When Santa Fell To Earth Is A Holiday Tale Unlike Almost Every Other

Courtesy:  Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Anchor Bay Entertainment’s new Christmas-themed movie When Santa Fell To Earth is one of the best holiday-themed movies to come along in a very long time. The movie, which is based on author Cornelia Funke’s 1994 book by the same name, is actually surprisingly entertaining. This is the even with the movie being just another adaptation of a book. The main reason for the movie’s success is that despite being adapted from a book, its story actually stands out quite a bit from all of the other cookie cutter Christmas-themed movies. It follows the formula used by so many major studios lightly at best. Another reason for the movie’s success is its minimal use of special effects. And while it was originally done in German or another European language, the work of those responsible for dubbing the film made that dubbing nearly invisible. It may seem like a minor factor. But in the grand scheme of things, dubbing foreign films whether foreign to English or vice versa is very important. Good dubbing results in a movie such as this. Bad dubbing can make a movie into a third rate product not worth even finishing let alone watching. Luckily for this movie, that poor dubbing didn’t work. The end result is a movie that along with its somewhat original script and its minimal use of special effects proves to be as enjoyable as any other holiday-themed movie released each year.

The central reason for the success of When Santa Fell To Earth is its writing. More specifically, the script is to thank for its success. Given, it is based on a two-decades old book. But that book in question is not one that most would consider well-known. What’s more, while there are some alterations in the transfer from the printed page to small screen, they aren’t nearly as much as some adaptations of other more well-known literary works. The story itself also stands out from other holiday movies out there. Most Christmas-themed movies see an average person saving Christmas by filling in for Santa or getting others to realize the “true meaning of Christmas” through a series of events. Those are the most common plot lines in most Christmas-themed movies. This movie takes a road not just less taken but a road no one else saw, period. According to this story, there are actually multiple Santas. But they’ve all been frozen by an evil figure that wants to rule Christmas and turn it into a fully corporate holiday. Enter Nikklas Julebukk (pronounced YULE-uh-buck). Nikklas is the last Santa standing between the evil Gerald Geronimus Goblynch. It’s up to Nikklas to stop Gerald and his henchman, and save Christmas. Nikklas crashes to Earth in his flight from Gerald and his henchman, leading to his meeting Ben and Charlotte, who help him to stop Gerald. There are no big red sleighs. The only reindeer in the movie is one that audiences definitely won’t recognize. Its name is Twinklestar. And instead of the North Pole, Nikklas is trying to keep the story’s villain from taking over Yuleland. Some names and places have been changed in the transition from the printed page to the small screen. But by and large, the story has been kept the same. That and the fact that this story is unlike nearly any other out there within the Christmas-themed genre is more than enough reason to see this movie at least once.

The overall originality of this movie’s script even in its transition from the printed page to the small screen is the most important factor in the movie’s success. Another reason that audiences will enjoy this movie is its minimalist use of special effects. The only special effects come courtesy of some CG work to create a pair of “Christmas elves” and a pair of tiny angels who serve as Nikklas’ companions. The elves are entirely CG. The angels (yes, they actually incorporate angels alongside Santa—a very young Santa at that) are live actors. But their wings and flying effects were obviously created via CG and green screen. Even Gerald’s evil giant nutcracker “soldiers” looked like they had been crafted by hand. Other than that, everything else within this movie looks to be live action. Again, one can’t help but make a comparison to other holiday movies out there today. Set against most American holiday movies its balance of live action elements and special effects gives it a rare feel that audiences of all ages will appreciate. It’s one more way in which When Santa Fell To Earth stands out among the already overcrowded market of Christmas-themed movies currently on the market. And together with the its largely original adaptation from its literary companion, this foreign import becomes even more enjoyable.

The balance of live action elements and CG-based special effects in When Santa Fell To Earth and the largely original story adapted from the book of the same name are both important to the overall success of this straight-to-DVD feature. Rounding out the entire presentation is the movie’s dubbing. It would seem that the movie’s original presentation was German simply by observing the movie’s credits and its setting. That would make sense considering that the author of the book on which this movie is based is herself German.   Those charged with dubbing the movie into English are to be commended for taking such painstaking efforts to present a clean product. There are movies dubbed into English that don’t exactly translate very well. The end result is something that looks like the old school kung-fu flicks and Godzilla movies imported from Japan and China. That’s not a good thing. Luckily in this case that poor translation didn’t happen. Audiences almost can’t tell that what they are hearing is in fact American voices speaking over European actors. There are points here and there where audiences will be able to catch the dubbing. But it’s nowhere near as obvious as in those noted old school Asian imports. The end result is a movie well worth watching at least once this holiday season when taken into consideration along with the movie’s story and its balance of live action and CG elements.

