Nickelodeon, Shout! Factory Finishing Off Another Classic Nicktoon Next Month

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon established a partnership only a few years ago that has seen some of the network’s greatest classic series, called Nicktoons, get full, proper releases. Almost all of those classic Nicktoons has seen releases in separate seasons and complete series box sets. Now what is one of the last of those series sets will be released next month in the form of CatDog: The Complete Series.

CatDog: The Complete Series will be released on DVD Tuesday, October 14th. The series’ complete four-season, sixty-eight episode run will be released in one complete multi-disc set. It will retail for MSRP of $29.93. After this release, the only full series sets that are left to be released under the companies’ current partnership are The Wild Thornberrys: The Complete Series and Hey Dude: The Complete Series. Audiences can keep up with the latest on all of these releases online at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: 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.

Buddy’s Halloween Adventure Offers Plenty Of Family Friendly Frights And More

 

Courtesy: PBS Kids/PBS/The Jim Henson Company

Courtesy: PBS Kids/PBS/The Jim Henson Company

PBS Kids’ new Dinosaur Train DVD Dinosaur Train: Buddy’s Halloween Adventure is yet another wonderful addition to any child’s Halloween party this year.  The DVD, which is just the latest of the series’ compilations to be released this year, offers plenty of enjoyment for viewers of all ages.  The first and most important aspect in the enjoyment of this collection of episodes is the writing behind each of its episodes.  The series’ writers have expertly balanced the series’ educational content with its more entertaining side once again in this collection.  Another reason that families will enjoy this new DVD is its animation.  Because the shorts included in this collection take place in fall settings, the colors seem even more vivid than in previously released Dinosaur Train DVDs.  Last but not least of all worth noting is the inclusion once again of more activities and coloring pages for the whole family to enjoy together as bonus material.  All three factors are impressive in their own right.  Collectively, they make Dinosaur Train: Buddy’s Halloween Adventure a great addition to any family’s Halloween festivities this year.

The main point of success in Dinosaur TrainBuddy’s Halloween Adventure is its writing.  Once again, the series’ writers have balanced expertly the series’ educational side with its more entertaining side. Included in this collection of episodes are two fall-themed episodes and a pair of Halloween-themed episodes.  The Halloween-themed episodes are totally family friendly.  Parents especially will enjoy seeing the Pteranodon kids go to the *ooohhhh* haunted roundhouse where the Dinosaur Train is kept.  That’s because the party going on in the roundhouse includes lots of activities that are universal and timeless.  There are decorations of course.  There are also little things like having guests reach into a large pot for some creature’s eyes, etc.  Of course it isn’t that, as the conductor assures the kids.  Along the way, the kids meet a new nocturnal friend and learn more about nocturnal creatures.  The kids also learn about nocturnal creatures in the DVD’s opening episode “Night Train.”  Neither episode is too scary for younger audiences. And both episodes offer plenty of interesting educational content, too.  “Fossil Fred” and “Big Pond Pumpkin” are both welcome additions to the DVD, too.  Both episodes are specifically fall-themed episodes in which the kids learn about more kinds of dinosaurs.  All the while, the episodes get young viewers into a fall mindset, getting them excited about the change in the weather and going out to pick pumpkins, etc. That balance of education is just as prevalent in these shorts as in the previous pair mentioned.  And together, all four shorts make for plenty of family friendly viewing as Halloween gets near.  For that matter, all four episodes are just as great a choice for any family’s kid friendly Halloween party.

The writing behind the shorts included on PBS Kids’ new Dinosaur Train do more than their own share in terms of making the DVD a welcome addition to any family’s Halloween festivities this year.  Not to be ignored in this collection is the “animation” of each episode.  While the animation is the same, what stands out in terms of that animation is the use of color in each short.  Those familiar with Dinosaur Train know that while some of the series’ episodes take place at night, those episodes are far outnumbered by the episodes that take place in the daytime.  So seeing episodes that take place at sunset and even in the dark is something somewhat different than other episodes.  The show’s animators obviously went to great lengths to make the colors match the episodes’ settings.  And that work paid off, too.  Little things like the way the sunlight and moonlight work against the characters and the backdrops make the scenes so rich visually.  Even little things like the pumpkins in “Big Pond Pumpkin” were given their own special detail and coloring. The use of color against the light and dark in “Night Train” is another good example of that work.  It shows that the animators didn’t just toss something together and call it done.  They really wanted to give the shorts a feel that was as realistic as possible in terms of its visual effects.  That goal was accomplished quite well.  It proves in the end to be one more prime reason that viewers of all ages will enjoy this new release from PBS Kids and The Jim Henson Company.

