History Detectives Impresses Again With Its Special Investigations

Courtesy: PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS has proven time and again in recent years that it is the last bastion of truly worthwhile educational programming.  While History Channel, Discovery Channel, and others of their ilk have continued to fall victim to their heads’ lust for reality TV programming, PBS has held its guns and stood its ground, becoming the gold standard for educational programming.  One show that has helped to make PBS the gold standard is its fan favorite series History Detectives.  PBS recently released a new History Detectives special to DVD titled History Detectives: Special Investigations.  Not that PBS needs it at this point, but this DVD is more proof of why the series is such a fan favorite and why PBS continues to help make PBS the leader in quality educational programming.  Audiences, whether they be new to the series or are more familiar with it, will appreciate that the series delves into some of history’s greatest mysteries in this new special.  That’s a change from its normal format.  Those that are less familiar with History Detectives will appreciate that it uses a rather familiar format in investigating each of the special’s mysteries.  And last but hardly least of all, in none of the cases studied in this special does the team try to prove or disprove any theory set forth.  The team merely investigates the facts and leaves the rest up to viewers.  When audiences take into consideration all three of the factors noted here, they will agree that this DVD proves once more why History Detectives is one of the best series on television for educators and lovers of history, and why PBS remains today the gold standard in quality educational programming.

History Detectives is one of PBS’ best programs.  It is a favorite among educators and lovers of history.  The main reason for this is that it presents history at its purest.  It has never attempted to over-glorify history and make it sexy for the sake of eyeballs to put it bluntly.  It takes the road far less traveled today in comparison to programs on the likes of History, Discovery, Destination America and others under those corporate umbrellas.  This latest release from History Detectives proves why that approach has–and continues to–make it a fan favorite.  Normally, History Detectives focuses on the history behind items and documents owned by ordinary people.  This time though, it turns the focus to a pair of history’s greatest mysteries and a couple that while not as well-known are just as interesting.  The two more well-known of the mysteries presented here center on famed band leader Glenn Miller and Jimmy Hoffa.  The lesser known of the mysteries presented here focus on the river boat Sultana and on a group of servant girls from Texas.  The study on Glenn Miller is exactly what audiences expect.  It examines the possible fate of the famed band leader.  The findings from the study are pretty interesting to say the least.  That’s because they leave just as many questions as answers.  Unlike the study on Miller, the study on Hoffa isn’t what audiences might think.  Instead of focusing on his fate–as so many do–this episode focuses on who might have been responsible for his disappearance.  The findings here are just as eye opening as the theories concerning where he may be.  Some may be surprised to learn that apparently Hoffa even had a link to none other than President Richard Nixon.  That’s just one of many rather interesting facts that audiences will learn from this episode. As if this isn’t enough, the episode centering on the riverboat Sultana brings up thoughts of the Maine and its controversy.  It might event raise thoughts of the Titanic disaster.  And the story centering on the murders of the young Teas servant girls will engage audiences just as much.  As should be evident by now, these stories by themselves more than make History Detectives: Special Investigations worth the watch by any educator or history lover in general.

The stories that make up History Detectives: Special Investigations are by themselves more than enough reason for audiences to check out this new DVD.  The manner in which the team approaches each investigation is another reason that audiences will appreciate this special.  Whether or not they are familiar with this series, audiences will recognize the manner in which the team approaches each case.  It is a formula that was once used in Discovery’s Mythbusters before the team of Kari, Grant and Tory was let go.  The only difference is that unlike Mythbusters, the show’s heads and hosts don’t try to make the investigations sexy for the sake of eyeballs.  It’s a welcome breath of fresh air.  It proves that history doesn’t have to be sexy to be interesting.  It’s just one more way that this latest release from PBS and History Detectives prove the value of both collectively.