The story presented in When Santa Fell To Earth is one of the most original holiday stories presented to audiences in a long time. Given, it is based on a book that was originally published two decades ago. But in comparison to all of the other holiday movies out there it still stands out. And for the most part, it actually stays largely true to its literary link. Only a few minor items were changed in the story’s small screen adaptation. The minimalist use of special effects makes the story even more worth the watch. In an age when even holiday movies seem to rely increasingly on special effects and CG elements, this movie’s balance of live action to special effects makes it all the more worth the watch. Rounding out the presentation is the dubbing process. It’s assumed that the movie, in its original 2011 release, was presented in German. Those charged with dubbing the movie into English for its release this year carried out their duties expertly. The end result of these factors together is a movie that every family should see at least once this holiday season. It will be available on DVD Tuesday, October 14th. It can be ordered direct online now via Anchor Bay Entertainment’s website at http://www.anchorbayentertainment.com/detail.aspx?projectID=bd0b8d9a-21f7-e311-a502-d4ae527c3b65. More information on this and other titles from Anchor Bay Entertainment is available online at:

Website: http://www.anchorbayentertainment.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Anchor_Bay

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.

20 Million Miles To Earth Is A Must See For Any Lover Of Classic Cinema And Sci-Fi

Courtesy:  Mill Creek Entertainment

Courtesy: Mill Creek Entertainment

The annual countdown to Halloween is on once again. With Halloween only a few more weeks away at the time of this review, everyone’s busy looking for a way to bring some frights and fun to their yearly celebrations. Mill Creek has given audiences two more wonderful options for their Halloween parties thanks to its release of the Ray Harryhausen Creature Double Feature. This new double dose of classic monster movies includes two of Ray Harryhausen’s great sci-fi/horror classics in the form of 20 Million Miles to Earth and It Came From Beneath The Sea. The second of the features will be discussed at a later date. For now, the focus will be solely on the first in the pair. 20 Million Miles To Earth is a wonderful watch not only for those Halloween parties this year, but for anyone that is a lover of classic cinema in general. The main aspect of this classic sci-fi flick that makes it work is its script. Yes, there’s at least one minor issue with the writing. That will be noted later. But by and large, the script for this movie is a big part of why audiences will love it. Just as important to the whole are the movie’s special effects. Compared to nearly every one of today’s way-over-the-top special effects blockbusters, the effects used in this piece are outstanding. And last but most definitely not least of all worth noting is the movie’s cast. The movie’s lead actors were no strangers to their crafts. They were quite versed as a matter of fact. The importance of this aspect will also be noted later. Suffice it to say that all three of these factors together make 20 Million Miles to Earth a must see whether at this year’s Halloween get together or any other time of the year by any lover of classic cinema. And together with its companion piece It Came From Beneath The Sea, it makes Mill Creek’s recently released Ray Harryhausen Creature Double Feature an absolute must see.

Mill Creek Entertainment’s recently released Ray Harryhausen Creature Double Feature is an absolute must see by any lover of classic cinema. While not the first time that the movies in this set have seen the light of day, they are very difficult to find on DVD or Blu-ray. So taking that into consideration, anyone with any love for the golden age of cinema will appreciate this double movie presentation. Looking specifically for now at the first of the features, 20 Million Miles to Earth, this movie works so well here for a number of reasons. One reason that it works so well is its writing. The story behind this movie was nothing new for the film industry when it debuted in June 1957. It sees an ever-growing lizard creature from Venus terrorizing the Sicilian countryside after having been released by a young boy named Pepe. The end result is the hunt and eventual killing of the unnamed creature. Legendary B-movie director Roger Corman had already churned out ten sci-fi classics when this movie debuted. And It Came From Beneath The Sea, the other film featured in this collection, had already debuted two years previous. Adding in to the believability of the story, the birth of the “space race” was only months away as Russia went on in October of that year to release Sputnik, the world’s first satellite. So it goes without saying that the fascination with worlds and beings other than our own was at an all-time high when this movie made its premiere. That makes the movie’s very plot so fun.

