WHV Finally Gets It Right On Its Latest Peanuts DVD Release

Courtesy:  Warner Brothers Home Video

Courtesy: Warner Brothers Home Video

Warner Home Video has struggled quite a bit in the past year or so with its home releases. The 2013 releases of Tiny Toon Adventures Volume 4, Taz-Mania: Season 2 Part 1, and Hats Off To Dr. Seuss were all troubled with their own problems. 2014 hasn’t exactly been off to much of a better start thanks to the release of The Flintstone Kids: Rockin’ in Bedrock. That release presented only the main Flintstone Kids shorts minus the companion Captain Caveman and Son and Dino shorts. That alone took off major points from that set. But now WHV has finally started to pick up the ball and get things back on the right track thanks to the brand new release of This is America, Charlie Brown. This brand new double-disc has officially made its own spot on this critic’s list of the year’s best new DVDs and Blu-rays for families and children. The primary reason for that the features included in this set are both entertaining and educational. Another reason for the set’s enjoyment is the use of both hand drawn animation and historical photos to help illustrate each “lesson.” The last factor to examine in what makes This is America, Charlie Brown a success is its packaging. Each of the noted factors by themselves, play important roles in the success of the set. Together, they make this brand new release one of the year’s best new box sets for families and children.

The first and most important factor in the success of This is America, Charlie Brown is the combination of both entertainment and education. The eight features spread across the set’s two discs educate viewers in such fashion that it doesn’t even feel like viewers are being taught. Thanks to the legacy of the Peanuts gang, it feels more like viewers are going on a fun field trip through America’s history than just learning about history from another documentary. There are even some fun little pop culture references that parents will appreciate along the way. One of those references is to the command module of the Apollo 10 being named Charlie Brown. Lucy comments on this saying that she doesn’t know where such a name could have come from. The kids also see their own comic strip hanging in the Smithsonian Museum of Art. The little reference there is just as funny. On a more subtle level, audiences that know anything about animation history will appreciate Frank Welker (The Real Ghostbusters, Curious George, Garfield & Friends) as the voice of a number of characters here including Wilbur Wright in “The Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk.” Gregg Berger (Garfield & Friends, Aahhh!!! Real Monsters, G.I. Joe) joins Welker as the voice of Wilbur’s brother Orville. This isn’t the only feature to which Berger and Welker offer their talents, either. Lou Rawls joins them in “The Music and Heroes of America” and makes the journey all the more enjoyable even as being an educational journey. It serves as one more example of how the combination of education and entertainment is such an important factor in the success of this set. It isn’t the only important factor to the set, either.

The combination of entertainment and education in the features that make up This Is America, Charlie Brown is a solid foundation for the mini-series in whole. Just as important to the set’s success is the use of both hand drawn animation and historical photos to help illustrate and advance each story. Kids will be entertained by the hand drawn animation. And parents that grew up in the days of true animation will appreciate the original animation style of this Peanuts presentation. Those behind the mini-series balanced the animated segments with just enough historical photos to help drive home the stories in each feature. They even included some vintage video to help advance each “lesson,” too. And that video is just as balanced. The resultant effect is a presentation in each feature that will keep viewers of any age fully engaged from start to finish. It’s one more aspect of the whole mini-series that maintains the set’s value.

The visual presentation of the mini-series’ features and the ability of the features to entertain and educate without being too outright about their educational purpose are key to the success of This Is America, Charlie Brown. There is still one more factor to examine in the set in considering what makes it worth the purchase and the watch. That factor is the set’s overall packaging. Both of the discs in the set are placed on their own spindle inside the case. On one level, this protects the discs from scratching one another, thus increasing their life span. On another level, it minimizes the size of the box used to contain the discs. The bigger picture of this is that it conserves space on any viewer’s DVD rack. So not only is the mini-series in whole educational and entertaining, its case is ergonomic. Sure, there’s little else to the set whether extrinsic or even intrinsic. It’s a bare bones presentation. But these factors together make This Is America, Charlie Brown a much needed win for Warner Home Video and for fans that have waited so many years for this mini-series to get a proper release.

This Is America, Charlie Brown is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered direct online from the WB Shop at http://www.wbshop.com/product/this+is+america%2C+charlie+brown-+the+complete+series+dvd+1000411223.do. 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.

