New Beetlejuice Box Set Makes Its Case To Be Another Of 2014’s Best Box Sets For Family And Children

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Warner Brothers Home Video

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Warner Brothers Home Video

Shout! Factory landed no fewer than four of its releases on this critic’s list of the year’s best new DVDs and Blu-rays for families in 2013. 2014 is still very much in its infancy. And already Shout! Factory has landed one of its new releases as a definite on this critic’s list in the recently released The Red Skelton Show:The Lost Episodes. Now this critic can say that Shout! Factory has landed another potential on that list for this year in the form of Beetlejuice: Seasons Two & Three. Shout! Factory will release this two season set in partnership with Warner Brothers Home Video on March 18th, 2014. Whether one recalls this standout toon from their own childhood or is brand new to the series, Beetlejuice: Seasons Two& Three will impress any viewer. It will impress any viewer first and foremost because of its writing. Another reason that audiences will appreciate this season is its animation. And lastly, one must make note of the set’s packaging. All of these factors together make Beetlejuice: Seasons Two & Three another must see both for kids and kids at heart.

The writing in the second and third seasons of Beetlejuice is central to the success of this new box set.  The series’ writers maintained the same writing style established in its first season throughout every episode of Seasons Two and Three.  The pop culture spoofs are there.  So are the moments in which the writers break down the fourth wall.  Even more impressive is that despite the fact that while the episodes take place in the Netherworld, the writers continued to make each episode kid friendly rather straight up spooky.  Audiences will love the spoof of Sherlock Holmes in ‘A-Ha.’  And those that are old enough to remember the show will love just as much the spoof of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse in ‘Uncle B.J.’s Roadhouse.’  In this same episode, the writers incorporate that breaking down of the fourth wall.  This is a comic element that far too few animation studios use in today’s “cartoons.”  Its use in this episode is a prime example of how much hilarity it can add to a cartoon, especially when done right.  So while it is wonderfully entertaining on the surface, it serves an even deeper purpose in comparison to the “cartoons” that populate the television spectrum today.  It serves as a lesson on how much writing has changed in children’s programming from the 80s and 90s up to where it is today.  If anything, one could argue that such an example shows how much writing for today’s mainstream children’s programming has de-evolved.  That being the case, it makes this collection of episodes all the more enjoyable.

The pop culture spoofs and breaking down of the fourth wall are both integral parts of the writing in Beetlejuice: Seasons 2 & 3 that are rarely used in today’s mainstream children’s programming.  Just as integral to the show’s success in its second and third seasons is the fact that the show’s writers could take a spooky world and craft kid friendly adventures centered in that world.  Those adventures made the Netherworld not seem as spooky as it did in the movie on which the animated series is based.  The adventures are so kid friendly that they almost make the Netherworld feel like the human world for lack of better wording.  One can’t help but wonder if perhaps that approach to writing Lydia and Beetlejuice’s adventures was an inspiration behind the world of Disney Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. at least to some point.  That writing works with the show’s animation to make these two seasons just as enjoyable as the series’ first season.

The writing in the second and third seasons of Beetlejuice goes a long way toward making these two seasons just as enjoyable as the series’ first season.  In direct relation, the animation (especially that of the Netherworld) makes Seasons Two & Three even more enjoyable.  It serves as a companion to the writing and makes the Netherworld that much less spooky for even today’s younger viewers.  The colors used in the Netherworld scenes are actually relatively bright.  This creates more of a welcoming and upbeat feel to that world.  On an even deeper level,  so much of today’s children’s programming is crafted by either flash animation or by full on computer generated graphics.  Beetlejuice by comparison was, like most real cartoons of its era, created entirely by hand.  For those that grew up with this modern hand-drawn classic, seeing that hand-drawn animation is a breath of fresh air among the stale, cookie cutter style excuses for cartoons that are out there today.  It’s just one more reason that any true cartoon lover and any original fan of this series will want to pick up this dual-disc set when it hits store shelves next month.

