Shout! Kids’ Latest Pound Puppies Compilation Is Another Great Watch For The Whole Family

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

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

Shout! Kids released the latest collection of episodes from Hub’s award-winning series Pound Puppies this week.  The latest collection of episodes from this update on the original 1980s series is just as much a jewel as the series’ previous compilation DVDs.  The episodes included in this compilation make it so enjoyable first and foremost because of the episodes’ writing.  By connection, audiences will appreciate the subtle lessons taught through some of the episodes.  Intentional or not, there are some subtle lessons taught through some of this set’s episodes.  It makes the set all the richer.  And last but not least, viewers (especially parents) will appreciate this latest compilation is the list of guest appearances.  Some very big names lend their talents to Pound Puppies in this collection.  Whether it be the guest talent, the lessons, the writing or all three factors together, Pound Puppies: A Perfect Match proves to be another wonderful set of episodes for the whole family.

The writing behind this collection of episodes is the central point of impact for this DVD.  Those that are familiar with this incarnation of Pound Puppies and with the original series from the 1980s know that both series emulate the classic WWII-themed sitcom Hogan’s Heroes in their theme songs.  The new Pound Puppies has taken things to a higher level, actually giving Ace and his canine friends an underground base just like Col. Hogan and his Allied forces friends in Hogan’s Heroes.  As viewers will see in this set’s opening episode, the writers even emulate Hogan’s Heroes in terms of the writing, too.  In “The Yipper Caper”, viewers see McLeash bring in a giant dog feeding machine just to impress his superiors much like Col. Klink would do in Hogan’s Heroes.  Klink was always taking on some wild, hair-brained scheme to impress his higher-ups.  On the other side of things, audiences hear Ace tell Yipper that the Pound Puppies have homes outside the shelter, but they stay there to help others.  Audiences familiar with Hogan’s Heroes will again recognize quite the similarity there.  This writing is a wonderful homage to the golden era of television and takes things one step farther than the original Pound Puppies series.  That homage is just the tip of the iceberg in what makes the writing so fun in these episodes.  Just as impressive to note is the fact that the show’s writers are able to time and again find ways for the Pound Puppies to complete their missions without McLeash ever knowing.  This is the case throughout all five episodes, not just the opener.  Again, this is an homage to Hogan’s Heroes.  It’s one more way to potentially get young viewers started on the road to an appreciation for television’s Golden Era.  And for that, the show’s writers are more than deserving of their applause.

As one should be able to tell by now, the writing behind the episodes included in the latest Pound Puppies compilation DVD is key to the collection’s overall enjoyment.  Even older viewers will appreciate the writing thanks to its throwback to what is one of television’s greatest ever sitcoms.  Just as important to these episodes are the lessons taught through the episodes.  “Hello Kitten” teaches a not so subtle lesson about the ability of people to get along and be friends despite opposing backgrounds.  It does this by having the youngest of the pound puppies help a kitten find his perfect person.  There’s just one problem.  The Pound Puppies’ feline counterparts, led by a feline mirror image of Ace is set out to keep the young kitten from becoming friends with dogs and finding a person for the kitten themselves.  In the end, the cats learn that it’s okay to be friends with dogs.  The secondary lesson taught here is that one must let go of things from the past.  All holding onto the past does is make a person bitter.  “Beauty is only Fur Deep” teaches a lesson about being one’s self when a much talked about dog comes to Kennel 17.  The Pound Puppies have their hands…*ahem*…paws full when the seemingly humble dog turns quite self-centered on getting a new coat of fur.  It creates lots of problems for the Pound Puppies especially when he shoots down the little girl they said was his perfect person. He of course learns a rather valuable lesson from this experience that viewers of all ages will appreciate.

