Pound Puppies’ Latest Compilation One Of The Show’s Best Yet

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Hub Network/Hasbro Studios

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Hub Network/Hasbro Studios

Shout! Factory has teamed up with Hasbro Studios and the Hub network once again another compilation of episodes from Hub’s Pound PuppiesPound Puppies: Holiday Hijinks is one of the best compilations from this family and kid favorite series to be released yet.  That is largely because of each episode’s writing.  This compilation offers viewers some of the series’ most heartfelt episodes to date.  Just as noteworthy in this compilation is the guest voice talent.  Both parents and kids alike will recognize the celebrity voices that are included in some of the episodes in this set.  Something more subtle, but just as worth noting in this collection of episodes is that each one features its own musical number.  It’s something that hadn’t been seen (or rather heard) in previous collections.  It’s a nice touch to the episodes in question.  The reason for that will be discussed later.  All things considered, Holiday Hijinks is one more great addition to any family’s home DVD library, whether it’s their first introduction to the new Pound Puppies or not.

The latest compilation of Pound Puppies episodes includes five more episodes from the Hub network’s hit children’s series.  This follows the same format as the previous DVD compilations that have been released.  The episodes collected for this collection stand out because they are some of the series’ most heartwarming episodes yet.  The collection’s opener, “I Heard The Barks on Christmas Eve” is the collection’s only actual holiday themed episode.  It’s still a wonderful story, nonetheless.  For the first time ever, viewers see that Mr. McLeish actually has a heart and isn’t the mean middle aged man that he comes across as being in most episodes.  It presents those classic messages that everybody needs somebody and that everybody deserves somebody, especially during the holidays.  Audiences will appreciate how writer Joe Ansolabehere expanded on the show’s central theme of family in the set’s second episode, “I Never Barked For My Father.”  Lucky meets his long lost father and brother for the first time ever in this episode.  These are two of the collection’s finest.  What’s more, older audiences will appreciate the guest vocal talent shared here.  That is another positive to this set of episodes.

The episodes collected for Pound Puppies: Holiday Hijinks offer plenty of heart and laughs.  The writers behind the show are to be applauded for their work.  Just as worth noting of these episodes is the guest vocal talent recruited for these episodes.  Lucky’s father is voiced by none other than Gary Cole in “I Never Barked For My Father.”  And his long lost brother is voiced by one Gary Cooksey.  Cooksey is best known for his time on Diff’rent Strokes as well as voicing Montana Max on Tiny Toon Adventures and portraying Robert “Buddy” Budnick on Nickelodeon’s hit 90s series, Salute Your Shorts.  Older audiences will recognize Gary Cole from his roles in Office Space, Dodgeball, Talladega Nights, and Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law just to name some of his work.  Cole and Cooksey are just a couple of the well-known names that grace this collection of episodes.  Fred Stoller (Wordgirl, Everybody Loves Raymond) guests on the collection’s opener as the voice of Ralph.  Ralph is a stray that has lost his Christmas spirit because he has never had a single owner.  That all changes thanks to the Pound Puppies.  Wayne Knight (Seinfeld, Scooby-Doo & The Goblin King, Jurassic Park, The Exes) also shares his talents as the voice of Ralphie, Mr. McLeish’s old friend in “Good Dog, McLeish.”  If that isn’t enough, then the addition of both Tress MacNeille (Futurama, The Simpsons) and Charles Shaughnessy (The Nanny) as guest talent in “Prince and the Pupper” will certainly convince parents to check out this latest collection of Pound Puppies episodes with their kids.  The list of guest talent included in Pound Puppies: Holiday Hijinks is only a glimpse of the big name actors and actresses that have lent their talents to this series over the course of three seasons.  And it’s just one more reason for families to enjoy this collection together.  There is one more reason that families will enjoy the episodes presented in this set.  That reason is that each of the set’s five episodes includes its own musical number.  It would have been so easy for the writers to go over the top considering the history of musical numbers in shows that aren’t known for musical numbers.  Instead, the show’s writers made each episode’s musical number respectable and within limitations.  They didn’t make them big, cheesy tongue-in-cheek numbers.  They actually add a certain amount of emotion and comic relief where necessary.  Just as with the guest vocal talent and the equally enjoyable writing overall, the musical number become one more part of the whole that makes Pound Puppies: Holiday Hijinks well worth the watch any time of the year.  It is available now on DVD in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct from the Shout! Factory store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/product/pound-puppies-holiday-hijinks.  More information on this and other Pound Puppies DVDs is available online at http://www.shoutfactory.com and http://www.facebook.com/shoutactoryofficial.  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.