The plot behind 20 Million Miles to Earth, when set against the other B-movies of its era, is just as enjoyable as those churned out by fellow sci-fi legend Roger Corman and by Harryhausen himself. The plot is just one minute part of what makes this script work, too. The manner in which the movie’s writing team executed the story adds to the overall enjoyment. If not for young Pepe’s greed (he even tries to extort money from the American military officers when they come to investigate the crash), none of what happened might have happened. In turn there might not have been a story. One could argue that if not a child, then an adult might have done the same thing as Pepe. That’s true, too. So taking this aspect of the movie’s writing into consideration, one can’t help but wonder if the writers were trying to make a statement about the cost and danger of human nature a la 1951’s The Day The Earth Stood Still.   In the same vein, Col. Calder (played wonderfully here by William Hopper) makes a statement regarding the creature being docile unless provoked right before provoking the creature so as to capture it. That is so subtle but so powerful a statement about human nature, too. If Calder knew the creature was docile, why not try a peaceful means to corral it? Some might argue this to be a major plot hole. A more thoughtful analysis though, reveals that it could have been another lightly veiled commentary about the contradictory nature of humans in terms of their behaviors and thought processes. It’s really something to think about. It is that writing and commentary (intended or not) that along with the script makes 20 Million Miles to Earth such a wonderful watch.

The seemingly lightly veiled commentary aside, another reason that the script’s writing works so well is that the movie’s writing team even made certain to explain how the unnamed lizard creature managed to grow so fast. As was explained by one character, the Earth’s atmospheric make up was to blame for the creature’s growth. As long as it was breathing the air on Earth, it would keep growing every day. That most important of all of the story’s aspect is answered so quickly and easily. It’s one more way in which the movie’s writing team made sure to cover all of its bases when crafting the story. It’s the final part of the movie’s writing that makes the script (and the movie in whole) so enjoyable so many years after its premiere.

The writing that went into 20 Million Miles to Earth is a big reason for the movie’s success nearly sixty years after it debuted. That should be obvious by now. Another reason that the movie continues to be so beloved to this day is its special effects. Special effects have evolved so much throughout the history of the movie industry. While the special effects used in movies such as this might be considered simplistic by some, it is that simplicity that makes them so wonderful. The special effects of today’s major name blockbusters have completely jumped the shark for lack of better wording. They are almost entirely created via computer. Ray Harryhausen’s stop motion special effects in this movie (and others that he worked on) were done entirely by hand. Sure there was some movie magic incorporated along the way to help. But again in comparison to so many of today’s special effects extravaganzas, those effects are a product of their time. They are used as a part of the overall story rather than as the star of the film. Today’s action blockbusters are the polar opposite. That factor alone makes 20 Million Miles to Earth worth the watch. Together with its outstanding writing, the movie’s special effects make this movie even more of a must see for any lover of classic cinema and sci-fi.

