Nicktoons Nostalgics Will “Scream” With Joy for Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: The Complete Series

 

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Halloween is right around the corner once again.  That means that lots of people are looking for entertainment for their annual parties.  This includes parents looking for entertainment for their children’s parties.  Next Tuesday, Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory will release one more new fun release for the whole family that is a perfect fit for those parties in the form of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: The Complete Series.

Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: The Complete Series is great fun for both new young audiences and for those that grew up with the series.  It is one of Nickelodeon’s famed Nicktoons that brought Arlene Klasky and Klasky Csupo to fame during the 1990s and early 2000s.  And just as the pair set itself apart from the crowd with its groundbreaking series, Rugrats and the equally innovative Wild Thornberrys, it did so just as much with this series, too.  Klasky Csupo showed just how far ahead of its time it was with this series.  To an extent, one could argue that it might well have been the influence behind Disney/Pixar’s 2001 movie, Monsters, Inc.  That’s because the movie in question didn’t come into being until at least three years after Aaahh!!! Real Monsters had ended in 1998.  This is just one part of what makes the series so important for any fan of Nickelodeon’s golden era.  In direct connection, audiences will appreciate the show’s writing.  Again, a comparison to both Klasky Csupo’s other cartoons and to Monsters, Inc. is necessary to show how far ahead of the times and quick the writing was in this series.  A third factor to consider in deciding whether or not to buy or order this new set is its packaging.  Yet again, Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon have set the bar with another box set’s packaging in this collection.  What can be said that hasn’t already been said about that?  But that’s a good thing.  And it seals the deal on what is another great trip back in time for any purist Nicktoons Nostalgic.

Klasky Csupo was the Pixar of the television world from the early 1990s to the early 2000s.  That is thanks to its long strain of original hit cartoons that would be the backbone of Nickelodeon’s Nicktoons programming.  Those hits included the likes of Rugrats, The Wild Thornberrys, and what would end up being the studio’s last Nicktoon, All Grown Up.  Throughout all of the cartoons created by the studio, each one was entirely different from the last.  And Aahhh!!! Real Monsters was one that definitely stood out.  It stood out among both other Nicktoons and other cartoons in general.  The only other studio doing anything remotely similar at the time was DiC Enterprises with its claymation based Bump in the Night.  Between the two, Klasky Csupo’s cartoon still stood out and in a good way, as it lasted well past the latter of the two toons.  No one at the time had thought of the concept of a trio of young monsters living in a dump, learning how to scare humans.  Even the characters themselves were original.  One look at David Eccles’ Krumm makes one wonder if he in fact wasn’t an influence behind Mike Wazowski.  Both of these factors (and others) show just how far ahead of its time this series was.

Aahhh!!! Real Monsters was well ahead of its time in so many ways.  From the general story and characters to other smaller aspects, its cast and writers proved that in so many ways.  In direct connection, it is just as impressive thanks to its writing.  From learning how to scare and avoiding the wrath of their teacher, The Gromble (Gregg Berger—Garfield & Friends, The Angry Beavers, The Garfield Show) to trying to escape capture by Simon the Monster Hunter (Jim Belushi—Life According to Jim, Hey Arnold!, the Adventures of Jimmy Neutron), the writers found so many ways to keep the show fresh through all four of its seasons.  There was even a hunt for a pail that sends Ickis on a wild chase that will leave audiences laughing.  It’s one more of so many wonderfully entertaining moments that make this new set so fun for anyone that grew up with the series and for their kids, too.

The writing and general ingenuity of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters went a long way toward making it one more of Klasky Csupo’s most beloved cartoons.  The same can be said of what made it one of the best Nicktoons of Nickelodeon’s golden era.  There is one last factor in this new set that fans of the show will appreciate in its upcoming release.  That factor is the set’s packaging.  Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory have already released both Rocko’s Modern Life and The Angry Beavers in complete series sets.  Those sets both managed somehow to contain eight discs in a box that only takes up the space of two standard DVD cases on any DVD rack.  The same can be said of this set’s box, too.  Each of the set’s discs are placed on either side of their own “plate” within the case.  As large as it may make the box seem, it actually manages to conserve space in the long run.  For that, both companies are more than deserving of even more credit.  What’s more, this form of packaging also protects the discs from being scratched up.  So it serves as a double whammy in the best possible manner.  Keeping this in mind along with the original writing and the generally original concept behind the show, audiences are presented with another welcome shining release from Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory.  One can only hope that from here, the two companies will eventually strike a deal to release Klasky Csupo’s other classic Nicktoons next.  Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: The Complete Series will be available online and in stores Tuesday, October 8th.  It can be ordered direct online from Shout! Factory’s store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/node/218263.  More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon is available on the official Shout! Factory website, http://www.shoutfactory.com and Shout! Factory Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Liberty’s Kids Makes History Fun For Viewers Of All Ages

