were allegedly not included in the show’s previous release in 2006.  They are a welcome addition to the whole presentation.  It’s one more part of the show’s writing that made it so fun.  Of course, the writing behind the episodes themselves will definitely entertain audiences, too.  One of the best examples of that writing is in the episode “Supermarket.”  This episode sees Thelma being forced to work alongside Naomi when she takes a job as a customer consultant at her local grocery store.  The rivalry between the two women reaches comedic heights as the pair go toe-to-toe.  In another of this season’s best moments, Thelma takes Buzz and Sonja on a trip back to the “good old days” when she sees what had become of youth culture in the world at that time.  Every generation can relate to this laugh riot episode.  And of course, Thelma’s biting commentary comes into hilarious play when she helps Fran with her advice column.  This is an episode that will leave any true comedy lover laughing tears of joy.  And it serves as one more example of how solid the show’s writing was and still is today in comparison to today’s sitcoms.

The writing staff on Mama’s Family did a top notch job writing the episodes for the show’s second season.  There are more laughs throughout this season than can be noted in one sitting.  Audiences will just have to take them all in when they order this set themselves.  When they order this set, they’ll find that the laughs aren’t all to appreciate.  Along with such solid writing, fans of the show will appreciate the Time Life Entertainment and Star Vista have included EuniceEunice was the TV movie that would eventually lead to the creation of Mama’s Family after The Carol Burnett Show’s end.  Being that Mama’s Family only lasted roughly two seasons in its original run, this inclusion is a big bonus for the show’s original fans.  It brings everything full circle and makes this season even more of a full experience for those looking to get back to a better brand of comedy.

The writing behind each of the show’s episodes in Season Two and the inclusion of Eunice offer viewers so much to appreciate.  But Time Life and Star Vista didn’t stop there.  Just as with the show’s first season, a bonus episode guide was included with the set.  The guide offers a brief yet concise synopsis on each the season’s episodes.  Many audiences take episode guides in box sets for granted.  But there are a lot of box sets released even today that don’t offer episode guides.  The inclusion of this little, but important bonus helps tie everything together.  It gives viewers the chance to know the plot of each episode, and thus make a decision which episode(s) to watch.  In turn, it helps audiences make a fully informed decision on which episode(s) they want to watch.  The resultant effect is even more appreciation of the show’s writing and of the set’s overall presentation.  This season is available now along with the show’s first season, and can be ordered direct online via the Time Life Entertainment website at http://timelife.com/products/mama-s-family-seasons-one-two.  More information on this and other releases from Star Vista and Time Life Entertainment is available online at http://timelife.com.  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.

Time Life, StarVista Deserve Applause For Mama’s Family Re-Issue

Courtesy:  Time Life/StarVista/Warner Home Video

Courtesy: Time Life/StarVista/Warner Home Video

Television today is a pale shadow of what it once was.  It used to have so much heart and substance.  But somewhere along the way, something changed.  Both the heart and substance were thrown out the window in favor of programming overly laden with sex and violence.  Thankfully StarVista, Time Life and Warner Home Video have officially released another nugget of television’s past in the form of Mama’s Family Season 1 that reminds audiences of what once made television great.  The first season of this spinoff from The Carol Burnett Show is front loaded with so many laughs that even audiences not familiar with the iconic comedy will agree it’s a welcome re-issue.  It also boasts some wonderful acting on the part of star Vicky Lawrence and her co-stars.  On a more extrinsic level, audiences will appreciate Season One’s packaging.  The packaging for the discs is right along the lines of most other companies.  All things considered, Mama’s Family Season One proves in its new re-issue to be just as fun as it has ever been.  It is a highly recommended piece for anyone looking for a change of pace from what TV studios offer today.

The debut season of Mama’s Family is the funniest of the show’s six total seasons.  It offered some of the greatest writing of any sitcom of the twentieth century.  It was completely unlike anything else on the air at the time.  It took the classic nuclear family setup from older family based sitcoms and completely turned it on its ear.  Even more interesting, it did so without being too racy or edgy.  By comparison to today’s programming, that speaks volumes for this sitcom.  Mama’s Family walked a very fine line even during the 80s.  But it never crossed that line.  It’s just part of the writing that made (and still makes) it such a cult hit.  Season One also offered its share of pure laughs.  A prime example of that lies in an episode that sees Thelma and company make an appearance on the hit game show, Family Feud.  Then host Richard Dawson was even on hand for the laugh riot episode.  This was such a funny episode in that it took that dysfunctional family element and took it outside the walls of Thelma’s house into a wholly new environment.  The result is one of the funniest episodes of Season One and of the entire series.