The lessons taught through the episodes culled for Pound Puppies: A Perfect Match and the general writing that pays homage to Hogan’s Heroes both make this latest compilation of episodes just as enjoyable as previous Pound Puppies DVDs. There is one more factor to consider in this DVD that makes its episodes so fun. That final factor is the list of guest stars that lent its talents to each episode. J.K. Simmons (Spiderman 1 3) and Tress MacNeille both share their talents in the episodes included in this DVD. Go figure, Simmons voices a character in “Working K-9 To 5” that is a newspaper man. Hmmmmm, now where have we seen that before? His character is even presented much in the same vein as J. Jonah Jameson from director Sam Raimi’s Spiderman Trilogy. MacNeille (The Simpsons, Futurama) voices a fellow canine in another episode. It’s only a bit part. But parents that know McNeille’s voice will love hearing her voice here, too. And of course, the true queen of comedy herself, Betty White, returns once more as the voice of McLeash’s not so nice mother. These are just some of the guests that appear in the episodes collected for this DVD. Also on board on these episodes are: Tara Strong (Rugrats, The Powerpuff Girls, The Fairly Odd Parents), E.G. Daily (Rugrats, The Powerpuff Girls, Chalk Zone), Diedrich Bader (Batman: The Brave & The Bold, Napoleon Dynamite, The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy), Danny Cooksey (Salute Your Shorts, Diff’rent Strokes, Tiny Toon Adventures) and so many others. The fact that so many well-known actors and actresses would lend their talents to these episodes shows just how respected a series it proves to be. Parents will recognize most (if not all) of the names mentioned here. And that alone is enough to give the DVD just one watch if not more. And it is most definitely deserving of far more than just one watch.

Pound Puppies: A Perfect Match is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered online direct from Shout! Factory’s online store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/product/pound-puppies-perfect-match. More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory and Shout! Kids 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.

Danny Phantom Complete Series Set Is Loads Of Ghostly Fun For All

Courtesy:  Nickelodeon/Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Nickelodeon/Shout! Factory

Nickelodeon’s programming today is comprised largely of live action sitcoms aimed at teen viewers.  However, from the early 1990s up until the mid-2000s, the network was known more for its vast array of cartoons.  It’s “Nicktoons” were its heart and soul.  While Nickelodeon does have some cartoons today, the network’s sole remaining real Nicktoon is Butch Hartman’s hugely successful series Fairly OddparentsFairly Oddparents is a standout series, too.  Interestingly enough, it isn’t his first series to have the honor of being added to Nickelodeon’s list of beloved Nicktoons.  His first notable “Nicktoon” was the short-lived supernatural series Danny Phantom.  Now thanks to Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon, fans of Danny Phantom will be able to own the complete series in one box later this month.  Danny Phantom only ran for three seasons.  In its defense, it could be argued that this was because it was ahead of its time.  That aside, series creator Butch Hartman and his writers crafted a number of enjoyable episodes throughout the show’s short run.  Just as worth noting about this new upcoming box set is that is alleviates some minor problems raised in the box sets containing the series’ second season.  Lastly, those that know their Nicktoons history will appreciate the voice talent that made up the series’ cast.  That who’s who of voice actors combined with the enjoyable stories, and the fact that they are all available together for the first time collectively make this upcoming set well worth picking up for any Danny Phantom fan.

Fans of Danny Phantom: The Complete Series  will appreciate this new complete series set first and foremost because it presents the series’ entire three-season run in one complete box set.  Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory have already released three complete series sets from Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, Rocko’s Modern Life, and The Angry Beavers.  Those sets proved to actually take up far less space on DVD racks than the stand-alone season sets that had originally been released.  This set is no different.  All nine discs that make up all three seasons are included in this box.  Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon have sweetened the deal even more for fans in that they have maintained the established wise packaging that was used in the aforementioned complete series sets.  The discs are placed inside the box on either side of their own “insert” with the ninth and final disc being placed in its own spot inside the back of the case.  As with the previously noted box sets, this protects the discs and allows the episodes contained within each one to be enjoyed much longer.  It is the starting point of what audiences will appreciate about Danny Phantom: The Complete Series.

The packaging for Danny Phantom: The Complete Series is a good starting point in discussing everything that makes this box set well worth its price.  The episodes contained across the set’s nine total discs make the presentation as a whole even more enjoyable.  It would be easy to say that because its main characters were high school students, Danny Phantom was just another program aimed at audiences of the same age. To a point, it could be seen how teen audiences would take an interest in the series.  Case in point, one of the series’ story arcs involved a potential inter-racial romance between Danny and black classmate named Valerie Gray (voiced by Cree Summer—The Cosby Show, Clifford The Big Red Dog, Codename: Kids Next Door, etc.).  It really is a sign of the times that the show’s writers would include this without making a big fuss over it, either.  It is a subtle, but nice addition to the series.  There are also the constant struggles to balance trying to be a regular teen with being a superhero. But the jokes that are tossed in each episode aren’t above some younger viewers, either.  So while teens might have been the primary audience, younger viewers would have obviously enjoyed the show, too.  The same applies to today’s teens and pre-teens, too.