Courtesy:  Mill Creek Entertainment

Courtesy: Mill Creek Entertainment

Liberty’s Kids is a wonderful way to get young audiences into history.  The series follows a group of youths through America’s formative years, from the days of the Revolutionary War to America’s eventual full independence.  While its key audience is youths age 7 to 14, even teachers and parents will enjoy it because it does more than just focus on names and dates.  Rather, it takes those names and dates, and puts them into a visual format for young eyes and minds.  It obviously wasn’t going to last too long, considering that it was based on America’s younger years.  But even in lasting only forty episodes, those forty episodes are still episodes that teachers and parents will want to use for more years than it took for America to go from Declaration to full independence.

The very first factor in the success of Liberty’s Kids is that it takes history out of the classroom.  Though, it can be used in the classroom.  Rather than just sitting at their desks, writing down notes, teachers can pop in the four discs that contain the show’s forty episodes, and use them as a way to reach their students.  Parents can even use the set in their homes regardless of whether their children are home schooled or are in public school.  That dual use is a major positive, especially considering what is currently happening with public schools today.  It takes all the names and dates, and puts them into short half hour episodes that can be used over the course of nearly an entire school year, using one episode per week. A couple of weeks might require a couple episodes to make it fully pan out right.  That at least applies for schools not on block scheduling.  Children need every educational aid that they can get to get them interested in history.  Because its episodes are short, and have writing that reaches its intended audiences, it already has two checks in its favor.

The ability of Liberty’s Kids to relate to its audiences through its writing and being an equally wonderful visual aid is key in the success of this short-lived children’s educational series.  There is more to consider in what makes it worth more than a couple watches, though.  So many of today’s children’s “cartoons” are cartoons in name only.  That’s because they are brainless shows based in CGI, rather than true animation.  The thing is that because so few children’s shows are hand drawn today, that when they do show up, very little thought is given to them.  Liberty’s Kids is one of those rare modern cartoons that keep the art of actual art alive.  Given, its style is much like that of the more modernized take on Archie.  But it still manages to maintain some identity separate from that cartoon, and other Cookie Jar titles.  It serves as one more reminder for today’s young audiences how much work goes into bringing hand drawn art to life on screen, and how important it is to have said style of art versus the colder, stale and soulless computer generated children’s shows that are out there today.  Again, it is one more positive to this set that makes it worth more than just a couple watches.  Sure, it’s a minor factor in the grand scheme of things.  But it is no less important to consider in the set’s success.

The animation involved in Liberty’s Kids is a minor factor in the grand scheme of things.  But it is no less important than any other factor in the show’s success.  The same can be said of the guest voice talents that make appearances of sorts throughout the series.  Throughout the show’s forty episodes, veteran actors such as: Dustin Hoffman, Michael Douglas, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg make appearances as famous historical figures from America’s infancy.  One might ask how in the world veteran acting talents are important in the success of a children’s cartoon.  The answer is quite simple.  The inclusion of such big names will potentially influence parents to sit down and watch the show with their children.  Most adults won’t admit it to themselves or others just how much they have lost since their own school days.  So maybe the use of big Hollywood names will be enough to get parents interested and in turn, refresh their own knowledge of American history.  The latent effect of this interest is that it could serve as a starting point for parents to discuss the actors and actresses that make appearances and their film histories both good and bad.  And perhaps when those young audiences that watch Liberty’s Kids today grow up to be adults themselves, they will have an appreciation for movies that will be in their time classics.  So in a roundabout manner, this is a far more important factor in the success of Liberty’s Kids than any viewer would have otherwise realized.  Along with the other factors that went into bringing it to life, it’s one more factor that makes Liberty’s Kids a hit both in the classroom and the living room.  And chances are, it will be for many more years to come.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct via the Mill Creek Direct website at https://www.millcreekdirect.com/liberty-s-kids-the-complete-series.html.

Parents and children can keep up with all of the latest family friendly releases from Mill Creek Entertainment online at http://www.MillCreekDirect.com and http://www.facebook.com/MillCreekEnt.