Garfield’s New DVD A Fun Way To Celebrate The Flabby Feline’s Birthday

Courtesy:  Paws, Inc./Dargaud Media/Vivendi Entertainment

Courtesy: Paws, Inc./Dargaud Media/Vivendi Entertainment

Today is a big day in the world of pop culture.  That’s because one of the country’s favorite pop icons celebrates his birthday today.  The icon in question is everybody’s favorite flabby feline, Garfield.  The creation of cartoonist Jim Davis, Garfield celebrates his thirty-fifth birthday today.  As a belated birthday present to Garfield’s fans, Paws, Inc., Vivendi Entertainment, and Dargaud Media will release the latest collection of episodes from The Garfield Show next Tuesday, June 25th

The Garfield Show: Pizza Dreams sees six more episodes loaded with laughs come to viewers.  It also includes a handful of bonus Garfield shorts much in the vein of the “Quickies” shorts from Garfield & Friends.  The set opens with Jon trying once again to put Garfield on a diet on the orders of his veterinarian girlfriend, Liz.  Long-time fans of the Garfield franchises will love the subtle reference to Garfield & Friends when Garfield makes the comment, “Somebody get me an attorney named Murray!”  This same line was used in one episode of Garfield & Friends.  Fans might also notice quite the similarity to another classic Garfield & Friends episode in which Garfield pretends to mail himself off to Abu Dhabi as a prank on Jon and Odie.  This isn’t the first time that The Garfield Show has ever thrown back to Garfield & Friends.  And it likely won’t be the last time, either.  But that the writers behind this show have managed once again to make a relatively new story while paying homage to the show’s predecessor makes this an enjoyable addition to this compilation of episodes.

The Garfield Show pays homage to its predecessor throughout a number of episodes.  That’s shown yet again with this latest collection of episodes.  Though, it does have its share of original episodes, too.  One of the best of this compilation’s best original episodes sees Garfield seeking out a world famous chef that makes “the best lasagna in the world.”  Garfield proves in “Master Chef”, that he will go to any length—including dressing up as a baby—in order to get his paws on the highly desired pasta dish.  In the end, he learns a valuable lesson and secret about the lasagna that will have viewers of all ages laughing out loud.

For all of the laughs that Garfield offers throughout this new compilation, it also offers some very valuable shorts that parents will appreciate.  The shorts included in this set are like those in at least one previous set of episodes.  They are short fifteen to thirty second vignettes that promote important topics for young viewers in a way that will inform and entertain.  This time, the included shorts promote healthy eating, exercise, proper pet care, and other topics.  As short as they shorts are, they make discussing the topics in question easier for parents.  Even more worthy of praise is the fact that here audiences have the laziest of creatures promoting healthy eating and exercise to young viewers.  In its own way, this is hilarious.  But it also shows that those behind the show understand and appreciate the importance of preventing childhood obesity.  It makes this topic and the others broached that much easier for parents to jump into with far less anxiety.  It is for this reason and for the included enjoyable episodes that Garfield fans of any age will want to pick up this new single disc collection.  It will be available in stores and online next Tuesday, June 25th and can be ordered online direct from the official Garfield website at http://www.cafepress.com/garfield.853607724. Fans can also go to the official Garfield website at http://www.garfield.com to get the latest news on Garfield, to play games, and much more.  Fans can also keep up with all of the latest Garfield news on the official Garfield Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/Garfield.

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The Garfield Show Shows More Promise On New DVD

Courtesy: Vivendi/Gaiam/Paws, Inc./Dargaud Media

Courtesy: Vivendi/Gaiam/Paws, Inc./Dargaud Media

The latest DVD release from The Garfield Show hits stores today.  The Garfield Show: Spring Fun Collection—the show’s seventh new DVD compilation–offers audiences six more adventures from the hit CG based show.  It also includes a handful of PSAs for kids that teach everything from the importance of exercise to proper pet care, and even accepting people’s differences.  The PSAs and the episodes all work together to make this latest release another enjoyable set of episodes for any Garfield fan of any age.