The packaging and writing that make up Danny Phantom’s episodes are collectively a big part of what makes the series so enjoyable even for today’s younger audiences.  There is at least one more aspect of the series’ new set that audiences will appreciate in examining the presentation as a whole.  That aspect is the series’ voice cast.  The series’ primary cast reads like a who’s who of voice acting.  It has already been noted that veteran voice actress Cree Summer is part of the primary cast (even though she doesn’t come into play until the second season).  Along with Ms. Summer, Grey DeLisle (The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Clifford The Big Red Dog, Clifford: The Puppy Years, Fosters Home For Imaginary Friends, etc.) Kath Soucie (Futurama, Captain Planet and the Planeteers, Beauty and the Beast, etc.), Rob Paulsen (Animaniacs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, etc.) and a whole slate of others each play roles in the series.  Fans will also recognize the voices of Ron Perlman (Sons of Anarchy, Pacific Rim, Hellboy & Hellboy II), Martin Mull (Roseanne), and the man who is perhaps the busiest male voice actor in the business, one Frank Welker (Curious George, The Real Ghostbusters, Scooby-Doo Where Are You, etc.)  Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men), Taylor Lautner (the Twilight saga), and the late David Carradine even make appearances throughout the series among so many other big names.  If the massive list of A-listers that play roles in Danny Phantom isn’t reason enough to check out the new Danny Phantom: The Complete Series box set, then one need only set that alongside the enjoyable writing and the equally wise packaging to see just how worthwhile this set is for kids and kids at heart.  It will be available in stores and online Tuesday, January 28th.  It can be pre-ordered online now from the Shout! Factory store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/product/danny-phantom-complete-series.  More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory 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.

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.

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

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

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

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

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

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

New Box Set A Fitting Final Release For The Angry Beavers

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory have had a very successful partnership in recent years, releasing a handful of classic Nicktoons.  The two companies have partnered to release multiple seasons and complete seasons of The Wild Thornberrys, Aaahhh!!! Real Monsters, and Danny Phantom just to name a few.  Now the companies’ partnership has resulted in the release of another complete series in what is one of Nickelodeon’s key cartoons in The Angry Beavers: The Complete Series.

Next to Rocko’s Modern Life: The Complete Series, The Angry Beavers: The Complete Series is only the second complete series released by Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory among the Nicktoons releases put out to date.  For those that are perhaps new to this series, its run from 1997 – 2001 was a very pivotal point for the network.  That is because when this cartoon debuted, it was unlike any of the other Nicktoons still on the air at that point.  Whereas other shows such as Rocket Power, Rugrats, and Hey Arnold! bore a certain heart, The Angry Beavers was more akin to the likes of Cartoon Network’s What A Cartoon show.  That’s because of the all-out, zany story lines of each episode.  From Dagget becoming a forest ranger in Season One to dealing with their sisters and dad in Seasons Two, Three, and Four, the show’s stories are just good turn-off-your-brain entertainment.  This is just as true with every one of the show’s other episodes, too.  Each season’s episodes collectively marked the beginning of a new age of Nicktoons for Nickelodeon.  Of course, the stories were only part of the formula that made the Angry Beavers stand out among the Nicktoons of that time.

The zany storylines of this cartoon obviously garnered the show a solid audience in its run.  That’s evident as its four-season run was right on par with its predecessors and those that were on the air at the same time.  It’s not all that set the show apart from other Nicktoons, though.  The show’s animation also set it apart from other Nicktoons.  As with the story lines, its animation was also more akin to those cartoons that audiences would have seen on Cartoon Network’s What a Cartoon Show.  That factor partnered with the completely off the wall story lines leaves little doubt as to why the show was as successful as it was.  Now that the complete series has been released to DVD box set, there is at least one last factor that helps to make this show a favorite among its fans once more.  That factor is something that has set Shout! Factory apart from other companies from early on.  It is the set’s packaging.