The writing and the special effects that went into 20 Million Miles to Earth both play their own important role in the movie’s overall enjoyment and success. As important as both factors are to the whole presentation, there is still one more aspect worth noting in examining the movie. That final aspect is the movie’s lead cast. Anyone with any love of classic movies and television will appreciate the history lesson presented through just the movie’s cast. William Hopper leads the movie’s cast as Col. Robert Calder. Hopper is best known for his role of Private Detective Paul Drake in the classic courtroom drama Perry Mason. Drake was a major character in that series as he helped Mason solve a number of cases throughout the show’s run. Perry Mason, by the way, can still be seen today on Me-TV. He also starred opposite film legend James Dean in the 1955 hit drama Rebel Without A Cause. He starred alongside a then young Natalie Wood as the father to her Judy. On a side note, Jim Backus (Mr. Magoo, Gilligan’s Island) also starred in that movie. Adding to Hopper’s resume, 20 Million Miles to Earth wasn’t Hopper’s first creature feature. He starred in another well-known creature feature that premiered only months before this one. That movie, released by Universal Pictures, is called The Deadly Mantis. For those that haven’t seen that movie, imagine Godzilla with a giant, radioactive praying mantis in place of the giant, radioactive lizard. Yeah. And instead of taking place in Japan, the giant mantis thaws out in the North Pole and comes to America to cause all kinds of havoc. It’s still a great watch, regardless. These are just some of the pieces in which Hopper starred. It goes without saying that Hopper’s experience in both action and drama roles proved him to be a good choice for his role. His wasn’t the only good choice, either. Hopper’s co-stars Joan Taylor, Thomas Browne Henry, and John Zaremba starred together in another of Ray Harryhausen’s hits Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers in 1956. So they were both just as natural for their roles in this film, too. It was probably Zaremba’s work on these sci-fi favorites that led to his casting in the cult hit sci-fi series Time Tunnel. That series ran for only one year from 1966 – 1967. It is still a fan favorite to this day, though. The movie’s other cast members each starred in some of the movie industry’s biggest names, too. Arthur Space played the supporting role of Dr. Sharman in 20 Million Miles to Earth. Only months before, he starred alongside famed actor James Stewart in The Spirit of St. Louis as Donald Hall, the chief engineer of Ray Airlines. There are plenty of other actors whose resumes add plenty of credit to 20 Million Miles to Earth. But it would take far too long to note each one and their resume. Needless to say, one should have quite the clear picture by now of just how important the cast of 20 Million Miles to Earth was to the movie’s success. The cast’s collective experience shines through from start to finish here making it entirely clear once more just why this movie is still one of the greatest sci-fi/horror films in modern film history and why this movie was a wise addition to Mill Creek’s newly released Ray Harryhausen Creature Double Feature.

20 Million Miles to Earth is one of the greatest sci-fi flicks in modern movie history. So much went into the movie in such a small span of time. Its writing was simple yet so in-depth. The special effects headed up by screen legend Ray Harryhausen are so much better than those presented in today’s major blockbusters. Harryhausen’s special effects are part of the story rather than the star. They do so much to help advance the story. And last but not least of all is the movie’s cast. The cast—both the lead and supporting cast—came into the movie with quite the collective resume. That vast amount of experience shared between the movie’s cast shines through here from start to finish. It is the last touch in a movie that any lover of classic cinema and of sci-fi in whole must see at least once. Now that Halloween’s on its way again, that’s one more reason to pick up this new release from Mill Creek Entertainment. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered online direct from Mill Creek Entertainment at http://www.millcreekent.com/20-million-miles-to-earth-it-came-from-beneath-the-sea-ray-harryhausen-double-feature.html. More information on this and other titles from Mill Creek Entertainment is available online at:

Website: http://www.millcreekent.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/millcreekent

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Lionsgate’s Latest Addition To Its Alpha And Omega Series Is A Fun, Family Friendly Halloween Flick

Courtesy:  Lionsgate

Courtesy: Lionsgate

Lionsgate’s latest installment in its popular Alpha & Omega franchise was released to DVD/Digital HD combo pack late last month.  The family friendly flick, Alpha & Omega:The Legend of the Saw Tooth Cave comes just in time for Halloween.  It was released exclusively via Wal-Mart stores nationwide.  It follows the release earlier this year of Alpha & Omega 3The Great Wolf Games and last year’s Alpha & Omega 2A Howl-iday Adventure, the franchise’s other holiday-themed story.  This latest adventure from the people at Lionsgate is a good addition to any family’s Halloween/Fall party this year.  The primary reason for this is the movie’s script.  It interweaves two different story lines for one whole that audiences of all ages will enjoy.  Another reason that this new direct-to-DVD feature works is its relatively short run time.  And rounding out the whole presentation is the movie’s animation style.  Each factor by itself plays its own important role to the overall presentation.  Altogether, the factors noted here make Alpha & OmegaThe Legend of the Saw Tooth Cave a movie that any family will enjoy not only at their Halloween party but at any time of the year.