The writing in each of the episodes on this DVD offers plenty of enjoyment for viewers of all ages, just as with every previous Dinosaur Train DVD. The animation stands out even more than ever here because the episodes take place largely at night at dusk.  While nighttime episodes of Dinosaur Train aren’t completely unheard of, they are far less prevalent than the regular daytime episodes.  It’s something minor.  But it is important nonetheless to the overall presentation’s enjoyment.  Last but not least of all that makes this DVD another hit for every family is its bonus material.  Included as bonus material on this DVD, is a great lesson from the episode “Dinosaurs A to Z.”  Parents can print out a chart with the names of the dinosaurs introduced on “Dinosaurs A to Z” in this activity and use it in conjunction with a group of index cards also containing the names of said dinosaurs on one side and letters of the alphabet on the other.  It is a dual lesson of sorts that makes the overall viewing experience even more enjoyable for the while family.  There are also printable coloring pages for the kids.  These bonuses collectively serve as one more positive factor to the overall presentation that is Dinosaur Train: Buddy’s Halloween Adventure.  Together with the episodes’ writing and their animation, audiences of all ages get one more wonderfully enjoyable addition to any family’s Halloween party and DVD collection in general.

Dinosaur Train: Buddy’s Halloween Adventure offers plenty of enjoyment for viewers of all ages.  It is a great tool for any parent looking to give kids a safe and fun Halloween memory this year.  The episodes themselves offer plenty of kid friendly frights and fun.  They also offer wonderfully crafted animation that is rarely seen from other episodes of Dinosaur Train.  And the bonuses offer their own entertaining and educational content for kids and parents alike.  Each factor plays its own part in the overall success and enjoyment of this DVD.  Together, they make it even more proof of why Dinosaur Train remains one of PBS Kids’ most beloved series and why any family will welcome this DVD whether on Halloween or any other time of the year.  It is available now on DVD and can be ordered online now direct from the PBS online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=42447476&cp=&kw=dinosaur+train+buddys+halloween+adventure&origkw=Dinosaur+Train+Buddy%27s+Halloween+Adventure&sr=1.  Kids and parents can check out even more episodes of Dinosaur Train and play Dinosaur Train games online now at http://pbs.org/dinosaurtrain.  Families can also keep up with the latest Dinosaur Train updates online via Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/DinosaurTrain.  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.

Say Hello To Shalom Sesame Again This Fall

Courtesy:  SISU Home Entertainment

Courtesy: SISU Home Entertainment

SISU Home Entertainment will re-issue the Sesame Street series Shalom Sesame next month.

The twelve-episode series is spread across six discs with two episodes on each disc, all of which chronologically follow the Jewish calendar. It all starts with an introduction to Israel and Hebrew. From there, viewers are taken on a trip through the various important dates on the Jewish calendar with the whole thing culminating in a trip taken by beloved Sesame Street resident Grover and guest star Annelies van der Pol (That’s So Raven, Broadway’s Beauty and the Beast). Throughout the trip, the duo highlights the importance and richness of the Jewish culture and its associated traditions. Each half-hour episode pulls from those traditions and culture in general to teach young American audiences about the Jewish community. The episodes include lessons on Hebrew letters and words, unique sites in Israel, and Jewish values.

It was originally released on DVD October 11th, 2011. The new upcoming re-issue will see the series contained in a thin pack gift box, which will retail for MSRP of $99.95. It will include a free bonus DVD that features two episodes from the classic Shalom Sesame series—“Jerusalem” and “People of Israel.” Also included in this upcoming re-issue is a free 30-day trial of download of the program “Welcome to Israel.” That program is the first episode from the original Shalom Sesame series. It is currently available online at http://www.sisudigital.com.