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Jayce And The Wheeled Warriors Vol. 2 More Nostalgic Fun For 80s Animation Fans

 

Courtesy:  Mill Creek Entertainment

Courtesy: Mill Creek Entertainment

The 1980s was one of the last great eras of children’s cartoons.  It was during this era that animators and networks gave kids shows the likes of The Real Ghostbusters, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and so many others.  The list could go on for days.  Something interesting to note of the 80s is that among all of the great children’s cartoons spawned during that era, many of those greats were forbears to what are today, examples of the de-evolution of anime.  Some of those great classic anime cartoons include:  Thundercats, Transformers, and the focus of this review, Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors.  Fans of today’s take on anime likely don’t even know about these and other classic anime cartoons.  But if not for these and other classics, much of the empty hulks that call themselves anime today might not even have existed.  Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors is proof of that.

Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors only lasted for one season with a total of sixty-five episodes.  In early 2013, Mill Creek Entertainment released the second half of those episodes in the second volume of episodes from this classic.  The second half of the show’s sole season sees Jayce and his friends continuing their journey to find Jayce’s father and rid the universe of Saw Boss and his minions.  The show’s writers largely do a good job with this final set of episodes.  Though, it should be noted that the series’ final episode does turn out to be rather anti-climactic.  Of course that is linked to the failure of the toy franchise on which this series was based.  Had the toy franchise succeeded, audiences might have gotten better closure.  Regardless, the show’s writers did craft some interesting episodes that its original audiences will enjoy just as much today as they did when they watched the show as children.

The scripts for Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors provided some pretty entertaining stories for the most part within each episode.  Just as interesting to note here in the second half of the show’s sole season is its continued similarity to certain other cartoons of its time both stylistically and musically.  Audiences that remember the original Thundercats, Transformers, and to a lesser degree, The Real Ghostbusters will see some similarities between those cartoons and this one, stylistically speaking.  The colors and forms are very similar when put next to one another.  Being that they were both creations of DiC (now Cookie Jar TV), the similarities between The Real Ghostbusters and Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors is not so surprising.  There is even a similarity between the music in the pair.  Both being from DiC, they obviously shared those elements.  What is interesting is the comparisons to the likes of Thundercats and others of that ilk.  Anyone that is a fan of the Dragonball franchise will even see some very blatant similarities between certain characters from that franchise to the design of Saw Boss.  Both Dragonball and Thundercats are both from different companies than Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors and The Real Ghostbusters.  It goes to show even more the influence of this classic cartoon.

There is one more factor that fans of this short-lived classic should take into account that makes it more fan friendly.  That factor is the set’s packaging.  Mill Creek Entertainment has maintained the standard of packaging discs in its multi-disc sets in separate standard paper CD/DVD envelopes.  There are those that have chided Mill Creek for this standard.  The use of standard envelopes is slightly problematic.  But it has its positives.  The use of envelopes allows consumers to carry single discs with them instead of an entire box if they want to enjoy the episodes with their friends and family.  Perhaps something that Mill Creek should consider for future releases is the use of envelopes with padded backing so as to better protect the discs in their releases.  That aside, it is still a much wiser way to package DVDs than other companies.  And because of that, it’s one more positive overall to this classic cartoon’s release.  Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors Volume 2 is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct via the Mill Creek Direct website at https://www.millcreekdirect.com/jayce-the-wheeled-warriors-volume-2-33-episode-set.html.    

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Cookie Jar’s Christmas Collection Is Holiday Fun For The Whole Family

Courtesy:  Mill Creek Entertainment

Courtesy: Mill Creek Entertainment

Cookie Jar TV’s Christmas Cartoon Collection” is a fun grouping of cartoons for kids and parents alike.  This single disc collection includes ten holiday themed episodes of some of the best cartoons from Cookie Jar (formerly DiC Entertainment).  This new collection includes toons from both the 21st Century and some more classic toons, too.  It all starts with a pair of episodes from the kid friendly favorite, Busy World of Richard Scarry.  The first of the episodes sees an evil mastermind stealing stuff from all across New York City.  It’s up to one man to solve the mystery of who is lifting the legendary city.  In the second episode from the show, Santa’s in danger of not making his annual Christmas run after making a rough landing.  The runners on his sled have broken and even Mr. Fix-It can’t help.  So how is Santa to get his sled flying again?  Kids and their parents will have to find out on their own when they pick up this family friendly DVD. 

 Speaking of Santa, in another of this collection’s best episodes, Heathcliff has a mystery on his hands when the mailman tells him that his and his boy Iggy’s letters to Santa have been returned.  And theirs aren’t the only ones.  So Heathcliff and Spike head off to the North Pole to figure out why everybody’s letters are being returned.  The answer to the mystery is a surprise even to Santa himself.  Although being a holiday episode, everything is worked out in the end, and Heathcliff and Squish get a lift back to their homes from Santa as a thank you for getting all the letters returned to him.  Anyone who is old enough to remember when this classic cartoon originally aired will love not just the warm, fuzzy feelings that it will create, but also the general sense of nostalgia that it will instill, too. 