The Legend of the Saw Tooth Cave is not the first holiday feature that has been spawned from Lionsgate’s popular Alpha & Omega franchise.  It is the first from the franchise centered on Halloween albeit indirectly.  That’s one small part of what makes the movie’s script work as well as it does and will be discussed at a later point.  The script behind The Legend of the Saw Tooth Cave is the central point of the movie’s enjoyment and success.  The script actually presents not one but two separate stories.  The first of the pair—the central story—centers on the legend of a cave that is thought to be haunted.  Young Runt (voiced for the second time by voice actor Dee Dee Greene) decides to find out for himself whether or not that legend is true.  The truth behind the legend reveals a surprising story within itself.  That story will be left for those that have yet to see this movie so as to not ruin it for said audiences.  Getting to the movie’s secondary story line, this story line focuses on Runt’s own attempt to establish his place in his pack as he tries to solve the legend of the saw tooth cave.  It’s a story to which any viewer can relate really.  He wants to prove that he’s not just a little kid.  Every young child eventually reaches that point in his or her life at which he or she starts to exhibit that desire not so much for independence but to establish himself or herself and find his or her own place in the world.  That is sort of what’s going on here in this story line.  Kane managed to weave together both story lines seamlessly.  The end result is a story that audiences of all ages will enjoy whether during their Halloween parties or any other time of year.

Tom Kane’s well-written script is central to the enjoyment and success of Alpha & OmegaThe Legend of the Saw Tooth Cave.  The movie’s relatively short run-time is just as important as the script.  The movie’s run time is listed at forty-five minutes.  But the end credits roll just past the forty-one minute mark.  So the reality of the movie is that it really is not that long.  That’s especially the case when it is compared to most family films out there today.  Most children’s films today run anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half.  That even applies to most holiday-themed family movies whether from major name studios or lesser-known studios.  Even when aimed at older children, such run times push the envelope in terms of keeping said audiences’ attention.  It makes this movie’s run time that much more important to the overall presentation.  Add in those two expertly crafted story lines, and audiences get in this movie a movie that is even more enjoyable in the long run.

The writing that went into Alpha & Omega: The Legend of the Saw Tooth Cave and its run time are of equal importance to the movie’s enjoyment.  When taking into consideration just these two factors, this latest installment in Lionsgate’s Alpha & Omega franchise proves to be a movie that holds its own.  It holds its own both in comparison to other family holiday-themed movies and in comparison to the other films within this franchise.  While both factors prove to be of equal importance in the movie’s enjoyment, there is one more factor to consider that makes the movie work.  That last remaining factor is the movie’s “animation.”  In an era when so many “animated” movies look like one another thanks to cookie cutter computer graphics, this movie can only really be compared to the likes of Dreamworks’ Over The Hedge franchise.  The comparisons are slight at best.  Though, those familiar with those movies will be able to catch the similarities even as minimal as they prove to be.  That means that this movie, much like the others in the Alpha & Omega series maintains its identity from other computer generated flicks.  And it does so with ease.  It is the final touch on a movie that while it may not be as well-known as other family friendly holiday films is still enjoyable enough in its own right.

Alpha & Omega: The Legend of the Saw Tooth Cave may not be as well-known as other family friendly holiday films.  Despite this, it still is enjoyable in its own right.  Writer Tom Kane has crafted a script that weaves multiple story lines together with ease.  Neither storyline steps on the other at any point throughout the story, thus preventing the story from bogging itself down.  The movie’s run time—and by connection its pacing—make the story even more enjoyable for audiences of all ages.  The movie’s relatively original animation style rounds out the whole presentation, making it a movie well worth adding to any family’s Halloween party this year and any year.  It is available now exclusively in Wal-Mart stores nationwide.  More information on this and other releases from Lionsgate is available online at:

Website: http://www.lionsgate.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/lionsgatemovies

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Gustafer Yellowgold’s Wisdom Tooth of Wisdom Is The Most Intriguing And Original Children’s Story So Far This Year

Courtesy:  Apple Eye Productions

Courtesy: Apple Eye Productions

2014 has been a good year so far for children’s releases. New albums from The Okee Dokee Brothers, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, Danny Weinkauf and others have proven to be some of the most enjoyable albums to be released in said genre so far. There are others of course. These are just a few of the year’s top new releases. Now as the year winds down, another new release has come along that is sure to make audiences take notice. That release is Gustafer Yellowgold’s the Wisdom Tooth of Wisdom. The latest release from musician Morgan Taylor, this sixth story about the former resident of the sun sees Gustafer on a journey to find the owner of a giant tooth. The very story presented here is the most important factor in the appreciation of this new release. While being central to the overall appreciation, the story presented in this release is only part of the whole that audiences will appreciate. Also worth noting is the music. By and large, the instant comparison that can be made in this release is to The Flaming Lips of all bands. Although there is one song in the story that bears quite a resemblance to The Beatles circa Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Rounding out the whole presentation is the fact that the story is presented by orally and visually. Taylor’s not so young (but still young enough) audiences will appreciate the use of what is essentially storyboarding to tell the story of Gustafer’s journey. The storyboarding helps bring fully to life the story presented in the set’s audio side. It is the final noteworthy portion of this presentation. And together with the release’s music and very story, it makes the story in whole one that any older child will want to hear at least once with their parents.

