ROTR Organizers Announce Early Details For 2014 Festival

Rock on the Range 2014 Logo

Courtesy: MSO PR

The 2013 edition of the annual Rock on the Range festival was one of the biggest that organizers of the annual event have ever experienced.  2013 saw the annual event completely sell out.  Seeing the success that the festival had in 2013, festival organizers have announced that the festival will now expand to three full days this year. The festival, which will run from May 16th – May 18th this year, will be headlined by three very big name acts.  Those acts are Guns N’ Roses, Avenged Sevenfold, and Kid Rock.

While the trio of aforementioned bands will headline the once again expanded festival (last year saw the festival expand to three nights) are big names in themselves, they won’t be the only bands to perform at this year’s show.  Also scheduled to perform this year are: Seether, Five Finger Death Punch, Slayer, Staind, Motorhead, Chevelle, Alter Bridge, Mastodon, Black Label Society and Killswitch Engage among many others.  The complete lineup of bands scheduled to perform at this year’s ROTR Festival is listed below.

2014 ROCK ON THE RANGE BAND LINEUP

Guns N’ Roses, Avenged Sevenfold, Kid Rock, Five Finger Death Punch, Slayer, Staind, Motorhead, Seether, Chevelle, Alter Bridge, Mastodon, Black Label Society, Killswitch Engage, Bring Me The Horizon, Theory of a Deadman, Down, Black Stone Cherry, Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience, Pop Evil, Of Mice & Men, Adelitas Way, Trivium, Gojira, Suicidal Tendencies, The Pretty Reckless, We Came as Romans, Fuel, Redlight King, Miss May I, Reignwolf, Thousand Foot Krutch, Texas Hippie Coalition, Rev Theory, Skindred, Kyng, Fozzy, Heaven’s Basement, Butcher Babies, Nothing More, Exodus, King 810, Devour the Day, We As Human, We Are Harlot, Kvelertak, Jim Breuer Band, One OK Rock, Twelve Foot Ninja, Avatar, WERM, Monster Truck, Wilson, Crobot and Truckfighters with comedians Jim Breuer, Jim Florentine and more.

Audiences will note that along with the lineup up some of the biggest names in the rock world, this year’s festival also boasts the return of the ROTR Comedy Tent.  Jim Breuer, Jim Florentine, and a number of up-and-coming comedians will perform at the ROTR Comedy Tent.

Weekend passes including Field General Admission, Stadium General Admission, hotel and VIP packages and a stadium four-pack go on sale Friday, January 24th at 10am ET.  More ticket information is available online at http://www.RockOnTheRange.com.  Additional information and updates on this year’s festival is available online at http://www.facebook.com/rockontherange and http://twitter.com/rockontherange.  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.

Williams’ Latest Live Release A Unique Performance

Courtesy:  Image Entertainment

Courtesy: Image Entertainment

Harland Williams is one of the most unique individuals in the modern history of stand-up comedy.  This comedian has already made millions laugh with his roles in the likes of Half Baked, Dumb and Dumber, and Rocketman.  He has also entertained the masses with his stand-up routine all across the late night talk shows.  Now, Williams is back again with a live DVD unlike any that his counterparts have released.  It’s unlike anything that audiences have seen, too.  For all intents and purposes, Williams’ new DVD, A Force of Nature is less a live release than a one man show set out in nature.

As odd as it may seem to have a one man show outdoors, it’s actually rather smart. What audiences get in this new DVD release is just Harland Williams, a series of cameras, and nature; nothing else.  Williams even notes to viewers that there are no audiences to cue them when to laugh.  It’s just audiences watching him perform.  And if he thinks viewers should laugh at one point or another, he throws sunflower seeds at the camera.  Yes this is juvenile to say the least.  But in its own bizarre way, it may make some audiences laugh.  Speaking of knowing when to laugh, most audiences won’t have to worry about knowing when to laugh as his material is so off the wall that one can’t help but laugh, even as disturbing as some of his material is.  He spends roughly a good ten minutes going on a rant about what he calls “SOs” or Successful Orgasms.  Needless to say, this material is not something that would be considered safe for younger viewers.  But older audiences won’t be able to hold back the laughs, as childish as Williams acts throughout this part of his act.  It’s just one part of what will keep audiences watching and laughing.  Williams also goes on rants of sorts about hecklers, predator drones, and so much more.

