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.

The Wild Thornberrys Season Three Another Welcome Addition To Any Nicktoons Nostalgic’s DVD Library

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon’s The Wild Thornberrys—Eliza, Nigel, Maryanne, Donny, Darwin, and Debbie—have returned once again for another season of globetrotting adventures.  After seeing the previous season chopped into three separate volumes, Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory have released season three in its entirety to audiences as it should be.  This last of Nickelodeon’s great classic Nicktoons is on cruise control in its third season as it offers more lessons about different cultures, about geography, and life lessons, as well as laughs.  It offers just as much enjoyment for audiences of all ages as the show’s previous two seasons.  One change that is noticeable here is the inclusion of Eliza’s cousin Tyler.  Tyler joins the cast in the season’s third episode, ‘Tyler Tuck, I Presume.’  After having two seasons of sisterly conflicts between Eliza and Debbie, Tyler’s introduction added a nice new dynamic to the Thornberry family.  All of this along with the show’s continued animation standard combine to make The Wild Thornberrys Season Three another welcome addition to any “Nicktoons Nostalgic’s” home DVD library.

When it first started out in 1998, The Wild Thornberrys did something that no other cartoon at its time was doing.  At least this was the case with mainline cartoons.  What it did was it entertained at the same time that it educated. It taught the importance of geography and biological diversity through the family’s adventures.  The use of a locator on a map to set the scene taught about the different locations of countries across the globe.  The stories themselves taught about the different flora and fauna of each region by having Eliza have to help the different animals from different situations.  The manner in which the show’s writers executed this educational content was genius.  It was done covertly, thus not even letting on to viewers that it was actually educating them.  This same standard has been carried into the show’s third season.  It’s nice to see that the show’s creators and writers maintained this core standard once again.  It’s just the tip of the iceberg in what makes Season Three so enjoyable.

The educational content carried into Season Three is just the starting point of what makes The Wild Thornberrys Season Three such a joy.  Another factor that made this season as enjoyable as the shwo’s first two seasons is its valuable life lessons and lessons of cultural diversity.  One of the most valuable life lessons taught in Season Three is the simplest of lessons.  It is the lesson of the importance of family.  That lesson is taught in the holiday themed episode, ‘A Family Tradition.’  Eliza and Debbie learn the importance and value of family when they are given the chance to return to the United States to spend Thanksgiving with their grandmother, Sophie (voiced by veteran actress Betty White—Hot in Cleveland, Golden Girls).  As is the tradition with holiday themed episodes of TV shows everything turns out well in the end.  Those that have yet to see this episode, will have to find out just how it all plays out when they pick up this new box set themselves or order it online at http://www.shoutfactorystore.com

Audiences will appreciate the lessons of cultural diversity just as much as the life lessons contained throughout each episode of Season Three.  One of the best examples of an episode that teaches this lesson is the episode, ‘Spirited Away.’  The Thornberrys travel to Mexico in this episode right as the people there are celebrating the famed Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead).  Viewers learn through this episode, the traditions of the Day of the Dead and of the Mexican people.  And of course, what Thornberrys episode would be complete without Debbie having to chase down Donnie yet again?  The continued antics of Donnie provide plenty of laughs for viewers, making each episode complete.  What’s more, this episode also offers a little bit of a kid friendly ghost story that will leave viewers more with a warm feeling than that of fear.  It’s one more episode out of so many this season that makes Season Three even more enjoyable for fans seeing this season for the first time and for the first time again.

As evidenced already, The Wild Thornberrys remains enjoyable this season thanks to the fact that it continues to do what made it successful all along.  This also includes the original animation style established from early in the show’s life.  The Wild Thornberrys was just one of many cartoons created by Klasky-Csupo.  And while it was just one of a handful of cartoons crafted by the company, its animation was only slightly similar to the studio’s other creations.  The studio’s art department managed to continue establishing the show’s identity through its animation in Season Three.  And as slight as it is, one can see that the animation has been honed a little bit more this season.  The outlines of the characters, animals, and general scenery are more defined.  It’s just slight enough to maintain the more rough style established from the show’s beginning.  It’s just one more factor that, along with the continued wise packaging of the set, makes Season Three even more worth adding to any fan’s DVD rack.  The Wild Thornberrys Season Three is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct via the Shout! Factory store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/?q=node/217077.

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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

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Shout! Factory, Nickelodeon “scare” up more fun with Aaahh!!! Real Monsters Season 2

Nickelodeon was one of the best networks on television during the 1990’s.  The very mention of the network’s name instantly led to discussions of its famed “Nicktoons” programming.  And if ever there was a leading company among the 90’s Nicktoons, it was Klasky Csupo.  The team of Arlene Klasky and Gabor Csupo were responsible for what was arguably the most legendary of the Nicktoons in Rugrats.  That beloved cartoon ran from 1991 – 2004.  But it was just one of many shows created by the pair.  they were also responsible for fellow Nicktoons, The Wild Thornberrys, Rocket Power, As Told By Ginger, and Aaahh!!! Real Monsters.

