WHV, Hanna-Barbera Off To A “Rocky” Start in 2014 With New Flintstone Kids Compilation Set

Courtesy:  Hanna-Barbera/Warner Brothers Home Video

Courtesy: Hanna-Barbera/Warner Brothers Home Video

Warner Home Video had a tough time through much of 2013 thanks to issues with a number of its new releases. It did manage to get itself at least somewhat righted by year’s end. But if the release of The Flintstone Kids: Rockin’ in Bedrock is any sign, it looks like that ship is starting to list yet again. The release of the new double-disc DVD set marks the first time that this “kiddie-fied” version–as many media critics called it in its original airing in the 80s–of The Flintstones has ever received even a semi-proper home release. Previous compilation sets from Warner Home Video that also included other well-known cartoons of the era included episodes of The Flintstone Kids. But until now, it had never received any solo release. And while this release isn’t terrible, it also doesn’t do full justice to what was just one of a handful of spinoffs from The Flintstones.
The Flintstone Kids: Rockin’ in Bedrock is not the best way to re-introduce this short-lived Flintstones spinoff. But it is also not the worst way to reintroduce the series to the generation that grew up watching the series, either. To the set’s credit, the episodes contained in this set look just as good today as they did when they originally aired nearly thirty years ago on ABC. That being noted, those charged with transferring the original content from tape to disc are to be applauded for their efforts. The colors are especially rich and vibrant when the set’s episodes are viewed via a Blu-ray player and HDTV. On an even deeper level, the very fact that these episodes have been resurrected for a whole new generation is a positive in itself. In an era when it seems that children’s programs are increasingly created through computers, this blast from the past is a welcome return. It serves as one more example of the creativity that once existed among animators. There is still some creativity among animators today. But sadly, it is far less as is evidenced by all of the computer generated programs that now fill the TV spectrum. So again, to the credit of Warner Home Video, Hanna-Barbera, and those charged with transferring these episodes from tape to disc, there is at least one positive to The Flintstone Kids: Rockin’ in Bedrock.
That the episodes included in The Flintstone Kids: Rockin’ in Bedrock look as good as they do in their transfer is definitely a positive. The quality of the footage will help bring back a certain sense of nostalgia for those that grew up with this short-lived series. And for those that are seeing it for the first time, it serves as another example of what once made children’s programming on the “Big 4” so great. This aside, The Flintstone Kids: Rockin’ in Bedrock is not without its faults. The most glaring of those faults is the obvious omission of the companion shorts that were included in the series’ original airing. The shorts in question were: Captain Caveman and Son, Dino’s Dilemmas, and Flintstone Funnies. Given, all ten of the central episodes in the set were the full length episodes, rather than the shorter episodes. But considering that there’s no telling how long it might be before (or if) audiences get another collection of episodes, it would have been nice to have those companion shorts included as perhaps bonus material. Sadly, that didn’t happen. Instead what audiences get is a bare bones compilation that boasts only ten of the series’ original episodes. That leaves the series’ now grown up fans wondering when or if the remaining fourteen episodes will see the light of day.
The omission of the series’ original companion shorts is just one of the problems plaguing The Flintstone Kids: Rockin’ in Bedrock. One more problem about this set is its lackluster disc art. Fred and Barney are presented in the disc art for the set’s lead disc, while Rocky and Dino are splashed across the set’s second disc. It was nice to see them exactly as they were presented in the included episodes. However, they are all presented in a single, flat color. In this case, that flat color was a flat red. Some might ask why this has any significance to the set. The answer is that it shows a continued lack of effort on the part of Warner Home Video to present a physical product that is appealing to the eye at least on an extrinsic level. WHV followed this same formula in 2013 with the releases of Animaniacs: Volume Four and Tiny Toon Adventures: Volume Four. The latter of the two had another even worse issue. But that’s a story for another time. The fact that WHV would continue to use a bare bones approach with its disc art as well as with its content hurts the set even more.
The disc art and bare bones presentation of the set collectively do their own share of damage to the overall presentation that is The Flintstone Kids: Rockin’ in Bedrock. While they do their share of a disservice to the overall presentation, there is at least one more saving grace that makes up for these issues. The saving grace in question is the set’s packaging. Both of the set’s discs are presented on their own insert in the standard single-disc case. The separate inserts protect the discs from scratching one another. The end result here is increased life of each disc. That both discs are placed wisely into a single disc case saves space on audiences’ DVD racks. That smart packaging and the high quality of the video in its transfer that make up for the set’s poor disc art and bare bones presentation. It makes up for those negatives just enough to make The Flintstone Kids: Rockin’ in Bedrock at least somewhat worth purchasing or ordering. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct from WHV’s online store at http://www.wbshop.com/product/the+flintstone+kids-+rockin%27+in+bedrock+dvd+1000406690.do?sortby=bestSellers&refType=&from=Search.
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Shout! Factory, Nickelodeon To Release Classic Nicktoon’s Full Series Set This Fall

