Hey Arnold! Goes Out On Top In Its Fifth Season

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

The end is finally here for another of Nickelodeon’s beloved classic Nicktoon, Hey Arnold! The final season of Hey Arnold! is finally available to the masses. And it goes without saying that Hey Arnold! has gone out on top in its final season. In fact, it was at the same level as the series’ third season. That is primarily because of the solid writing throughout all twenty-three of Season Five’s episodes. Also to note in this season are more guest spots. Both Andy Dick and Tim Curry offer their voice talents this season. And of course, one can’t ignore that as with the series’ previous season releases, Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon have continued to lead the pack in multi-disc sets. This season’s packaging was done just as the series’ previous seasons, making it that much more worthy of applause. And together with the solid writing and guest appearances, it all comes together to make Season Five a fitting send off for Hey Arnold!

The writing behind the final season of Hey Arnold! is some of the best writing in the show’s five total seasons. Being that this season was the show’s final run, the show’s writers sent the show off on top of its game. This season, the show’s writers spoof all the big name crime fighters with one of their own. They also take on the political machine when a local businessman in Arnold’s neighborhood takes on one of the city’s politicians. And in what are some of the series’ absolute best episodes, the show’s writers finally offer hints at who were Arnold’s parents in a pair of episodes. One of those episodes was a two-part episode that is certain to make even the strongest viewer tear up. This is just a small sampling of what makes Season Five so enjoyable. Audiences will also enjoy seeing Arnold and Eugene take on a bitter playwright in their annual school play. If that’s not enough, there’s even a bonus Halloween episode that sees Arnold and his friends take on the legend of a female spirit that murdered her fiancé. It sounds violent. But it’s entirely family friendly. There is still much more to enjoy this season, including an episode using the classic plot element of a young person learning the reality of germs. It makes for plenty of laughs every time. These episodes and the others from the show’s original run are all here. And whether one grew up with this classic series or one is a new fan, audiences will find what makes these episodes some of the series’ best.

Hey Arnold! goes out on top in Season Five. That’s primarily because of its writing. Season Five boasts not just solid writing but two great guest spots. Celebrities Andy Dick and Tim Curry make appearances this season. Andy Dick voices of a vigilante named Monkeyman in the season premiere. Monkeyman learns some very valuable lessons about both himself and those that he protects after meeting Arnold. And in “Eugene, Eugene”, Tim Curry (The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Wild Thornberrys, Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties) stars as a bitter playwright that make his own version of a well-known play for the annual P.S. 118 fourth grade class play. When Arnold and Eugene discover the revisions made by Curry’s character, they confront him and then set the play on the right course despite the changes. The guest spots by both Curry and Dick aren’t the only ones made over the show’s five seasons. Jim Belushi (Life According to Jim, K9) and Jennifer Tilly (Family Guy, Monsters Inc.) also appear in the show. Tilly appears in Season Five’s episode, “Ernie in Love.” Having such big names appear in Hey Arnold!just goes to show that even into its fifth season, it had quite the high level of credibility. It adds even more to appreciate about both the series’ fifth season and the series as a whole.

The guest spots and the writing that went into Hey Arnold! Season Five both do so much to make this season one of the series’ best. The set’s packaging should also be taken into account in examining it as a whole. Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon have packaged Season Five exactly as the previous seasons of Hey Arnold!  The set’s first pair of discs each get their own spots on “plates” inside the standard size DVD case.  The third disc is placed on the inside back of the case on its own spindle.  This protects the discs from scratching one another and in turn allows them to be enjoyed with every watch.  It’s the crowning touch on a near perfect set for any true Nicktoons Nostalgic.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct from the Shout! Factory store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/node/217616.  More information on this and other Shout! Factory releases is available online at http://www.shoutfactory.com and 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.

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.

ESPN Giving Cubs Fans A Special Treat Next Sunday On SportsCenter

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN is giving Cubs fans a special treat next weekend as Major League Baseball nears its annual halfway point.  “The Sports Leader” will run a special next Sunday morning during SportsCenter celebrating the fifteenth anniversary of celebrities who have led Cubs fans in the time honored tradition of the seventh-inning stretch.  Next week’s SportsCenter Featured piece, it is narrated by veteran actor Jim Belushi.  Belushi is himself a Chicago native.