Williams’ act aside, another factor that makes his new release interesting is its production values.  Considering that Williams spends his entire near hour long performance outside, he must have had a wind screen on his mic.  That’s assumed as there’s no wind noise going through his mic.  And the camera work adds to Williams’ almost manic delivery.  This may come across as something minor to most audiences.  But as he notes early in the program, what audiences get in this performance isn’t one of those performances held in what is essentially a controlled environment.  Even the production crew is at the mercy of Mother Nature here.  And considering how small his space was in which to perform, the camera crew did an impressive job of staying up with Williams’ constant movement rather than leaving viewers feeling dizzied, trying to keep up with him.  It’s one more positive to the overall experience.

Needless to say that considering Williams brand of comedy both in his material and in the presentation, Harland Williams has created in A Force of Nature a stand up performance that is unlike anything else.  The production values of this release add their own positive element, too.  It all comes together to make for a DVD that is a good introduction for Williams’ new audiences, and an equally entertaining piece for more experienced audiences.  It’s available in stores and online now.  Audiences can keep up with all the latest from Harland on his official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/officialharlandwilliams on his official website, http://harlandwilliams.com and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/harlandwilliams.  Audiences can even get all of his latest podcasts online for free at http://bit.ly/buaFvX.

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.

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.

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.

Artist/Comedian Jim Bianco Releases Video For New Single

Jim Bianco has got to be one of the most immature and funniest individuals around.  This singer/songwriter has just released a video for the lead single from his new album, Loudmouth.  The song in question is titled, ‘That’s What She Said.’  No, really.  It’s exactly what listeners think.  It will bring out the immature child in all of us and make everyone laugh.  The video for ‘That’s What She Said’ is a complete farce.  It presents Bianco dressed like a wanna-be gangster in some scenes, as one of those kids from Jersey Shore in another, and even in a speedo (yes, he really went there) in others.  How’s that for a thought?  The whole time, the entire song is loaded with nothing but “That’s what she said” jokes that will leave the teenager in any of us laughing. 

The video for ‘That’s What She Said’ can be viewed here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvspyImWCAo.  After checking out his new video, audiences can get all the latest news and more from Jim Bianco online at http://www.facebook.com/officialjimbianco, http://twitter.com/JimBiancoTweets, http://www.youtube.com.user/jimbianco, and http://jimbianco.com

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, 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 news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Portlandia Season Two Another Laugh Riot

Courtesy: Independent Film Channel/Video Services Corporation

It’s time for another trip up the road to the one and only Portlandia.  The second season of this twisted, bizarre and completely outlandish sketch comedy show is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray.  One part Saturday Night Live and one part The Kids in The Hall, this little show that could is obviously a niche show.  It’s not for everybody.  But for those who are open minded enough, this oddity of a show is a good escape from everything else currently cluttering the airwaves.

Portlandia’s second season offers more than its share of laughs.  Those who are not entirely enthused over this season are likely missing its whole point.  As with Season One, this second season continues to completely poke fun at the standard holier-than-thou too hip for the hip 90’s crowd who are stuck in that age to this day, as well as other groups.  For instance, audiences are introduced to Spyke and Iris as they plan their wedding in the episode, “Cool Wedding.”  Both Spyke and Iris fit that stereotype.  And seeing them trying to go against the grain in planning the wedding will leave anyone laughing.  It’s complete absurdity.  But there’s also a certain amount of truth to their characters as there are people still like them out there today.

Courtesy: Independent Film Channel/Video Services Corporation

Another great example from Season Two of its success comes in the form of “One More Episode.”  This episode pokes fun not just at the world of science fiction and its sometimes overly devoted fan base.  Audiences get to see what happens when Carrie and Fred start watching the recent Battlestar galactic series on DVD.  They keep saying they’ll only watch one more episode.  They become so wrapped up in the series that they lose sight of everything else.  They even become so obsessed that they go off in search of a man they think helped write for the show (but obviously didn’t).  Again, there actually is a certain amount of truth to this as there really are people like that.  The addition of guest stars Edward James Olmos and James Callis as themselves make this one even funnier.