It goes without saying that in listening to singer/songwriter Morgan Taylor’s latest Gustafer Yellowgold story that it is one of the most intriguing and yet original children’s works to be released so far this year. Its very story is one that exemplifies this critic’s firm belief that children’s releases are actually more creative and original than most albums released for grown-ups. That argument can be backed up just by going through this outlandishly original story. Presented here is the story of former sun resident Gustafer Yellowgold’s journey to find the owner of a giant wisdom tooth. Yes, a giant wisdom tooth. Few musicians, bands and groups can claim to have ever crafted such a story, regardless of whether said story be for adults or kids. The only story that even begins to come close is the short story ‘Imaginary Friend’ from Secret Agent 23 Skidoo. And that story alone only filled out one song from a whole album of songs. It was a song about a boy’s imaginary friend named Pickles. Pickles liked mustard popsicles and came from another planet totally unlike that of Earth. That being noted, it can be said again that this latest adventure of Gustafer Yellowgold is easily one of the most intriguing and original children’s works to be released this year. It’s just one reason that older children and their parents will want to check out this story at least once.

The journey on which Gustafer Yellowgold embarks in this story is the central point of the whole presentation’s interest. It is definitely the most original and intriguing children’s work to be released so far this year. The music that accompanies the story adds another layer to the presentation’s interest. Those that might be familiar with the band’s work will instantly make a comparison to famed indie-rock act The Flaming Lips in listening to the story’s musical side. Even Taylor himself sounds somewhat liked TFL front man Wayne Coyne. At the same time, the song ‘I Can’t Feel My Face’ conjures thoughts of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band with its mix of vocals, guitar and horn arrangements. Audiences will laugh almost hysterically as Taylor sings about Gustafter getting his face numbed at a dentist’s office. Audiences can check out the song’s official video online now via Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YsQOhjVB1c&feature=youtu.be. To say that the combination of the song and video trippy would not do either one justice. They must be experienced first-hand in order for audiences to really appreciate the artistry that went into both elements. It’s just one more reason that audiences will want to experience Gustafer Yellowgold’s latest adventure at least once.

The story and the music that make up Gustafer Yellowgold and the Wisdom Tooth of Wisdom collectively exemplify why this story is the year’s most original and intriguing for children so far this year. By themselves, the story and its music make for one heck of a ride for listeners. Together with the story’s visual side included in the set’s DVD, the story is made whole. The use of storyboards of sorts is just as ingenious and creative as the story and its music. There is no narrator; only Taylor singing. And each storyboard also includes the lyrics to the story’s songs. So audiences can follow along with ease as the story progresses. It makes the overall experience like watching a book on television. Together with the work’s music and its very story, the tale’s visual side completes the overall presentation, proving once more just why this story is one that every parent should take in at least once with their older children.

Gustafter Yellowgold’s Wisdom Tooth of Wisdom is the single most original and intriguing story to be released for children so far this year. Whether it be for the story itself, its indie-pop sound or its original visual storytelling style, plenty can be noted as to why audiences should experience this story at least once. It is available now in stores and online. More information on Gustafer Yellowgold and his many adventures is available online at:

Website: http://www.gustaferyellowgold.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Gustafer

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.

Anchor Bay, Starz Announce Home Release Date For Black Sails Season 1

Courtesy:  Anchor Bay Entertainment/Starz

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment/Starz

Starz hit high seas series Black Sails will sail into stores this winter.