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Fans of Nickelodeon’s classic 90s Nicktoons are getting a special treat just in time for Halloween courtesy of Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon.  Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon will release Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: The Complete Series on Tuesday, October 8th, just in time to plan those Halloween get-togethers.  The entire series’ four-season run is contained on eight discs in the upcoming release.  The first two hundred people to order the set will receive a free 12” x 18” collectible lithograph.  It can be ordered direct from the Shout! Factory store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/?q=node/218263.     

Aaahh!!! Real Monsters follows the adventures of monster friends Ickis, Oblina, and Crumb as they attend scare school and learn how to properly and effectively scare humans.  The classic Nicktoon ran for a total of four seasons from 1994 – 2000.  During its run on Nickelodeon, it received a nomination for a Daytime Emmy in the category of “Outstanding Achievement in Animation.”  The show boasted an all-star voice cast, too.  Charlie Adler (Rocko’s Modern Life, Tiny Toon Adventures, Aladdin), Christine Cavanaugh (Rugrats, Dexter’s Laboratory, Recess), Gregg Berger (Garfield & Friends, The Garfield Show, The Transformers), Tim Curry (Clue, Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties, The Rocky Horror Picture Show), and James Belushi (Life According to Jim, Hey Arnold!, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius) round out the cast. 

For more information on previous and future releases from Shout! Factory, audiences can go to the official Shout! Factory website, http://www.shoutfactory.com or the official Shout! Factory Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial.

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Rocko’s Modern Life Series Box Set Is A Modern Hit

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon have completed the course for one of the best of the network’s original Nicktoons.  On Tuesday, February 26th, the two companies will release Rocko’s Modern Life: The Complete Series on DVD.  The set contains all four of the show’s seasons in their entirety on eight discs.  This set is a must for any true hardcore Nicktoons Nostalgic.  It is without a doubt one of the best box sets of 2013 all the way around.  From its packaging to its episodes and even the new original artwork by series creator Joe Murray, this brand new upcoming set is everything for which fans of Rocko’s Modern Life have waited for so long.

Rocko’s Modern Life: The Complete Series is a winner from the very moment that it’s picked up in store or ordered online.  Shout! Factory has shown once more why it continues to be the leader in releasing box sets with this set’s packaging.  Rather than place the series into a large, bulky box set, all eight discs are placed onto opposing sides of four separate inserts.  Placing the discs in such fashion gives each disc its own backing, thus helping to increase its longevity.  Adding to the longevity factor is a small “lip” placed at the top and bottom of each insert.  The “lip” allows for each disc to be smoothly removed and replaced safely.  And being on separate inserts, audiences can flip through each insert effortlessly to get to the disc that they want to watch.  Being that the set includes eight discs, the box overall is a little larger than the standard double disc.  But in comparison to the size of other multi-disc boxes still being released today, the overall packaging is still a space saver for any Nicktoons Nostalgic’s DVD rack.

The packaging of this new upcoming box set is a major positive. The episodes are just as much a positive.  As already noted, all four original seasons of this modern classic are contained in this box set in their entirety.  And the transfers to DVD are highly impressive.  The quality of each episode’s footage has been fully maintained.  What’s more, now that the show’s original audiences are all grown up, the show’s episodes will present even more enjoyment as they will get many of the jokes presented.  They’re like a fine wine, for lack of better comparison.  They’re that much more of a joy now that the original audiences can look back on them with a whole different take on them.  And making them even better, those same audiences can now share these laugh riot episodes with their own children, thus preserving the legacy of this outrageous cartoon for a whole new generation of fans. 