Fans will also laugh out loud as a young man with the Surfrider Foundation tries to get a woman to sign his petition to ban plastic bags.  When she declines, his parents and even his grandparents get involved.  There’s even a great politically incorrect bit during the season’s first episode, “Mixology” that will no doubt stir up some debate among audiences.  It all comes together with the season’s other bits to make for plenty of laughs and a great escape from the current river of mindless reality television that currently pollutes the airwaves today.  Portlandia is now available on DVD and blu-ray. 

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.

Paul Rodriguez’s New DVD A Funny And Touching Performance

Courtesy: Image Entertainment

Paul Rodriguez’s performance in his new DVD, Just For The Record is interesting.  His story of coming from Mexico to live in different regions of California will illicit both laughs and even some tears.  That combination of emotions makes for a performance that any comedy fan should see at least once.  It gives a whole new face to what people think of as comedy.

Just For The Record opens with Rodriguez sharing his story of how he and his family came to America from Mexico and moved to Fresno, California.  He makes light of his youth there, bringing about plenty of laughs, especially at the expense of his parents.  At the same time, he also openly expresses his admiration for his parents, and everything that they sacrificed for him, making for plenty of laughs and warm memories.  One of the best of those memories was his story about a bicycle that he got as a boy.  He tells of some money that he got from his parents.  He tells his audience that his father explained to him that he knew Paul wanted that bicycle so badly. So his parents sacrificed the money for it so that Paul could have the bicycle.  He even brings it out on stage.  The story’s punch line comes as he tells his father’s reaction after that.  It instantly makes that warm memory suddenly a laugh riot.  He expands a little bit, telling how he’s gone through this relationship issue and that.  But through it all, that bicycle had been a constant in his life.  That alone is worth its share of laughs.

Rodriguez’s performance offers even more laughs throughout his near ninety minute performance.  But he also offers some more serious moments, too.  One of them comes as he tells the audience about his time living in Compton.  He tells the story of how he experienced a drive-by first hand and saw a girl get shot in the head right next to him.  He explains how he took off his own shirt and wrapped it around the girl’s head in an attempt to save her.  He ties this in to later being subpoenaed as part of the case against the men arrested for the drive by.  The thing is that he was in the military on the other side of the world at the time.  This little tie-in anecdote makes for some laughs, lightening the mood a little bit.  But he never loses his audience.  That in itself is impressive.  He tells his audience that the men arrested for the case were convicted and sent to jail, and closes with how he hopes they stay there and rot.  This single moment shows that while Rodriguez has great comedic timing, he also has heart.  He knows just how to balance comedy with more serious matters in order to make for a show that will keep even home audiences watching from start to finish.

Just For The Record offers even more laughs and heartfelt moments than can be listed in one sitting.  Needless to say, anyone who wants an escape from the constant barrage of negativity in the news and the work-a-day world will greatly benefit from sitting down with this new DVD from a man who is even on his own not just one of the Latin Kings of Comedy, but one of the Kings of Comedy in general.  Fans can always get all the latest news, tour dates, and more from Paul Rodriguez online at http://www.paulrodriguez.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 Steve Martin Box Set Is One Wild And Crazy Retrospective

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory has proven time and again throughout 2012 why it is one of the leaders in home entertainment.  With releases of so many classic Nicktoons and even the entire original G.I. Joe series alongside the release of the horror classic, They Live, and so many great music releases, one can only wonder what Shout! Factory will do next to top itself.  What to do?  What to do?  How about a triple disc DVD box set profiling the early career of entertainment legend Steve Martin?  Bingo!