Parents and Kids Will get Revved Up With The Latest Chuck and Friends Compilation

Courtesy:  Shout! Kids/Shout! Factory/Hasbro/The Hub

Courtesy: Shout! Kids/Shout! Factory/Hasbro/The Hub

Chuck, Soku, Digger, and the rest of his friends are back once again with a whole new collection of family friendly episodes from The Hub’s The Adventures of Chuck & Friends

The Adventures of Chuck & Friends: Bumpers Up is the fourth release from the hit children’s cartoon on The Hub.  It will be available next Tuesday, August 13th.  As with the previous DVD releases, this compilation of episodes offers parents and children ten more episodes full of family friendly fun and important life lessons.  The writers behind the show are to be commended once again as neither the lessons nor the general entertainment steps on the other.  This is just one of the positives to this new set.  Viewers will also enjoy the fun musical numbers in each episode.  And speaking of the musical numbers, Bumpers Up includes its own sing-a-long feature as a bonus element.  The bonus sing-a-long on this DVD from Shout! Kids includes the words to the song that kids can read while they sing.  This is actually a double whammy in the best possible way.  And while most audiences don’t take it into account, even the bright colors used in each episode play their own part in the overall enjoyment of these episodes.  All combined, they make for one more collection that parents and kids will enjoy every time that they pop it in their DVD or Blu-ray player.

The episodes included in this collection are just as enjoyable for parents and children as the show’s previous trio of releases.  That is thanks in large part to the show’s writers.  The storylines and life lessons included in each episode are very well balanced thanks to the show’s writers.  Neither element steps on top of the other even once.  Audiences can take their pick of episodes in this set.  Each episode serves as a wonderful example of exactly that.  A random example of this balance is in the set’s first episode, “Choosy Chuck.”  Chuck’s parents are going to take him to the truck history museum.  There’s just one problem with this.  They have an extra ticket, which they give to Chuck to use with one of his friends.  The result is that Chuck has to make a very difficult decision.  Of course, it ends with a happy ending.  Again, the general storyline and the important life lesson perfectly balance out.  What’s more, it’s enjoyable because it is so relatable.  Scenarios such as that presented here do in fact happen in real life.  So it becomes an even more valuable addition to this compilation.  “Choosy Chuck” teaches young viewers a very deep lesson in a very simplistic way, thanks to the show’s writers.  The even deeper lesson taught here is of personal sacrifice.  Even adults have to make the choice at times of personal sacrifice.  To that end, it becomes an even more invaluable addition to this new compilation.  Even adults can take something away from it (and the other included episodes).

Just as important an inclusion to “Bumpers Up” is the episode, Soku-Kun.  As with “Choosy Chuck”, this episode also teaches viewers of all ages some very important lessons. It teaches the lessons of acceptance, tolerance, and understanding.  These are lessons that adults need just as much as children, as is evidenced every evening on the nightly news.  The writers are to be commended just as much for this episode as for “Choosy Chuck” and the other episodes included here.  It’s through this lesson that Chuck’s friend Soku learns that just because someone is from another country and different culture, it doesn’t make them any less than anyone else.  He learns this lesson when his cousin from Japan comes to visit.  His cousin can’t speak English though.  The resultant language barrier causes Soku to resent his cousin.  That is until Chuck and the others help Soku understand his cousin more easily.  The end result is a happy ending, and a lesson that is just as valuable as any other in life and in this set.