The Garfield Show: Spring Fun Collection opens with the episode, “The Big Sneeze.”  Long-time Garfield fans might recognize this episode as it is a subtle throwback to the Garfield & Friends episode, “Nothing to Sneeze At.”  Whereas that episode was centered on Jon’s less than fashionable wardrobe as the source of Garfield’s allergies, “The Big Sneeze” turns the tables.  This time out, it’s Jon who has sneezing problems.  What’s really causing them is left to audiences to discover. The answer to the mystery will have audiences laughing as will the episode’s subtle jokes.  The show’s writers take on the old joke about everything on the internet being true with a comment from Jon as he researches his symptoms.  In the same vein, the writers also take on a classic cartoon bit in the episode, “Stealing Home” which in itself is also a massive throwback to the original Garfield & Friends episode, “Pest of a Guest.”  The classic bit in question sees Garfield turning a trash dumpster into a “home” as a means to get a pesky cat out of his own house.  The use of a trash dumpster is just one variation of the classic cartoon bit.  But having the small confined space made up as if it’s something else goes as far back as certain classic Looney Tunes shorts.  That the writers would take the time to honor animation’s golden era is enough to make any viewer smile. 

The homage to animation’s early days is just one part of what makes “Stealing Home” so fun.  Adding in the reference to the classic “movie” Kung Fu Creatures on The Rampage is a double whammy for audiences.  Not only will old school audiences appreciate the reference to the original show here, but movie lovers will appreciate the somewhat biting commentary about Hollywood’s current fad of re-issuing classic movies to theaters in 3-D, too.  As one can already see, so much is going on in this episode alone.  But somehow, the show’s writers managed to assemble it all together in a script that audiences of all ages will appreciate.  It’s one more part of the whole that audiences will appreciate as they watch it any time they want when they pick up this new release.

The writers behind the episodes are to be commended for honoring Garfield’s roots in this collection of episodes.  They are to be just as commended for making new episodes, too in the form of “Farm Fresh Feline”, “The Bluebird of Happiness”, “The Mole Express” and “Parrot Blues.”  These episodes are more original and will entertain audiences just as much as the set’s throwback episodes.  The “Garfield Shorts” included in the set aren’t necessarily shorts.  They’re not the “quickies” from Garfield & Friends.  But parents will appreciate that they are PSAs intended to entertain and educate young audiences.  They are the icing on the cake that is this single disc compilation.  It’s available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online at the Paws, Inc. online store at http://garfield.com/shopping/dvd_collection/collection.html?cat=5.

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New Garfield Compilation Has Loads Of Laughs And Heart For Families

Courtesy: Gaiam/Vivendi Entertainment

Everybody’s favorite flabby tabby is back yet again.  And it’s just in time for the holidays.  Gaiam-Vivendi will release a brand new single-disc compilation of holiday themed episodes tomorrow.  “The Garfield Show:  Holiday Extravaganza” contains six holiday themed episodes, one of which is a two-part Christmas episode.  Another of the episodes is a bonus episode that’s great for Halloween.  In this new compilation, Garfield, Odie, and Jon head to a haunted house so that Jon can work on a new comic book.  Also in the collection’s sole Thanksgiving episode, the guys have to deal with a certain animal in the style of another classic Garfield & Friends episode.  And, in what is the best of the compilation’s episodes, Odie comes up with a plan to get a group of stray animals adopted for Christmas. 

In the first episode in this brand new compilation, Jon is having troubles writing a new comic book for his boss, Mr. Parker.  He keeps getting distracted because of the phone.  So when he tells Mr. Parker, Mr. Parker tells Jon to go to a house that he just bought.  What Jon doesn’t know is that the house is haunted.  It could be argued that in a roundabout way, this episode kind of pays tribute to Stephen King’s The Shining, what with Jon trying to write in a haunted house.  Anyone who has seen the horror classic might catch the reference.  Except in this case, the story is much more family friendly.  The house does indeed turn out to be haunted.  There’s just one problem.  While the house is haunted, only Garfield and Odie can see the ghost because the ghost in question is a ghost cat.  He explains to Garfield that humans can’t see ghost cats.  But he has to make Jon believe in him so that he can finally be released from haunting the house, and cross over.  Through a series of funny tricks, Garfield finally gets Jon to believe, thus releasing the ghost cat.  Ironically, his new belief also becomes the subject of his new comic book, solving Jon’s writer’s block.

