Classic Cartoon’s First Proper Release Is A Joy For Audiences Of All Ages

Courtesy:  Mill Creek Entertainment

Courtesy: Mill Creek Entertainment

Dennis The Menace is one of the most beloved characters in the history of America’s various entertainment mediums. Any number of newspapers still proudly run the famed comic strip every day. At least two movies have been crafted based on Dennis The Menace. And even the original live action, black-and-white series has received a proper release over the course of four separate box sets courtesy of Shout! Factory. Certain TV stations even still run that series every day. One of those networks is one that goes by the name of Antenna TV. Yes, that’s a cheap pop for that network. For all of the love that Dennis The Menace has continued to receive today, there is one part of this classic character’s life that has never received proper treatment. That part of his life is the animated series, which ran from 1986 – 1988. Various companies have released bits and pieces of the animated series. But it hasn’t been until this year that it has received a proper release. That is thanks to Mill Creek Entertainment. Mill Creek Entertainment released on March 11th, Dennis The Menace: Volume One on DVD. This set is everything that the show’s now grown up fans have wanted for so many years. Of the series’ seventy-eight total episodes, this collection of episodes boasts thirty-three full length episodes. That’s nearly half of the series’ episodes. Making the set even more impressive is that not only does it boast almost half of the series’ episodes, a close look reveals that the order of episodes in the set was taken directly from the original series. This is a very important part of the success of the set. And last but definitely not least in the triple-disc set is the quality of the footage. The footage still looks as good as it did in its original broadcast nearly three decades ago. These three factors combine to make Dennis The Menace: Volume One among the year’s best new home releases for children and families.

Various companies have tried their hand at releasing bits and pieces of Dennis The Menace: The Animated Series ever since the show went off the air in 1988. Different episodes have seen the light of day on both VHS and DVD before the release of Dennis The Menace: Volume One. None of those releases were anywhere near the level of this collection of episodes. This is the most complete collection of episodes that the series has ever seen. There has been one release in particular that tried to pass off a small handful of episodes as more than it really was, essentially deceiving customers. Applause goes to Mill Creek for not doing the same thing. Mill Creek has in fact released thirty-three episodes from the original seventy-eight in their entirety. The company didn’t just toss in a bunch of shorts and try to call them episodes. They actually presented thirty-three complete episodes to comprise the triple-disc set.

The inclusion of thirty-three complete episodes in Dennis The Menace: Volume One is the tip of the proverbial iceberg for this set. Audiences will appreciate that those episodes included in the set are presented in precise chronological order from the original schedule of episodes. It would have been so easy for Mill Creek to just assemble episodes from the series’ two seasons at random. That’s precisely what far too many companies do with their releases today. Mill Creek didn’t go that route, though. Its people actually showed respect for the show’s fans by presenting the first thirty-three episodes as they originally aired. As rare as this is for some indie companies to do, it’s nice to see that Mill Creek has done just that in this case. It makes this set all the more enjoyable for fans.

That Mill Creek has presented the episodes in exactly the same chronological order in which they originally aired is a major bonus for Dennis The Menace: Volume One. That this set contains nearly half of the series episodes in their entirety is just as much of a bonus for viewers. There is one remaining factor to the set that audiences will appreciate. That final factor is the quality of the footage presented. Nearly four decades have passed since Dennis The Menace: The Animated Series originally aired. Technology has changed a lot since then. So it’s nice to see that the show’s original tapes have stood the test of time so well. Even nicer to see is the care that was taken in transferring the original tapes to DVD. The coloring in each episode is as bright today as it was nearly three decades ago. And the sound is just as high quality. Both the audio and video quality of the transfer is impressive. Their quality proves that those at Mill Creek took their jobs seriously in presenting the best possible product to fans of this modern classic. And together with the episodes included in the set, it makes the set complete. It makes this one of the best new releases of the year for children and families.  Here’s to hoping that when and if Mill Creek releases the series’ remaining episodes, they will be just as much of a joy.

Dennis The Menace: Volume One is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered direct from Mill Creek Entertainment online at http://www.millcreekdirect.com/dennis-the-menace-volume-one-33-episodes.html.  More information on this and other releases from Mill Creek is available online at http://www.millcreekent.com and http://www.facebook.com/MillCreekEnt. 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.

The Three Stooges Update Is Surprisingly Funny

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox

The Farrelly Brothers’ take on everyone’s favorite comic trio is surprisingly entertaining.  On the surface, it would seem that it’s little more than the same style movie as Hollywood’s big screen reboot of Dennis The Menace or The Little Rascals.  But the reality is that those re-imaginings pale in comparison.  Sure the Farrelly Brothers have done much the same thing as what those flicks did.  But at the same time, it’s obvious that they really did attempt to pay homage to the original Stooges.

At first glance, the very thought of modernizing the Stooges makes no sense.  After the utter failures that were Dennis the Menace (and its equally awful sequels) and The Little Rascals, the natural reaction here is to shake one’s head that much the same has been done here.  And while the pop culture references abound (E.g. Jersey Shore, Geico Auto Insurance, etc.), somehow, the Farrelly Brothers managed to balance out the modernization without losing the heart that make the original Stooges so beloved to this day.  Yes, it would have been nice to see the Stooges in their original 1930s and 1940s element.  But at least in this case, the trio’s modernization doesn’t overpower the physical comedy for which Larry, Curly, and Moe became famous.

Sean Hayes (Larry), Chris Diamantopolous (Moe), and Will Sasso (Curly) weren’t the only stars of this big screen remake.  The trio’s interactions with co-stars Sofia Vergara (Modern Family), Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm), and Brian Doyle-Murray (Groundhog Day, SpongeBob Squarepants, etc.) harkens back to the original Stooges’ bits with its constant supporting cast.  It’s obvious through these interactions and the physical comedy together that despite being modernized, the Farrelly Brothers really were making a valid attempt to do more than just toss something up on screen for the sake of throwing it up on screen.  Unlike the people behind the reimaginings of The Little Rascals and Dennis the Menace, the intent behind this update was obviously to entertain and pay the deserved honor to the original Stooges and their fans, too.

The Farrellys succeeded in entertaining audiences nonstop with the combination of classic slapstick comedy.  It took center stage, rather than the updated surroundings.  The pair should also be commended for taking time immediately after the movie to warn all potentially young audiences that the gags used in the movie were not real.  They point out that the hammers, crowbars and other tools were all rubber.  And the sounds used in coordination with said tools were just that.  They were sound effects and nothing more.  They took the time to say to audiences please don’t try what they saw on screen themselves.  It’s all movie magic.  This might have been a minute factor in the grand scheme of things.  But taking such responsibility is deserving of great respect.  So thank you to the Farrellys for that.  And thank you to the Farrellys for this surprisingly entertaining update on a legendary comic act.

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