Anchor Bay Entertainment and Starz will release the first season of its hit high seas adventure series Black Sails on Tuesday, January 6th, 2015.  The series’ first season will be released both on DVD and Blu-ray/VUDU combo pack.  Season One will be presented in a three-disc set both on DVD and Blu-ray/VUDU combo pack. The DVD box set will retail for MSRP of $49.98 and the BD/VUDU combo pack for MSRP of $59.99.  Along with the episodes that make up its first season, Black Sails: Season One will also include a handful of bonus features.  Among those bonus features are pieces on the cast’s attire, pirate folklore versus fact, and more.  the complete listing of the set’s bonus features is included below:

New Bonus Features:           

  • BLACK SAILS: A Look Inside
  • Dress To Kill
  • Pirate Camp
  • Folklore Is Finished: Pirate Politics
  • A Place In History
  • Building The Behemoth

 

Black Sails is executive produced by Michael Bay (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers 14, the Purge, The Island) and his Platinum Dunes partners Brad Fuller and Andrew Form (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Purge).  The Emmy Award-winning series centers on the adventure of Captain Flint (Toby Stephens—Die Another Day, Space Cowboys, Robin Hood, Masterpiece Mystery! Inspector Lewis) and the newest addition to his crew, John Silver (Luke Arnold).  The pair fights to protect New Providence Island, the most infamous home of pirates and criminals in its day.  The series is also Executive produced by Jonathan Steinberg, creator of CBS’ cult hit series Jericho and Robert Levine (Touch).

Black Sails: Season 1 will be released just in time for audiences to catch up on the series before the premiere of its second season on January 24th, 2015 exclusively on Starz.  More information and all of the latest updates on Black Sails is available online at:

Website: http://www.starz.com/originals/blacksails

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/blacksails.starz

Twitter: http://twitter.com/blksails_starz

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.

The Wonder Years Season One Is A Wonder-Ful Box Set

Courtesy:  Time Life Entertainment/StarVista Entertainment

Courtesy: Time Life Entertainment/StarVista Entertainment

Twenty-one years ago, one of the greatest television series in the modern era of television came to an end after six seasons.  The series in question is none other than ABC’sThe Wonder Years.  The Wonder Years was and is today one of the greatest series in the network’s history.  Few shows have made as much of an impact for ABC as The Wonder Years before or since.  That’s not to say that there are none.  There are those that obviously have.  But for that network alone, The Wonder Years remains today one of the network’s absolutely most beloved series.  While The Wonder Years did see some VHS releases after it ended its initial run, it had not seen the light of day since then.  That is until now.  Next Tuesday, October 7th, StarVista Entertainment and Time Life Entertainment will release the first season of this hugely acclaimed series to audiences alongside a pair of full series set for the series’ most diehard fans.  The complete series box sets are a bit pricey, needless to say.  That means that many fans will be aiming more for the first season box set that will be released alongside those boxes.  There is just as much to appreciate about the stand-alone Season One box set as those full series sets.  The most obvious factor that audiences will appreciate is the inclusion of all six (yes, six) episodes from the series’ first season.  The companion booklet included in the box set adds to the enjoyment factor even more.  And last but not least is the bonus material included with the set.  All three of these factors together make The Wonder YearsSeason One one of the most welcome new box sets this year.

The Wonder Years was one of the greatest series to ever come to television.  It is still one of the greatest in television’s modern era to this day.  The series worked so well because like so many series of its time, it had such substance and originality.  There was also so much heart to the show.  It all showed through clearly thanks to the hard work of the series’ writers.  This is the case even in the series’ debut season.  Audiences that pick up Season One will hear the cast and crew discuss in the bonus features that heart and substance among many other topics.  That will be discussed at a later point.  Getting back to the point, the writing within Season One’s episodes is the most important of factors in this season’s enjoyment and success.  That’s especially the case considering the fact that Season One lasted all of six episodes.  Audiences are taken back to 1968, well before most of the show’s audiences had even been thought of.  Despite this fact, the themes carried within each episode are timeless.  Families having to deal with personal loss, young love, and the general coming-of-age themes are ones to which even today’s audiences can relate.  Given, times have changed.  So the situations portrayed in these episodes might have evolved in a manner of speaking.  But by and large, they still remain just as relatable today as they were in the episodes’ original broadcasts.