The cases presented here and the manner in which each one is investigated together make History Detectives: Special Investigations solid proof of why this series is so belived by fans and why it makes PBS so invaluable to audiences today.  While both of the factors noted here play their own important role to the enjoyment of this presentation, there is one more aspect of this DVD that makes it so enjoyable for audiences.  That last aspect is the fact that within the course of the investigations, at no point does the team of Wes Cowan, Kaiama Glover, and Tukufu Zuberi try to prove or disprove any of the theories around which each case centers.  Rather they merely investigate each case, presenting the facts as they find them.  The rest is left up to audiences to decide for themselves.  In the case of Glenn Miller’s disappearance, audiences are left with a strong probability in terms of what might have actually happened.  But because his body was never recovered, audiences are still left to decide for themselves if the facts gathered actually lead to anything solid.  And in the case of Hoffa’s disappearance, audiences are left just as much to decide for themselves if the mob actually played a role in his disappearance or if in fact Nixon himself might have played a role.  The team never tries to actually say yeah or nay in the end.  They just gather the information needed to make educated guesses in each case.  Such approach serves to make each case all the more enthralling that each already was to begin with.  The end result is a special that leaves audiences wanting History Detectives to investigate some of history’s other major mysteries between its regular investgations.

Next to PBS’ History Detectives, the only other history based series on television today that present any real value anymore are Travel Channel’s Mysteries at the Museum and History’s American Pickers.  While both series offer their own value to audiences, History Detectives still comes in first.  Special Investigations is more proof of that.  The cases and the team’s approach to each case more than make this series a joy for viewers.  The fact that it never really sets out to prove or disprove any theory, but rather simply investigates each one makes these episodes even more enthralling.  Altogether, all three factors together make this collection of investigations one that every educator and lover of history should have in their own personal collection.  It is available now on DVD and can be ordered direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=38349276&cp=&sr=1&kw=history+detectives+special+investigations&origkw=History+Detectives+Special+Investigations&parentPage=search.  More information on this release and all of the latest news from History Detectives is available online at:

Website: http://www.pbs.org/historydetectives

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/historydetectives

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.

ATK Still Television’s Top Cooking Show In Its Fourteenth Season

Courtesy: PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS released the fourteenth season of its hit cooking series America’s Test Kitchen to DVD this summer.  For those that might not be familiar with the long-running series, it is the on-air companion to Cook’s Illustrated Magazine.  It is also the only series on television today worth watching by anyone that has a love of food and the culinary arts.  In comparison to all of the celebrity-based cooking shows that pollute today’s television spectrum, America’s Test Kitchen has always focused on the food and not the familiar faces.  This latest release continues that long-held tradition from the hit series.  It’s just one reason that makes this season just as enjoyable as its previous thirteen seasons.  Another reason that audiences will enjoy this season is its list of dishes presented throughout the season’s episodes.  From fine dining to even the simplest dishes, host Christopher Kimball and company bring audiences lots and delectable dishes.  And instead of just saying do this or that, they actually discuss how each dish is made.  They even add educational content, explaining the significance of the processes and ingredients in each dish.  For those wanting to try the dishes out for themselves, a number of printable recipes have been included as PDF files complete with fully outlined directions, ingredients and a picture of the finished product.  That bonus rounds out the box set, completing what is even more proof of why PBS truly is the last bastion of worthwhile programming on television.

America’s Test Kitchen has proven for years to be in this critic’s view the single greatest cooking series on television.  The only real contender to that title is its “sister series” Cook’s Country.  It just so happens that Cook’s Country is hosted by Christopher Kimball, who also hosts America’s Test Kitchen.  And go figure, both series are run by PBS, which is really the last true bastion of worthwhile programming on television.  Anyone that might not be familiar with America’s Test Kitchen will see instantly in the DVD release of the series’ fourteenth season why it has remained a hit for such a long time.  The central reason for its continued success fourteen seasons in is the fact that it is not celebrity driven.  That goes completely against the standard used on the shows that make up most of Food Network’s programming and that of the cooking shows on Fox, NBC, and ABC.  It actually makes the food the star, not the people.  It’s such a welcome change in comparison to those other shows.