Both the writing and animation in the second and third seasons of Beetlejuice are important to the success of each season.  Just as important as the writing and animation in the box set’s upcoming release is its packaging.  Because both the second and third seasons were so short, each one received its own disc inside a single standard-sized case.  It would have been so easy for Shout! Factory and Warner Home Video to split up the seasons regardless.  That seems to be the trend among so many studios today with home releases of their programs.  So it’s nice to see that Shout!  Factory and WHV didn’t take that route with this release.  It presents a certain level of ethics between the two companies.  The episode listing for each season is also provided as part of the set’s packaging.  Each season’s episode list is included inside the case on one side.  There is little left to note of this set, if anything, after noting all of the positives of the packaging.  The packaging, together with the animation and writing, combine to make Beetlejuice: Seasons Two and Three yet another certifiable candidate for a spot on this critic’s annual list of the year’s best new DVDs and Blu-rays for kids and families.  It will be available in stores and online Tuesday, March 18th and can be pre-ordered direct from the Shout! Factory online store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/product/beetlejuice-seasons-two-three.  More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory 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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Beetlejuice Compilation Is Loads Of Spooky Fun For The Whole Family

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Warner Home Video

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Warner Home Video

Everybody’s favorite “ghost with the most” is back once again.  That’s right! Beetlejuice is back again thanks to Shout! Factory and Warner Brothers Home Video.  This time, fans of the modern classic cartoon have gotten a special treat as Halloween gets closer, with the new compilation DVD, Beetlejuice: A Halloween Spooktacular.  This compilation is another great trip back in time for those that grew up watching this cartoon and for their own kids.  Its writing and animation were unlike anything else on TV in the show’s original broadcast.  And the same applies today.  That writing and animation help make it a good fit for any family Halloween party this year.  And for those that are true fans, it’s a good bridge for fans that are waiting to see if Shout! Factory and WHV will release any of the show’s other seasons, the first season and the complete series already having been released this year.  Suffice it to say that whether one is a kid or a kid at heart, Beetlejuice: A Halloween Spooktacular is great fun whether for that upcoming Halloween party or just to watch.

Beetlejuice: A Halloween Spooktacular is a great trip down memory lane for those audiences that grew up with the modern classic cartoon series, Beetlejuice.  It pulls eight episodes from the show’s original four-season run for a frightful yet fun time for both the kids that grew up with the series and today’s kids.  Audiences will love watching Beetlejuice go toe-to-toe with a Boris Karloff style character named Boris to Death in “Ghost to Ghost.”  Beetlejuice isn’t the only one that gets the spotlight in this collection of episodes.  BJ’s neighbor Jacques wants to become Mr. Neitherworld in “Raging Skull.”  But he doesn’t stand a chance without the help of Beetlejuice.  Any parent will appreciate the pop culture references both in the episode’s title and within the episode itself.  If this isn’t convincing enough, then maybe the inclusion of one of the series’ best episodes, “Laugh of the Party” will help convince fans to check out this compilation.  Lydia holds her own Halloween party in this episode as competition to her hated nemesis, Claire Brewster.  Being a Halloween party, Beetlejuice is actually able to come as himself.  There’s just one problem.  He brings some “party animals” to *ahem* liven up the party (ba-dump-bump-bump).These are just a few examples of what makes Beetlejuice: A Halloween Spooktacular so enjoyable for the show’s original audiences and their own kids.  There are five more episodes included loaded with family friendly jokes and more that remain unlike anything else on TV today for kids.

The scripts crafted for Beetlejuice made the show unlike anything else on TV in the series’ original run.  They continue to make the show unlike anything on television today for young viewers.  It’s even unlike the movie on which the series is based.  This is really a good thing.  It serves as a tribute to the series’ longevity.  It isn’t nearly as dark and creepy as its live action horror/comedy brother.  It’s been toned down to make it kid friendly.  And there is nothing wrong with this at all.  Just as the writing made this series more kid friendly, so did the animation.  To be more specific, the use of colors helped make it more kid friendly.  As subtle as it is, both the Neitherworld scenes and those scenes in Lydia’s home were animated using relatively bright colors.  This was a subtle element.  But it was an extremely important element at the same time.  It made the Neitherworld less scary to young viewers and more like just some funny fantasy world.  In the case of Lydia’s home, it helped to offset Lydia’s Goth personality and made her more relatable to viewers.