Now that The Angry Beavers: The Complete Series has been released, fans of this standout Nicktoon can finally re-live another part of their childhoods in proper fashion.  That’s because all four seasons of the show have been collected in a single, properly packaged box.  All sixty-two episodes have been culled on ten discs and presented exactly as they were presented in their original stand-alone boxes.  The set’s first and final discs both have their own spaces on the inside front and rear of the box.  All of the set’s other discs each have their own spot on the plastic inserts that have helped conserve space on other releases from Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon.  Those same inserts have also served to protect the discs from being scratched.  This, in turn, allows each episode to be enjoyed for far longer than had they been packaged in older, less ergonomic packaging that other companies use.  So it is one more feather in the cap of both Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon.  The complete series set will be available Tuesday, July 30th in store and online.  Fans can order the set online direct from the Shout! Factory store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/?q=node/217521.  Fans that order the box set through this site will also have a chance to receive a free 12” x 18” Angry Beavers lithograph.  Only 200 lithographs were printed.  So they are in extremely limited quantity.  It’s first come first serve.

To keep up with all of the latest releases from Shout! Factory, fans can “Like” the official Shout! Factory Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial or check in daily at the official Shout! Factory website, http://www.shoutfactory.com.  Fans that want to see other Nicktoons such as Rugrats and Doug get a proper release can go to the Shout! Factory Facebook page and bombard the company with messages in favor of getting those most classic of Nicktoons released properly, too.  After doing that, fans can go to the Phil’s Picks Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/philspicks, and “Like” it to keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news.  Fans can also keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Taz-Mania Season One Volume One Another Welcome Unearthing From Warner Home Video

Courtesy:  Warner Home Video

Courtesy: Warner Home Video

Warner Brothers has largely started off 2013 in successful fashion.  Its only major missteps so far this year have been its DVD and Blu-ray release of Hats Off to Dr. Seuss and Tiny Toon Adventures Volume 4.  Save for those two problematic releases, Warner Home Video has largely seen more success through the first two quarters of the year.  Now Warner Home Video has started off its new quarter by catching its footing in the first half of Taz-Mania Season One. Taz-Mania Season One Volume One is one of many candidates for the best children’s DVDs and Blu-rays of 2013.  That’s because unlike the company’s previous missteps, this release gets almost everything right.  The only downside to this set is something that has plagued many of its releases so far this year.  And that will be discussed later.

Taz-Mania Season One Volume One is a welcome release from Warner Home Video.  This relic of a bygone era is one more example of everything that made not only children’s programming great, but also television in general.  As audiences will see in Season 1.0, Taz-Mania made both children’s programming and television in general so great because unlike the cartoons that pollute television’s channel lineups today, it’s a cartoon that even today families can watch together.  That’s thanks first and foremost to the show’s writing.  The show’s writing is witty and clever.  It’s taut enough that adults won’t feel like they’re being dumbed down.  At the same time, it offers just enough comedy for even today’s younger viewers to find themselves laughing.  The constant fights between Taz and Molly are something to which both adults and kids alike can relate, and thus at which adults and kids alike can laugh.  And Taz’s constant adventures with his fellow characters are just as enjoyable.  Viewers of every age will love watching Taz go diving for undersea treasure with Digeri Dingo, facing off against Francis X. Bushlad, and even taking on a part-time job in hopes of getting his own motorcycle.  There’s even a heartfelt story telling how Taz first got his pet, Dog the turtle.  If it doesn’t pull at a viewer’s heartstrings, nothing will.  There is so much more that audiences will enjoy from this first half of Season One.  This is just a taste of what kids and kids at heart can expect from this set.

The witty, clever writing of Taz-Mania makes it a great addition to any Looney Tunes fan’s library regardless of whether one is seeing it for the first time or for the first time again.  It’s just one part of the show’s success.  The animation style is another plus to this modern classic cartoon.  So many of today’s “cartoons” are cartoons in the loosest sense possible; those that are at all.  For the most part, most of today’s kids programming is dominated by CGI created shows and live action fodder for tweens and teens.  Those rare hand-drawn cartoons that are left have been spit-shined.  Taz-Mania is the exact opposite.  Its more “rough” animation style is a throwback to the classic days of animation.  It doesn’t have the finely defined borders and background designs of so many of today’s cartoons.  It really serves to help Taz-Mania develop its own identity, even among other cartoons from its era.  In its own right, one could even argue that Taz-Mania’s animation style is a direct throwback to the golden era of Looney Tunes.  That makes this double-disc set even more worth watching regardless of one’s age.

