The Magic School Bus Box Set Will “Rev Up” Viewers Of All Ages

Courtesy:  Scholastic/New Video Group/New Kideo

Courtesy: Scholastic/New Video Group/New Kideo

The history of television is rife with programs that most audiences will agree are timeless.  Among some of the most well known are the likes of: The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle & Friends, Looney Tunes, and The Flintstones just to name a few.  These classics have transcended generations and gone on to become family favorites decades after they ended their runs.  Now in the twenty-first century, a whole new crop of cartoons has gone on to be added to that list.  Among the newer cartoons deserving of the title of “timeless” are most of Nickelodeon’s modern classic Nicktoons from the 1990s and the focus of today’s review, Scholastic’s The Magic School BusThe Magic School Bus has been broadcast on a number of networks.  It has run on PBS, TLC, and most recently, Qubo.  It would seem that Qubo has dropped the classic cartoon though, sadly.  Thankfully, Scholastic has teamed up with New Video and New Kideo in the past year or so to release this modern classic on DVD for both its original audiences and a whole new generation of young fans.  The companies have already put out a number of compilations containing episodes from the justifiably timeless show including the complete fifty-two episode collection. Most recently, the single-disc compilation, The Magic School Bus: In A Pickle was released alongside another new triple-disc collection, The Magic School Bus: Revving Up.  The prior of the two new compilations is impressive in its own right.  The latter of the pair offers just as much enjoyment as the prior, if not more.

The Magic School Bus: Revving Up takes twelve more of the original series’ fifty-two episodes and compiles them for this collection.  The twelve episodes culled for this set are each spread across three more sing-disc compilations within the larger box.  And just as The Magic School Bus: In A Pickle does, the episodes contained on each disc of The Magic School Bus: Revving Up follow a given theme.  The first of the compilations within the box is The Magic School Bus: Under Construction.  This compilation contains the title episode of the larger box.  The kids have to save the Magic School Bus in this episode as it’s in danger of being condemned by their school district’s Vehicle Maintenance Inspector, Junkett.  Get it?  Junkett? Junk It?  Ba-dump-bump-bump.  The late Sherman Hemsely (The Jeffersons, All in The Family, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) voiced the character of Inspector Junkett.  Junkett wants to condemn the bus because he claims it has so many problems.  So it’s up to the kids to find out what’s making the bus sick and in turn save it from being condemned.  It’s one more fun filled episode that parents and kids alike will love watching again and again.  And as with every episode of this modern classic series, it’s another great tool for kids to learn at home or in the classroom. 

The title episode from the new triple-disc set, The Magic School Bus: Revving Up is a joy for parents, teachers and students.  The same can be said of its companion episodes in this first of the set’s discs.  All four episodes on this disc take a look at the different ways in which technology works.  There’s a lesson on how computers work, and even one on construction technology that is just as relevant today as it was in its original broadcast.  These episodes are just part of the whole that makes this set so enjoyable.  Also included across the three-disc set are episodes that teach about how electricity works, and about animals and their habitats.  Whether one is a parent, teacher, or youth, every one of these episodes will entertain viewers of every age.

All twelve episodes culled for this latest multi-disc set are enjoyable in their own way.  They are so enjoyable thanks to the show’s writing staff.  Each episode contained here maintains the standard established in prior collections of simple writing.  The episodes’ writing is simple, but it doesn’t leave viewers feel like they are being talked down to (including adults).  It makes viewers feel like they’re actually watching Ms. Frizzle’s class learning each lesson rather than themselves.  At the same time, they know that they too are learning a lesson without the educational aspect being too overt.  It’s one more of so many positives that can be discussed.  To point out all the positives would take far too much time and too much time.  So suffice it to say that the writing, along with the animation and lessons in general make this latest compilation of episodes one more must in the living room or the classroom.  It is available now in stores and online.  Parents and teachers can order it online via the New Kideo website, http://www.newkideo.com.  And to keep up with all of the latest releases from Scholastic and New Kideo, parents and teachers can go online to the New Kideo website or the official Scholastic website, http://www.scholastic.com or each company’s Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/NewKideo and http://www.facebook.com/Scholastic.     

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Fans Will Delight At New Digimon DVD Boxes

Courtesy:  New Video Group/Flat Iron Film Company

Courtesy: New Video Group/Flat Iron Film Company

Saban’s Digimon: Digital Monsters is one of the biggest hits among anime fans since the original Pokemon series.  It’s been roughly a year since the first half of Digimon’s first season was released.  Now fans of this show finally get the second half of season one in a complete eighteen episode, three-disc set.  The second half of Season One sees the “Digidestined” as they were called through many more battles and more dimensions.  At one point they have to fight to get out of the digital world when it’s blocked by an evil digimonster.  Also revealed in season two is the revelation of a hidden eighth “digidestined.”  That fans had to wait roughly a year for the continuation of season one makes it that much more worthwhile for true hardcore fans, even with only the American version being included.

The continued story in Volume two is just one part of what makes this set impressive for real fans of the anime genre and of Digimon.  The bright, vivid colors help to keep viewers’ attention.  There are those who might discount something as simple as coloring.  But the reality is that something as simple as colors can play a very pivotal role in keeping audiences engaged.  It’s purely a psychological issue.  Had the digital world been full of dark colors, then that would have created a foreboding feeling, and thus giving the characters’ journey a whole different meaning.  And it would have given audiences a whole different feeling in watching the show, too.  It makes the show less “scary” for lack of better wording, and thus more suitable for viewers of all ages.