Along with the main series and its bonus DVD, Shalom Sesame also includes a number of bonus features. There is a trailer for another series titled Grover’s Video Player, sing-alongs and a chance for young viewers to do their own karaoke with songs such as ‘Aleph Bet Song,’ ‘’Rosh Hashanah Hannah (a spoof of Disney’s Hannah Montana), and even the most beloved Sesame Street song of all, ‘Rubber Ducky.’ The catch with that final song is that it is done entirely in Hebrew. And Annelies van der Pol is not the only celebrity to make an appearance throughout the series. Fellow celebrities Jake Gyllenhaal, Debra Messing, Matisyahu, Eva Longoria, Christina Applegate, Greg Kinnear, Debi Mazar also make appearances throughout the series.

Shalom Sesame will be available Tuesday, October 14th on DVD. Parents and children can view trailers for the series online now via YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/shalomesesame. More information on Shalom Sesame is available online at
Website: http://www.shalomsesame.org
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ShalomSesame
Parents can also order separate stand-alone episodes of Shalom Sesame online now at http://www.sisuent.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.

PBS Kids Releasing New Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood DVD Gift Set Next Month

Courtesy:  PBS/PBS Kids

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Kids

Officials with PBS announced Tuesday that the network will release a special Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood gift set this fall.

PBS and PBS Kids will release Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Daniel Tiger’s Happy Holidays in a special gift set on Tuesday, October 14th. The special gift set includes Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Daniel Tiger’s Happy Holidays and a Daniel Tiger toy. The DVD features seven more episodes from the award-winning series, one of which—“Snowflake Day”—is a two-part episode. Everyone in Daniel’s neighborhood celebrates “Snowflake Day” each year. In celebration, the neighborhood holds a community play. And this year, Daniel is the star of the play.

Daniel learns how letters are mailed off in the DVD’s second episode, “Something Special For Dad” after he sees how happy his dad having received a letter from Grandpere in the mail. Seeing how happy the letter made his dad, Daniel wants to mail a letter to his dad, too. So he and his mom go to the post office where they learn how mail is sorted and mailed. To top off his visit, Daniel even gets to join Mr. McSpeedy on his rounds and hand deliver his letter to his dad.

“I Love You, Mom” is another wonderful addition to this compilation of episodes. In this episode, Daniel wants to tell his mom how much he loves her, but wants to do it in a special way. So he and his dad go to Baker Aker’s bakery where they learn how bread is made. While they are there, Daniel gets to make banana bread for his mom. Banana bread is one of her favorite foods. Daniel and his dad bring the bread back and surprise her with the bread, which she then shares with Daniel and his dad.

Grandpere Tiger makes a special visit to Daniel and his parents in “Thank You, Grandpere Tiger,” the fourth episode included on this new DVD. There’s just one problem. Grandpere can’t stay for the neighborhood’s annual “Thank You Day” celebration. That makes Daniel sad. In the process, Daniel learns to be thankful for the time that he and Grandpere get to spend together and gets a very special surprise when it turns out that Grandpere is at the neighborhood’s annual celebration.

Following up on Grandpere’s visit, the DVD continues with the episode “Neighborhood Thank You Day.” Viewers learn all about the neighborhood’s annual “Thank You Day” celebration in this episode. Every year during the “Thank You Day” celebration, everyone in the neighborhood puts a note in the “Thank You Tree” as a way to say thank you to one another. Daniel can’t decide who he wants to thank with his note. He does finally come to a decision. It all ends with a special Thank You Day feast that includes everyone in the neighborhood.

The DVD’s penultimate episode, “Katerina’s Costume” features on Katerina as she is trying to decide what outfit she wants to wear for the neighborhood’s annual Dress Up Day. Daniel and Miss Elena, on the other hand, have no problem deciding on their costumes. Katerina does eventually make her decision.

“Dress Up Day” closes out the DVD. Much like the case of Halloween, Daniel and his friends go to all the stores in their neighborhood, showing off their costumes on Dress Up Day. They get different stickers at every store they visit.

The upcoming DVD gift set will be available Tuesday, October 14th. It will retail for MSRP of $14.99. the DVD will also be available alongside the gift set as a stand-alone presentation. It will retail for MSRP of $12.99. It can be ordered online at PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=45475006&cp=&kw=daniel+tigers+happy+holidays&origkw=Daniel+Tiger%27s+Happy+Holidays&sr=1.