The downplaying of the host as the star of the show is the cornerstone of what has made America’s Test Kitchen a hit among true foodies and lovers of the culinary arts for fourteen seasons now.  Audiences will appreciate that unlike all those commercially-based cooking shows, the food and cooking equipment are the stars, not the hosts.  Just as worth noting is the variety of dishes that are presented and the manner in which they are presented.  Unlike all of the commercially-based cooking shows, Kimball and company don’t just say “this is what you do”, flying through each dish along the way.  Rather, they take their time.  They explain the significance of the ingredients and the processes that the dishes undergo as each ingredient is added to the various dishes.  That extra educational content shows the importance of cooking not just as some random activity but a science of sorts.  There are so many chemical reactions that go on in preparing and cooking different dishes.  It is really something interesting to consider.  Speaking of the dishes in question, the dishes featured this season range from something one might see on the menu at a four-star restaurant to an update on something as classic and simple as a grilled cheese sandwich.  There is even an easy meals made with pasta, seafood, and corn (yes, corn).  And what’s more audiences can pick and choose which dishes to check out.  They don’t have to sit through episode after episode to get to their dish of interest.  That makes the whole experience even better for any foodie and lover of the culinary arts when watching Season 14 of America’s Test Kitchen.  The positives don’t end here, either.  PBS has once again included a number of printable recipes to complement the dishes presented in Season 14. That inclusion rounds out the set, proving once more why this is the only cooking show worth watching on television today and why PBS is the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television today, too.

America’s Test Kitchen: Season 14 brings with it every one of the traditions that have made it a hit with viewers ever since its premiere season.  It includes once again explanations of each dish’s ingredients and the processes that occur in prep and cooking.  This proves that cooking isn’t just cooking.  It proves cooking is a science of sorts.  This is something that no commercially-based cooking show does.  It also makes the food and the cooking equipment the star, not the show’s hosts.  This has been a tradition since the show’s beginning so many years ago, too.  One more tradition that is carried into this season is the inclusion of printable recipes lifted right from the season’s episodes.  Obviously not every dish could receive its own printable recipe.  Sure it would nice to have the recipe for every single dish presented throughout each season.  But that just isn’t possible.  However, the dishes presented in this season’s selection of printable recipes  is delectable in its own right.  There’s a recipe for grilled corn with basil and lemon butter complete with recipe for the basil and lemon butter baste.  For those looking for something *ahem* meatier, there are recipes for grilled chicken, baby back ribs, and even grilled glazed pork loin.  Those viewers with a bit of a sweet tooth will enjoy the recipes for peach pie, lemon chiffon pie, and marbled blueberry bundt cake among other dishes.  There are plenty of other recipes included on the set that audiences will find their own favorite from the extensive selection offered.  That diverse selection perfectly rounds out the set and is sure to leave any viewer’s mouth watering in anticipation of trying these dishes themselves.  It proves once more why even now in its fourteenth season, America’s Test Kitchen remains the only cooking show worth watching on television and why PBS in whole is the last bastion of true worthwhile programming on television.

There is so much that can be noted of America’s Test Kitchen that makes it so enjoyable even now in its fourteenth season.  From the printable recipes to its in-depth episodes to the very fact that it continues to focus on the food and not the hosts, it continues to do so much right.  Any lover of the culinary arts and any foodie that has yet to see why this show continues to be so successful should order this four-disc box set now.  After watching through it, those viewers will join the ranks of those (like this critic) that already know why it is indeed the best cooking show on television today.  It is available now and can be ordered direct online via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=35446656&cp=&sr=1&kw=americas+test+kitchen&origkw=America%27s+Test+Kitchen&parentPage=search.  More information on America’s Test Kitchen is available online at:

Website: http://americastestkitchen.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/americastestkitchen

Twitter: http://twitter.com/testkitchen

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.

Inspector Lewis Returns For His Seventh Season This Fall On DVD And Blu-ray

Inspector Lewis is back.  That’s right.  Everyone thought that the end of the road had come in the sixth season of the hit itv crime drama when Inspector Lewis called it a career.  Low and behold, he’s back.  And it wasn’t his own choice to return as audiences learn in the season premiere.  This fall, fans of the hit crime drama series will find out the circumstances of Inspector Lewis’ return when the series’ seventh season is released in whole.