While Rocket Power, As Told By Ginger, and The Wild Thornberrys were relatively well received, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters received mixed reviews.  Chances are that’s because it wasn’t the happy, bright colored style cartoon that Klasky Csupo was known for in its other shows.  It could be argued that it appealed mainly to younger audiences in their goth phases.  But even this cartoon had its positives.  And its second season continued to prove that.  In Season Two, Krumm, Ickis, and Oblina learn about the dangers of spreading rumors and telling the truth.  There’s also a wonderful episode that argues how important monsters have been throughout human history.  Add in the classic animation style for which Klasky Csupo became known with its cartoons, and audiences get a great piece of nostalgia in Aaahh!!! Real Monsters Season 2.

Season Two opens with the episode, “Spontaneously Combustible.”  Young Ickis is having some stomach troubles.  He keeps breathing fire, and he doesn’t know why.  He goes to see the monster academy’s doctor to find out what’s wrong.  It turns out that other monsters have had the same problem, and that he simply has to give it about a week to let it pass.  Unbeknownst to him, Zimbo, the Gromble’s assistant (voiced by Tim Curry) is snooping around and hears the doctor tell Ickis about his problem.  Zimbo flies off and tells someone else, leading to rumors throughout the monster academy.  The Gromble catches wind of the rumors being spread around about Ickis.  So he uses class to reassure everyone that the rumors about Ickis are not true.  He tells the class that there have been some very important monsters who had Ickis’ problem.  After Ickis leaves, everybody feels bad and goes to look for him.  They do finally find him, and apologize for all the rumors, and ask him to forgive them.  He does, and all end up happy.  This one episode continues the tradition of Klasky Csupo’s Nicktoons having heart.  Sure, the show’s about monsters.  But it teaches young audiences about the dangers of spreading rumors, and the impact that spreading them can have.  It’s a wonderful way to kick off this two-disc set.

“Spontaneously Combustible” is a great way to start off Aaahh!!! Real Monsters Season Two.  It’s just one of a handful of enjoyable episodes in this season.  Another of that handful of enjoyable episodes is in “Rosh ‘O Monster.”  Krumm, Oblina, and Ickis learn the importance of not telling tall tales in this episode.  The P.O.V. storyline is nothing new to television.  But there’s something about this style of episode that regardless of which show, always makes for great television.  And this episode is no exception to that rule.  When the trio scare an entire opera house of humans, they all want to tell the story.  They all try at the same time, leading the viewfinder to break.  So each one tells the story of what happened from their own vantage point, making themselves out to be the leader.  However, when the viewfinder is fixed, the reality of their scare is much different from what any of the trio has told.  The reality is that the scare was completely by accident.  While they had set out to scare the humans, the original plan was obviously quite different than how everything turned out.  As a result of this relevation, the Gromble punishes all three for their dishonesty.  It’s a lesson that viewers both young and old should take to heart.

Aaahh!!! Real Monsters shows that it has heart in Season Two.  And it teaches life lessons.  But that isn’t all it shows.  It shows that it can also entertain while it teaches.  One of the episodes that best epitomizes that ability to entertain and teach is “History of The Monster World.”  Adults and kids alike will love this episode.  Much like Rosh O’ Monster, this episode isn’t the first of its kind.  But it’s always so funny to see history from a totally random and silly vantage point.  In this episode, the Gromble decides to teach his students a lesson on the history of the monster world.  The students all grumble at this.  It’s the same kind of reaction that human students get when they’re told they have to learn history.  And the Gromble’s reaction is similar to that of human teachers.  That’s only part of the joy of this episode.  The real meat and potatoes comes as the Gromble teaches the young monsters about the many contributions of monsters to the human world.  According to monster history, if not for monsters scaring early neanderthal man, the wheel would have never been invented.  Monsters, according to the lesson, were also responsible for the very first message ever transmitted by phone.  And allegedly, if not for monsters, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt would never have developed one of the most famed quotes of all time.  The quote in question was, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”  Who would have thought that a monster would really be to credit for the famed line?  It’s a great joke.  The entire episode offers such outlandish history that it’s one of the season’s best episodes.

The second season of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters boasts so much enjoyment from each episode.  But the episodes aren’t all that make the show such a joy.  The show’s animation is similar to other Klasky Csupo Nicktoons.  But it still stood on its own two feet stylistically speaking.  The animation style is closer to earlier Rugrats episodes than any other KC cartoon.  But it still manages to somehow establish its own identity, even with the similarity in style.  In an era when the majority of “cartoons” are cartoons in name only, seeing this classic hand drawn animation adds a whole extra level of enjoyment to what is already a classic cartoon in itself.  That enjoyment mixed with the enjoyment of the stories makes Aaahh!!! Real Monsters Season Two one more wonderful piece of television nostalgia for fans of Nickelodeon’s classic 90’s Nicktoons.

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