In relation to the jokes and the quality of the footage contained on these discs, the original hand drawn animation simply cannot be ignored here.  This has already been noted with the previously released first three seasons of Rocko’s Modern Life.  Having all four seasons together now, audiences can really see how the hand drawn animation served to give this cartoon its own original identity.  This was really a landmark of cartoons during the 1990s.  It’s something that has by and large been lost in the Twenty-first century.  Given, there are still hand drawn cartoons out there.  But for the most part, this generation’s cartoons are created via computer.  It makes them sterile and unoriginal.  In comparison, this show’s animation serves as a reminder of everything that once made cartoons great, and hopefully will again one day both for the show’s original viewers and today’s younger audiences.

Staying on the same vein of hand drawn animation, fans that pick up this new set will even be presented with brand new hand drawn animation both inside and outside the set.  The new box art was drawn by series creator Joe Murray.  It adds that much more vintage feel to the set, thus making it that much more special and a must have for the show’s original viewers.  This new eight-disc set will be available in stores and online Tuesday, February 26th.  To sweeten the deal for fans, the first 200 who order their copies of this new box set at Shout! Factory’s online store at http://www.shoutfactory.com will receive an 18” x 24” autographed lithograph of an all new original illustration from Joe Murray himself.  Fans can pre-order the set online at http://www.shoutfactory.com/?q=node/216544.

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Nicktoon’s Latest DVD Release More “Wild” Fun For The Whole Family

Courtesy:  Nickelodeon/Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Nickelodeon/Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon have kicked off the New Year in fine fashion.  The two companies already have a somewhat busy slate of releases set in this still very young year.  Next month sees the release of Rocko’s Modern Life: The Complete Series.  Before that though, audiences of the fellow classic Nicktoon, The Wild Thornberrys finally get to see the final piece to the show’s second season.  The Wild Thornberrys: Season 2 Part 3 is available in stores and online now.  The Thornberrys’ “wild” globe hopping, adventures have only just begun with this last portion of Season 2, as there are still three more seasons left to be released.  This time out, viewers finally get to see Eliza’s “origin” story so to speak, as it is finally revealed how she got her secret powers.  Also Debbie inadvertently becomes mother to a baby Panda, only to find herself having become emotionally attached to it just like a real mother.  And also Nigel’s life is in Eliza’s hands after he is stung by a poisonous fish during a search for an Angler Fish. 

The adventures included in the final portion of The Wild Thornberrys Season 2 Part 3 continue to show just how strong the writing was for this classic Nicktoon in its infancy.  As with so many other Nicktoons of its era, the episodes included in this double disc set continue to show just how much heart the show had (and still has today by comparison to other shows out there).  Each episode in its own way continued to highlight the importance of family while balancing that with the show’s educational and even ecological aspects.  Every episode included in this new set emphasizes educational aspects without even trying, by teaching about different animals of different regions of the world.  That’s even the case in the set’s “origin” episode, “Gift of Gab.”  It teaches not only geography but also biology. That lesson on biology is also echoed in the episode, “Black and White and Mom All Over.”  Eliza’s sister Debbie learns a lesson of how wild animals connect to the first thing they see when they’re young after a baby panda mistakes her for its mother.  That biology lesson is directly tied in to the show’s emphasis on another aspect that still makes it so enjoyable to this day.  That aspect is its emphasis on family.

The educational role of The Wild Thornberrys is only part of what continues to make this such a fan favorite to this day.  The show’s emphasis on family plays a role in its heart, too.  As already noted, one of the episodes that shows that emphasis is “Black and White and Mom All Over.”  That theme is also evident in “Bogged Down” in which it’s up to Eliza to save Nigel’s life.  As excited as she is to be out with her father, one little error on her part nearly costs him his life.  So Eliza has to put her squabbles with Debbie on the backburner in order to save her dad’s life.    And in “Gift of Gab”, the family aspect is offered when Eliza tells the story of how she and Darwin first met and he essentially became part of the Thornberry family. 