The themes presented within each of Season One’s episodes are timeless.  They are themes to which audiences of all ages can relate even today.  That in itself is quite the statement to the work of the series’ original writers.  Collectively, they make up what is just one part of the whole that is such a joy for all audiences in The Wonder Years: Season One.  Another part of Season One that audiences will appreciate is the set’s companion booklet.  Yes, that’s right.  The booklet carries just as much weight as the episodes themselves presented in this season’s set.  The reason that the set’s companion booklet is so important is that it serves as far more than just another ordinary, run-of-the-mill episode guide.  Audiences get in the double-disc set’s companion booklet an episode guide.  They get a thorough history of the show, too.  There are in-depth notes about the show’s production, from Kevin (Fred Savage) and Winnie’s (Danica McKellar) first kiss to personal thoughts on the episodes and even music listings from each episode and more.  Audiences that might not have known will be interested to learn that Kevin and Winnie’s kiss in this season was also the very first for Fred Savage and Danica McKellar.  Both actors offer more insight on that moment in the bonus features included with the set.  And the show’s runners offer their own insight into the episodes and specific characters throughout Season One both in this booklet and the bonus features included in the set.  Again, the bonus features will be touched on later.  The music listing included in the set’s companion booklet is especially important to the whole as it was in fact that music rights that held up the series’ release for so many years.  Now, audiences get to hear all the great classic music from the series’ setting and even learn about said songs thanks to their listing and a brief history on those that performed said songs in each episode.  The inclusion of that brief history on the songs makes for a great introduction to a whole new world of music for audiences of all ages.  It helps to introduce them to music to which they might not have otherwise previously had knowledge or interest in those songs.  All of the collective information and insight provided in Season One’s companion booklet enhances the overall viewing experience.  Together with the timeless, solidly written episodes, the two factors make this set all the more of a must have for anyone that grew up a fan of this modern classic.

The timeless, solidly written episodes that make up The Wonder Years: Season One are themselves more than enough reason for fans of this modern classic series to add this set to their personal collections.  The companion booklet that comes with the set heightens the enjoyment of the box set even more.  That is because of the amount of information and insight included throughout the booklet.  It isn’t just another run-of-the-mill episode guide.  In direct connection to both the episodes and the set’s companion booklet, the bonus material included in Season One’s box set rounds out the package.  The most important of the bonuses included in this set is “With A Little Help From My Friends: The Early Days of the Wonder Years.”  This feature includes interviews with the cast and crew, including the show’s creators Neal Marlens and Carol Black, and from lead actors Fred Savage and Danica McKellar.  There is also some insight from actor Daniel Stern (Home Alone, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, City Slickers, Bushwhacked) in regards to narrating the series and how closely certain episodes actually mirrored his own personal life.  As noted before, both McKellar and Savage discuss that first kiss.  McKellar laughs as she discusses the slight discomfort at having an audience for the scripted kiss.  That was the case being that it was the first kiss period for both actors both on screen and off.  Co-stars Josh Saviano (Paul) and Jason Hervey (Wayne) share their own thoughts on the show’s early days alongside Dan Lauria and Alley Mills who played Kevin and Wayne’s parents Jack and Norma.  The cast reunion highlights and personal interviews also included as bonuses each offer their own enjoyment.  But the look back at the series’ early days offers the most enjoyment of the bonus features.  That is because it is a direct compliment to the episodes themselves and the set’s companion booklet.  Together with the booklet and Season One’s timeless, solidly written episodes, that one bonus feature alone serves to make this box set complete.  It is that proverbial cherry on the banana split that is The Wonder Years: Season One.  Audiences will see that for themselves when they purchase this box set or order it for themselves when it is made available next Tuesday, October 7th.

The episodes that make up the first season of The Wonder Years are some of the most impressive from the debut season of any series in television’s modern era.  Their themes are timeless.  The result is a group of episodes that audiences of any age will appreciate today.  The companion booklet included with Season One makes this box set even more enjoyable because it isn’t just another run-of-the-mill episode guide booklet.  It offers an episode guide, yes.  But it also offers a history on the series, on the series’ music, and a certain amount of insight on the season’s episodes in particular.  That depth makes the episodes even more enjoyable for viewers.  And the bonus features pick right up where the companion booklet leaves off, rounding out the whole package.  The people at StarVista and Time Life obviously went to great lengths to make sure that each of these elements would make the biggest impact possible for fans of The Wonder Years.  They did that and more.  All three factors together prove The Wonder Years: Season One to be one of the most welcome new box sets of 2014.  The Wonder Years: Season One will be available in stores and online next Tuesday, October 7th on DVD.  It can be ordered online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Wonder-Years-Season-1/dp/B00L9OPFTC/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1412286805&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Wonder+Years+Season+One.  More information on this and other releases from Star Vista and Time Life is available online at:

 

Website: http://www.timelife.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/TimeLifeUS

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.