The writing and animation in the first half of Taz-Mania’s debut season are both big factors in the show’s success.  There is at least one more factor to consider in determining whether Warner Home Video’s people have succeeded with this latest release.  That factor is the double-disc set’s packaging.  The packaging is by and large, a success.  It follows the same formula that has become the norm for multi-disc box sets.  Both of the set’s discs are placed on their own spot inside the standard size DVD case.  As with any other set packaged in this fashion, it protects the discs from scratching and in turn, increases their longevity.  The discs themselves are the only real downside to the entire set.  Anyone that has picked up any previously released sets from WHV this year will notice that the people at WHV have not put a whole lot of thought into appeal on the discs.  Sure, there are designs on both discs.  But both discs are splashed in a single, flat tone.  It would have been nice to see a full color design rather than something that looks like someone took a paint brush and ran it right over a bunch of clear designs.  This is a minor issue.  But it still plays a part in the overall picture.  This might be as simple as a cost-cutting measure.  If so, it’s understandable.  Otherwise, this is something that the people at WHV will hopefully fix with any of its upcoming release. The double-disc set is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct online from the WB shop at http://www.wbshop.com/product/tazmania+taz+on+the+loose+season+1+part+1+1000303587.do?sortby=bestSellers&from=Search.

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.

Hey Arnold! Has As Much Fun And Heart As Ever In Its Fourth Season

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Hey Arnold! was and is one of the greatest shows that Nickelodeon has ever aired.  It was also one of the best of the best of the network’s “Nicktoons” programming block.  Now with only two real “Nicktoons” left—Spongebob Squarepants and Fairly Oddparents—the release of this classic Nicktoon’s previous three seasons is more welcome than ever.  Fans have been able to pick up the show’s previous trio of seasons thanks to both Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory.  Now next Tuesday, fans will be able to pick up the fourth season of Hey Arnold!  Whether one already owns the previously released seasons or not, Season Four is one more welcome addition to any classic Nicktoons Nostalgic’s home library.  This critic should probably copyright that term, huh?

Hey Arnold! lasted as long as it did in its original television run because its writers were so capable at balancing its family friendly comic elements with warmer, more heartfelt elements without getting too emotional.  Audiences get even more of that in what would eventually become the penultimate season of this standout cartoon.  This is exemplified early on in the episode, “Oskar Can’t Read?”  “Oskar Can’t Read?” stands out this season as it actually tackles the issue of adult illiteracy.  Mr. Kokoshka is typically seen as a lazy mooch who refuses to do anything to help himself.  But when it’s discovered that he can’t read, Oskar actually sets out to prove that he will do whatever it takes to be able to read because he is genuinely embarrassed about his inability to read.  Adult illiteracy is one of those topics that is rarely discussed, but crosses generations.  So even now years after this episode originally aired, it remains just as moving and entertaining today as it was in its original airing.  That the show’s writers would tackle the subject at all is one more part of what makes this series and Season Four so enjoyable.

For all the seriousness of “Oskar Can’t Read?”, Hey Arnold! Season Four offers its own share of more comical, easygoing stories, too.  Among the best of that crop is “Synchronized Swimming.”  This episode is centered on the classic battle of the sexes.  Coach Wittenberg (voiced by James Belushi—The World According To Jim) is at it again with his wife.  This time the couple is disagreeing on whether boys can participate in the artistic aquatic event.  This was not Belushi’s first appearance as Coach Wittenberg.  And he was just as funny as ever this time out.  Coach Wittenberg’s wife Tish is just as funny being that she is so much like him.  Just like Jack (Coach Wittenberg), she can’t properly pronounce Synchronized Swimming.  There’s just something funny about this and the couple’s constant competitiveness.  The process of Arnold and his friends training to be a synchronized swimming team is just as funny.  The end result turns the battle of the sexes on its ear in a way that will leave any viewer laughing and smiling. It’s just one more episode that makes Hey Arnold! Season Four so enjoyable. 