As much enjoyment as The Wild Thornberrys brings from its writing and its educational emphasis, the show’s animation also plays a role in its enjoyment.  In a time when it would seem that the very art of creating hand drawn art is dying, this latest installment of the classic Nicktoon serves as yet another reminder of how much better hand drawn art is in comparison to the CG crafted material that currently permeates television stations across the spectrum.  Just as with even older cartoons (on both television and in theaters), the animation of The Wild Thornberrys boasts a very specific style.  While the show itself was one more creation from Arlene Klasky and Gabor Csupo (who also created the ultimate Nicktoon, Rugrats), the animation of this show was entirely different from that of Rugrats and the other cartoons which were created by the pair.  The animation style really served as the most basic identifier of the cartoon.  There was a certain roughness and definition all at once about it.  Set against the likes of Rugrats, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, and Rocket Power, perhaps the closest that any of these comes to The Wild Thornberrys in terms of its animation style would be Aaahh!!! Real Monsters.  Though, even that similarity is slight at best.  That defining mark, added in to the equally impressive writing and work by a star cast of voice actors has made The Wild Thornberrys one of Nickelodeon’s elite Nicktoons.  And thanks to the latest of the show’s DVD releases, it still holds that title to this day.  The Wild Thornberrys Season 2 Part 3 is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct online via the Shout! Factory store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/?q=node/216648.

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Tiny Toon Adventures Vol. 3 Another Wonderful Piece Of TV Nostalgia

Courtesy:  Amblin Entertainment/Warner Brothers Home Entertainment

Courtesy: Amblin Entertainment/Warner Brothers Home Entertainment

The long wait is finally over, Toonsters.  Nearly four years have passed since audiences were offered their last dose of Tiny Toon Adventures episodes.  This past Tuesday, Warner Home Video released the long awaited third volume of shorts in its own two-disc set loaded with enough laughs, puns, sight gags, and pop culture references to make any classic cartoon fan happy.  Would it have been nice to have a full thirty to thirty-five episode collection as with the previous pair of collections?  Yes.  But something’s better than nothing, considering how long audiences have waited.  And this new set is something.  It boasts some of the show’s best episodes.  The episodes are just one part of what makes this collection so enjoyable.  The original hand-drawn animation will bring back that sense of nostalgia for lovers of classic cartoons, too.  And the use of some of the top voice talent in the industry then and now make for even more enjoyment.  Altogether, it makes for one more must have for any original Tiny Toon fan and even for any of today’s younger viewers.

Tiny Toon Adventures Vol. 3: Crazy Crew Rescues boasts some of the best episodes from this modern classic cartoon.  The show’s original audiences will love seeing classic episodes such as “Kon-Ducki” (which pays a little tribute to The Wizard of Oz and even The Bee Gees), “The Potty Years”, and its own take on the film noir classic, Sunset Boulevard in the episode, “Sepulveda Boulevard.”  There is also a fun episode titled, “Toon Physics” which explains the differences between real physical science and that of cartoons.  It isn’t the first cartoon to ever poke fun at the incredibility of cartoon physics.  But it’s still just as funny as others of its sort.  This episode features revered voice talent Maurice LaMarche (Futurama, The Simpsons, Animaniacs, Pinky & The Brain) as a spoof of legendary actor Orson Welles.  Instead of Welles, his character here is a whale named—you guessed it—Orson Whales (ba-dump-bump-bump).  This set also includes the “controversial” episode, “One Beer” in which Buster, Plucky, and Hampton show young audiences the dangers of drinking and driving.  Along those same lines, there is even an episode that teaches the importance of childhood literacy in “Why Dizzy Can’t Read.”  These are all just a handful of examples of what Tiny Toon Adventures Vol. 3: Crazy Crew Rescues has to offer both its original fans and their own kids.  Everybody will undoubtedly have their own favorites from this set.  And even with just two discs, this set boasts more than its share of great shorts.