This new compilation of episodes also contains a Thanksgiving episode that’s fun for the whole family.  In “Turkey Trouble”, Jon invites Liz over for Thanksgiving.  He’s ordered a turkey.  There’s just one problem.  Jon discovers that when the turkey is delivered, it’s alive.  This is a throwback to a certain episode from the classic Garfield & Friends animated series.  It just has some minor tweaks.  Jon can’t bring himself to do what needs to be done, so he decides to make his signature spinach lasagna instead.  Meanwhile, Garfield has to figure out how to handle the turkey, eventually managing to take it back to the butcher shop.  But when the guys discover what would happen to the turkey, Garfield sneaks back in later to rescue the turkey.  Of course, the turkey ends up rescuing itself.  Viewers will laugh at how it does, too.  In the end, the guys bring the turkey to dinner, enjoying Jon’s spinach lasagna.  It’s revealed that the turkey will be sent to a petting zoo instead.

“The Garfield Show:  Holiday Extravaganza” has loads of family fun throughout each of its episodes.  As fun as each episode is here, there is one that stands out more than any of the others.  It’s one of the set’s group of Christmas-themed episodes.  The two part episode, “Home For The Holidays” is the best of the best in this compilation.   In this special episode, Garfield learns the true meaning of Christmas after running into Arlene one evening when he and Jon go grocery shopping.  Garfield thinks about what Arlene said to him.  So he and Odie come and surprise Arlene and the stray animals that she is helping with food and bedding.  While they are there, Odie comes up with an idea to get the pets all adopted for Christmas.  While Arlene isn’t sure the idea will work, Garfield compliments him, telling him he thinks Odie’s idea is brilliant.  The group takes on the task.  It means taking the Christmas tree and dinner from their house and taking it to the junkyard where the strays are staying.  They also take a truck and use it to light up a pile of junk at the yard.  The pile has a star on top that attracts people from all over the city.  It’s arguable that there’s a biblical reference with the light shining at the top of the pile, as it looks a little bit like the Star of Bethlehem.  And being that it drew everyone from all around adds to that similarity.  When the people come, they all adopt the animals at the junkyard, including Jon’s mother and even Liz’s parents.  It all makes for one of the show’s most heartwarming episodes so far, and what will be one of the favorite episodes for families in this compilation.

The episodes mentioned here are only a portion of what’s offered in “The Garfield Show:  Holiday Extravaganza.”  This brand new compilation also includes a second Christmas episode that indirectly pays tribute to another classic Garfield & Friends episode, as well as another pair of Halloween episodes.  Whether it be those episodes or the ones listed here, “The Garfield Show:  Holiday Extravaganza” has lots of laughs and lots of heart for the whole family to enjoy this holiday season.  It will be available in stores tomorrow.

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“Summer Adventures” offers lots more laughs from The Garfield Show

Everybody’s favorite orange flabby feline is back.  That’s right.  Garfield is back again.  And he’s brought Jon, Odie and all the others along in the brand new dvd,  “Summer Adventures.”  This brand new dvd presents six more episodes from the most recent Garfield television incarnation, The Garfield Show.  This time out, Garfield helps pizzeria owner Vito save his business as it competes with a mega pizza chain.  He also helps his mouse friend, Squeak, in an original episode.  And in another throwback to the original Garfield and Friends series, Garfield gets some not so good luck when he returns a pot of gold to a leprechaun.  There’s even a bonus episode that will also take viewers back to the original Garfield & Friends series in “Fame Fatale.”

“Perfect Pizza” is the first of the six episodes contained on this single disc compilation.  Much like many of the episodes in The Garfield Show, this episode is a near direct throwback to Garfield & Friends.  It starts off with Jon ordering a pizza for Garfield.  Thinking the pizza is from his favorite pizza place, Vito’s, Garfield is surprised at how terrible the pizza is.  He discovers that the pizza is in fact not from Vito’s.  Rather, it’s from a new competitor, Mama Meaney’s Pizza Palace.  The new business has set up shop right next door to Vitos, and is taking customers away from Vito’s thanks to huge deals and coupons.  After finding out how Mama Meaney’s Pizza Palace mass produces its pizzas, Jon declares that he’s going back to Vito’s.  Mama Meaney (who happens to be a man) tries to lure Jon back with lots of coupons.  But it doesn’t work.  They go back to Vito’s. 

