Dick Van Dyke Show Blu-Ray Set A Welcome Re-Issue

Courtesy: Image Entertainment

The newly re-issued Dick Van Dyke Show: The Complete Series is one of the most welcome box sets of 2012.  This fifteen disc box set brings together the show’s full five-season run from 1961 to 1966.  At a time when so much programming on television today is anything but family friendly, this re-issued set resurrects one of television’s greatest programs for a whole new generation of audiences.

This new Blu-ray release isn’t the first time that the Dick Van Dyke show has been released to the public.  But it’s a welcome return for one of television’s most revered names and sitcoms.  From funny episodes such as ‘All About Eavesdropping’ and ‘Never Bathe on Saturday’ to the hilarious ‘Coast to Coast Bigmouth’, the show had more than its share of laughs throughout its run on CBS.  The show’s episodes have never looked better.  What’s makes it even more of a joy to watch is that it is a relic of a bygone era in television.  Add in a bevy of special features, and any true classic television buff will find this a welcome gift under the Christmas tree this year.

The Dick Van Dyke Show is one of the most respected and revered sitcoms in television history first and foremost for its writing.  Unlike so much of today’s programming, this is a classic sitcom in which every episode was a stand-alone episode.  Viewers didn’t have to worry about missing an episode or another to be able to enjoy the show.  Every show was a different episode all in itself.  In comparison to so much of what is on television today, being able to enjoy each episode without having to know what happened in the previous episode is a breath of fresh air.  It’s something which today’s generation knows next to nothing about as so many network programmers have leaned more in favor of serials.  With any luck, the resurgence of shows such as this and The Carol Burnett Show among others will prove to those programmers the value and importance of this style programming.

That fans can enjoy The Dick Van Dyke Show without worrying about each episode’s storyline from one to the next is one of the most important values of this show.  It isn’t the show’s only value, though.  The show’s writing also goes into its general content, too.  Again, in comparison to so much of today’s programming, this show is one of those breaths of fresh air in that it’s something which the entire family can enjoy together.  It mixes great physical comedy with family friendly jokes that will get the entire family laughing from one episode to the next.  The proof is in the pudding.  The show’s episode, ‘Never Bathe on Saturday’ earned the show a Primetime Emmy in the “Outstanding Comedy Series.”  That’s just one of its accolades.  For those who have never seen this classic episode, Rob and Laura go to a hotel for a romantic honeymoon.  But when Laura goes into the bathroom of the couple’s hotel room to try out the tub, she gets her toe stuck in the tub’s faucet.  The resulting jokes and comedy are proof of why the show won its Emmy for this episode.  Like so many other episodes from this classic sitcom, it’s a simple story with a simple and family friendly story that is still one of the show’s most beloved episodes to this very day.  And it’s just one tiny piece of evidence of what makes this show so timeless.  Thanks to Image Entertainment, families and fans can enjoy every episode and find their own favorite with every watch.

The show’s writing exhibits both intrinsically and extrinsically, the show’s value.  The writing makes all the difference in the show’s continued success nearly five decades after it ended.  Now on its new Blu-ray release, the writing continues to play a major role in the show’s continued success.  The show looked great on its original multi-disc DVD set.  Now on its new Blu-ray re-issue, the footage has never looked better.  It looks even sharper than ever.  It is crystal clear.  Given, the older grainy footage of the older DVD release is great for creating an extra sense of nostalgia.  But seeing it cleaned up so precisely without losing any quality from the original masters is incredible in its own right.  There are those who will and have had their own say about how the footage has been cleaned up.  But the very fact that there are those who want to preserve the show should make those critics change their minds.  Keeping in mind the outstanding quality of this show’s transfers to HD, its overall writing, and the equally interesting bonus features that have been carried over from the previous DVD release, The Dick Van Dyke Show on Blu-ray will be a great addition under the tree for any classic television buff this holiday season.

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It’s Morphin’ Time Once Again Thanks to Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Saban Brands

Shout! Factory has done it again.  This company that specializes in nostalgia television has brought the children of the late 80’s and 90’s another childhood favorite in the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.  That’s right, everyone.  The team that started it all back in 1993 is finally seeing its adventures released both in a triple disc set containing the show’s first thirty episodes, and in a box set containing the entire original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers series.  For the sake of this review, the main focus is going to be on the very first release that is Season 1 Volume 1.

