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

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

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

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

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

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

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

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

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

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

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

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

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

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

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Spongebob Soundtrack One of 2012’s Best Christmas Albums

Courtesy:  Viacom International, Inc./Nickelodeon

Courtesy: Viacom International, Inc./Nickelodeon

The soundtrack to the new Spongebob Christmas special, It’s a Spongebob Christmas is one of the best Christmas albums of 2012.  This compilation of songs is fun and original.  It takes listeners through the recent TV special and takes listeners on a ride through the world of pop music at the same time.  The album’s opener, ‘Don’t Be A Jerk (It’s Christmas)’ is a great start to this album that will entertain parents and kids alike.  Spongebob, voiced by Tom Kenny, sings of being polite during the holiday season in a variety of ways.  From something as simple as using the proper checkout lane at the supermarket to generally being polite to others and respectful towards others’ belongings and more, this song both entertains and sends a very important message to its listeners.  The song’s traditional Christmas sound makes it even more entertaining.

The album’s enjoyment keeps up after its opener in the rockabilly style of ‘Christmas Eve Jitters.’  The general musical vibe of this song will quickly conjure thoughts of Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis and any number of other rockabilly/Americana style artists of days gone by.  Lyrically, it’s just as entertaining.  It does a very good job expressing the excitement and joy that any child feels anticipating Christmas morning.  Spongebob sings, “It’s the night before Christmas/And all through my little pad/Not a creature is stirring/Not even mom and dad/But I’m lying here wide awake/No it ain’t the heebeejeebees/nor the eggnog shake/I’ve got the Christmas Eve jitters tonight.”  That opening line sets the tone for the rest of the song.  It does an excellent job of expressing not only Spongebob’s excitement, but it mirrors the feeling that any young listener has on Christmas Eve.  It makes for one more enjoyable song on this album.

It’s a Spongebob Christmas Album has more than its share of enjoyable songs for the entire family.  Though if there’s at least one that really stands out, it’s the country/western Christmas tune, ‘Ho Ho Hoedown.’  Voice actress Carolyn Lawrence voices Spongebob’s friend, Sandy Cheeks as she sings what Christmas is like in the old Lonestar State.  She sings in the song’s chorus, “It’s a Ho Ho Hoedown/Where jingle bells will ring/It’s a down home country Christmas/With a dash of Western swing/Tis the season to be jolly/Like a rodeo clown/Ho Ho Ho Ho Ho Hoedown.”  Even if a person isn’t a Country/Western fan, this is a song that will still be as entertaining as any other on the special’s soundtrack.

While ‘Ho Ho Hoedown’, ‘Christmas Eve Jitters’ and ‘Don’t Be a Jerk (It’s Christmas)’ are all great songs for the whole family, this soundtrack offers no fewer than nine other songs that will have the kids singing happily right up to Christmas.  Even parents might find themselves unexpectedly humming some of the tunes.  And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, either.  The songs here are enjoyable and will be every holiday season no matter how many times they get played and by whom.  It’s a Spongebob Christmas Album is available in stores and online now.

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Nickelodeon, CBS Present New Spongebob Special, Album

Courtesy: Nickelodeon

With Thanksgiving only days away, many people are looking forward to the second half of the holiday season and the arrival of Christmas.  One of the most beloved traditions of the holidays is sitting down to watch the annual holiday specials on television.  CBS will have a new holiday special this year in the form of a new Spongebob Squarepants special called, It’s a Spongebob Christmas.  Along with the new special, there will be a soundtrack available for parents to pick up for their kids, too.  In anticipation of both, the special’s lead song has been released. The song, which was co-written by Tom Kenny and Andy Paley even has a video to go with it. 

The video for ‘Don’t Be a Jerk (It’s Christmas) was the winner of the 2008 Built By Me Movie contest. The contest in question is held by Lego and Nickelodeon.  It features Spongebob and his friends celebrating the holiday season all while Spongebob sings.  It can be viewed here now at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVOPRCnc8r4.  And families can even follow along with the lyrics right here, too!