Parents and children can watch more episodes of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and play games together online at http://pbskids.org/daniel. Parents and children can keep up with the latest news from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood online at http://www.facebook.com/danieltigertv. 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.

Peg + Cat’s First Outing On DVD Is Fun For The Whole Family

Courtesy:  PBS/PBS Kids

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Kids

PBS Kids’ new children’s series Peg + Cat has proven to be a big hit among audiences in its first season.  And now families and educators alike can enjoy a handful of the show’s episodes any time thank to the brand new release of the series’ first ever DVD compilation Peg + Cat: Chickens on the Loose and other REALLY Big Problems.  The primary reason that audiences will appreciate this brand new DVD is the list of episodes collected for the compilation.  It features eight shorts from the series’ first season.  The episodes themselves serve a number of purposes including not just problem solving but also encouragement of creativity among audiences and basic math skills.  Another reason that audiences will appreciate this collection of episodes is its animation.  Those that are perhaps new to the series will appreciate that the show looks in every way like it was drawn not just by hand but by a child.  That makes it even more relatable to younger viewers.  And rounding out the compilation’s positives is the inclusion of a number of bonus features that prove to be just as fun in the living room as in the classroom.  All three factors together make Peg + Cat: Chickens on the Loose and other REALLY Big Problems another welcome addition to the collection of any teacher and family.

Peg + Cat has become a fast hit among its key audiences ever since its debut last fall. Now almost a year after it made its debut on PBS Kids, will release its first ever DVD tomorrow, September 9th. Whether or not audiences are familiar with the series, viewers will all agree in watching the episodes collected for this DVD that the central point of the series’ success is its writing. The series teaches basic math skills and general problem solving skills for children ages four up to perhaps six years old. PBS Kids’ already has a show that teaches math skills for older children in the form of Cyberchase. But the network hadn’t had such a show for younger viewers until Peg + Cat came alone last year. Parents and teachers will appreciate the ability of this series’ writers to balance both skills throughout the course of each short without letting one take the focus more than the other at any one point. What’s more, the episodes are written on the level of the series’ young viewers. This makes each episode easily accessible by those viewers. Add in short run times that don’t challenge the attention spans of the series’ writers (each episode runs roughly ten to thirteen minutes depending on the episode) and those lessons become even more enjoyable. Collectively, the episodes’ run times and the writing that easily reaches the series’ young viewers make a solid starting point in any discussion of what makes Peg + Cat: Chickens on the Loose and other REALLY Big Problems another welcome addition to the collection of families and educators alike.

The writing that went into each of the episodes included in the brand new debut Peg + Cat debut DVD is a solid starting point for any discussion on what makes this series such a favorite among its young audiences. Another aspect worth discussing is the show’s animation. The show was animated as if it had been drawn by a young child. This makes the show even more relatable for its key audiences. Just as interesting although more subtle is the use of the infinity sign for clouds within the world of Peg + Cat. And the “infinity clouds” even move in the background. It’s all drawn on a sheet of grid paper with small math problems doodled at various points throughout the paper. This adds even more feel of their world having been created by a child. The end result is even more easily suspended disbelief among viewers. And on a slightly similar note, the animation looks somewhat similar to that of Nickelodeon’s short-lived Nicktoon Chalk Zone. It’s not a direct mirror image. But the similarities are there. Taking into account the amount of work that went into the animation behind Peg + Cat, that animation becomes even more an important part of the whole that makes this brand new collection of episodes worth the watch. It still is not all that viewers will appreciate about the episodes collected for this DVD. The last aspect of the DVD that makes it such a joy for children and adults alike is the amount of bonus material included on the disc.

Included as bonus material in the brand new Peg + Cat DVD are: four flipbooks, a pair of coloring sheets, a board game, and a couple of craft activities for families to enjoy together. Each of the flipbooks comes with cells completely pre-illustrated. All a child has to do to make them complete is print out the cells and follow their included instructions to bring the flipbooks to life. The coloring sheets are self-explanatory. One sheet presents a frame from the show’s opening sequence while the other features a scene from the DVD’s lead episode, “The Chicken Problem.” The bonus board game also comes with all the necessary items and instructions. The goal of the game is to get all of the peaches from the center of the board. The included craft activities encourage young people to get their parents especially involved. Kids will love having their own Cat sewed by their parents. And they’ll enjoy just as much having their parents help them make their own Peg and Cat puppets. As with the other activities, the necessary materials are provided. All parents and children have to do is print out said materials and lay them over construction paper before cutting out the included shapes. The rest is easy when children and their parents follow the included directions. It’s one more way that children and their parents will have a great time together playing with Peg and Cat even after watching the episodes featured on this disc.