In Season 1 Volume 1, fans see the very first team of rangers assembled by the interdimensional leader Zordon, and his robot assistant, Alpha.  Fans will also get to see the complete five-part “Green With Evil” story arc in which long time ranger Tommy is introduced to the show.  And in one of the better stand alone episodes, fans see Billy, the Blue Ranger, face Bulk and Skull with a little help from Trini’s uncle, Howard.

The massive franchise that is the Power Rangers all started with the episode, “Day of the Dumpster.  Audiences discover that Rita escapes when her “space dumpster” is opened by a pair of curious astronauts.  When Zordon and alpha learn of Rita’s escape, the first team is chosen.  Jason, Billy, Zack, Trini, and Kimberly are transported to Zordon’sCommandCenter.  What fans will really get a kick out of is Alpha’s response.  He pleads with Zordon, saying, “Not teenagers!”  Zordon’s comment that sets up Alpha’s response adds to the moment of laughs.  He tells Alpha, get me five overbearing, overemotional humans!”  Who wouldn’t laugh at that joke?  At first the Rangers don’t’ believe Zordon.  But when they have to face Rita’s Putty Patrollers, they morph for the very first time, and are sent back to Angel Grove to face Rita’s henchman, Goldar.  Goldar almost has the Rangers beat until they get the Megazord’s Power Sword.  Seeing that, Goldar retreats back to Rita’s moon base.  In the end, the Rangers all agree that they’re in it for the long haul, and vow to protect the world from Rita and her attacks, thus marking the beginning of the now long running Power Rangers franchise.

The very first season of the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers could be summarized as a season of firsts.  It’s the season when the original team of Rangers is formed.  And it’s the season when the very first “extra’ Ranger is introduced.  The five-part story arc, “Green With Envy” sees the introduction of new team member—and long time Power Ranger—Tommy.  Tommy starts out in this story arc as a new “kid” in Angel Grove.  Rita sees this and takes advantage of it, putting a spell on him, forcing him to serve her and fight the Rangers.  He serves her as the evil Green Ranger.  But when the rest of the Rangers realize it’s just because Tommy’s under a spell, they learn that they have to destroy his Sword of Darkness to break the spell, which Jason does in a final showdown.  Rita’s spell is broken, releasing Tommy.  When he agrees to join the team, Zordon reveals to the Rangers, the very first brand new Megazord alternate combination when Tommy’s Dragonzord combines with three of the Rangers’ zords to make the Dragon Megazord.  Of course, as any true Power Rangers fan knows, Tommy’s first incarnation as the Green Ranger is short lived, thanks to Rita.  But he would later return to the Power Rangers as the White Ranger.  And years later, he would return as the head of the Power Rangers Dino, too, making mention of the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers team.

The firsts experienced in Season 1 are great moments for this show.  But they aren’t all that made the show great.  There were also life lessons in the show, such as in the episode, “The Dark Warrior.”  Blue Ranger Billy learns about facing bullies in this episode, when Bulk and Skull start harassing him.  Thanks to teaching from Trini’s uncle Howard, he learns how to handle them without fighting.  And of course, Howard’s (Trini’s uncle)  invisibility formula helps, too.  That formula is also the basis for the Rangers’ adventure in this episode.  Rita sends down the Dark Warrior to steal the formula and use it to make the Rangers disappear.  That, of course, doesn’t happen, as the Rangers defeat the Dark Warrior, and Howard retrieves his formula that he had accidentally misplaced.

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Season 1 Volume 1 is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct from Shout! Factory’s store at http://www.shoutfactorystore.com.  To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go 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.

NCircle Entertainment brings back another piece of television nostalgia

Courtesy: NCircle Entertainment

The 1990’s was one of the greatest eras of television.  That’s especially the case for children’s programming.  However, it wasn’t the only great era of broadcasting for kids.  Kids had a lot from which to choose during the 1980’s, too.  One of the greatest of the cartoons from the 1980’s was the one and only Super Mario Brothers Super Show.  Who doesn’t remember watching this after school animated classic on the original Family Channel way back before it became Fox Family and then ABC Family?  Now, fans that grew up watching Mario, Luigi, Toad and Princess Toadstool take on King Koopa can enjoy a whole volume of episodes all over again, thanks to Super Mario Brothers Super Show Volume One.