Digimon Season 2Just as season one ends, fans of this hit anime have even more reason to celebrate as New Video Group and Saban have released the Complete Season two alongside Season One: Vol. Two.  Season Two picks up four years after the end of Season One.  Audiences get a whole new team of “Digidestined.”  There’s also a new threat in the digital world for this new group.  The writing is just as impressive for audiences as the animation.  It manages to live up to the expectations built from the show’s debut season, which would explain why the show went on for another three seasons after this one.

Season two comes in a full fifty episode, eight-disc set.  Among those fifty episodes is a handful that was banned from U.S. television following the events of September 11th, 2001.  That included the show’s landmark 100th episode, ‘Duel of the WarGreymon.’  That episode is here, as is the holiday themed episode, ‘A Very Digi-Christmas.’  Fans of the show will appreciate that those episodes previously banned from U.S. TV are included in this set.  Also to be appreciated just as with Season One Vol. Two is the set’s packaging.  Even with eight discs, those responsible for assembling it could have gone the old route with multi-disc packaging.  Instead, all eight discs are placed on either side of their own plastic insert.  This protects each disc, and preserves space on one’s DVD and/or Blu-ray rack.  New Video Group and Flat Iron could have easily gone another route and placed the discs one on top of another as other companies do.  The company could also have gone the slim package route in which discs are placed partially on top of each other.  Neither of these packaging fashions makes much sense.  Luckily for fans, New Video Group and Flat Iron went neither route.  The companies went the much smarter route, thus making one more reason for fans of this modern classic anime cartoon to be happy.  The same applies with its companion, Season One Vol. Two.  Together, the packaging, animation and writing make both Season Two and Season One Part Two of Digimon good companions for one another and equally good sets for any hardcore fan of this modern anime classic.

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Scholastic’s Latest Collection Is A True Treasure

Courtesy:  New Video Group/Scholastic

Courtesy: New Video Group/Scholastic

The latest installment in Scholastic’s Storybook Treasures series is another enjoyable collection of stories for kids and kids at heart.  The new fourth volume offers kids and parents twelve more short stories with loads of educational lessons and morals.  The new triple disc set opens with its best story, Robot Zot.  It’s just one of the many fun stories included in this set.  Audiences will also enjoy the entertaining and important story, Too Many Toys.  The set’s final disc provides parents and kids alike with a story that provides a very important message without being too preachy.  While it provides an important message, it also entertains just like the set’ other stories.  And a big reason for the entertainment isn’t so much just the story, but also the animation style, just as with the set’s other stories.  Together, they make for one more collection that any parent and child will love watching together any time.

The very first of the stories presented in the new Storybook Treasures is the fun rhyming story, Robot Zot.   Writer/illustrator David Shannon discusses the story in the interview included on disc one.  Parents will appreciate this story more in watching his interview.  He explains how he grew up a fan of classic sci-fi, and that that had an obvious influence on his enjoyment in helping bring this story to life both on the page and in screen.  Kids on the other hand will enjoy simply hearing it read aloud and watching the story’s illustrations as the story moves along.  Both parents and kids will enjoy seeing Robot Zot turn from wanna-be planet conqueror to hero.  The lesson about bravery and the original hand drawn animation style adds even more to the overall enjoyment of this story.  It comes together to understandably make for one of the best shorts of this new set.

David Shannon’s work on Robot Zot does a lot to make that story so fun.  He also provided much of the material for another of the set’s fun shorts.  The short in question is from another of Shannon’s books, titled, Too Many ToysToo Many Toys is an original story about a little boy named Spencer who has too many toys.  So his mom tells him that she’s going to start getting rid of them.  Shannon explains in the interview included with this story about how it was influenced by real life events on his part and to which any parent could relate.  What he has to say will have any parent laughing and agreeing with him.  Both parents and kids will enjoy the actual story.  Parents will appreciate the reality of the story and its original animation. Kids will love it for the narration by Jerry Trainor (iCarly, Drake & Josh).  Of course it’s total “coincidence” that Trainor also played a character named Spencer in iCarly.  The end result will have both kids and their parents laughing, making for yet another enjoyable story from this new set.

Scholastic’s new Storybook Treasures collection offers viewers loads of laughs with its stories. It also provides a very important lesson in one of its stories.  That story is Curious Garden, written by Peter Brown.  Just as with the previous stories, this one also includes an interview with its author.  Brown explains that his story actually came from a real life experience much like what is presented in the story.  Even more interesting is the irony of how the buildings in the story ended up with so much greenery.  This is an oft discussed topic in the business world because of its supposed ability to lower heating and cooling costs.  Brown notes in his interview that his view was the show how much better a community was with gardens everywhere.  There was no mention of economics.  But it is there.  For that subtlety and for the generally positive story about leading by example, Curious Garden proves to be one more impressive inclusion in Scholastic’s newest Storybook Collection.  Scholastic’s Storybook Treasures:  My First Collection Volume Four is available now.  It can be ordered online at http://www.newkideo.com/scholastic/my-first-scholastic-storybook-treasures-vol-4-featuring-robot-zot/.

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