The writing behind Mama’s Family made this sitcom unlike anything else on television at the time.  It continues to do so today.  But what is good writing without a cast to bring the scripts to life?  Luckily, the cast that made “The Family” a hit on The Carol Burnett Show were also the cast here in Season One of Mama’s Family.  It would have been so easy to replace any of the core cast with new actors for the series.  Luckily that didn’t happen.  In turn, the chemistry developed among the original cast members was allowed to develop here.  It was obvious just how much chemistry the cast had, too.  This is especially the case between Burnett and Lawrence.  Audiences will be laughing nonstop as they watch the pair argue so convincingly as if they really were mother and daughter.  The episode, “Cellmates” is proof of that.  When the pair end up in jail together, it leads to one of the funniest moments between the pair in Season One.  The occasional appearances of Betty White and Rue McClanahan as Fran and Ellen added their own extra comic element, too.  Ironically enough, the pair would go on to star together in The Golden Girls only a couple years later.  That aside, the acting of both women and the rest of the show’s cast in Season One proves to be one more reason that any true fan of comedy should watch at least this season.

Writing and acting are obviously the most important part of any television program’s success.  Both elements have made Mama’s Family a huge success even roughly three decades after it first premiered.  There is one more piece of the puzzle to examine in what makes  the newly re-issued first season of Mama’s Family a success.  That piece to the puzzle is its packaging.  Season One’s packaging follows the standard used so commonly today for multi-disc box sets.  Two of the set’s three discs are placed on either side of a plastic “insert” while the third is placed in its own spot on the back side of the case.  This standard packaging format helps to protect the integrity of the discs.  It also is more ergonomic.  Packaging usually doesn’t get much credit for DVD and blu-ray sets.  But it really is an important part of any release’s full presentation.  And in this case, it’s the icing on the cake of a much welcomed and needed blast from the past that is available now on DVD.  It can be ordered along with the larger complete set online at http://timelife.com/products/mama-s-family-the-complete-series.

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.

StarVista, Time Life Announce Release Date For Mama’s Family Sets

Courtesy:  Joe Hamilton Productions/Lorimar-Telepictures/StarVista/TimeLife

Courtesy: Joe Hamilton Productions/Lorimar-Telepictures/StarVista/TimeLife

Courtesy: Joe Hamilton Productions/Lorimar-Telepictures/StarVista/Time Life

Courtesy: Joe Hamilton Productions/Lorimar-Telepictures/StarVista/Time Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been a long time coming.  But comedian Vicki Lawrence’s sitcom spawned from The Carol Burnett Show, Mama’s Family, will finally see the light of day once more.  Earlier this year, Time Life and StarVista released Mama’s Family: The Complete Series.  And now for those that might not have managed to get their hands on the complete set, the two companies have announced that they will release the first two seasons of the hit sitcom this Summer.

Mamas Family Season One and Mamas Family Season Two will be released together on Tuesday, September 10th.  The first of the sets will be available for an MSRP of $22.95 and the second for $29.95.  The upcoming release of the show’s first two seasons marks the first time that they have ever been available to the public on DVD.  They feature the show exactly as it originally aired, as all material included in these sets was taken from the show’s original broadcast masters, otherwise known as the “Joe Hamilton” cuts.  Each episode is introduced by the late, great Harvey Korman as Alastair Quince (taking a playful stab at Alastair Cooke).  Audiences will be happy to see among the included bonus features, the DVD teleplay, “Eunice” and much more.

Courtesy:  Joe Hamilton Productions/Lorimar-Telepictures/StarVista/Time life

Courtesy: Joe Hamilton Productions/Lorimar-Telepictures/StarVista/Time life

The complete details of the sets’ bonus features is listed below.

