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.

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.

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.

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New Clifford DVD A True Celebration For Every Fan

Courtesy:  Lionsgate/Scholastic/PBS Kids

Courtesy: Lionsgate/Scholastic/PBS Kids

Clifford the Big Red Dog is turning fifty years old.  Unbelievable!  Everyone’s favorite oversized furry friend is celebrating his birthday with a brand new DVD release next month.  Celebrate with Clifford is the first new Clifford release in two years.  It will be available in stores and online February 5th.  The new release is a special double disc release loaded with lots of fun, family friendly adventures from Clifford, his fellow canine friends, and his owner, Emily Elizabeth.  The two discs in this new release boast fifteen episodes from the hit series.  The set’s first disc, Celebrate with Clifford has seven of the show’s episodes included in the set.  All of the aforementioned episodes included in the first disc are full of family friendly fun and important life lessons that ring true for audiences of all ages.

Audiences learn a number of important lessons throughout the first seven episodes included in the set.  In the episode, “Clifford on Parade”, Emily Elizabeth (Grey DeLisle—The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy) and Charley (Gary Leroi Grey—The Cosby Show) both learn about working together and about compromise when they have to decide on an idea for the float that they’ll enter in the town’s annual parade.  Thanks to Clifford, they end up with one interesting float that even incorporates Clifford himself.  In another episode, “Team Sprit”, young viewers are introduced to the lesson of good sportsmanship and being kind to others.  The story here centers on young Vaz.  Vaz is friends with Emily Elizabeth and the other kids.  But he’s not the best soccer player.  And Jetta doesn’t help as she openly tells Vaz he’s not that great of a soccer player.  Of course she learns her lesson in the episode’s end.  Audiences can find out how she learns her lesson when they check out this new DVD set for themselves.

All seven episodes included in the set’s main disc offer plenty of enjoyment and lessons for viewers.  Luckily for viewers, they’re not all that viewers get in this new set. The eight bonus episodes included in the bonus disc also offer their own enjoyment.  Just in time for Valentine’s Day, there’s even a Valentine’s Day themed episode in “Clifford’s Big Heart.”  In this episode, Clifford is trying to make a Valentine for Emily Elizabeth, but things don’t exactly go as planned.  That is until he finally realizes the best idea for a special Valentine just for her.  His special gift will warm the hearts of both kids and their parents.  Still not enough?  How about the birthday and party themed episodes included in the set?  “Clifford’s Big Surprise”  sees Clifford getting his very own birthday surprise from Emily Elizabeth, her parents and his canine friends.  At first it seems like everybody is avoiding Clifford.  It leaves Clifford bored since there’s no one to play with.  Luckily he finds a way to play by himself.  Ironically, it’s right about then that Emily Elizabeth comes looking for Clifford so she and the others can surprise him with his birthday party.  It’s just one of a handful of birthday themed episodes included in the set’s bonus second disc.  The complete double disc set will be available February 5th in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct via the Lionsgate online store at http://www.lionsgateshop.com/product.asp?Id=28180&TitleParentId=8311.

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Nicktoon’s Latest DVD Release More “Wild” Fun For The Whole Family

Courtesy:  Nickelodeon/Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Nickelodeon/Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon have kicked off the New Year in fine fashion.  The two companies already have a somewhat busy slate of releases set in this still very young year.  Next month sees the release of Rocko’s Modern Life: The Complete Series.  Before that though, audiences of the fellow classic Nicktoon, The Wild Thornberrys finally get to see the final piece to the show’s second season.  The Wild Thornberrys: Season 2 Part 3 is available in stores and online now.  The Thornberrys’ “wild” globe hopping, adventures have only just begun with this last portion of Season 2, as there are still three more seasons left to be released.  This time out, viewers finally get to see Eliza’s “origin” story so to speak, as it is finally revealed how she got her secret powers.  Also Debbie inadvertently becomes mother to a baby Panda, only to find herself having become emotionally attached to it just like a real mother.  And also Nigel’s life is in Eliza’s hands after he is stung by a poisonous fish during a search for an Angler Fish. 

The adventures included in the final portion of The Wild Thornberrys Season 2 Part 3 continue to show just how strong the writing was for this classic Nicktoon in its infancy.  As with so many other Nicktoons of its era, the episodes included in this double disc set continue to show just how much heart the show had (and still has today by comparison to other shows out there).  Each episode in its own way continued to highlight the importance of family while balancing that with the show’s educational and even ecological aspects.  Every episode included in this new set emphasizes educational aspects without even trying, by teaching about different animals of different regions of the world.  That’s even the case in the set’s “origin” episode, “Gift of Gab.”  It teaches not only geography but also biology. That lesson on biology is also echoed in the episode, “Black and White and Mom All Over.”  Eliza’s sister Debbie learns a lesson of how wild animals connect to the first thing they see when they’re young after a baby panda mistakes her for its mother.  That biology lesson is directly tied in to the show’s emphasis on another aspect that still makes it so enjoyable to this day.  That aspect is its emphasis on family.