The episodes noted here are merely a sample of what “Bumpers Up” offers for children and their parents.  Along with the family friendly writing, viewers also get plenty of family friendly musical numbers too.  The musical numbers go hand-in-hand so to speak with the lessons of each episode.  They help to drive home each lesson on the surface.  On a slightly deeper level, they’ll also have kids dancing and singing along as they clap their hands.  Staying on the matter of the songs, included as a bonus feature in this compilation is a brand new sing-a-long for kids.  The sing-a-long lets kids sing along karaoke style, as the song’s lyrics are included at the bottom of the screen.  What’s more, the song in question brings the entire compilation full circle.  It brings the compilation full circle as it teaches a lesson about the importance and value of teamwork all while rocking out.  And on an even deeper level, the included lyrics could also serve as an aid in teaching young viewers to read.  So not only does it serve two purposes, but in fact three.  This three-way attack of sorts makes the overall presentation over the top and that much more worth picking up or ordering when it becomes available on Tuesday, August 20th.  It can be ordered online direct from Shout! Factory’s online store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/?q=node/217614.  Parents and kids can keep up with all of the latest family friendly releases on the Shout! Factory website at http://www.shoutfactory.com and http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial.    

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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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Littlest Pet Shop Update A Good New Take On A Classic Cartoon

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Hasbro/Hub/Shout Kids/Hasbro Studios

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Hasbro/Hub/Shout Kids/Hasbro Studios

Hasbro’s new animated take on the Littlest Pet Shop toy franchise is a good series for its intended young female audience.  The first DVD from the updated series, “Little Pets, Big Adventures” is proof of that.  This take on the toys will most definitely entertain its intended audiences and teach some very important life lessons, too throughout the five episodes contained on its single disc.  Add in animation much like that of its fellow updates in Pound Puppies and My Little Pony, and young female audiences get a solid introduction to this updated cartoon.

The very first and most important factor that audiences will appreciate in Littlest Pet Shop: Little Pets, Big Adventures is its mix of entertainment and heart.  The heart in these episodes comes from the life lessons interwoven into each episode.  While there are only five episodes (technically there are four since one episode is a two-parter), the lessons written into each one and the manner in which they were written will be appreciated because they aren’t preachy.  They are there.  But they don’t overpower each episode’s main story.  Rather, they are extensions of each episode so to speak.  One of the best examples of this is in the set’s final episode, “Penny For Your Laughs.”  This episode is one more salvo in the fight against bullying.  It also includes a lesson about knowing who one’s real friends are.  The anti-bullying lesson is approached when Pepper decides to become a comedian.  Her jokes start out funny.  But then, they start to get increasingly mean.  Eventually they lead to some very hurt feelings.  While that is going on, Blythe learns her own lesson when she stands up for the Biscuit twins.  They take her on as a BFF.  At first she likes it.  But then she starts to realize that things aren’t all that they’re cracked up to be.  In the end, both she and Pepper learn about being sensitive to others.  This is an increasingly valuable lesson as bullying is still a major issue in America today.  So for including such an episode, and making the culmination of the set, too, the writers behind Littlest Pet Shop are to be commended.

This one episode is just one example of the value of the writing behind Littlest Pet Shop.  Audiences will also appreciate the lesson about responsibility in “Bad Hair Day” and the two part introductory episode, “Blythe’s Big Adventure.”  This episode is the show’s very first episode.  It sets the stage for the adventures to come.  There is no lesson in this episode.  But it will still entertain its audiences, regardless.  Viewers will just have to find out for themselves about these episodes when they pick up this first DVD from the updated series for themselves.