“Steve Martin:  The TV Stuff” is the latest release from Shout! Factory’s stable of top notch releases.  Anyone who is a fan of this veteran comedian/actor/musician/author (heck, just call him a jack of all trades), will find this to be an invaluable addition to their own home library.  The triple-disc set follows Martin’s career from 1978 – 2005.  While audiences won’t find much in the way of his work on Saturday Night Live, they will love seeing his 1978 stand-up act taken from HBO archives.  This nearly hour-long performance is funny.  There’s no arguing that.  But audiences should also know that it isn’t meant for younger audiences due to language and other content.  That aside, it’s still a great piece of nostalgia for any comedy fan or fan of Martin himself.  Some of the best moments in this performance include his banjo playing and his magic (yes, magic) act.  On a similar note, audiences will really enjoy the commentary included on each disc. 

The commentary included on this first disc of the set includes some history from Martin himself.  He explains how he eventually came to work in front of the camera versus behind it.  He explains that he originally wanted to be a magician when he was growing up.  That would account for the addition of the little magic act in his original 1978 stand up set.  He also adds some interesting other tidbits such as how he started his early television career writing for very famous television shows including:  The Smothers Brothers, Sonny & Cher, and The Cher Show.  There’s even mention of where is now famed bit with the fake arrow through the head came from.  Each disc contains its own commentary from Martin.  This is just a tiny sample of what audiences can expect.  And as this reviewer has pointed out so many times before, factors such as this are more proof of the importance of bonus features on DVD’s and blu-rays.  This is one of those cases where the bonus commentary adds so much more to the entire viewing experience.  So kudos once more to Shout! Factory for this inclusion.

His 1978 HBO stand-up act and the commentary are just a couple elements that make this box set enjoyable for any Steve Martin fan.  Also included in the set are his NBC television specials.  Those specials include many of the skits from throughout the years that he’s done.  Fans will love the likes of “Turtle Boy.”  And hearing country legend Johnny cash discussing astrophysics with Steve in his Steve Martin Variety Show skit is hilarious.  There are even appearances by Martin’s SNL cast mates in one of his later TV specials. 

“Steve Martin:  The TV Stuff” may only be comprised of three discs.  But in those three discs, Shout! Factory has managed to compile so much footage from Martin’s career.  Whether it be the skits, the interviews, the standup material, or even the bonus commentary by Martin, this triple-disc set is a wonderful retrospective on his career on the small screen.  The new set will be available in stores and online tomorrow.  It can be ordered direct via Shout! Factory’s website 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.

Hey Arnold! Season 2.5 is even more family fun from Shout! Factory, Nickelodeon

Sey Hey once again, Nicktoons Nostalgics.  The good people at Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon have listened to fans of Nickelodeon’s classic 90′s programming.  They’re keeping the hits coming this Summer.  And the second half of Hey Arnold! Season 2 is loaded with hits.  As a matter of fact, the ten episodes contained in this set’s two discs are some of the greatest from the entire series.  Thre are so many great episodes in this set that it’s nearly impossible to choose favorites.  This time out, Arnold gets caught in between best friends Rhonda and Nadine when the class is paired up for projects.  Also Arnold’s grandpa, Phil has to face an old foe in a  Chinese Checkers rematch from forty years ago.  And the teachers at P.S. 118 go on strike after Principal Wartz starts making too many budget cuts.  So Arnold and his classmates have to save the day.  These are just a few of the highlights from Hey Arnold! Season 2.5

Hey Arnold! Season 2.5 is loaded with great moments throughout its ten episodes.  One of those great moments comes in an episode to whcih audiences today can still relate.  That episode is “Teachers’ Strike.”  In “Teachers’ Strike”, the teachers at P.S. 118 go on strike after Principal Wartz budget cuts lead to cuts in chalk and coffee.  It’s hinted that Wartz had beeb on a budget slashing roll.  So these last two cuts were the last straws for the teachers.  When Principal Wartz tries to teach the students, he finds it’s not so easy and sends them home, telling them to not come back until the strike is over.  At first, the kids are excited.  But when they start to see their teachers all over town, they get worried.  And then things get worse when Principal Wartz reveals that for every day the teachers strike, that’s a day the students have to go to school over the Summer.  The kids don’t like this thought one bit.  So they try to bring the teachers and Principal Wartz together to negotiate.  They get a local shop to donate coffee.  But sadly, that doesn’t work.  So the kids end up staging an old-fashioned sit-in.  The sit-in works.  But then once classes resume, the twist is that they have to write an essay on the importance of education.  It makes for a great funny ending.

