StarVista Succeeds Again With The Wonder Years: Season Three

Courtesy:  StarVista Entertainment/Time Life Entertainment

Courtesy: StarVista Entertainment/Time Life Entertainment

It is official. StarVista Entertainment now has two new releases on this critic’s list of this year’s best new box sets for children and families. There is a third release from StarVista that has made this critics list of the best new box sets for grown-ups. But that is a story for another time. Getting back on topic, one of the noted box sets on this year’s list—The Wonder Years Season 2—was released back in February of this year. The other—The Wonder Years Season 3—was just released late last month. It is interesting to note how quickly StarVista has churned out the series’ first three seasons considering that Season One was released as recently as this past October. It’s interesting to note because of how enjoyable each season has proven, including the newly released third season. Typically when companies churn out releases (box sets or DVDs/Blu-rays) the end result is a presentation that is largely forgettable and hardly worth the watch. Thankfully, in the case of The Wonder Years, audiences will be happy to know that the standards established by StarVista in the series’ first two seasons have been maintained throughout the course of this season, too thus making Season Three just as enjoyable as those first two seasons and proving why it is yet another piece from StarVista that is one of this year’s best new box sets for children and families.

The third season of The Wonder Years is just as enjoyable for audiences of all ages as the series’ first two seasons. This is the case even though the company released it only about three months after the release of the series’ second season and only seven months after the series’ debut season. It is so enjoyable because those charged with its assembly and release maintained the same standards used within those sets in this one, too. The main standard in question is the inclusion of every one of the season’s twenty-three total episodes in their entirety. The episodes in question are ones that once again are just as relatable for audiences today as they were to audiences in their original run on ABC so many years ago. The set’s first disc is loaded with examples of how those episodes remain so timeless. It opens with “Summer Song” in which Kevin has his first-ever summer romance. While not everybody out there has had that fabled one-time “relationship” enough people have had it even now in the twenty-first century to make it relatable. “Rock ‘n Roll” is just as relatable. Again it is not entirely relatable to every viewer today. But one glance at the teeny-bopper and tweeny-bopper sitcoms and dramas out there today shows just how relatable this episode remains despite its age. Having that teen band is something that so many young people do as part of their “coming of age” even today. Even this critic went through that at one point. “Goodbye” is perhaps one of the most powerful of the season’s episodes in its ability to relate to viewers as it sees Kevin having to face one of the most difficult situations that he would ever face in his life. It is a situation that every young person has to face at one point or another. It is just part of that personal growth that everybody goes through at one point or another as they get older. Staying on that note, the fact that the third season of The Wonder Years continues to present Kevin’s coming of age—his personal growth and his growth as part of a family unit—in whole, it makes the series that much more believable and in turn more memorable from one episode to the next. That alone makes this latest season set that much more of a must have for audiences of any age. In other words it proves even more why it is one of this year’s best new box sets for the whole family.

The presentation of The Wonder Years’ third season in its entirety is the most important aspect to its enjoyment. It is a serial that really is not a serial. The scenarios presented in each episode are timeless mirror images of the real world and vice versa. They are just part of what makes this season another success. Along with including all twenty-three (NOT seventeen) episodes featured in the season’s original run, StarVista Entertainment has once again included a load of in-depth bonuses for audiences. Audiences get to hear from stars Danica McKellar, Fred Savage, and Josh Saviano yet again in another roundtable discussion that focuses on not just Season Three but the show’s other seasons, too. There are also one-on-one interviews with McKellar and her sister Crystal–who played another of Kevin’s romantic interests, Becky Slater—as well as Olivia d’Abo (Karen Arnold) and Jason Hervey (Wayne Arnold). If that’s not enough for fans, StarVista has one again included a companion booklet that serves as not just an episode guide but its own true bonus companion to the season set. It is a bonus because once again, it provides extra behind-the-scenes “secrets” about each episode such as the revelation that Fred Savage’s younger brother (and now fellow famed actor) Ben played Cupid—a.k.a. Curtis Hartsell—in the episode “The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre” or that Danica McKellar joined the ranks of greats such as Orson Welles, Frank Sinatra, Eva Marie Satin, Hal Holbrook, Spalding Gray, and Paul Newman in performing in the play Our Town. Sure, it was as Winnie Cooper. But it is still pretty interesting to learn this little tidbit of information. There are even more masses of extras shared throughout the set’s bonus companion booklet that audiences will enjoy learning for themselves. Together with the season’s full complement of fully believable and entertaining episodes it both elements together show quite clearly why this latest release is another of the year’s best new box sets for families. While both elements are equally important to the season’s enjoyment, they still are not all that makes this set so memorable and a must have. The look and sound of the set is another standard that StarVista has maintained in this season.

