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.

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.

Shout! Factory, Nickelodeon To Release Classic Nicktoon’s Full Series Set This Fall

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Fans of Nickelodeon’s classic 90s Nicktoons are getting a special treat just in time for Halloween courtesy of Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon.  Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon will release Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: The Complete Series on Tuesday, October 8th, just in time to plan those Halloween get-togethers.  The entire series’ four-season run is contained on eight discs in the upcoming release.  The first two hundred people to order the set will receive a free 12” x 18” collectible lithograph.  It can be ordered direct from the Shout! Factory store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/?q=node/218263.     

Aaahh!!! Real Monsters follows the adventures of monster friends Ickis, Oblina, and Crumb as they attend scare school and learn how to properly and effectively scare humans.  The classic Nicktoon ran for a total of four seasons from 1994 – 2000.  During its run on Nickelodeon, it received a nomination for a Daytime Emmy in the category of “Outstanding Achievement in Animation.”  The show boasted an all-star voice cast, too.  Charlie Adler (Rocko’s Modern Life, Tiny Toon Adventures, Aladdin), Christine Cavanaugh (Rugrats, Dexter’s Laboratory, Recess), Gregg Berger (Garfield & Friends, The Garfield Show, The Transformers), Tim Curry (Clue, Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties, The Rocky Horror Picture Show), and James Belushi (Life According to Jim, Hey Arnold!, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius) round out the cast. 

For more information on previous and future releases from Shout! Factory, audiences can go to the official Shout! Factory website, http://www.shoutfactory.com or the official Shout! Factory Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial.

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.

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.

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 news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

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.

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.