“Teachers’ Strike” is one of many episodes not focused solely on Arnold.  It’s one that proves some of a show’s best episodes are the ones not focused mainly on its leading character.  And it’s not the only great one of those episodes in this set.  Another of those great episods is in “Steely Phil.”  In “Steely Phil”, Arnold and Phil are out for a walk in the park, when the come up on a Chinese Chckers tournament.  Everyone there sees him, including his old foe, Robby Fisher.  When Fisher tries to publicly humiliate Phil, Phil tells Fisher that he’s retired.  AFterward, he tells Arnold about his past with Fisher.  When Phil tries to sign up Arnold for the tournament, Arnold turns the tables on him, and convinces him that he, not Arnold, should enter the tournament.  He agrees and starts training.  The training segment will get classic movie fans laughing as it spoofs Rocky.  When the big day of th tournament arrives, Phil and Robby end up facing off for the city title.  Their match goes on for hours until they get down to one last move.  It’s the same move as the one that led to Phil’s loss forty years prior.  But this time, Phil realizes he has one more move.  That move results in a draw.  So Robby is forced to share the title with Phil, essentially humiliating Robby Fisher.  So Phil and Arnold walk off into the sunset, trophy in hand.

As noted already, Hey Arnold! Season 2.5 is chock full of great episodes.  One thing that’s noticeable is that many of those great episodes are ones that don’t focus centrally on Arnold.  Another of those great episodes not centered oslely on Arnold is the episode, “Best Friends.”  In “Best Friends” Arnold’s class is separated into groups to work on projects.  Who doesn’t remember those days?  As a result of the class being split into groups, Arnold gets paired up with Rhonda and Nadine.  Since the girls are best friends, one would think everything’s going to be fine, right?  Wrong.  Rhonda and Nadine both have their own idea of what project they want to work on, neither one backing down.  Since neither one backs down, Arnold gets caught in between them, resulting in him eventually having to work on both projects alone while the girls complain to him about the other.  In the end, Arnold figures out how to bring the girls back together once and for all.  His plan works.  But, as a result of his plan, he and Gerald end up being pulled into an insect fashion show.  It leaves audiences both with a laugh and that familiar happy feelingof heart for which Hey Arnold! became so famous and beloved.

Hey Arnold! Season 2.5 is loaded with plenty of great episodes.  The episodes listed here are just a small sampling of what makes the show continue to be so enjoyable to this day.  Fans will also love the episodes, “High Life” in which Gerald learns a very important lesson about life and business, and “Hall Monitor”, in which Phoebe becomes Helga’s replacement as P.S. 118′s Hall Monitor.  She learns that absolute power corrupts absolutely.  It all ends happily, of course.  This set is one more example of a box set done right.  Even with just two discs, the discs get their own spot inside the case, keeping the safe from being scratched.  Add that in to the laughs and heart in each episode and original hand drawn animation style, and andNicktoons Nostalgics the world over get yet another great set from Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon in Hey Arnold! Season 2.5

To keep up with all the latest entertainment reviews and news, go to http://www.facebook.com/PhilsPicks and “Like” it or its companion page at http://www.facebook.com/pages.Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can also get all the latest updates at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Sey Hey once again, Nicktoons Nostalgics.  The good people at Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon have listened to fans of Nickelodeon’s classic 90′s programming.  They’re keeping the hits coming this Summer.  And the second half of Hey Arnold! Season 2 is loaded with hits.  As a matter of fact, the ten episodes contained in this set’s two discs are some of the greatest from the entire series.  Thre are so many great episodes in this set that it’s nearly impossible to choose favorites.  This time out, Arnold gets caught in between best friends Rhonda and Nadine when the class is paired up for projects.  Also Arnold’s grandpa, Phil has to face an old foe in a  Chinese Checkers rematch from forty years ago.  And the teachers at P.S. 118 go on strike after Principal Wartz starts making too many budget cuts.  So Arnold and his classmates have to save the day.  These are just a few of the highlights from Hey Arnold! Season 2.5