The educational role of The Wild Thornberrys is only part of what continues to make this such a fan favorite to this day.  The show’s emphasis on family plays a role in its heart, too.  As already noted, one of the episodes that shows that emphasis is “Black and White and Mom All Over.”  That theme is also evident in “Bogged Down” in which it’s up to Eliza to save Nigel’s life.  As excited as she is to be out with her father, one little error on her part nearly costs him his life.  So Eliza has to put her squabbles with Debbie on the backburner in order to save her dad’s life.    And in “Gift of Gab”, the family aspect is offered when Eliza tells the story of how she and Darwin first met and he essentially became part of the Thornberry family. 

As much enjoyment as The Wild Thornberrys brings from its writing and its educational emphasis, the show’s animation also plays a role in its enjoyment.  In a time when it would seem that the very art of creating hand drawn art is dying, this latest installment of the classic Nicktoon serves as yet another reminder of how much better hand drawn art is in comparison to the CG crafted material that currently permeates television stations across the spectrum.  Just as with even older cartoons (on both television and in theaters), the animation of The Wild Thornberrys boasts a very specific style.  While the show itself was one more creation from Arlene Klasky and Gabor Csupo (who also created the ultimate Nicktoon, Rugrats), the animation of this show was entirely different from that of Rugrats and the other cartoons which were created by the pair.  The animation style really served as the most basic identifier of the cartoon.  There was a certain roughness and definition all at once about it.  Set against the likes of Rugrats, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, and Rocket Power, perhaps the closest that any of these comes to The Wild Thornberrys in terms of its animation style would be Aaahh!!! Real Monsters.  Though, even that similarity is slight at best.  That defining mark, added in to the equally impressive writing and work by a star cast of voice actors has made The Wild Thornberrys one of Nickelodeon’s elite Nicktoons.  And thanks to the latest of the show’s DVD releases, it still holds that title to this day.  The Wild Thornberrys Season 2 Part 3 is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct online via the Shout! Factory store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/?q=node/216648.

To keep up with 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.

The New Pound Puppies Is Fun For The Whole Family

Shout! Factory/Hasbro Studios/Hub

Dog is man’s best friend, it’s often said.  Well dogs are also every child’s friends.  And after seeing the new compilation DVD from Hasbro Studios and Shout Factory, the dogs of the new Pound Puppies will be a favorite of every child, and maybe even some adults out there, too.  In this new single disc compilation, audiences get five episodes from the new series that will leave both parents and kids alike smiling and watching over and over again.  In the first of the set’s five episodes, pound manager Leonard and his flunky Olaf have to track down his mother’s dog.  Megastar Betty White guests in this episode.  The compilation’s second episode is a heartwarming episode both for adults and kids alike as Cookie learns a valuable lesson about being a parent.  Lauren Tom, Maurice LaMarche, and Cree Summer all add their guest vocal talents to this episode.  And in one more episode, a new pup named Patches joins the gang.  He looks up to the Pound Puppies so much that he, Cupcake, and Rebound form their own group called The Super Secret Pup Club.  Of course, lots of laughs and mayhem ensue.This five-episode collection opens with the episode, “Bone Voyage.”  Betty White (Golden Girls, Hot in Cleveland) guest stars as the voice of Agatha, the mother of the pound’s manager, Leonard.  Agatha has brought her puppy, Rebound, to the pound so that Leonard will look after Rebound while she goes on vacation.  While Lucky and the others try to get Rebound to understand that Agatha will be back, Rebound sees Agatha leave and freaks out.  She takes off after Agatha, causing not only the Pound Puppies to take chase, but so do Leonard and Olaf.  They all end up on board the cruise liner on which Agatha has taken her vacation.  Of course, lots of mayhem and laughs ensure.  Viewers will have to see for themselves how things unravel.  It does, of course, have a happy ending.

In one of the set’s deeper, more emotional episodes, Cookie learns a valuable lesson about being a parent when a young new pup named Cupcake is brought to the pound.  This is one that parents will appreciate in their own way.  Cookie becomes emotionally attached to Cupcake.  So much so that she doesn’t want Cupcake getting adopted.  In its own way, this is somewhat representative of parents letting their own children go as they get older.  That likely wasn’t the primary intent.  But parents will be able to relate to Cookie’s emotional ordeal.  They may even be left a little bit teary eyed by the episode’s end.  Lauren Tom (Futurama), Maurice Lamarche (Futurama, The Simpsons, Animaniacs, etc.) and Cree Summer (Rugrats, Codename:  Kids Next Door, etc.) all add their guest vocals to this episode.

