The Adventures of Chuck and Friends: Day at the Races is more than likely Shout! Factory Kids’ last installment of episodes from the family friendly series. If it is in fact the last collection of episodes that audiences will receive, then it is safe to say that it is a great way for the series to go out. That is thanks in large part to its writing. Once again, audiences get ten episodes that present a solid mix of both entertainment and invaluable lessons for young audiences. The overall run time of this allegedly last installment of episodes is another important key to the whole of the DVD. The work of those behind the show’s look is worth the note one more time, too. The episodes here look largely unlike other CG-based children’s offerings out there in terms of its overall design. It rounds out the reasons the audiences of all ages will appreciate the episodes presented here and shows together with the other noted elements why it is fully deserving of a spot on any critic’s list of the best new DVDs and Blu-rays for children and families.
If the latest collection of episodes of The Adventures of Chuck and Friends is in fact the last that audiences will get to enjoy, it is something of a sad thing. That is because even over the course of only two seasons it offered audiences so much to like. And this collection of episodes is no different from the series’ previous releases, either. The main reason that it proves itself just as enjoyable as its predecessors is the work of the series’ writers. Once more, the writers have crafted ten more episodes that expertly balance both entertainment and education so to speak. The education in question comes in the form of lessons that are just as invaluable for young viewers as those presented in the series’ previous compilations. Right from the disc’s outset this time, viewers are presented with an important lesson about teamwork in the episode “Contest Countdown.” The lesson in question is taught as a contest is held for the chance to ride with a well-known traffic reporter chopper. The way to win is to answer a riddle. Chuck and his friends end up working together and answer the riddle together. The lesson obviously taught here is that when people work together, everybody wins. As a sidebar, viewers also learn about the importance of developing problem-solving skills along the way. These two lessons are just a couple that show how the show’s writing proves its value to The Adventures of Chuck and Friends: Day at the Races. The disc’s second episode “Tough Break” teaches an equally invaluable pair of lessons.
When Chuck breaks his mom’s brand new wench in “Tough Break,” he enlists his friends to try to rebuild the wench. But in trying to cover it up, he ends up being caught and has to confess to what he’s done. He and his friends do end up fixing his mom’s wench. Along the way, he realizes the episode’s dual lessons–respecting others’ property and taking responsibility for one’s actions. These are lessons that can’t be driven home enough for young viewers. And they aren’t the last important lessons, either.
“The Short Cut,” the third episode included in this set, teaches its own equally invaluable lesson, to young viewers. The lesson presented here is that of the value of hard work. The lesson is taught as Chuck has some important things to do for his mom including building a new tool shed. In seeing the directions to building the shed, Chuck decides to try and take a short cut to finish the job, thinking nothing could go wrong. The end result is obviously quite the contrary. Simply put, the writers have presented to young viewers the message that nothing worth doing is ever easy. And the way to do things the right way is to follow the directions, NOT to try and do things one’s own way (I.E. taking shortcuts). This is an especially important lesson especially in an age when young audiences increasingly expect instant gratification for everything. It’s yet another example of how the writing used in these episodes shows itself the most important aspect of the collection. There are plenty of other important lessons that audiences will get out of the set’s other episodes. Those presented here are just a glimpse into how much the collection in whole has to offer audiences. For all of the value that the writing offers in this collection, the writing is just one part of what makes the collection in whole a success. The run time of each episode is just as worth noting in considering what makes The Adventures of Chuck and Friends: Day at the Races a success.
The work of the writers proves itself the most important aspect in The Adventures of Chuck and Friends: Day at the Races. That is because of the writers’ ability to balance the series’ entertainment with its more important developmental lessons. The lessons in question are presented in a fun way, rather than some obviously over the top, in-your-face approach that is used by other shows. As important as the writers work proves to be in the long run, their work would mean nothing without the time limitations put on each script or more simply put, the episodes’ run times. Each episode runs roughly eleven minutes. That means that the writers had a very fixed time in which to present each episode’s problem and solution/lesson. They managed those limitations with expertise, making sure not to spend too much time on the buildup or on the eventual outcome of each story. There are in fact some series whose episodes suffer from this issue of time management. The end result is young viewers easily losing interest even within the shows’ key demographics. That thankfully isn’t the case here. Because it isn’t the case, audiences will find themselves fully engaged yet again from beginning to end of each episode. Hopefully in the long run, that combination of solid writing and relatively short run times will lead to viewers of all ages picking up on the episodes’ lessons. In turn viewers will see for themselves why both elements of the episodes make this collection of episodes a success.
The run times and writing incorporated into the episodes featured in The Adventures of Chuck and Friends: Day at the Races are equally important to the set’s success. Of course they are only two-thirds of what makes this collection another success for audiences. The overall look of the episodes plays its own role in their enjoyment and success, too. Compared to so many other CG-based children’s series and movies (specifically Disney/Pixar’s Cars and Planes franchises) out there today, this series boasts its own identity thanks to its look. There’s something about the richness of the colors and even the design of the characters and their world in whole. While it’s obvious that this series was created via computers, it doesn’t look like the show’s heads and those behind its creation didn’t just toss something together and call it done. This has been a standard since the series’ first collection of episodes. There is a certain attention that has always been paid to the specific look of Chuck and each of his friends. Those responsible for bringing the characters and their world to life went to painstaking efforts to make each look as much like their real world counterparts as possible. That includes details as minute as the design of the vehicles’ tire treads and the overall shape of their chassis. Even the junkyard, the race track and Chuck’s “family home” received specific details. Audiences can tell that special attention was paid to especially this element with the inclusion of everything that a person would see in a normal everyday garage. It’s one of so many fine details that were given the utmost attention. Whether for these details or others not noted, the work put in to make them look different from the other CG-based series and movies out there paid off once again. Together with the work of the writers and the overall run time of each episode, all three elements make The Adventures of Chuck and Friends: Day at the Races one more (and last?) fun collection of episodes for audiences of all ages.
Whether it be for the work of the writers, the run times of each of the collection’s ten episodes or for the work of those responsible for designing the characters and world of Chuck and his friends and family, there is plenty to say to the show’s positive. It’s too bad that it looks like the series has now come to its end. One look at Discovery Family’s new website would seem to hint that it is no longer running the family friendly series. Even if it is indeed the end of the road for this series, then this potentially last installment of episodes proves a fine final lap (ba-dumb-bump bad pun fully intended) for one of the more underappreciated series in the last decade. The Adventures of Chuck and Friends: Day at the Races is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct from Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/kids/kids-animation/the-adventures-of-chuck-friends-day-at-the-races. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory and Shout! Factory Kids is available online now at:
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