DON’T BE A JERK (IT’S CHRISTMAS)

(Andy Paley & Tom Kenny)

BRING JOY TO THE WORLD IT’S THE THING TO DO
BUT THE WORLD DOES NOT REVOLVE AROUND YOU
DON’T BE A JERK
IT’S CHRISTMAS

THERE’S A SIGN ABOVE THE LINE THAT SAYS “EXPRESS”
THAT MEANS TEN ITEMS OR LESS
DON’T BE A JERK
IT’S CHRISTMAS

BE NICE TO BABIES AND ANIMALS
OLD FOLKS TOO
‘CAUSE THAT’S HOW YOU’D LIKE THEM TO TREAT YOU
USE TURN SIGNALS DON’T SCREEN MY CALLS
DON’T WRECK THE HOUSE WHEN YOU DECK THE HALLS

SPIT YOUR GUM WHERE IT WON’T WIND UP ON MY SHOE
SQUEEZE TOOTHPASTE FROM THE BOTTOM OF THE TUBE
DON’T BE A JERK
IT’S CHRISTMAS

(solo)

WHEN OTHERS ARE TALKING NEVER INTERRUPT
DON’T PUT PEOPLE DOWN AND LEAVE THE TOILET SEAT UP
IT’S THE TIME FOR FAMILY AND HOLLY AND TURKEY
‘TIS THE SEASON TO BE JOLLY NOT JERKY
(JOLLY NOT JERKY)

DON’T DIG IN THE CEREAL BOX FOR GOODNESS SAKES
TAKE THE PRIZE AND LEAVE ME NOTHIN’ BUT FLAKES
DON’T BE A JERK
IT’S CHRISTMAS

SANTA BROUGHT NEARLY EVERY GIFT ON YOUR LIST
WHY WHINE ABOUT THE ONE THAT HE MISSED?
DON’T BE A JERK
IT’S CHRISTMAS

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The Three Stooges Update Is Surprisingly Funny

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox

The Farrelly Brothers’ take on everyone’s favorite comic trio is surprisingly entertaining.  On the surface, it would seem that it’s little more than the same style movie as Hollywood’s big screen reboot of Dennis The Menace or The Little Rascals.  But the reality is that those re-imaginings pale in comparison.  Sure the Farrelly Brothers have done much the same thing as what those flicks did.  But at the same time, it’s obvious that they really did attempt to pay homage to the original Stooges.

At first glance, the very thought of modernizing the Stooges makes no sense.  After the utter failures that were Dennis the Menace (and its equally awful sequels) and The Little Rascals, the natural reaction here is to shake one’s head that much the same has been done here.  And while the pop culture references abound (E.g. Jersey Shore, Geico Auto Insurance, etc.), somehow, the Farrelly Brothers managed to balance out the modernization without losing the heart that make the original Stooges so beloved to this day.  Yes, it would have been nice to see the Stooges in their original 1930s and 1940s element.  But at least in this case, the trio’s modernization doesn’t overpower the physical comedy for which Larry, Curly, and Moe became famous.

Sean Hayes (Larry), Chris Diamantopolous (Moe), and Will Sasso (Curly) weren’t the only stars of this big screen remake.  The trio’s interactions with co-stars Sofia Vergara (Modern Family), Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm), and Brian Doyle-Murray (Groundhog Day, SpongeBob Squarepants, etc.) harkens back to the original Stooges’ bits with its constant supporting cast.  It’s obvious through these interactions and the physical comedy together that despite being modernized, the Farrelly Brothers really were making a valid attempt to do more than just toss something up on screen for the sake of throwing it up on screen.  Unlike the people behind the reimaginings of The Little Rascals and Dennis the Menace, the intent behind this update was obviously to entertain and pay the deserved honor to the original Stooges and their fans, too.

The Farrellys succeeded in entertaining audiences nonstop with the combination of classic slapstick comedy.  It took center stage, rather than the updated surroundings.  The pair should also be commended for taking time immediately after the movie to warn all potentially young audiences that the gags used in the movie were not real.  They point out that the hammers, crowbars and other tools were all rubber.  And the sounds used in coordination with said tools were just that.  They were sound effects and nothing more.  They took the time to say to audiences please don’t try what they saw on screen themselves.  It’s all movie magic.  This might have been a minute factor in the grand scheme of things.  But taking such responsibility is deserving of great respect.  So thank you to the Farrellys for that.  And thank you to the Farrellys for this surprisingly entertaining update on a legendary comic act.

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