The episodes alone make for loads of enjoyment for both the show’s now grown-up audience and for their own children.  Adding to the enjoyment of this set is the continued original hand drawn animation.  So much children’s programming today is not true animation.  It is in large part CG-based programming.  So unearthing this collection provides yet another reminder for older audiences of what real animation looks like. And it serves as an example for today’s younger audiences the importance of maintaining the classic art of actually drawing animation, rather than relying on technology for everything.  The only downside to the animation here is that it isn’t as clear as with the show’s previous releases.  It looks like the quality of the transfers with this set weren’t as solid as with the previous releases.  But it’s not that bad.  So while it does leave at least a little bit to be desired, it’s still nice to have this relic of a bygone era given new life.

The show’s original animation and its equally entertaining episodes make for so much enjoyment for audiences of all ages.  The cherry on top for not just this set but also the show as a whole is the inclusion of some of the top voice actors in the industry.  As already noted, veteran voice actor Maurice LaMarche is among the show’s ranks of well known actors.  Also in the cast are the likes of: Frank Welker (The Real Ghostbusters, Scooby Doo, etc.), Charlie Adler (Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, The Superhero Squad Show, etc.), Tress MacNeille (The Simpsons, Futurama), Cree Summer (The Cosby Show, A Different World, Codename: Kids Next Door) and Don Messick (Garfield & Friends, A Pup Named Scooby Doo, The Flintstones, etc.).  The chemistry between the cast was obvious throughout this new set of episodes, just as with the previous releases.  Whether for the general comedic timing or the interactions with each other, the voice cast of Tiny Toon Adventures was the perfect choice.  It was their interpretations of their characters that put the final touch on what was and still is today one of the best cartoons of the twentieth century.  Tiny Toon Adventures Vol. 3: Crazy Crew Rescues is available in stores and online now.  It can be ordered online via the Warner Brothers store at http://www.wbshop.com/product/steven+spielberg+presents+tiny+toon+adventures+volume+3+1000311856.do?sortby=ourPicks&from=Search.

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Aaahh!!! Real Monstrers Season Three Offers More Monstrous Fun Just In Time For Halloween

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Halloween’s almost here.  And just in time to count down the days, Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon have released the penultimate season of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters.  Krumm, Ickis, Oblina, The Grumble and all the other monsters at the Monster Academy are back for thirteen more episodes of scares and screams.  In this second to last season, all the monsters learn about the Festival of the Festering Moon.  And monster hunter Simon is back again, trying his best to capture proof that monsters really exist.  Also in Season Three, Oblina has to face her overbearing mother and make her realize that scaring is her life, whether she likes it or not.  These episodes and more make Season three another fun one for all the Nicktoons Nostalgics out there.

Season Three opens with the episode, “Festival of the Festering Moon.”  In this episode, all the students at the monster academy are undergoing a new stage in their lives.  They’re all quivering.  The only one who knows why is The Gromble.  He explains that the quivering is part of the annual shedding that all young monsters go through.  He also explains that the last monster to shed leaves the academy, never to return.  What he doesn’t explain at first is that the last to shed also is the first to grow up.  So being the only one not quivering, Ickis is scared that he’ll be cast out of the academy.  He goes to every length possible to kick start his shedding process.  It isn’t until the Festival of the Festering Moon that he finally sheds.  And when he finally does, the Gromble finally explains the why the last to shed leaves the academy.  It turns out to actually be a good thing.  So while Ickis isn’t the last to shed, he realizes he was making a big deal over nothing.

After they face the hurdle of a new stage in growing up, Ickis, Krumm, and Oblina also have to face an old foe in Simon The Monster Hunter.  Simon (voiced by James Belushi) returns in “Simon’s Big Score.”  When the trio gets into Simon’s apartment to scare him, Krumm eats some roaches off of a pizza in his kitchen.  What none of the trio knows is that Simon had planted a fake cockroach on the pizza that is actually a microphone/homing device.  So having taken the bait, Krumm inadvertently leads Simon to every one of the trio’s scares.  Suddenly everyone at the monster academy is suspected of intentionally leading Simon to the monsters.  That is until Krumm almost gets into a fight with Ickis.  As he’s getting ready to fight, he’s holding his eyes in his mouth.  Oblina hits Krumm on the back, trying to calm him down.  That causes him to accidentally swallow his eyes (again).  But thanks to her doing that, Krumm discovers the homing device.  Having discovered it, Krumm and the others set up a trap for Simon.  They lead him to a wrestling match and cause him to get involved in the match, in which he is soundly beaten by the wrestler.