The material included on Peg + Cat’s debut DVD is in every way true bonus material. It is that piece that pushes this DVD over the top and makes it another must have for any educator or parent of young viewers. Together with the wonderful, thought out animation and equally considered writing, Peg + Cat: Chickens on the Loose and other REALLY Big Problems proves to be a wonderful first release from a series that will hopefully have a long life on PBS Kids. It also collectively proves this DVD to be not just a must have for parents and educators but also one of the year’s best new DVDs for children and families. It will be available tomorrow, September 9th in stores and online. It can be ordered direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=42447736&cp=&sr=1&kw=peg++cat&origkw=Peg+%2B+Cat&parentPage=search. Families and educators can play more Peg + Cat games and watch even more episodes of the series online at http://pbskids.org/peg. More information on the show is also available online at http://www.facebook.com/PegPlusCatTV. 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.

Anime Fans Will Enjoy Shout! Factory’s Second Monsuno Collection

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Anime, when it first came to American shores, was a cult favorite genre.  It was one of those genres of TV and film that was relegated to group viewings at comic book shops around the country.  That was thanks to the stigma attached to the genre and its fans.  That stigma is still there.  But it is far less today than it was when it first started gaining fame here in the U.S.  Now years later, it has gone from being a genre seemingly enjoyed by only certain types to being its own cultural phenomenon.  Famed anime filmmaker Hayao Miyazake’s films gained more popularity than ever.  And any number of anime series found new fame among American audiences.  Series such as Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, and Digimon became some of the biggest names in the genre, leading some American companies to try their own hand at making their own anime series.  One of the surprises from that batch of today’s American anime series is Monsuno.  The series has already produced two seasons.  And a third is supposedly on the way.  And thanks to Shout! Factory, the first half of the series’ first season is available along with the first half of its second season.  They are presented over the course of three DVDs that were released in 2013.  And as audiences will see in the second of those DVDs, Monsuno: Power, there are a number of reasons that this series has worked as long as it has.  The first of those reasons is that Shout! Factory has maintained the series’ chronology in its DVD presentations.  The second reason is that it stylistically mirrors its imported Asian counterparts almost identically.  This includes the writing and animation.  And last but not least of all, is the inclusion of a voice cast that is itself quite familiar with the world of anime.  Audiences will agree that in considering each of these factors, any anime fan will find Monsuno: Power worth at least one watch.

Monsuno is not the big name anime series that Pokemon, Digimon, and Yu-Gi-Oh have all proven to be in their runs.  However, it has managed to churn out two full seasons, and a third is allegedly on the way.  While audiences wait to see if that alleged third season develops, they have the second volume f episodes to tide them over.  Audiences, whether new to the series or not, will appreciate that just as in the series’ previous DVD, the episodes included on this disc are presented in chronological order.  Together with Monsuno: Destiny, the episodes featured here comprise the first ten episodes of Season One.  Interestingly enough Shout! Factory apparently has not released the final sixteen episodes from Season One.  Yet, the first half of Season Two has been released on DVD.  So at least audiences know that in having Monsuno: Power and Monsuno: Destiny, they have just over half of this series’ first season.  Regardless of whether those final sixteen episodes should see the light of day in the near future, at least audiences have that much to take in.

Audiences that are familiar with the more popular anime series out there and who enjoy said series will appreciate Monsuno: Power especially if it is their first introduction to the series not just because of the episodes included and their organization, but also for the fact that the episodes are collectively a near identical mirror image of Digimon, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, and others of that ilk.  That is speaking stylistically (I.E. writing and overall look).  Just as with those series, the episodes included in Monsuno: Power present a series in which a group of young people has access to extraordinary creatures with equally extraordinary powers.  They are kept in their own little containers, which the young people holding them keep as they search for a specific goal.  That overall writing is much the same as in its bigger name counterparts.  And the overall look (animation) is just as much the same as other anime series.    That combination of writing and the show’s overall look keeps the series right on par with its bigger name counterparts.  That’s especially the case when it is put alongside the chronlogically coorect episode listing in this set.