When they go back to Vito’s Eddie Gourmand calls and orders one of Vito’s pizzas.  He tells Vito that if he likes the pizza, he’ll tell all his viewers about it and tell them to buy his pizzas.  So Vito gets Jon to take the pizza to Gourmand.  Jon has to avoid Mama Meaney the whole way to Gourmand’s place.  In a chance mishap, Jon accidentally carries one of Mama Meaney’s pizzas to Gourmand who tastes it and declares how horrible it is.  But then Garfield gives Gourmand Vito’s pizza.  Gourman tells Vito how great it is, thus saving his business, and putting Mama Meaney’s Pizza Palace out of business.  As a reward, Vito tells Jon that they can have free pizza any time they want.  Garfield immediately takes full advantage of that, and digs in.  When Vito asks if Garfield will ever stop, Jon tells Vito, “Sure.  He’ll hit anchovies some time.” 

Long time fans will recognize certain similarities to two classic Garfield & Friends episodes in this one episode.  It combines elements of two episodes from the show’s fourth season in “Supermarket Mania” and “Mamma Manicotti.”  Garfield and Jon have to save a small independent business from a mega-conglomerate in both episodes.  The coupon element comes from the prior of the two classic episodes, while the competing Italian restaurant element comes from the latter of the pair.  Both are equally impressive episodes.  And combined, they make for a fun new episode for The Garfield Show.

“Perfect Pizza” is an enjoyable episode from The Garfield Show.  But it’s not all that makes this compilation of shorts so fun.  In a more original episode, Garfield and his friend Squeak go to Eddie Gourmand’s World of Cheese in the original episode, “It’s a Cheese World.”  This time out, Squeak and his friends see an ad for Eddie Gourmand’s Cheese World theme park.  They beg Garfield to take them.  At first, Garfield declines.  But when Jon finds one of Squeak’s friends eating a piece of cheese that he was going to eat, that becomes an excuse for Garfield to get the mice out of the house.  But to get them into the park, he first has to get them past his friend, Harry.  He tries to hide them under an overcoat, in a pizza box, and even uses an old Looney Tunes style bit that ends up working.  The irony of the mice trying to get in is that Gourmand’s park is failing because it’s made entirely of cheese.  And all the cheese is going bad real fast.  Thinking he’s lost everything, Gourmand isn’t sure what to do until a land developer offers to buy the park.  Gourman agrees, but doesn’t know how to get rid of the buildings until Squeak and his friends offer to take care of it for him.  That leads to a happy ending for all involved.

In one more of this new compilation’s collection of fun episodes, The Garfield Show throws back once again to Garfield & Friends with “Lucky Charm.”  “Lucky Charm” sees Odie discover a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.  Odie brings the pot back to Garfield.  But, he’s not alone.  The leprechaun that owns the gold is close behind.  When Garfield gives the gold back, the leprechaun grants him any wish that he wants.  Garfield wishes for good luck.  At first Garfield’s luck doesn’t seem so good.  But then he wins the lottery and becomes rich.  It could be argued that this is a throwback to the Garfield & Friends episode, “Fat & Furry.”  And the concept of whether Garfield’s luck was good could be argued to have been taken from the episode, “Curse of the Klopman.”  Getting back to this episode, though.  At first, being rich seems great.  But when he has to endure a pair of cats claiming to be long lost relatives, salesmen, and even an IRS agent, Garfield has to find the leprechaun who put the “Good Luck” spell on him so he can get it undone.  The leprechaun does.  But then he himself is hounded by the same IRS agent.  It’s a hint at “The Curse of the Klopman.”

The episodes listed here are just a small sampling of the laughs that fans will get from this brand new compilation.  However, all six episodes contained here make for more than enough laughs for both kids and kids at heart.  It’s a great introduction to the world of Garfield for younger viewers.  And it will take parents back to the days of Garfield & Friends.  While the compilation is titled, “Summer Adventures”, it’s a great addition to any family’s home library for the whole family all year long.

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