Simon The Monster Hunter isn’t the only trouble that the monsters face in Season Three.  In “Lifestyles of the Rich and Scary”, Oblina gets a letter from her mother asking her to come visit.  Her mother’s secret intention is to get her to leave the scare school.  At first, Krumm and Ickis think it’s a great idea for Oblina to visit her mother.  So she obliges and visits her.  Things go south real fast, as Oblina’s mother turns out to be anything but supportive of her.  Things reach a head when Oblina’s mother basically forces her to stay there, rather than return to the monster academy. Luckily for her, the family’s butler steps in and along with Krumm and Ickis, they convince her that her mother is wrong.  When they scare off two robbers from the pedicure shop above their home, Oblina comes to her senses and realizes scaring is her life.  She stands up to her mother at this point.  And with her father’s help, Oblina convinces her mother that she needs to return to the academy.  Her mother agrees, and all ends happily.

Season Three of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters has so many laughs, scares, and screams.  What’s mentioned here is just a tiny portion of that enjoyment.  The double disc set will have any Nicktoons Nostalgic happy from beginning to end, both from the stories and the wonderfully hand drawn animation.  In a time when real cartoons seem increasingly rare, this penultimate season to another classic Nicktoon is another welcome blast from the past.  Add in the continued pack leading packaging for this double disc set, and audiences get another great release from both Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon.  Aaahh!!! Real Monsters Season Three is available now on in stores and online.  It can be orderd online at http://www.shoutfactorystore.com

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Sequel Or Not, The Rescuers Down Under Is One “Wild” Watch

Courtesy: Disney

The Rescuers Down Under, as noted by the staff at Variety, is and isn’t necessarily a sequel.  In the purist sense, it is.  But that’s only because it’s a continued story of Bernard and Miss Bianca.  But in the grand scheme of things, it certainly is not a sequel to The Rescuers because of that.  This is for all intensive purposes, an entirely new story.  It just so happens that it stars Bernard and Miss Bianca again.  Other than that, it has zero links to the original movie that had been released nearly fifteen years prior.  Now keeping that in mind, The Rescuers Down Under would likely be better described as a stand alone movie. 

As a stand alone movie, The Rescuers Down Under is actually a good work.  The grand scenes in which young Cody flies on the back of the eagle are among the greatest in the movie.  No doubt Pixar had a hand in these scenes.  Wait.  You didn’t know about that?  Those who sit through the credits will learn something very interesting about The Rescuers Down Under.  The company that has become one of the biggest names in digital animation today actually played a hand in bringing The Rescuers Down Under to life.  This is true.  Odds are that the flight scenes, along with a handful of others were constructed at least in some part by Pixar.  Whatever role they played, it reminds audiences that at one time, Pixar actually did work in hand drawn animation.  It would be nice to see the company release a hand drawn/CG hybrid on its own one day.

The addition of Pixar to The Rescuers Down Under was a big part of the movie’s success.  It was just one part of what made this movie enjoyable.  The return of both Bob Newhart and Eva Gabor as Bernard and Miss Bianca gave this installment of the adventures of The Rescuers almost as much heart as the original Rescuers.  Given, there is no beating the original.  That’s a rule of movies.  But the partnership of the pair in this movie was just as charming as before.

Speaking of Bernard, the story behind The Rescuers Down Under is really more about him than about Cody trying to save the eagle.  Audiences see Bernard grow as a character in this movie.  Whereas he was this timid little mouse in the first movie, he is forced to overcome his timidity in this movie and man…er…mouse up (ba-dump bump bump).  It shows that no matter how small a man (or mouse) is, what matters is that individual’s heart.  And Bernard definitely showed that while he might have been a mouse, he had the heart of a lion inside him, especially when he took that wild boar and commanded it.