Masterpiece Mystery!: Inspector Lewis 7 will be released Tuesday, November 25th on DVD and Blu-ray.  Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox both return to reprise their iconic roles as DI Robert Lewis and newly promoted Inspector James Hathaway in the show’s seventh season/series (different terms for the same thing depending on which side of the pond on which one lives).  Masterpiece Mystery!: Inspector Lewis 7 is comprised of three episodes, spanning a total of 270 minutes (or 4 ½ hours roughly).  The DVD will retail for MSRP of $29.99 and the Blu-ray for MSRP of $34.99.  It will also be available for digital download.   It can be ordered online direct from the PBS online store at:

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

Blu-rayhttp://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=46782166&cp=&sr=1&kw=masterpiece+mystery+inspector+lewis&origkw=Masterpiece+Mystery+Inspector+Lewis&parentPage=search

Courtesy:  PBS/itv

Courtesy: PBS/itv

DVDhttp://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=46782146&cp=&sr=1&kw=masterpiece+mystery+inspector+lewis&origkw=Masterpiece+Mystery+Inspector+Lewis&parentPage=search

The episode listing for Masterpiece Mystery: Inspector Lewis 7 is included below complete with episode summaries.

Entry Wounds

Hathaway gets to work on his first case as an Inspector, with the help of his new partner, DS Lizzie Maddox. The crime is a complicated one that bridges the worlds of neurosurgery, blood sports and animal rights. Lewis, struggling to adapt to retired life, jumps at the chance to rejoin the force when Superintendent Innocent seeks his help. With Lewis back on the team, will they be able to solve the mystery?

 

The Lions of Nemea

After a difficult start, Lewis and Hathaway seem to have settled back into their former relationship, and Maddox has become integral to the team. Their abilities are tested as they investigate the brutal murder of Rose, an American Classics student. Suspicion immediately falls on a young professor who had recently broken off an affair with her, but as the detectives delve further into the case, they only find more secrets and murky motives.

 

Beyond Good and Evil

Thirteen years after Lewis’ first successful arrest as a Detective Inspector, the forensics have been called into question and the case re-opened for appeal. Lewis fears the worst – but nothing can prepare him for a new string of murders resembling the original murders with the original weapon. Did he arrest an innocent man? With Lewis’ reputation in jeopardy, Hathaway and Maddox race to catch the killer.

 

More information on Masterpiece Mystery!: Inspector Lewis 7 is available online at :

 

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/lewis

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/masterpiecepbs

Twitter: http://twitter.com/masterpiecepbs

 

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.

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.

PBS Announces Release Date For Seventh Season Of Cook’s Country

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS will release the seventh season of its hit cooking series Cook’s Country on DVD next month.

Cook’s Country Season 7 will be released on DVD Tuesday, October 28th. Season Seven delves into some of the nation’s best blue-ribbon recipes and classic fare including: Memphis-style wet ribs, Oklahoma fried onion burgers, Texas potato salad, creamy cheese grits, cinnamon buns, strawberry pretzel salad and a bunch more.  There are also short segments focusing on the history of American food. Among the different foods featured in the segments are pork pernil, summer berry pudding, Nachitoches meat pies and Italian cream cake. And the reviews of the latest cooking tools and equipment are there, too.

Cooks Country Season 7 features thirteen episodes on two discs and twenty-six printable recipes along with all of the cooking segments and equipment reviews by Jack Bishop. It will retail for MSRP of $29.99. It can be ordered online via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=46781986&device=c&gclid=CPiRo-j59MACFSdk7Aod90MAxw&adpos=1o1&creative=57629487063&network=g&matchtype=&pla=pla_46781986&camp=PLA:46781986.

More information on Cook’s Country is available online at:

Website: http://www.cookscountry.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CooksCountry
Twitter: http://twitter.com/testkitchen

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.

Al Capone: Icon Is A Welcome Watch For Any Lover Of Crime History

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

Al Capone is one of the most revered and reviled figures in American history.  He has been the inspiration behind countless biographies and crime histories and some of the most well-known gangsters and mobsters throughout Hollywood’s rich history.  And that is just the tip of the massive iceberg that is Capone’s life.  There is much more to his life that many people might not know going all the way back to his childhood.  Now thanks to PBS, the world will finally get a much deeper look at Capone, his meteoric rise to the top of the crime world, and his equally surprising end in the new documentary Al Capone: Icon.  The amount of information shared through the course of this documentary is the central point of its success.  It doesn’t just focus on his legend.  Rather it goes behind that legend and shows how the man became the myth.  Al Capone: Icon boasts quite a bit of background on Capone, his life, and legacy.  Another reason that audiences will take to Al Capone: Icon is the program’s pacing.  The program’s pacing does move at a somewhat fast pace.  But it isn’t so fast as to lose audiences along the way.  And last to note is the inclusion of actual photos and footage to help illustrate the story.  All three aspects noted here are important in their own way to the success of the overall presentation that is Al Capone: Icon.  Collectively, they make the documentary in whole one that any lover of crime history will enjoy.