Once parents get over the emotional moments of “Mutternal Instincts”, they’ll find themselves laughing in “The Super Secret Pup Club.”  Cree Summer returns again as Cupcake.  Rebound is back again.  The two team up with another new puppy named Patches.  Patches is a young Dalmatian.  He really looks up to the Pound Puppies.  He tells them of the stories he’s heard of the Pound Puppies, and how he wants to be as great as them.  So the trio forms its club and tries to emulate the Pound Puppies.  But as is the course with any new puppy, the run off, forcing the others to hunt them down.  This causes all sorts of trouble for the Pound Puppies.  It also causes lots of laughs for audiences.  Audiences will have to see for themselves what happens.  Pound Puppies:  Super Secret Pup Club will be available in stores and online Tuesday.  It can be ordered online at http://www.shoutfactorystore.com.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Nicktoons Fans will go “wild” for The Wild Thornberrys Season 2.5

Klasky/Csupo’s hit Nicktoon, The Wild Thornberrys, is back again for more wild fun thanks to the good people at Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon.  If the Klasky/Csupo name sounds familiar, that’s because these are the same people that were behind the greatest of all of Nicklodeon’s Nicktoons, The Rugrats.  The Wild Thornberrys was just as great a cartoon as Rugrats.  It was an entirely different show than Rugrats. But, it had similar animation style and just as much heart, making it one of the most memorable of the Nicktoons franchises.  Season 2.5 of this hit show is proof positive of that.   

This time out, there’s love in the air as Eliza plays matchmaker to a pair of Galapagos turtles.  She nearly messes things up in her attempts to bring the pair together.  Famed comedian Phyllis Diller stars as the voice of the female tortoise, Samantha.  Then Eliza, wanting to prove herself to her parents dives along the barrier reef with her dad, while her mom has to re-shoot some wallaby footage, thanks to Donnie going waterskiing with the original footage.  It results in quite the problems for Eliza and Nigel.  Katherine Helmond (Soap, Who’s the Boss, Cars, Cars 2) guest voices a dugong who helps out.  And what Nicktoon franchise would be complete without a Christmas episode?  In this episode, Eliza nearly ruins the family’s Christmas when she tries to help a trio of animals.  These episodes, and the remaining five make for plenty of fun and lessons for kids and parents alike.

In “Two’s Company”, Eliza tries to play matchmaker between a pair of Galapagos tortoises in an attempt to help get the pair together and start the species breeding.  Famed comedian Phyllis Diller voiced the female tortoise, Samantha.  The problem is because of her youth and lack of knowledge of the tortoises’ ways, she nearly breaks up the pair.  It could be argued that this teaches young audiences about cultural relativity, and not just understanding that each animal species has its own ways.  While Eliza and her parents try to bring the tortoises together, Donnie meets a little female feral child whose family is a group of big cats.  There’s a little bit of romance between them, too.  Sadly, Debbie has to bring Donnie back to hisfamily.  Luckily for the little feral girl, she nabbed the picture that Debbie took of the pair.  So she could always remember him.  It makes for one of those great “awwwwwwwwww” moments, and leaves audiences with that warm fuzzy feeling at the episode’s end.  It’s just one example of the amount of heart that this show had.

“Reef Grief” is another example of how much heart The Wild Thornberrys had.  When Eliza and dad, Nigel, take the comvee and dive along the Great Barrier Reef Marianne gets new wallaby footage, thanks to Donnie going water skiing with her original footage.  Eliza wanted to prove to her parents that she was responsible enough to help her dad get his underwater footage.  But she makes one mistake putting both herself and Nigel in danger, after the comvee ends up flipping upside down, preventing it from floating back to the surface.  But thanks to the help of a kindly dugong (voiced by Katherine Helmond of Who’s The Boss fame), and her friends, Eliza’s eventually able to get the comvee back to the surface, saving her dad from drowning.  While Nigel and Marianne could have been angry at Eliza, they were forgiving, and just glad she wasn’t hurt by the shark she encountered, and that she didn’t drown herself, being that her tank developed a leak in fighting off the shark.  It shows the true love parents have for their children.

Eliza’s parents showed their genuine love and concern for Eliza again, in one of the second season’s best episodes, “Have Yourself a Thornberry Little Christmas.”  The family is celebrating Christmas in the Namibian desert.  They’re there so Marianne and Nigel can film a group of elephants for the foundation.  While her parents are out filming, Eliza ends up helping an ostrich keep her eggs warm, protecting a zebra (voiced by acting legend Tim Conway) from a pack of ravenous jackals with the family’s Christmas decorations, and fending off a hungry lion with the family’s Christmas dinner.  When Eliza admits to her parents what she had done, they tell her that they’re just glad she’s safe.  This episode ends with great heart, when all the animals that Eliza helped come back, complete with Christmas lights, and sing Jingle Bells to the family.  It’s their way of repaying Eliza for her kindness to them.  She even gets the camera warmer she used to help the mother ostrich keep her eggs warm.  Eliza and Debbie had gotten the camera warmer as a gift for their parents.  

The episodes listed here are just a small sampling of what The Wild Thornberrys has to offer this time around.  Everybody has their own favorite episodes from this, and every Nicktoon franchise.  All together though, they combine to make a great addition to any Nikctoons Nostaligic’s home library.  It all makes for one more show that audiences will love for many more generations to come because of its great heart and animation.  For more information on upcoming Nicktoons releases, fans can check out Shout! Factory online at http://www.shoutfactory.com.