The writing behind Littlest Pet Shop plays its own role in the success of this cartoon for its intended audiences.  Those that have the Hub network on their cable carrier will recognize just how similar this cartoon’s animation style is to that of fellow updated cartoons, Pound Puppies and My Little Pony.    It bears all the trademarks of those cartoons all the way around.  And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either.  As is the case with any children’s cartoon, animation style plays a much larger role than many might think.  Its animation style is that new school style that looks blurs the line between CG based cartoons and hand drawn.  That line is so blurred that it’s next to impossible to tell which style was used.  This is actually a very good thing.  Young audiences need to be reminded as much as possible what real animation is.  In the same vein, the bright colors used throughout each episode are bright and cheery.  As minute a factor as it may seem the use of bright colors is a psychological move.  It helps to maintain a positive feeling among its audiences.  And when it is tied into the equally upbeat storylines, it becomes one more part of a whole that will make each episode that much more enjoyable for its viewers with each watch.  And each episode can be watched anytime because this DVD is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct via the Shout! Factory web store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/?q=node/216610.  Audiences can keep up with all of the latest news on releases from Shout! Factory online at http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial and http://www.shoutfactory.com.

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New Chuck & Friends DVD Offers More Entertainment, Life Lessons For The Whole Family

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Shout! Kids/Hasbro/The Hub

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Shout! Kids/Hasbro/The Hub

Chuck, the adventurous young dump truck is back once again.  And he’s brought all of his friends along for the “ride” in an all new collection of adventures from Shout! Kids, Hasbro, and The Hub.  The brand new collection, titled, When Trucks Fly takes viewers on ten more fun-filled adventures that also teach some very valuable lessons.  The Adventures of Chuck & Friends is just as enjoyable for kids and parents as the series’ previous release, Monster Rally.  The episodes are short enough to keep younger viewers’ attention.  And the bright, vivid colors do their own part in keeping kids engaged.  The adventures themselves will entertain kids.  And the life lessons tied into all ten episodes are equally important.

One of the best episodes included in this latest collection involves a motorcycle named Sam Steering who is blind.  Through the use of his friend, Sidecar, he is able to get around easier.  But he’s not entirely helpless.  As a matter of fact, he even helps keep Chuck’s dad from slipping in some oil early on because he could smell the oil.  Sam is a very helpful character to younger viewers in that he teaches kids that just because he’s different in not being able to see, he’s no different from anyone else.  In understanding this, Chuck and his friends learn to use their senses to locate the parts and toy race car for a race track they want to put together.  In a way, this teaches a very basic level of biology that will perhaps be the building block of getting kids interested in science.  All of the lessons are tied seamlessly together to make an episode that is one of the best in this collection.

When Trucks Fly offers lots of great lessons for kids in every episode as already noted.  Parents will especially appreciate this collection because at least two of the episodes included in this collection teach a lesson of cleanliness.  Both “Mystery He Rode” (yes that’s a spoof of Mystery She Wrote) and “Super Sweeper Chuck” teach kids the importance of keeping things clean and neat.  “Super Sweeper Chuck” teaches this lesson more directly than “Mystery He Rode.”  When Chuck and his friends decide to go off and play a game without cleaning up after themselves, Rowdy is the only one who stays behind to clean.  When Chuck’s dad comes along and sees this, he goes to get the others and bring them back.  The others see the mess that they left and that Rowdy had stayed behind.  They feel bad for having left such a mess and help clean up their mess.  The musical montage included here will get kids engaged even more.

By comparison, “Mystery He Rode” teaches the lesson cleanliness in a more subtle manner as Chuck and his friends look for Rowdy’s missing horn.  Chuck’s mom emphasizes to the boys that they need to put everything back once they’re done as they search for his horn.  It’s good to see this lesson incorporated into this episode, too.  Even more worthwhile in “Mystery He Rode” isn’t so much that lesson as the lesson of not falsely accusing others without proof.  One of the boys is falsely accused of having taken Rowdy’s missing horn at one point.  But thanks to Chuck pointing out one vital piece of evidence, his name is cleared, and the true location of Rowdy’s horn is revealed.  This is yet another important life lesson that parents will appreciate having been taught.  And kids will easily grasp it too.