Heathcliff is just one of the cartoons that will make for a great sense of nostalgia on this new collection from Mill Creek Entertainment and Cookie Jar.  Viewers who grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons on ABC will remember a short lived cartoon called Bump in the Night.  This stop motion based toon featured a certain little monster named Mr. Bumpy.  In the show’s holiday episode presented here, Mr. Bumpy is awaiting the arrival of Santa.  He doesn’t want to just see Santa.  He wants to trap him and snag his bag of toys.  It’s not his first try at trapping Santa, either.  Every year that he’s tried, Mr. Bumpy’s plan has failed for one reason or another.  He actually does succeed this year.  But in the process, Mr. Bumpy learns what’s really important during the holidays.  Audiences will enjoy this positive message.  They’ll also appreciate the pop culture references peppered in throughout the episode.  From monster style takes on classic Hanukkah and Christmas songs to a tribute to the Indiana Jones franchise and a spoof of a famous Kenny Loggins song, there is plenty for both kids and adults to love in this episode.  Even veteran actor Cheech Marin joins in on the fun as the voice of a Spanish worm who helps Mr. Bumpy and Squish along the way.  It all comes together to make this episode one more piece of the overall presentation that makes the Cookie Jar Christmas Cartoon Collection such a great collection for families this and every holiday season.  It’s available now in stores and online.

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Cookie Jar Cartoon Collection A Great “Treat” For Any Kids’ Halloween Party

Courtesy: Mill Creek Entertainment

Halloween is officially just over a week away.  That means lots of parents and kids are getting geared up to go trick or treating.  Just as many might be looking to host their own kid friendly Halloween parties.  What kid friendly Halloween party is complete without something safe for the kids to watch?  Thanks to Cookie Jar TV and Mill Creek Entertainment, parents have yet another option for their kids.  That option comes in the form of the new Halloween Cartoon Collection courtesy of Cookie Jar and Mill Creek Entertainment.  This single disc compilation of Cookie Jar cartoons offers episodes from some of its most beloved cartoons that are a perfect fit for this time of year.

The compilation kicks off with a trio of episodes from The Busy World of Richard Scarry.  In “The New Neighbors”, the kids meet a pair of new neighbors who happen to be twins.  So the kids think that there’s only one, and she is appearing everyone at once with magic.  And it just so happens that the twins are dressed like witches.  So the kids instantly think that something’s afoot.  But soon they learn a valuable lesson about jumping to conclusions and judging people.  This episode alone is a triple hit for audiences of all ages.  Not only does it boast a Halloween theme, but it’s family friendly, and it teaches some very valuable lessons in the process.

That opening episode of The Busy World of Richard Scarry is great for the whole family.  It’s just one part of what makes this compilation great for everyone.  Older audiences are offered not only entertainment but also education with a Halloween themed episode of the classic 90’s Fox Kids cartoon, Where On Earth is Carmen San Diego?  Audiences learn in the episode, “Trick or Treat” the real origins of Halloween.  According to the mini-history lesson taught here, today’s Halloween traditions go all the way back to the Celtic people.  They would actually wear masks and costumes to scare away evil spirits.  And they actually worshipped a god named Samhain.  There’s even a little tidbit about the origins of the jack-o-lantern.  And as always, Carmen ends up getting away in the end, even playing a trick on Zack and Ivy.

Cookie Jar Halloween Cartoon Collection offers audiences lots of great classic cartoons.  Most come from the 1990’s.  There’s even one from the 80’s in The Littles.  For those who want something a little more modern, young audiences are offered a pair of episodes from Cartoon Network’s hit show, Johnny Test.  In the first of the pair, Johnny and his sisters have to help their agent friends develop a machine so that they can win a trip to Fiji.  His sisters create a helmet that lets the wearer bring inanimate objects to life.  When it turns out that they can’t get the helmet off of Johnny, all kinds of havoc ensues.  Audiences can find out for themselves what happens when they pick up this DVD. 

The second episode from Johnny Test is more of a generic holiday episode.  But it’s still entertaining in its own right.  It’s one more of the enjoyable episodes culled for this compilation for audiences.  There are also episodes of other Cookie Jar Cartoons including: Archie’s Weird Mysteries, Mona The Vampire, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, Sabrina The Animated Series, Mummies Alive, and Bump In The Night.  Every one of these shows offers something enjoyable for the whole family for those Halloween parties.  It’s available now in stores and online.

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