Hey Arnold! Season Four offers a solid balance of laughs and more serious matters over the course of its two discs, as one can tell through the episodes already noted here.  There is at least one more episode that exemplifies that balance in this season.  It’s an episode that pays tribute to America’s men and women in uniform.  The episode in question is simply titled, “Veterans Day.”  In “Veterans Day” Arnold and Gerald are taken to a big Veterans Day ceremony by Arnold’s grandpa, Phil.  Martin, Gerald’s father, comes along, having served in Vietnam.  Martin makes a statement that still rings true to this day, as sad as it is.  He notes that people see it less as a chance to honor those that served as more as just an excuse for another day off.  He adds how few people actually attend ceremonies honoring veterans.  Save for parades, there is a certain amount of truth to this statement even to this day.  Along the way to the veterans’ ceremony, both Phil and Martin share their stories with Arnold and Gerald, hoping to impart some knowledge to the boys.  That goal is achieved, as both young men learn some very valuable lessons about honoring those that served, especially as their numbers grow older and fewer.  Yet again, the writers behind Hey Arnold! have taken a very weighty topic and put it into a format that young audiences will understand and hopefully appreciate to this day, and that audiences that originally watched it as kids will appreciate even more as adults.  This and the previously mentioned episodes comprise just one more sample of what continues to make Hey Arnold! the timeless show that it is.  Of course, there are plenty of other episodes for audiences to enjoy over and over again.  Some of the best of the rest include: “Eugene’s Birthday”, the Halloween themed episode, “Headless Cabbie”, and the season finale, “Dino Checks Out.”  In all, audiences will have their own favorite of the season’s seventeen total episodes. And there is definitely plenty from which to choose.  Audiences will get to see their favorites over and over again when the double-disc set hits stores and online outlets Tuesday, May 14th.  It can be ordered online direct via the Shout! Factory store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/?q=node/217311

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

New Iron Man DVD A Solid Season Closer, Lead-In To Iron Man 3 Movie

Courtesy:  Marvel Animation

Courtesy: Marvel Animation

Marvel Animation releases the latest in its “animated” series, Iron Man: Armored Adventures next Tuesday, April 23rdIron Man: Armored Adventures Season 2 Volume 4 follows the continuing journey of the teenage Tony Stark and his friends as they face the forces of evil.  This time out, Tony finally discovers that his father is actually alive only to have to save his life again.  Also in this finale to the show’s second season, Iron Man and his friends also have to face off against the evil Dr. Doom, and Pepper Potts even gets her own suit of armor.  And what action series would be complete without an alien invasion?  The season closes out with an epic battle against the Makluans.  All of this and more spans eight episodes in one more disc that finishes off the second season of Iron Man: Armored Adventures.  The show’s cg-based “animation” continues to stand out from the rest of the crop of CG-based kids’ shows, continuing to help maintain its identity.  This is especially the case considering that the recent Hot Wheels animated series and Stormhawks have gone by the wayside.  Both of those shows used very similar cg based animation.  Together with the packaging and the action packed episodes, audiences get another set of episodes that makes for a nice lead-in to the upcoming theatrical debut of Iron Man 3.

Iron Man Armored:  Adventures Season 2 Vol. 4 succeeds as a continuation of the season’s previous volumes and as a lead in to the upcoming theatrical release of Iron Man 3 thanks to its writing.  This final portion of Season Two leads up to an epic faceoff with the Makluans.  The faceoff in question is a result of actions by the teenage Mandarin in his search for the tenth ring.  Viewers get an origin story not of just The Mandarin, but also of the rings.  According to the legend presented here, the rings are actual alien in descent, and were used by an evil alien warlord to enslave other alien beings.  In the process of everything, Pepper plays a role and is introduced as “Rescue” having gotten her own armor in the buildup to the battle with the Makluan.  Keeping this in mind, the writing of the episodes included in this set, and the timing of its release will really help to build hype for the latest upcoming big screen feature.  All involved with the series and its release are definitely to be commended for all of this.