Hey Arnold! Season 2.5 is loaded with great moments throughout its ten episodes.  One of those great moments comes in an episode to whcih audiences today can still relate.  That episode is “Teachers’ Strike.”  In “Teachers’ Strike”, the teachers at P.S. 118 go on strike after Principal Wartz budget cuts lead to cuts in chalk and coffee.  It’s hinted that Wartz had beeb on a budget slashing roll.  So these last two cuts were the last straws for the teachers.  When Principal Wartz tries to teach the students, he finds it’s not so easy and sends them home, telling them to not come back until the strike is over.  At first, the kids are excited.  But when they start to see their teachers all over town, they get worried.  And then things get worse when Principal Wartz reveals that for every day the teachers strike, that’s a day the students have to go to school over the Summer.  The kids don’t like this thought one bit.  So they try to bring the teachers and Principal Wartz together to negotiate.  They get a local shop to donate coffee.  But sadly, that doesn’t work.  So the kids end up staging an old-fashioned sit-in.  The sit-in works.  But then once classes resume, the twist is that they have to write an essay on the importance of education.  It makes for a great funny ending.

“Teachers’ Strike” is one of many episodes not focused solely on Arnold.  It’s one that proves some of a show’s best episodes are the ones not focused mainly on its leading character.  And it’s not the only great one of those episodes in this set.  Another of those great episods is in “Steely Phil.”  In “Steely Phil”, Arnold and Phil are out for a walk in the park, when the come up on a Chinese Chckers tournament.  Everyone there sees him, including his old foe, Robby Fisher.  When Fisher tries to publicly humiliate Phil, Phil tells Fisher that he’s retired.  AFterward, he tells Arnold about his past with Fisher.  When Phil tries to sign up Arnold for the tournament, Arnold turns the tables on him, and convinces him that he, not Arnold, should enter the tournament.  He agrees and starts training.  The training segment will get classic movie fans laughing as it spoofs Rocky.  When the big day of th tournament arrives, Phil and Robby end up facing off for the city title.  Their match goes on for hours until they get down to one last move.  It’s the same move as the one that led to Phil’s loss forty years prior.  But this time, Phil realizes he has one more move.  That move results in a draw.  So Robby is forced to share the title with Phil, essentially humiliating Robby Fisher.  So Phil and Arnold walk off into the sunset, trophy in hand.

As noted already, Hey Arnold! Season 2.5 is chock full of great episodes.  One thing that’s noticeable is that many of those great episodes are ones that don’t focus centrally on Arnold.  Another of those great episodes not centered oslely on Arnold is the episode, “Best Friends.”  In “Best Friends” Arnold’s class is separated into groups to work on projects.  Who doesn’t remember those days?  As a result of the class being split into groups, Arnold gets paired up with Rhonda and Nadine.  Since the girls are best friends, one would think everything’s going to be fine, right?  Wrong.  Rhonda and Nadine both have their own idea of what project they want to work on, neither one backing down.  Since neither one backs down, Arnold gets caught in between them, resulting in him eventually having to work on both projects alone while the girls complain to him about the other.  In the end, Arnold figures out how to bring the girls back together once and for all.  His plan works.  But, as a result of his plan, he and Gerald end up being pulled into an insect fashion show.  It leaves audiences both with a laugh and that familiar happy feelingof heart for which Hey Arnold! became so famous and beloved.

Hey Arnold! Season 2.5 is loaded with plenty of great episodes.  The episodes listed here are just a small sampling of what makes the show continue to be so enjoyable to this day.  Fans will also love the episodes, “High Life” in which Gerald learns a very important lesson about life and business, and “Hall Monitor”, in which Phoebe becomes Helga’s replacement as P.S. 118′s Hall Monitor.  She learns that absolute power corrupts absolutely.  It all ends happily, of course.  This set is one more example of a box set done right.  Even with just two discs, the discs get their own spot inside the case, keeping the safe from being scratched.  Add that in to the laughs and heart in each episode and original hand drawn animation style, and andNicktoons Nostalgics the world over get yet another great set from Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon in Hey Arnold! Season 2.5

To keep up with all the latest entertainment reviews and news, go to http://www.facebook.com/PhilsPicks and “Like” it or its companion page at http://www.facebook.com/pages.Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can also get all the latest updates at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

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.