The acting wasn’t all that made The Rescuers Down Under a fun watch.  The bonus making of featurette continues a theme that audiences have come to know from Disney movies that has always made them great.  Rather than simply draw their idea of an outback setting, the bonus making of featurette shows that the crew behind the film actually went to Australia themselves to get an idea of the region.  It shows yet again that those behind the art wanted to be as true as possible for audiences, rather than simply come up with some fantastical setting.  The crew even got a first hand look at animals that were native to the outback, so as to properly draw them, too.  That included the evil lizard Joanna (voiced by veteran actor Frank Welker–Scooby Doo, The Garfield Show, The Real Ghostbusters, etc.)

There are those who for their won reasons have decided to pan The Rescuers Down Under.  Perhaps those people didn’t take time to look into the finer details of how this movie was made.  The bonus making of featurette is one more example of the importance of bonus features on any blu-ray and/or DVD release.  And even watching the story’s end credits adds an extra level of appreciation in learning of Pixar’s involvement in the movie.  Any movie buff would appreciate this little tidbit of extra information.  All of this extra information put together with the cast’s splendid voice acting makes The Rescuers Down Under not so much an underappreciated sequel, but a movie by itself that deserves another watch by those who haven’t seen it in a long time, and a close watch for the new generation that is seeing it for the first time.

The Rescuers Down Under is available now on blu-ray as part of a triple-disc blu-ray/DVD combo pack alongside the original The Rescuers.  It’s available both in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct through Disney’s online store at http://www.disneystore.com.

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Warner Home Video Finally Re-Issues Another 90’s Classic For Families

Courtesy: Warner Home Video

It’s here.  At long last, another piece of animation and television history has been re-issued thanks to Warner Home Video.  Tiny Toon Adventures How I Spent My Vacation is a wonderful addition to the library of anyone that grew up with the classic cartoon, Tiny Toon Adventures.  A lot of people thought that the show was little more than a “kid-ification” of the Looney Tunes franchise.  But in reality, it was a way to indoctrinate young audiences into the world of Looney Tunes.  And this hilarious almost hour and a half long movie was a wonderful extension of the show.

How I Spent My Vacation sees the Tiny Toons gang head out on Summer vacation at long last, each with different results.  Buster and Babs get swept away don a river thanks to Buster starting a squirt gun war with Babs.  Plucky goes on a road trip with his best pal Hampton that he ends up regretting ever taking.  And even Fifi and Shirley have their own problems to deal with. 

Kids might not get it.  And those audiences who were kids when this movie was originally released probably didn’t get it back then.  But the writers behind the story threw in some great pop culture references for parents throughout this feature.  Among the most noticeable was the reference to the 1972 classic Deliverance, when Buster and Babs are floating down the river with Byron.  And while it wasn’t a direct reference to the original National Lampoons movies, Plucky’s trip with Hampton and his parents could be equated to said movies.  At the same time, what viewer wouldn’t watch the group’s trip and say to themselves they’ve heard very realistic horror stories of family vacations that were either as bad as or worse than that one.  The trip even includes (perhaps) an indirect tongue-in-cheek reference to all the slasher flicks that Hollywood has ever churned out with the family trip storyline.

The hilarious and family friendly storyline is a major part of what made Tiny Too Adventures and this spinoff movie so great.  But it was also the hand drawn animation that played a role in how great this movie was.  So many movies and television shows today are made with the ease of CG.  And as so many critics and people inside the entertainment business have noted time and again, the use of CG has really caused so much work to lose its heart and soul.  The hand drawn animation of the Tiny Toons franchise gave it its very own heart, soul, and identity.  It stood out even from the classic Looney Tunes from which it was spawned.  And it stood out among the other great animated classics of the 90’s.  All said, now that it’s been re-issued on DVD, fans that saw it as kids can enjoy this classic from long ago once again with their own kids.  So kudos to Warner Home Video for that.  And here’s to hoping someone up there will see the success of this release and start releasing the original show’s remaining seasons soon.