The central point of success in Al Capone: Icon is the amount of information shared throughout the program.  To say that there is a lot of content here would be an understatement.  The program starts at Capone’s childhood, growing up in one of New York’s poorer areas and proceeds to follow his life all the way to his adult life and his eventual, surprising end.  Needless to say, Capone didn’t go out in a blaze of glory unlike perhaps John Dillinger.  Rather his end came with a proverbial whimper.  But during his life, he was seen both as a man of the people and as one of America’s most reviled figures at another point.  That image was all thanks to the work of law enforcement and government officials alike.  And audiences will learn all about that, too.  From the image of Capone himself to the glorification of mobsters in the movies, the government played a big role in how America viewed Capone then and even today.  Speaking of movies, the “experts” brought in to discuss Capone also break the myth of Elliot Ness and the famed “Untouchables.”   Again, there is a lot of information shared throughout the course of this program.   There is in fact, so much information, that those behind the documentary’s creation are forced to move at a somewhat quick pace.  The pace isn’t too fast for viewers to keep up.  But it is fast nonetheless.  And that is the second aspect of this documentary that makes it work.

Al Capone: Icon is a very deep presentation in terms of the amount of information provided throughout the program’s roughly hour-long run time.  It doesn’t just focus on Capone as an individual.  It focuses on his impact on the nation’s culture, and on how that impact led to the government’s focus on him.  It goes without saying that with all of that information, there is a lot to go through.  That forces the program to move at a relatively brisk pace.  As fast as it moves, it doesn’t move so fast as to lose audiences along the way.  Though, audiences shouldn’t go into the presentation thinking that they can just sit back and watch it.  They will have to invest themselves at least to some level.  Keeping everything noted in mind, it might actually have better in hindsight for all involved to spread the program across two discs rather than try to get it all into a single disc.  But it is what it is.  And for what it is, the end product still works well enough to be worth the watch.

The amount of information included over the course of Al Capone: Icon and the pace at which that information is discussed are both important to the overall success of the program.  Somehow, those behind the program managed to balance the two elements.  One element that didn’t require such attention but still helped the overall presentation was the inclusion of actual prohibition-era footage along with photos of Capone throughout the stages of his life.  The use of these elements enhanced the overall presentation to make the story all the richer for those that might not know but so much of Al Capone’s life and how he and the country influenced one another.  Gritty pictures from the now infamous St Valentines Day Massacre are included as are pictures of Capone throughout his life from childhood to adulthood. There is also footage of the speakeasies that Capone helped run and even a soup kitchen that it was said Capone helped open and operate with his ill-gotten gains.  Interestingly enough, audiences will learn as part of the documentary’s included mass of information, that the soup kitchen in question was used solely as a prop of sorts to help his public image.  That goes right back to the rather impressive amount of information shared throughout the program.  And that information along with the program’s pacing and the included footage and pictures collectively make the program worth a watch by any lover of crime history.

The amount of information that spans this program’s roughly hour-long run time is impressive to say the least.  Those that are less familiar with the life and times of Al Capone will appreciate just how much information fills that run-time.  In watching the program, those same audiences will appreciate the brisk but not too fast pace at which the program advances.  And last but not least, the inclusion of actual prohibition-era footage and photos enhances the overall viewing experience.  Each aspect by itself is important to the whole that is Al Capone: Icon.  Collectively, they make this documentary a welcome watch for any lover of crime history.  Al Capone: Icon will be available Tuesday, September 30th on DVD. It can be ordered direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=43506236&cp=&kw=icon+al+capone&origkw=Icon%3A+Al+Capone&sr=1.  More information on this and other releases from PBS is available online at http://www.pbs.org and http://www.facebook.com/pbs.  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.

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.