BONUS FEATURES 

  • THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON – Featurette: Mama’s Family Tree: The Branches (All About Eunice and Ellen); Family History: A Classic “Family” Sketch from ‘The Carol Burnett Show’, featuring Betty White (Show #1012, December 11, 1976)
  • THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON – Movie: “Eunice” (Original Air Date: March 15, 1982); Featurette: Mama’s Family Tree: The Roots (All About Mama and Fran); Interviews: Vicki Lawrence interviews Mama, Vicki Lawrence interviews Carol Burnett, Betty White
Courtesy:  Joe Hamilton Productions/Lorimar-Telepictures/StarVista/Time Life

Courtesy: Joe Hamilton Productions/Lorimar-Telepictures/StarVista/Time Life

Courtesy:  Joe Hamilton Productions/Lorimar-Telepictures/StarVista/Time Life

Courtesy: Joe Hamilton Productions/Lorimar-Telepictures/StarVista/Time Life

Along with the first two full seasons, StarVista and Time Life will also release two “best of” compilations featuring some of the show’s best moments.  These compilations will also be available on September 10th.  They can all be ordered online direct at http://www.mamasfamilydvds.com.  The complete series can be ordered for an MSRP of $199.95.  The “Best of” compilations will be available for $12.95 each.

Courtesy:  Joe Hamilton Productions/Lorimar-Telepictures/StarVista/Time Life

Courtesy: Joe Hamilton Productions/Lorimar-Telepictures/StarVista/Time Life

Audiences can find out more about these releases and more from StarVista and Time Life online at http://wwwStarVista.TimeLife.com, http://www.facebook.com/TimeLifeUS, and http://twitter.com/TimeLifeUS.

Courtesy:  Joe Hamilton Productions/Lorimar-Telepictures/StarVista/Time Life

Courtesy: Joe Hamilton Productions/Lorimar-Telepictures/StarVista/Time Life

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 Wild Thornberrys Season Three Another Welcome Addition To Any Nicktoons Nostalgic’s DVD Library

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon’s The Wild Thornberrys—Eliza, Nigel, Maryanne, Donny, Darwin, and Debbie—have returned once again for another season of globetrotting adventures.  After seeing the previous season chopped into three separate volumes, Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory have released season three in its entirety to audiences as it should be.  This last of Nickelodeon’s great classic Nicktoons is on cruise control in its third season as it offers more lessons about different cultures, about geography, and life lessons, as well as laughs.  It offers just as much enjoyment for audiences of all ages as the show’s previous two seasons.  One change that is noticeable here is the inclusion of Eliza’s cousin Tyler.  Tyler joins the cast in the season’s third episode, ‘Tyler Tuck, I Presume.’  After having two seasons of sisterly conflicts between Eliza and Debbie, Tyler’s introduction added a nice new dynamic to the Thornberry family.  All of this along with the show’s continued animation standard combine to make The Wild Thornberrys Season Three another welcome addition to any “Nicktoons Nostalgic’s” home DVD library.

When it first started out in 1998, The Wild Thornberrys did something that no other cartoon at its time was doing.  At least this was the case with mainline cartoons.  What it did was it entertained at the same time that it educated. It taught the importance of geography and biological diversity through the family’s adventures.  The use of a locator on a map to set the scene taught about the different locations of countries across the globe.  The stories themselves taught about the different flora and fauna of each region by having Eliza have to help the different animals from different situations.  The manner in which the show’s writers executed this educational content was genius.  It was done covertly, thus not even letting on to viewers that it was actually educating them.  This same standard has been carried into the show’s third season.  It’s nice to see that the show’s creators and writers maintained this core standard once again.  It’s just the tip of the iceberg in what makes Season Three so enjoyable.

The educational content carried into Season Three is just the starting point of what makes The Wild Thornberrys Season Three such a joy.  Another factor that made this season as enjoyable as the shwo’s first two seasons is its valuable life lessons and lessons of cultural diversity.  One of the most valuable life lessons taught in Season Three is the simplest of lessons.  It is the lesson of the importance of family.  That lesson is taught in the holiday themed episode, ‘A Family Tradition.’  Eliza and Debbie learn the importance and value of family when they are given the chance to return to the United States to spend Thanksgiving with their grandmother, Sophie (voiced by veteran actress Betty White—Hot in Cleveland, Golden Girls).  As is the tradition with holiday themed episodes of TV shows everything turns out well in the end.  Those that have yet to see this episode, will have to find out just how it all plays out when they pick up this new box set themselves or order it online at http://www.shoutfactorystore.com

Audiences will appreciate the lessons of cultural diversity just as much as the life lessons contained throughout each episode of Season Three.  One of the best examples of an episode that teaches this lesson is the episode, ‘Spirited Away.’  The Thornberrys travel to Mexico in this episode right as the people there are celebrating the famed Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead).  Viewers learn through this episode, the traditions of the Day of the Dead and of the Mexican people.  And of course, what Thornberrys episode would be complete without Debbie having to chase down Donnie yet again?  The continued antics of Donnie provide plenty of laughs for viewers, making each episode complete.  What’s more, this episode also offers a little bit of a kid friendly ghost story that will leave viewers more with a warm feeling than that of fear.  It’s one more episode out of so many this season that makes Season Three even more enjoyable for fans seeing this season for the first time and for the first time again.