To keep up with all the latest entertainment reviews and news, you can “Like” the Reel Reviews Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews and its companion page at http://www.facebook.com/PhilsPicks.

Wordgirl returns with a new episode Monday

PBS Kids’ hit vocab building based show, Wordgirl, returns next week with another brand new half hour episode.  Wordgirl is facing two familiar foes in next Monday’s new episode.  First, Wordgirl has to face off against the evil boy genius, Toby, in “Wordbot.”  And then Mr. Big is up to his old tricks, taking over the townspeople’s minds.  This time it’s so they’ll build a gianttributeto him in “Mount Rushhere.” And what episode of Wordgirl is complete without everyone’s favorite vocabulary based game show, “May I Have a Word?”  That’s right.  Bo Handsome and his young contestants are back with another new episode, too.  We’ve got a first look at Monday’s new episode right here int his edition of Reel Reviews.

“Wordbot” takes the first half of Monday’s new episode.  In this episode, Wordgirl faces off against her old foe, Toby, the evil boy genius.  As long time fans know, Toby faces off against Wordgirl a lot.  Ironically, he is also quite devotedto her.  But this time, Toby is so fed up with losing to Wordgirl that he builds his own version of little literary superheroine, that he dubs, “Wordbot.”  Wordbot can do everything Wordgirl can.  There’s just one problem.  In commanding Wordbot to show her devotion to him, Toby makes Wordbot toodevoted.  In fact, she’s more than justdevoted.  She turns jealous whenever Toby talks to Wordgirl, thus causing his evil plan tobackfire on him.  It leads him to have to workwith Wordgirl in order to get the batteries out of Wordbot and stop her.  And of course, what episode featuring Toby is complete without his mom catching him? 

In the second half of Monday’s new episode, Wordgirl has to face off against another old foe in “Mount Rushhere.”  In this new episode, Wordgirl has two problems to deal with.  While in disguise as Becky Botsford, Becky and her friends discover that all the adults in town have suddenly disappeared one day.  What they don’t know is that their parents’ minds have been taken over by Mr. Big.  Mr. Big has taken control of the adults’ minds so that they’ll build atributeto him that he has dubbed, “Mount Rushhere.”  His idea is that everyone will “rush here” (thus the name) to see histribute.  In the process, he tells his assistant, Leslie, that he’ll sell everyone that comes lots of souvenirs and become rich.  Of course, when Wordgirl realizes that all the adults have fallen under another of Mr. Big’s mind control schemes, she and Captain Huggyface come and destroy his latest mind control device, releasing the adults from his control.  Having Captain Huggyface with her yet again gave her theadvantagethat she needed to defeat him and destroy Mr. Big’stribute.  In the process of everything, Becky learns an important lesson herself.  She learns just how important it is to have her parents around and to have limits.

And of course, what episode of Wordgirl is complete without the hit vocabulary based game show, “May I Have a Word?”  In Monday’s brand new episode, the contestants have to define and show an example of the word, “shatter.”  Just as one of the contestants it about to define it, Captain Huggyface swings in and accidentally shatters the contestants’ podiums.  Because of that, the judges allow her to answer.  Young audiences will love not only the familiar antics of Captain Huggyface in this episode, but the always funny prizes that the contestants win.  So stay tuned Monday for that and the adventures of Wordgirl for another brand new episode, only on PBS KidsGo!  Check local listings to find out when the episode airs in your area.  Families can also watch it for free online at http://pbskids.org/go

Parents, if you want to get the latest info on Wordgirl or anything else, there are two ways to get more news on the latest from PBS KidsGo and more.  You can go “Like” the Reel Reviews Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141 or “Like” its cmpanion page at http://www.facebook.com/PhilsPicks.