The writing and the timing of this set’s release make it a success.  This goes without saying.  Its form of CG-based “animation” adds to its success.  There have been few modern “animated shows” that have used and use the form of CG-based art that this show uses.  Two that come to mind immediately are: Stormhawks and Hot Wheels battle Force 5.  Both shows have gone by the wayside.  By comparison, the current success level of Marvel’s properties would seem to suggest that this program still has some life left in itself.  And if that truly is the case, then fans can expect even more adventures from Tony, Pepper and Roady set against this largely unique CG-based animation style art.  Until then, fans can check out all the adventures from this final quarter of the show’s second season when it hits stores next Tuesday alongside, Iron Man: Armored Adventures: The Complete Season 2.  And for all things Iron Man and Marvel, fans can get all the latest when they “Like” Marvel on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Marvel or check in at the official Marvel website at http://www.marvel.com.

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.

Rocko’s Modern Life Series Box Set Is A Modern Hit

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon have completed the course for one of the best of the network’s original Nicktoons.  On Tuesday, February 26th, the two companies will release Rocko’s Modern Life: The Complete Series on DVD.  The set contains all four of the show’s seasons in their entirety on eight discs.  This set is a must for any true hardcore Nicktoons Nostalgic.  It is without a doubt one of the best box sets of 2013 all the way around.  From its packaging to its episodes and even the new original artwork by series creator Joe Murray, this brand new upcoming set is everything for which fans of Rocko’s Modern Life have waited for so long.

Rocko’s Modern Life: The Complete Series is a winner from the very moment that it’s picked up in store or ordered online.  Shout! Factory has shown once more why it continues to be the leader in releasing box sets with this set’s packaging.  Rather than place the series into a large, bulky box set, all eight discs are placed onto opposing sides of four separate inserts.  Placing the discs in such fashion gives each disc its own backing, thus helping to increase its longevity.  Adding to the longevity factor is a small “lip” placed at the top and bottom of each insert.  The “lip” allows for each disc to be smoothly removed and replaced safely.  And being on separate inserts, audiences can flip through each insert effortlessly to get to the disc that they want to watch.  Being that the set includes eight discs, the box overall is a little larger than the standard double disc.  But in comparison to the size of other multi-disc boxes still being released today, the overall packaging is still a space saver for any Nicktoons Nostalgic’s DVD rack.

The packaging of this new upcoming box set is a major positive. The episodes are just as much a positive.  As already noted, all four original seasons of this modern classic are contained in this box set in their entirety.  And the transfers to DVD are highly impressive.  The quality of each episode’s footage has been fully maintained.  What’s more, now that the show’s original audiences are all grown up, the show’s episodes will present even more enjoyment as they will get many of the jokes presented.  They’re like a fine wine, for lack of better comparison.  They’re that much more of a joy now that the original audiences can look back on them with a whole different take on them.  And making them even better, those same audiences can now share these laugh riot episodes with their own children, thus preserving the legacy of this outrageous cartoon for a whole new generation of fans. 

In relation to the jokes and the quality of the footage contained on these discs, the original hand drawn animation simply cannot be ignored here.  This has already been noted with the previously released first three seasons of Rocko’s Modern Life.  Having all four seasons together now, audiences can really see how the hand drawn animation served to give this cartoon its own original identity.  This was really a landmark of cartoons during the 1990s.  It’s something that has by and large been lost in the Twenty-first century.  Given, there are still hand drawn cartoons out there.  But for the most part, this generation’s cartoons are created via computer.  It makes them sterile and unoriginal.  In comparison, this show’s animation serves as a reminder of everything that once made cartoons great, and hopefully will again one day both for the show’s original viewers and today’s younger audiences.

Staying on the same vein of hand drawn animation, fans that pick up this new set will even be presented with brand new hand drawn animation both inside and outside the set.  The new box art was drawn by series creator Joe Murray.  It adds that much more vintage feel to the set, thus making it that much more special and a must have for the show’s original viewers.  This new eight-disc set will be available in stores and online Tuesday, February 26th.  To sweeten the deal for fans, the first 200 who order their copies of this new box set at Shout! Factory’s online store at http://www.shoutfactory.com will receive an 18” x 24” autographed lithograph of an all new original illustration from Joe Murray himself.  Fans can pre-order the set online at http://www.shoutfactory.com/?q=node/216544.

To keep up with all 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.