Audiences that perhaps might not have already picked up the first two seasons of The Wonder Years will be quite pleasantly surprised by the series’ third season box set. That is because it maintains the high standards set by StarVista for itself in the noted box sets in every way. It presents every episode from the classic series’ third season in whole. Added on to that, the episodes continue to keep audiences engaged and entertained because of their reality. The bonus material that was included with the series’ previous standalone sets are just as prevalent here as in those sets. They make the overall viewing experience presented in this box set all the richer for viewers. While both standards go a long way toward making The Wonder Years: Season Three enjoyable for audiences, the collective production values of the episodes (their overall look and sound), are also just as impressive as those of the previous seasons’ episodes. The grainy look of the show from its original run is there. Bu it has been cleaned up just enough to keep the picture clear. The season’s audio mix is just as impressive. This is especially the case with the show’s soundtrack. The songs that make up the show’s foundation sound wonderful whether on a standard television or one with a home theater system. In the same vein, the audio has been handled so professionally that at no point will viewers have to ride their remotes so to speak. In other words, whether in the transitions from dialogue to music and back or from scene to scene in general, viewers will not have to worry about adjusting the volume on their TVs. Yes it seems minor on the surface. But there are those series and movies that suffer dramatically from poor audio management which leads to viewers riding their remotes constantly. It really takes away from the overall viewing experience. Thankfully, again, viewers don’t have to worry about that here. Because they don’t have to worry about making that constant adjustment, viewers will be able to spend their time taking in the stories presented in every one of the season’s twenty-three episodes as well as all of the season’s bonus material. It rounds out the set and shows once and for all why The Wonder Years: Season Three is one of this year’s best new box sets for children and families.

The Wonder Years: Season Three is one of this year’s best new box sets for children and families, in case that point hasn’t already been driven home. It has more than earned this title thanks to the fact that it presents the same high standards established by StarVista Entertainment in the series’ first two season sets. It presents all twenty-three episodes that make up Season Three in their full, joy-filled and often emotional moments. The bonus material boasted by the series’ first two season sets are also present here. Just as impressive is the fact that this season looks and sounds just as impressive as those standalone sets. Whether on their own or collectively, all three elements noted here show without a doubt that the third season of The Wonder Years is one of this year’s best new box sets for children and families. It is available now in stores and online. More information on this and other titles from StarVista Entertainment is available online now at:




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Whitechapel Winning The “War” With Its New Album

Courtesy:  Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Tennessee based metal band Whitechapel released its fifth full length studio effort last Tuesday. That album, titled Our Endless War, has been met with mixed reviews from both fans and critics alike in the short time since its release. Those that are more experienced with will obviously be far more opinionated than those that might not be so familiar with the band’s body of work. One thing that both sides should be able to agree upon with this latest record is its heaviness both musically and lyrically. The album opens with the album’s absolutely searing title track that is an indictment of the country’s current state. Just as blistering is the Fear Factory style song ‘Worship The Digital Age.’ This song delves into the world’s overwhelmingly increasing obsession with things such as social media and all things digital. The band doesn’t let up an inch even as it reaches the last of the album’s dozen total tracks. The album’s closer, ‘Fall of the Hypocrites’ is brutal to say the absolute least. This applies both in terms of the song’s lyrics and its music. It will leave listeners breathless by the time it ends. Having experienced the album’s eleven other tracks, it will leave any naysayer agreeing that this is an album that any metal purist should hear at least once.