Keeping in account everything noted, Beetlejuice: A Halloween Spooktacular is a fun time both for today’s young viewers and for those that grew up with the series in its original run on TV.  It’s especially valuable for the show’s fans because the release of the entire series box set earlier this year was done strictly through Amazon as opposed to the release of the show’s first season.  So until or unless Shout! Factory and WHV release the series’ remaining three seasons, fans have in this compilation at least a taste of the entire series to enjoy.  It’s available now in stores and online.  Fans can order the single-disc compilation now online direct from Shout! Factory’s online store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/node/218183.  More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory is available online now 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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Beetlejuice Season One Reminds Viewers Why Beetlejuice is The Ghost With The Most

 

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

When it debuted in 1989, the Tim Burton helmed horror comedy Beetlejuice was one of the scariest, funniest, and most original movies of its time.  It wasn’t long after the movie debuted that Burton headed up an animated, kid friendly take on the movie that has turned out to be another of the best children’s cartoons of its time.  Even in only four seasons, this unlikely hit produced so many laughs both for kids and their parents who had likely seen the movie.  It has remained such a fan favorite because of its storylines and its entirely original animation style.  It also is so impressive thanks to voice actor Stephen Ouimette.  His portrayal of the “Ghost with the Most” successfully brought Michael Keaton’s character to the small screen.  His portrayal of Beetlejuice, along with the show’s writing and animation makes this another example of everything that was once right with children’s entertainment in the late 80s and 90s.  This is evident from early on in the series’ first season, which is available now on DVD.

Audiences that grew up with Beetlejuice: The Animated Series will remember this show fondly for a number of reasons.  One of the most notable of those reasons is the show’s writing.  Those that remember the movie on which this show was based remember how everything unfolded.  So they will recall that the animated series is quite different.  But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. And keeping in mind the proposed plot for a long in the works sequel to the original movie, that Lydia and Beetlejuice would be friends in the series actually makes more sense in hindsight.  Having Lydia and Beetlejuice being friends is just one of the positives to the writing behind Beetlejuice: The Animated Series.  The physical comedy and the nonsensical plots add to each episode’s comic element.  For instance, having Beetlejuice taking on a babysitting service just to earn the money to buy Lydia a gift is completely against everything that Beetlejuice stands for.  So it goes without saying that this is a solid first episode to the series.  And the jokes that Beetlejuice pulls on Lydia’s dad, Charles, and her rival, Claire Brewster make for more than enough physical comedy for viewers of any age.  Suffice it to say that the show’s writers offered plenty more for viewers to enjoy whether for the first time or the first time again.  But to discuss all of it would take far too long.  So it would be best to go on to another factor behind the success of Season One.

From the show’s writing, the next sensible point of Beetlejuice: The Animated Series to discuss is its animation. Beetlejuice: The Animated Series had its own identifying mark thanks to its animation.  As a matter of fact, the way that the show’s artists combined actual hand drawn animation with computer based animation was something that no other cartoon at the time was doing at the time.  And it wouldn’t be done again for many years to come.  It can be argued that its animation style was quite the influence behind other cartoons crafted during the late 1990s and early 200s.  A prime example of that influence is Cartoon Network’s short-lived series, Courage the Cowardly Dog.  It’s just one of a handful of cartoons that have followed suit.  And it’s very possible that without the work of the animators behind Beetlejuice: The Animated Series, these later series might not have happened.  Or at least, they might not have been brought to life when they did.

The animation and writing behind Beetlejuice: The Animated Series did so much to make this show stand out from all of the other cartoons from which kids had to choose in its original airing.  And it still does to this day.  There’s one other factor that makes it so enjoyable, even in its debut season.  That last remaining factor is the voice talent of one Stephen Ouimette.  Ouimette was the man that brought Beetlejuice to life on the small screen.  And he did quite the job of it, too.  He expertly translated the character portrayed by Michael Keaton (Batman, Batman Returns, Mr. Mom) onto the small screen, making him just as entertaining as Keaton.  From the personality, right down to the voice itself, Ouimette was showed time and again that he did his research with this character.  There was no better choice for the role, since Keaton was unable to (or simply didn’t want to) voice the “ghost with the most.”  He might have only gotten to give voice to Beetlejuice for four seasons.  But in those four seasons, he helped make Beetlejuice one of the most entertaining and ironically kid friendly characters on television.  And along with the writing and the animation, the whole show proved to be one of the best on television at the time.  It proves even today, to be one of the best even on DVD.  It is available in stores and online and can be ordered direct via the Shout! Factory store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/?q=node/217313.

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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.