The special focuses on the variety of celebrities that have led fans in the singing of ‘Take Me Out To The Ballgame’ after the passing of the late great Harry Carry.  The feature will air this Sunday morning at 10am EST on ESPN.

More information on this and all the latest on SportsCenter is available online at http://www.facebook.com/SportsCenter and http://www.sportscenter.com.

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.

Aaahh!!! Real Monstrers Season Three Offers More Monstrous Fun Just In Time For Halloween

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Halloween’s almost here.  And just in time to count down the days, Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon have released the penultimate season of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters.  Krumm, Ickis, Oblina, The Grumble and all the other monsters at the Monster Academy are back for thirteen more episodes of scares and screams.  In this second to last season, all the monsters learn about the Festival of the Festering Moon.  And monster hunter Simon is back again, trying his best to capture proof that monsters really exist.  Also in Season Three, Oblina has to face her overbearing mother and make her realize that scaring is her life, whether she likes it or not.  These episodes and more make Season three another fun one for all the Nicktoons Nostalgics out there.

Season Three opens with the episode, “Festival of the Festering Moon.”  In this episode, all the students at the monster academy are undergoing a new stage in their lives.  They’re all quivering.  The only one who knows why is The Gromble.  He explains that the quivering is part of the annual shedding that all young monsters go through.  He also explains that the last monster to shed leaves the academy, never to return.  What he doesn’t explain at first is that the last to shed also is the first to grow up.  So being the only one not quivering, Ickis is scared that he’ll be cast out of the academy.  He goes to every length possible to kick start his shedding process.  It isn’t until the Festival of the Festering Moon that he finally sheds.  And when he finally does, the Gromble finally explains the why the last to shed leaves the academy.  It turns out to actually be a good thing.  So while Ickis isn’t the last to shed, he realizes he was making a big deal over nothing.

After they face the hurdle of a new stage in growing up, Ickis, Krumm, and Oblina also have to face an old foe in Simon The Monster Hunter.  Simon (voiced by James Belushi) returns in “Simon’s Big Score.”  When the trio gets into Simon’s apartment to scare him, Krumm eats some roaches off of a pizza in his kitchen.  What none of the trio knows is that Simon had planted a fake cockroach on the pizza that is actually a microphone/homing device.  So having taken the bait, Krumm inadvertently leads Simon to every one of the trio’s scares.  Suddenly everyone at the monster academy is suspected of intentionally leading Simon to the monsters.  That is until Krumm almost gets into a fight with Ickis.  As he’s getting ready to fight, he’s holding his eyes in his mouth.  Oblina hits Krumm on the back, trying to calm him down.  That causes him to accidentally swallow his eyes (again).  But thanks to her doing that, Krumm discovers the homing device.  Having discovered it, Krumm and the others set up a trap for Simon.  They lead him to a wrestling match and cause him to get involved in the match, in which he is soundly beaten by the wrestler.

Simon The Monster Hunter isn’t the only trouble that the monsters face in Season Three.  In “Lifestyles of the Rich and Scary”, Oblina gets a letter from her mother asking her to come visit.  Her mother’s secret intention is to get her to leave the scare school.  At first, Krumm and Ickis think it’s a great idea for Oblina to visit her mother.  So she obliges and visits her.  Things go south real fast, as Oblina’s mother turns out to be anything but supportive of her.  Things reach a head when Oblina’s mother basically forces her to stay there, rather than return to the monster academy. Luckily for her, the family’s butler steps in and along with Krumm and Ickis, they convince her that her mother is wrong.  When they scare off two robbers from the pedicure shop above their home, Oblina comes to her senses and realizes scaring is her life.  She stands up to her mother at this point.  And with her father’s help, Oblina convinces her mother that she needs to return to the academy.  Her mother agrees, and all ends happily.

Season Three of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters has so many laughs, scares, and screams.  What’s mentioned here is just a tiny portion of that enjoyment.  The double disc set will have any Nicktoons Nostalgic happy from beginning to end, both from the stories and the wonderfully hand drawn animation.  In a time when real cartoons seem increasingly rare, this penultimate season to another classic Nicktoon is another welcome blast from the past.  Add in the continued pack leading packaging for this double disc set, and audiences get another great release from both Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon.  Aaahh!!! Real Monsters Season Three is available now on in stores and online.  It can be orderd online at http://www.shoutfactorystore.com

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.