Whitechapel makes quite the statement on its latest release. The album’s opener and title track is a solid speed metal piece. There’s no denying that it is more listener friendly than some of the other material on this album. But in the band’s defense, there is nothing wrong with reaching out to a wider audience. The three-guitar attack of Ben Savage, Zach Householder, and Alex Wade makes for so much depth to the song. While one provides the song’s primary line, the other two work in tandem with bassist Ben Harclerode and drummer Gabe Crisp for an absolutely pounding opus. Vocalist Phil Bozeman’s heavy growling vocals are among the most powerful of any vocalist within the band’s sub-genre as he screams, “America our wasteland/Where death is entertainment/The place where moving forward/Means you turn the other direction/A place where reality existed/And we still continue to bleed.” This seething indictment of the current state of the nation continues throughout the course of the song, going after both the people and the politicians all at once. It’s a full-on unrelenting piece that is certain to impress any metal purist with its mix of adrenaline-fueled music and standard socio-politically charged lyrics. It’s just the start of what Whitechapel has to offer listeners on its new record, too.

Our Endless War’s socio-politically charged opener is a solid reintroduction for the band on its fifth full length studio effort. Just as blistering as that piece is ‘Worship The Digital Age.’ This song comes across as the band’s commentary concerning the world’s ever-growing obsession with the 24-hour news cycle, celebrity gossip and all things linked to the digital era. Given, it’s not the first song to ever tackle such topics. But it will most definitely keep listeners engaged thanks to its combination of music and lyrics. Again, each member of the band does his part to make this song one of the album’s most pummeling, musically. Bozeman backs up that heavy, grinding sound with his equally grinding vocals, screaming to listeners, “I can’t find it in me to resist and look away/This is where civilization falls/We have been convinced we need this to be entertained/This disease has consumed us all.” If this is indeed an indictment of people’s obsession with the noted topics, Bozeman couldn’t be more right. It really has become a disease of sorts. We are constantly living our lives online more and more. We are becoming more and more obsessed with our favorite celebrities and political figures. It makes one believe that this is truly where civilization finds its end. Bozeman notes himself in the song’s final verse, “Don’t waste your time/We’re already numb/Programmed for the now/And the future is none.” That one line, “programmed for the now” says it all. Our obsession with staying up with all the latest trends, etc. is going to be civilization’s end. Burton C. Bell and his band mates in Fear Factory would definitely be impressed by this piece.

Those that hoped for Whitechapel’s signature death metal sound on this record will be happy to know that the band hasn’t completely branched away from that sound this time out. The band closes its new album with the song ‘Fall of the Hypocrites.’ The band as a whole is razor shard throughout this final salvo. The song’s final verse puts the proverbial nail in the coffin, with Bozeman screaming, “You know who you are/Everyone sees right through those hateful scars/It’s a matter of time before we start to right these wrongs/We can start by using my chainsaw/The tongues come out first/to prevent venomous words/Then we’ll cauterize them and hang you by your necks/Behold the 8th wonder of the world.” Violent? Yes. A bit sarcastic in those final words? Yes. There’ no denying the fury and certainty in Bozeman’s words, either. Together with the song’s equally blistering musical side, it collectively leaves a lasting mark for the band.

‘Fall of the Hypocrites,’ Worship the Digital Age’ and ‘Our Endless War’ are each strong samples of what Whitechapel has to offer listeners on its new album. They aren’t the only positives to this new record. Listeners will each find their own favorite songs when they purchase or order Our Endless War for themselves. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct from the Metal Blade Records online store at It can also be downloaded via iTunes at

Whitechapel is currently touring in support of its new album alongside Devildriver, Carnifex, Fit For An Autopsy, and label mates Revocation and Rivers of Nihil. It will perform today at Plaza Condesa in Mexico City, Mexico before taking a short break to recharge for the next leg of its tour, which begins next Wednesday, May 14th in St. Louis, MO. The band’s tour schedule also brings it to North Carolina this Summer. The band is scheduled to perform at the Tremont Music Hall in Charlotte, North Carolina on Sunday, June 15th. The band’s current tour schedule, news and more is available online at,, and To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at