Just as important as the lessons on cleanliness and accepting people’s differences, parents will appreciate the lessons of teamwork and honor in the episode, “Keep on Trackin’.”  Chuck and his friends are Junior Spark Plug Scouts in this episode.  During a scavenger hunt of sorts, Chuck and the others learn both of these lessons.  Chuck and Flip end up competing with each other instead of with one another.  They realize in the end that they hadn’t lived up to the teamwork or honor.  But in realizing this, they both earn their honor badges because of their honesty and decision to make up and work together from then on.  Yet again, parents and kids alike have one more important life lesson that even adults could learn from believe it or not.  It’s just one more part of the whole that kids and kids at heart will enjoy with every watch.  The Adventures of Chuck and Friends: When Trucks Fly will be available in stores and online on Tuesday, February 19th.  It can be ordered online direct from the Shout! Factory store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/?q=node/216660.

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The New Pound Puppies Is Fun For The Whole Family

Shout! Factory/Hasbro Studios/Hub

Dog is man’s best friend, it’s often said.  Well dogs are also every child’s friends.  And after seeing the new compilation DVD from Hasbro Studios and Shout Factory, the dogs of the new Pound Puppies will be a favorite of every child, and maybe even some adults out there, too.  In this new single disc compilation, audiences get five episodes from the new series that will leave both parents and kids alike smiling and watching over and over again.  In the first of the set’s five episodes, pound manager Leonard and his flunky Olaf have to track down his mother’s dog.  Megastar Betty White guests in this episode.  The compilation’s second episode is a heartwarming episode both for adults and kids alike as Cookie learns a valuable lesson about being a parent.  Lauren Tom, Maurice LaMarche, and Cree Summer all add their guest vocal talents to this episode.  And in one more episode, a new pup named Patches joins the gang.  He looks up to the Pound Puppies so much that he, Cupcake, and Rebound form their own group called The Super Secret Pup Club.  Of course, lots of laughs and mayhem ensue.This five-episode collection opens with the episode, “Bone Voyage.”  Betty White (Golden Girls, Hot in Cleveland) guest stars as the voice of Agatha, the mother of the pound’s manager, Leonard.  Agatha has brought her puppy, Rebound, to the pound so that Leonard will look after Rebound while she goes on vacation.  While Lucky and the others try to get Rebound to understand that Agatha will be back, Rebound sees Agatha leave and freaks out.  She takes off after Agatha, causing not only the Pound Puppies to take chase, but so do Leonard and Olaf.  They all end up on board the cruise liner on which Agatha has taken her vacation.  Of course, lots of mayhem and laughs ensure.  Viewers will have to see for themselves how things unravel.  It does, of course, have a happy ending.

In one of the set’s deeper, more emotional episodes, Cookie learns a valuable lesson about being a parent when a young new pup named Cupcake is brought to the pound.  This is one that parents will appreciate in their own way.  Cookie becomes emotionally attached to Cupcake.  So much so that she doesn’t want Cupcake getting adopted.  In its own way, this is somewhat representative of parents letting their own children go as they get older.  That likely wasn’t the primary intent.  But parents will be able to relate to Cookie’s emotional ordeal.  They may even be left a little bit teary eyed by the episode’s end.  Lauren Tom (Futurama), Maurice Lamarche (Futurama, The Simpsons, Animaniacs, etc.) and Cree Summer (Rugrats, Codename:  Kids Next Door, etc.) all add their guest vocals to this episode.

Once parents get over the emotional moments of “Mutternal Instincts”, they’ll find themselves laughing in “The Super Secret Pup Club.”  Cree Summer returns again as Cupcake.  Rebound is back again.  The two team up with another new puppy named Patches.  Patches is a young Dalmatian.  He really looks up to the Pound Puppies.  He tells them of the stories he’s heard of the Pound Puppies, and how he wants to be as great as them.  So the trio forms its club and tries to emulate the Pound Puppies.  But as is the course with any new puppy, the run off, forcing the others to hunt them down.  This causes all sorts of trouble for the Pound Puppies.  It also causes lots of laughs for audiences.  Audiences will have to see for themselves what happens.  Pound Puppies:  Super Secret Pup Club will be available in stores and online Tuesday.  It can be ordered online at http://www.shoutfactorystore.com.

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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.