As evidenced already, The Wild Thornberrys remains enjoyable this season thanks to the fact that it continues to do what made it successful all along.  This also includes the original animation style established from early in the show’s life.  The Wild Thornberrys was just one of many cartoons created by Klasky-Csupo.  And while it was just one of a handful of cartoons crafted by the company, its animation was only slightly similar to the studio’s other creations.  The studio’s art department managed to continue establishing the show’s identity through its animation in Season Three.  And as slight as it is, one can see that the animation has been honed a little bit more this season.  The outlines of the characters, animals, and general scenery are more defined.  It’s just slight enough to maintain the more rough style established from the show’s beginning.  It’s just one more factor that, along with the continued wise packaging of the set, makes Season Three even more worth adding to any fan’s DVD rack.  The Wild Thornberrys Season Three is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct via the Shout! Factory store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/?q=node/217077.

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 in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

New Carol Burnett Set One Of 2012′s Best Box Sets

Courtesy: Timelife/Star Vista

Television today is at a critical point.  Regardless of one’s server, a single trip through the channels shows the dominance of very specific styles of shows.  It shows increasingly that the last bastion of family friendly programming is indeed PBS and its digital sister stations.  Politics aside, that speaks volumes.  So what’s a person to do in the search for something family friendly other than just PBS?  The answer:  The Carol Burnett Show.  Thanks to Timelife and Star Vista, this classic family friendly variety show is available once more for the entire family.

The Carol Burnett show and its namesake were groundbreakers in every sense of the word.  Burnett herself was the first female to host a variety show.  And the show itself can and should be credited as an influence for Saturday Night Live, which didn’t even air until years after The Carol Burnett Show was well into its prime.  And in comparison to shows such as The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour—both of which ran around the same time as The Carol Burnett Show–, it was a groundbreaker in that it went in a somewhat different direction than those shows.  Ironically, as audiences will see, Burnett actually had the Smothers Brothers on her show during its run.  And that episode is one of many highlights of the complete twenty-two disc retrospective box set released by Timelife and Star Vista.

The Smothers Brothers’ appearance is only one of so many highlights from The Carol Burnett Show.  What really makes The Carol Burnett Show stand out is its skits.  It’s obvious the influence that these skits had on Lorne Michaels and all involved with Saturday Night Live.  And the way that Burnett’s show mixed its musical performances and skits is a near identical mirror to the format that SNL has used ever since its inception years after The Carol Burnett Show hit the airwaves.  There was more influence there than from say, The Smothers Brothers or even Sonny and Cher.  Audiences will see that throughout The Carol Burnett Show:  The Ultimate Collection.  Staying on the topic of the whole box set, audiences will be pleased to go through each separate box included in this new complete set.  The first noticeable factor of each set is that within each box, the discs each get their own spot on an inserted “leaf.”  Placing the discs in this fashion not only is ergonomically smart, but it also protects the discs from scratching, thus increasing their longevity.  This is a very smart packaging manner.  This is just the beginning of the packaging’s positives.  Another positive to the packaging is the inclusion of a booklet in each box.  The booklet in question includes outlines of each episode along with some added history specific to each history.  This adds even more enjoyment to the overall viewing experience.  On top of the boxes is an even larger commemorative collector’s booklet that includes even more history behind the show, and even quotes from the cast.  One of the most interesting pieces of extra history is centered on Burnett’s co-stars, Harvey Korman and Tim Conway.  It is noted in the extra booklet that Korman couldn’t look at Conway without breaking out in total laughter once Conway did certain things.  Audiences will see that for themselves throughout certain episodes of the show, too.