Originally, both volumes of this classic cartoon’s episodes were released by Shout! Factory in 2006.  Now, NCircle Entertainment has re-released the show in a trimmed down format.  This collection offers all of the classic Super Mario Brothers Super Show cartoons sans the live action segments that bookended them in the show’s original airings.  As enjoyable as those segments were, the cartoons themselves were just as enjoyable.  And Volume One has more than its share of enjoyable episodes.  Volume One sees Mario, Luigi and Toad having to care for Princess Toadstool after she’s turned into a baby.  Also, Mario and company tackle the classic tale of Jack and The Beanstalk in their own way.  And in a Halloween themed episode, the gang faces King Koopa and his evil minions in their own take on Brams Stoker’s horror classic, Dracula.

One of the key episodes in this most recent release of Super Mario Brothers Super Show is “Two Plumbers and a Baby.”  It could be argued that the title is a spoof of the classic 80’s movie franchise, “3 Men and a Baby.”  In this episode, Mario Luigi, Toad, and Princess Toadstool are in the kingdom of youth.  They have to face down King GooGoo GaGa Koopa.  Of course, it’s really King Koopa in disguise.  They are hunting Koopa down because he’s using the kingdom’s fountain of youth for his own evil purposes.  Surprisingly, the fountain works.  Only it works too well.  When Princess Toadstool accidentally falls into the fountain, she gets turned into a baby.  So Mario, Luigi, and Toad are left to protect her from King Koopa.  She causes all kinds of trouble for the guys along the way, including being carried away on a raft.  Things reach a head when the princess follows some fireflies to Koopa’s castle. During the conflict, Mario and Luigi swing King Koopa into the fountain, turning him into a baby, too.  Once he’s out of the way, the guys turn the water’s flow and turn everyone back into an adult.

The Super Mario Brothers Super Show spoofed more than popular culture during its run on television.  It also spoofed classical literature.  One of the best of those spoofs is in the episode, “Mario and The Beanstalk.”  This episode is a loose take-off of the classic tale, with a few minor changes thrown in.  Mario and Luigi have to get 100 Gold Coins to save the Mushroom Kingdom orphange.  So the princess tells them to sell the royal cow to get the coins.  They end up selling the cow for a handful of Garbanzo beans.  When they bring the beans back, the princess is anything but happy.  She tells them that she’s allergic to Garbanzo beans, and tosses them out.  While everyone is sleeping later that night, a giant beanstalk grows.  The group discovers the beanstalk in the morning, and climbs it to see how high it goes.  It leads them to a castle in the sky.  Instead of a giant, they encounter a giant King Koopa.  In their attempt to outrun Koopa, they stumble on his treasure room, and the fabled “Golden Goose.”  Instead of laying eggs, the goose lays Gold Coins.  When they help the goose escape being held captive by Koopa, the goose helps Mario, Luigi, Princess Toadstool, and Toad get away from the castel.  They all get out together and climb back down the beanstalk where Mario cuts it down.  When the beanstalk falls, it brings Koopa’s castle with it.  The castle falls into a pond, causing Koopa to shring down to their size. 

Jack and The Beanstalk is just one piece of classical literature that The Super Mario Brothers Super Show spoofed during its run.  In “Count Koopula”, Mario and the gang are lured into the castle of Count Koopula, who is, of course, really King Koopa.  This time, he takes on the mantle of the infamous Count Dracula.  As they try to escape Count Koopula’s castle, the group has to face wereturtles, zombie Goombas and Koopa’s lead henchman, Mouser.  When the princess is captured, the guys take some spare garlic that they have, and eat it.  They use their powerful garlic breath and natural light to defeat Koopa.  Koopa turns into a bat and flies out the castle, leaving it to crumble after being defeated.  The group gets out of the castle safe and sound before it crumbles.

Super Mario Brothers Super Show has so many great episodes.  There are far more in this new volume of episodes than there is room and time to discuss.  That in mind, this is one more great piece of nostalgia for anyone who gew up in what is arguably one of the greatest eras of animation.  After having released so many single disc collections, it’s great to see NCircle Entertainment release this newest double disc set.  And with any luck, whenever the next volume is released, it will include  not just the rest of the show’s original episodes, but the Mario Bros. plumbing live action segments that originally came with the show, too.  Until then, this first volume is still a great chance for many viewers to go back to their own childhoods once again.