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The Adventures Of Chuck & Friends Will “Rev” up Audiences Of All Ages

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Hub

Television today is rife with programming that’s anything but kid and family friendly.  Even all the “reality” shows out there are loaded with so much profanity being bleeped out that some parents probably question even letting their kids watch that stuff.  Even the networks that have kid friendly programming aren’t available to all parents.  That makes DVD’s such as the new release from Hub’s The Adventures of Chuck & Friends that much more important to parents who want something safe for their kids. 

The Adventures of Chuck & Friends:  Monster Rally is another fun and family friendly release from Hub in its partnership with Shout! Factory.  This new single disc compilation of episodes boasts ten more episodes of life lessons and fun.  The young dump truck Chuck learns why it’s not good to brag in this compilation.  Also in “Daredevil Chuck”, Chuck learns that sometimes it’s better to go with your heart than with the crowd.  And in “The Legend of Bigtire” Chuck and his friends learn about rumors and to not always believe everything they hear.  There are even more life lessons to be learned throughout the other seven episodes in this collection that families will love to watch together.

In the opening episode of this brand new compilation from Hub and Shout! Factory, Chuck has gotten a brand new horn.  He’s so excited about it that he can’t wait to go and show it off to his friends.  He loves all the attention.  But when his friend Soku comes along and shows off his new police kit, all of the attention suddenly goes to Soku instead, making Chuck jealous.  So Chuck goes back to the shop and “Borrows” his brother Rally’s new tires and puts them on.  He goes back to the junkyard to show them off to his friends.  While his friends are amazed by Chuck’s “new” tires, they tell him they have to see them in action.  This is where things get hairy for Chuck, as he loses control on the track and ends up running through a bunch of mud, and getting the tires dirty.  When he comes back to his friends, Soku inadvertently gets the attention of Chuck’s mom with his new megaphone.  She comes over with Rally, forcing Chuck to admit what he had done.  Chuck learns his lesson about trying to brag and show off, and gets Rally to show off the tires instead.

Chuck learns a valuable lesson about pride in the compilation’s opener.  It’s just one of many episodes that he learns.  In “Daredevil Chuck”, Chuck learns that just because other people do certain things doesn’t mean he has to.  When a series of dares gets bigger and bigger, Chuck starts to question the dare his friends had set up for him.  He talks to his dad about it, who tells him that he should go with his heart.  Chuck pays attention to that advice, and goes back the next day to tell his friends he’s not going to take their dare because he doesn’t feel safe.  And just as his friends start to get on him for not taking the dare, the giant pile of bricks and the girder leaned against them comes tumbling down.  Chuck’s friends realize after it falls that he was right to not take the dare.  And Chuck feels that much better for not having taken the dare, but following his heart instead. 

Learning to not always follow the crowd and do what everyone else does is a very important life lesson.  And in that same vein, part of not going along with the crowd is not spreading rumors.  Chuck and his friends learn this lesson in the episode, “The Legend of Bigtire.”  Chuck and his friends are out and about one day in this episode, when they discover some very large tire tracks in the dirt.  The discovery leads the group to start talking about the legend of Bigtire.  As they search for Bigtire, Chuck and his friends all have their own idea of what Bigtire is.  They go back to the shop and tell Chuck’s dad and his friends about what they’ve seen.  So Rally is asked to go along with Chuck and his friends.  He doesn’t let on that he knows who Bigtire really is at first.  But eventually, he finally introduces everyone to the “legendary” Bigtire.  Bigtire turns out to be merely a construction truck named Sigmund.  And he’s a far cry from what the rumors had said he was.  Actually, he’s the exact opposite of those rumors.  He is big.  But he’s also very polite and kind.  Seeing this, Chuck and his friends learn that not everything they hear should be believed.  Nor should they add to the rumors that get spread about others.

Chuck and his friends learn some very valuable lessons in this brand new compilation of episodes.  The ones noted here are just tiny samplings of what this new DVD has to offer.  There even more episodes in this set that parents will love to watch with their kids again and again.  It’s available now in stores and online at Shout! Factory’s store, http://www.shoutfactorystore.com.

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