The laughs provided by Korman, Conway, and the rest of the cast are again just another tiny piece of the overall puzzle that makes The Carol Burnett Show: The Ultimate Collection a must have for any classic television fan.  Bringing things full guest spots from the likes of The Smothers Brothers, Betty White, Joan Rivers, Telley Savalas, and so many more make for so many more laughs.  They’re included in their own skits, as well as episodes of the show’s most beloved and longest running skit, “The Family.”  Speaking of “The Family”, how many variety shows have managed to take its skits and turn them into such a success as that.  Sure, Saturday Night Live has taken its skits and tried to make them into movies.  But save perhaps for Wayne’s World, none of its other skits have ever really had any true success.  Mama’s Family by comparison was a huge hit throughout its run on television.

The guest stars and the overall set packaging of The Carol Burnett Show: The Ultimate Collection are impressive to say the least.  The quality of the footage is just as impressive.  Timelife and Star Vista make note on each disc that the footage may contain some discrepancies.  But the reality, it’s amazing how well the footage has stood the test of time.  And that it looks as good as it does so many years after the show’s end will create that same sense of nostalgia that an old jazz vinyl will create.  It will take anyone who remembers the show back to another time; a better time.  And it will show newer audiences everything that was at one time right with television.  It’s something which so many of today’s television execs should revisit as it shows that television can be funny and family friendly, even in the twenty-first century.

So much more could be said of The Carol Burnett Show: The Ultimate Collection.  Doing so would take up far more space than is possible.  Audiences will see for themselves everything that this set has in store when they pick it up for themselves.  Fans of this legendary show can purchase it online now via Timelife’s online store, http://timelife.com/products/the-carol-burnett-show-the-ultimate-collection

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

The New Pound Puppies Is Fun For The Whole Family

Shout! Factory/Hasbro Studios/Hub

Dog is man’s best friend, it’s often said.  Well dogs are also every child’s friends.  And after seeing the new compilation DVD from Hasbro Studios and Shout Factory, the dogs of the new Pound Puppies will be a favorite of every child, and maybe even some adults out there, too.  In this new single disc compilation, audiences get five episodes from the new series that will leave both parents and kids alike smiling and watching over and over again.  In the first of the set’s five episodes, pound manager Leonard and his flunky Olaf have to track down his mother’s dog.  Megastar Betty White guests in this episode.  The compilation’s second episode is a heartwarming episode both for adults and kids alike as Cookie learns a valuable lesson about being a parent.  Lauren Tom, Maurice LaMarche, and Cree Summer all add their guest vocal talents to this episode.  And in one more episode, a new pup named Patches joins the gang.  He looks up to the Pound Puppies so much that he, Cupcake, and Rebound form their own group called The Super Secret Pup Club.  Of course, lots of laughs and mayhem ensue.This five-episode collection opens with the episode, “Bone Voyage.”  Betty White (Golden Girls, Hot in Cleveland) guest stars as the voice of Agatha, the mother of the pound’s manager, Leonard.  Agatha has brought her puppy, Rebound, to the pound so that Leonard will look after Rebound while she goes on vacation.  While Lucky and the others try to get Rebound to understand that Agatha will be back, Rebound sees Agatha leave and freaks out.  She takes off after Agatha, causing not only the Pound Puppies to take chase, but so do Leonard and Olaf.  They all end up on board the cruise liner on which Agatha has taken her vacation.  Of course, lots of mayhem and laughs ensure.  Viewers will have to see for themselves how things unravel.  It does, of course, have a happy ending.

In one of the set’s deeper, more emotional episodes, Cookie learns a valuable lesson about being a parent when a young new pup named Cupcake is brought to the pound.  This is one that parents will appreciate in their own way.  Cookie becomes emotionally attached to Cupcake.  So much so that she doesn’t want Cupcake getting adopted.  In its own way, this is somewhat representative of parents letting their own children go as they get older.  That likely wasn’t the primary intent.  But parents will be able to relate to Cookie’s emotional ordeal.  They may even be left a little bit teary eyed by the episode’s end.  Lauren Tom (Futurama), Maurice Lamarche (Futurama, The Simpsons, Animaniacs, etc.) and Cree Summer (Rugrats, Codename:  Kids Next Door, etc.) all add their guest vocals to this episode.