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Shout! Factory, Nickelodeon Keep The Fur Flying With Catdog Season 2.0

Nicktoons Nostalgics rejoice.  Thanks to the good people at Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon, fans of Nickelodeon’s golden age of animation have one more piece of history to add to their home libraries.  Catdog was one of the last original Nicktoons.  It ran a total of four seasons during its run on Nickelodeon.  Now, thanks to a partnership between Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon, the second season of this classic Nicktoon hits stores today!  Or rather, the first half of Season Two hits stores today.  This time out, audiences see these furry friends become professional clowns and get sucked into a big time space adventure movie.  Also,  one of the Greaser Dogs also tries her hand at being more of a “lady” in order to attract the attention of dog.  But things don’t exactly go as hoped.  That’s all in the first ten episodes of Catdog Season 2.

Catdog Season 2.0 opens with the episode, “Send in The Catdog.”  In this episode, Cat gets tricked into going to clown school with dog.  The catch was that dog hadn’t originally told the whole truth to cat.  He had only said he was going to school.  He didn’t clarify that he was going to clown school.  When they get to the clown school, the school turns out to be a clown boot camp.  The camp is headed by Sgt. Sillybill.  Dog gets through everything with flying colors.  But cat ends up getting drummed out.  As the group of clowns-to-be near their graduation, dog volunteers for an assignment that everyone else is too afraid to take.  He has to entertain little Suzy Sourpuss at her birthday party.  When the assignment proves too much for even dog, cat is forced to take his place.  In the end, the only thing that would make her laugh was cat crying.  As a result of his sacrifice and accomplishment, cat is “re-instated” and awarded.

Along with being clowns, Catdog also inadvertently get sucked into a space adventure movie in the first half of Season Two.  Many of Catdog’s adventures are the result of dog’s antics.  But in “Spaced Out”, the pair is sucked into a big time space adventure movie thanks to cat.  When he gets dragged to see Mean Bob in Space Part Twelve for the seventy-third time, cat is anything but enthused.  So he sneaks up to the movie projection booth and attempts to sabotage the reels.  Instead, he ends up literally getting pulled into the movie.  As a result, dog gets sucked into the movie, too.  No one in the theater even realizes what’s happened.  They all think it’s a bunch of special effects and new footage.  Catdog ends up in Mean Bob’s spaceship, leading cat to start pushing buttons.  As a result of cat’s actions, Mean Bob gets sucked into space, leaving catdog to have to fend for themselves.  they fight off the alien hordes, and saving the princess.  The twist is that cat’s hopes are dashed when he discovers the princess’s head is the only normal part of her body.  The rest of her body is a giant slimy alien.  He can’t escape her slimy clutches when she offers him a kiss.  to make matters worse, Catdog get stuck in the movie when Rancid refuses to get them out.  That’s because they’re an even bigger hit than Mean Bob.  So cat has to re-live the kiss with the alien princess seven times a day.

The second season of Catdog has lots of funny episodes.  As with so many shows, not every great episode is centered on the show’s main characters.  The first half of this season has proof of that in “The Lady is a Shriek.”  This episode is centered on Shriek, the only female member of the Greaser Dogs.  When dog doesn’t pay attention to her, Shriek decides to give being more lady like a chance.  She goes to charm school in an attempt to learn how to be more of a lady.  The school’s owner, Randolph, tries a number of things.  None of them work.  So in a desperate last attempt, he puts Shriek through a machine that is supposed to turn her into a lady.  It seems to work.  So when she goes to Catdog’s barbecue, all the guys there try to woo her.  the only one not making an attempt is dog.  That only upsets her more, until she finally goes back to being herself.  Dog explains to Shriek that he was fine with her how she was.  Everybody else in attendance is shocked that Shriek is a girl, which drives her crazy.  She starts screaming she’s a girl to everyone.  Her screams even reach around the world at the episode’s end.  This episode is proof that regardless of the show or era, sometimes, the best episodes of any show are the ones taht don’t focus on the main characters.

Catdog Season 2.0 has ten great episodes.  The episodes listed here are only part of the total enjoyment.  They’re only one part of what makes the overall presentation so impressive.  As with all of the Nicktoons currently released, Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon have released this double disc set in a slim case.  Each disc has its own place in the case.  this prevents scratching and maintains the longevity of the discs.  So kudos are in order once again for both Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon once again for this release.  The two companies are once again the models of multi-disc sets done right.  That, combined with the laugh riot episodes included in this set make it a wonderful addition to any Nicktoons Nostalgic’s home library.

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