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Rocko’s Modern Life Season Three is a riot

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

90′s Nicktoons Nostalgics, stand up and “shout”!  Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon are on the home stretch with Rocko’s Modern Life.  This classic cartoon lasted a total of four seasons during its run on Nickelodeon.  And on July 3rd, the penultimate season will hit store shelves courtesy of the good people at Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon.  Season Three is rife with all the laughs that fans had in the show’s first two seasons.  In Season Three, fans get to see Rocko investigate what he thinks is Ed Bighead’s murder.  Also series creator Joe Murray takes on the barrage of sensational talk shows that pollute the airwaves.  And Rocko has to face his nail biting problem in another episode.

In “Ed is Dead” series creator Joe Murray spoofs Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller, “Rear Window.”  The episode opens with the Bigheads working in their yard one day.  Ed and Bev are arguing over how little work Ed is doing.  That night, Rocko swears he sees Bev use a trowel to kill Ed through the window of the couple’s house.  When he sees her bury something in the yard and clean the trowel afterward, Rocko’s sure Bev killed Ed.  So he goes into the Bigheads’ house to investigate what happened.  When he runs into Bev, she invites Rocko to stay for dinner.  But he freaks out and runs out of the house.  Later, when Rocko confronts Bev, she reveals that she was actually working on a sculpture of Ed, and that was what she buried.  So Rocko asks Bev where Ed is, it turns out that he was out getting a wart removed.  Though Rocko thinks that Ed was getting his tonsils taken out.  The whole thing ends full circle as audiences see the silhouettes of Ed and Bev kissing through their window.

“Ed is Dead” is just one of Season Three’s funny episodes.  Another example of what makes this season so funny is the episode, “Speaking Terms.”  Rocko and Heffer find themselves on the “Nosey” show after a big fight about Rocko’s birthday.  One could argue that this episode even went so far as to spoof the queen of daytime talk herself, Oprah Winfrey, considering the joke about Nosey’s weight issue.  The “twice told tale” format of the episode is nothing new to television.  That aside, it’s a tried and true story format.  Hearing Rocko and Heffer offer their own take on what happened regarding Rocko’s birthday is funny both times.  And of course the reaction from both the audience and Nosey to the pair being friends again after Heffer’s mother chides them for fighting offers its own share of laughs, too.  The real kicker, though, comes at the episodes end, when Filbert shows up with some aliens.  Audiences will have to see the episode to get that joke.

“Speaking Terms” has plenty of great jokes that will make audiences laugh nonstop.  It’s just one more piece of the puzzle that makes Season Three so fun.  As fun as that episode and “Ed is Dead” are, there’s at least one more episode that stands out as one of the season’s best.  That episode is “Tooth & Nail.”  “Tooth & Nail” opens as Rocko, Heffer, and Filbert are eating out at the Scratch & Sniff Restaurant.  Patrons have to order by scratching and sniffing items on the menu.  the problem is that Rocko can’t scratch the menu because his fingernails aren’t long enough.  Heffer confronts Rocko, telling him he has a nail biting problem.  Rocko denies that.  What makes this funny is that Rocko had just gotten through going after Heffer, telling him that he had an eating problem.  It’s a prime example of art imitating life.  Rocko ends up having to take a twelve step program to stop biting his nails.  However, when the “twelve steps” discover he was using them for such a simple problem, half of them leave for Vegas, telling Rocko that he only needs six steps for this problem.  The sixth and final step spoofs “A Christmas Carol.”  It’s a Ghost of Christmas Future style figure that shows Rocko what he would become if he didn’t overcome his nail biting problem.  This cures Rocko.  And just as in “A Christmas Carol”, it all turns out to be supposedly a dream.  The whole thing wraps nicely with the remaining six steps going bust in Vegas.  They end up on the curb outside a casino, with two of the “steps” arguing over whether one of them has a gambling problem.  It brings the episode full circle as it ends.

The episodes listed here are just a small sampling of what fans can expect from Rocko’s Modern Life Season Three.  However, audiences will find their own favorites on the double disc set.  And that’s what makes this show so great.  Even years after it ended its run, the episodes from this classic episode are still relevant and funny for audiences of all ages.  And now, thanks to Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon fans will get to re-live every episode from Season Three July 3rd.  

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