Once parents get over the emotional moments of “Mutternal Instincts”, they’ll find themselves laughing in “The Super Secret Pup Club.”  Cree Summer returns again as Cupcake.  Rebound is back again.  The two team up with another new puppy named Patches.  Patches is a young Dalmatian.  He really looks up to the Pound Puppies.  He tells them of the stories he’s heard of the Pound Puppies, and how he wants to be as great as them.  So the trio forms its club and tries to emulate the Pound Puppies.  But as is the course with any new puppy, the run off, forcing the others to hunt them down.  This causes all sorts of trouble for the Pound Puppies.  It also causes lots of laughs for audiences.  Audiences will have to see for themselves what happens.  Pound Puppies:  Super Secret Pup Club will be available in stores and online Tuesday.  It can be ordered online at http://www.shoutfactorystore.com.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

New Carol Burnett Show Re-Issue A Great Piece of TV Nostalgia

Courtesy: Time Life/Star Vista

Television today is largely anything but family friendly.  As Peter and Lois Griffin joke in the opening to Seth McFarlane’s hit cartoon, Family Guy, “all you see is violence in movies and sex on TV.”  While that line is meant entirely in a tongue-in-cheek manner, there’s a certain modicum of truth to it in today’s television culture.  Thank goodness for companies such as Time Life.  Time Life officially released yesterday what is one of the greatest sketch comedy/variety programs of all time and one of the greatest family friendly programs in television history in The Carol Burnett Show.

Time Life released “The Carol Burnett Show:  Carol’s Favorites” yesterday.  The six-disc compilation contains seventeen episodes considered among the “best” of the show’s roughly eleven year run on CBS.  The episodes compiled for this new set leave no doubt that Burnett’s show was one of the influences behind NBC’s Saturday Night Live.  The sketches from this show clearly hint at the bits that would come from the latter.  The Carol Burnett Show even spawned a little show called “Mama’s Family” that would last a total of six seasons on television.  Saturday Night Live, on the other hand, has tried multiple times to spin off its sketches to both the big and small screen with little success.  That goes to show the importance and staying power of The Carol Burnett Show to this day.  It’s even been spoofed by a number of television shows that have come since.  And after all, it is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

“The Carol Burnett Show:  Carol’s Favorites” is a wonderful collection for those who are unable to pick up the complete twenty-two disc collection.  That collection was released yesterday alongside this compilation.  It contains every episode from the show’s run.  Among some of the best episodes included in the six-disc “Carol’s Favorites” are the ones that include the hilarious skit, “The Family.”  That skit was the precursor to Vicki Lawrence’s hit TV sitcom, “Mama’s Family.”  Fans of “Mama’s Family” will be happy to know that on this set is the very first episode of “The Family.”  Guest star Roddy McDowall even gets his own role in the skit.  McDowall is just one of a bevy of guest stars to make appearances on the show.  Also appearing on the show in this compilation are the likes of:  Joan Rivers, Johnny Cash, The Jackson 5, Steve Martin, Betty White, Vincent Price and loads more.

From the original skits to the guest stars, The Carol Burnett Show offered so much great entertainment for the entire family.  That’s not all that makes this set such a great addition to the library of any classic television fan.  The set’s packaging is another bonus.  While the box may seem slightly bulky, the packaging for the discs themselves is very impressive.  Three inserts hold all six discs inside the box.  Each disc has its own spot on the inserts, thus protecting them and increasing their longevity.  This may come across as something minor.  But the longer the discs last, the more families will get to enjoy this TV classic.

The packaging goes a long way to making “The Carol Burnett Show:  Carol’s Favorites” a joy for families and fans alike.  But one would be remiss to ignore the most obvious factor of this set that makes it such a joy.  That factor would be the footage itself.  There are those who would speak badly of the footage quality.  But as with so many shows from that era, watching it from its original airing recordings is like listening to an original classic jazz song on vinyl.  The static on those old original vinyls creates a certain sense of nostalgia.  In the same vein, seeing this show as it originally aired will bring back that sense of nostalgia, too.  Trying to enhance it would only decrease that sense of nostalgia.  So kudos to Time life for keeping it how it was. 

There are shows that deserve to be resurrected on DVD and blu-ray.  And then there are those that are better left dead.  The Carol Burnett Show is one of those shows that belong in the prior category.  Despite what some critics may have to say, this newest reintroduction of this classic show is quite welcome.  Now a whole new generation can experience what is an example of television with real heart.  “The Carol Burnett Show:  Carol’s Favorites” is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct via Time Life’s website, http://timelife.com.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.