The episodes included in Monsuno: Power are in proper chronological order in relation to the original broadcast of the episodes n television.  The look of the episodes in this collection is also a near identical match to the its bigger name counterparts.  Both of these aspects play their own part in the success of the DVD among fans of the anime genre.  There is one more aspect to this collection that audiences will appreciate, rounding out the whole presentation.  That last factor is the cast tapped to voice the series’ characters.  Few may know the names of the actors brought in for these episodes.  However, the series and movies in which they have starred are quite well known.  Cam Clarke, Karen Strassman, Christopher Corey Smith, Keith Silverstein, and Kirk Thornton voice the primary roles of Chase, Jinja, Bren, Dax, and Bayal respectively.  They also voice the roles of the show’s various villains and other good guys.  While most people might not know their names, audiences will recognize Cam Clarke as the voice of Leonardo in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series from Fred Wolf Films.  He is also the voice of one of Clifford’s fellow dogs in the short lived PBS kids’ series Clifford.  Few may also realize that Clarke has previous experience in the anime realm.  He voiced the character of Kaneda in the anime import Akira.  Karen Strassman has her own previous experience in the world of anime, too.  She played a rather significant role in the American version of the anime series Bleach.  She voiced Soifon, Momo Hinamori, Cyan Sung-Sun and others throughout the series’ run from 2005 – 2012.  Before coming on board Monsuno, Christopher Corey Smith voiced Rojuro Otoribashi, Wonderweiss Margela, and Makoto Kibune during Bleach’s run on American television from 2007 – 2010.  He was joined on that series by fellow voice actor Keith Silverstein, who voiced Coyote Starrk, Tesra Lindocruz, and Mabashi.  Last but not least is Kirk Thornton.  Thornton’s anime resume is perhaps the most extensive of the Monsuno voice actors.  Thornton provided his talents to Bleach alongside Keith Silversten and Christopher Corey Smith.  He also worked on Digimon: Digital Monsters, Ninja Scroll, and Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro among a number of other anime series and features.  It would have been easy for Monsuno’s show runners to get a bunch of no-name actors with not experience in anime.  Instead they brought in a group of actors whose collective talents are quite extensive to say the least.  That would perhaps explain the characters’ believability.  That believability alongside Monsuno’s overall style and its properly ordered episodes collectively make Monsuno: Power a good first introduction to this anime series for those not so familiar with the series.  It is just as welcome for those that are familiar with the series and that are fans of the series, too.

Monsuno: Power is not the first and obviously not the last of the collections to be released from Shout! Factory.  Regardless of how long fans of the series have to wait for its next release, fans will agree that thanks to the factors noted here, they have plenty to appreciate in this collection.  Monsuno: Power is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct from Shout! Factory’s online store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/node/216947.  More information on this and other titles 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.

Kids Will Love Going Back To School With Arthur

Courtesy:  PBS/PBS Kids

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Kids

PBS Kids recently released its latest collection of episodes from the family favorite animated series Arthur. Arthur Goes Back To School is an especially fitting addition to any family’s home DVD library now that many children are themselves headed back to school this week. Arthur Goes Back To School boasts plenty of positives. The first of those positives is its writing. The writing behind each of the four episodes is the cornerstone of the overall presentation. The quality animation is another factor to consider in the overall enjoyment of this presentation. Last but not least of all is the bonus material included with this collection of episodes. Each of the factors noted here stand by themselves with their own importance. Altogether, they make Arthur Goes Back To School one more wonderful addition to any family’s home DVD library whether at the start of the school year or any other time of the year.

The writing that went into each of the four episodes featured in Arthur Goes Back To School is the cornerstone of the DVD’s overall presentation. There are many reasons that this sole factor is the cornerstone to this DVD, too.   The primary reason for that is the themes incorporated into each of the episodes. “To Eat Or Not To Eat,” the first of the DVD’s episodes, presents a theme of healthy eating. When a new candy bar catches the attention of all the kids in Elwood City, Buster becomes wary of the candy bar because of its effects. His investigation leads him all the way to the head of the company responsible for making the candy bar. That is because of the chemicals he finds in the candy bar. When he and his mother confront the company’s head representative, Buster’s mother breaks the story in the city’s newspaper. This effectively shuts down the company. In an age when childhood obesity remains such a hot button topic, such an episode becomes increasingly important for children and their parents to watch together. That’s because it could serve as a starting point for a very important discussion about healthy eating. It’s just one of the important themes included in Arthur Goes Back To School.

Being that so many youths are headed back to school this week, the show’s writers tackle the stresses of standardized testing in a way to which the show’s young audiences will be able to relate in “S.W.E.A.T.” The writers also take on the much maligned subject of math education in “Brain’s Biggest Blunder.” Brain has a big chore in getting Binky ready for the school’s annual “Arithmattack” competition in this episode. The writers make the episode relatable to young viewers by showing that math isn’t as bad as they think here. There’s even a nice stand-alone episode in “Baseball Blues” that has come along just in time for the countdown to the MLB postseason. Not only does it promote baseball and athletics, it also teaches young viewers that everybody has a special talent. Even if someone isn’t good at one thing doesn’t mean that a person isn’t good at something else.

On a superficial level, Arthur’s writers are to be commended for crafting four episodes to which young viewers will definitely be able to relate given that so many children are now headed back to school this week. On another, deeper level, anyone familiar with Arthur will appreciate that the writers have actually maintained a certain amount of continuity with the inclusion of Harry Mills in “Baseball Blues.” Harry is a former romantic interest of Buster’s mom, as Buster’s parents are divorced. There’s even a reference to the initial episode in which Harry was introduced here. It’s so subtle. But older audiences will potentially catch this. And those that do catch it will appreciate that inclusion.

The writing that went into each of the episodes on this DVD is the most important factor of all in the overall presentation of Arthur Goes Back To School. Whether it be for its more superficial aspect or the deeper issue of continuity, it should be clear by now why the writing in these episodes is the cornerstone of the entire presentation. Just as important to the DVD’s overall presentation is the animation used in each of the episodes. The episodes included on this disc have been pulled from Arthur’s more recent seasons. That means that the animation used in each episode is actually flash animation instead of the hand-drawn animation used in the series’ early seasons. Despite the use of flash animation, the episodes still maintain the look of the original fully hand-drawn episodes. There are those that have complained about the series’ increased use of flash animation. The reality though, is that it would have been just as easy for the show’s heads to go the full-on CG route. This critic personally is thankful that that didn’t happen. Audiences should be thankful that these episodes still have that classic look. That the show’s animators and heads would go this direction couples with the solid writing to make Arthur Goes Back To School all the more enjoyable for audiences of all ages.

The writing and animation that went into the episodes included in Arthur Goes Back To School. Are both important elements to the overall presentation on this DVD. The activities and coloring pages included with the DVD round out the whole thing. One of the key activities included on the DVD is the “Definition of Cool” activity. This activity is directly related to the stand-alone episode “Baseball Blues.” Adults can use this activity to build self-esteem among young viewers. They do so by having children come up with a list of talents and attributes that they think are “cool.” After they come up with their lists, children can talk about why they think that the attributes and talents of other children in a group are cool, instead of their own. It is a wonderful activity for children especially with the current climate of bullying in schools today. The standard “Crazy Bus” activity is included here, as on previous Arthur DVDs as are the trading card and “Groove It” activities. If these activities aren’t enough for viewers, the coloring pages featuring Arthur and his friends will also make audiences happy. Whether audiences prefer the included coloring pages or the activities on this DVD, there is plenty of bonus material included on the disc to make any viewer happy here.

The bonus material included on Arthur Goes Back To School is the final touch to a DVD that every family will appreciate both now in the start of a new school year and any time of the year. Together with the writing and animation featured in all four episodes included on this disc, it makes this DVD a solid choice for any fan of Arthur whether they be kids or kids at heart. Arthur Goes Back To School is available now on DVD. It can be ordered directly from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=41615676&cp=&sr=1&kw=arthur+goes+back+to+school&origkw=Arthur+Goes+Back+to+School&parentPage=search. More information on Arthur is available online at http://www.facebook.com/PBSARthur. More episodes of Arthur are available online at http://www.pbskids.com/arthur along with more activities and games for the whole family. 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.