In October 2014 one of the most important eras in television’s history came to an end. The era in question was that of Saturday morning cartoons. For so many decades, children across America would get up every Saturday at the crack of dawn and watch cartoons while eating countless bowls of sugar-laden cereal until noon. But on the weekend of October 4th, 2014 the final nail was put into the proverbial coffin for Saturday morning cartoons when The CW ran its final “Vortexx” programming block. Being that weekday morning (and afternoon) cartoons had already gone the way of the dinosaur many years before, it was also the true end of a whole generation’s innocence. The 24-hour news cycle took over along with streaming media and FCC demands for more educational programming. Thankfully though, many companies out there have made it their sole mission to keep that age of innocence alive with DVD and Blu-ray releases of those classic bygone cartoons. They include the likes of Shout! Factory, Scholastic, 20th Century Fox, and the focus of today’s review, Mill Creek Entertainment, among so many others. While Mill Creek Entertainment does not normally have the best reputation within the home entertainment arena there have been times when the independent outlet has been worthy of at least some praise. Its re-issue of ABC’s short-lived Saturday morning series Bump in the Night earlier this year is one of those examples of Mill Creek deserving at least some praise. That is due in part to the set’s packaging. That will be discussed later. While not perfect it does have at least some positives. The presentation of the episodes themselves is also worth noting in this recently re-issued set. It will be discussed later. Last but hardly least of note in examining Mill Creek’s new re-issue of Bump in The Night: The Complete Series is the series’ writing and its affordable price. It is one of a small handful of saving graces for the collection. Each element plays its own important part in the whole of this set. Collectively they make Mill Creek Entertainment’s re-issue of the series a welcome addition to any family’s home DVD library even despite its imperfections.
Mill Creek Entertainment’s recent re-issue of ABC’s short-lived Saturday morning series Bump in the Night is not a perfect presentation by any means. However, considering how much worse it could have been (especially considering the company’s general reputation with re-issues) it is surprisingly worthy of praise. That is due in large part to the company’s overall packaging of the series. Each of the series’ two seasons is presented on its own disc on its very own spot inside the set’s case. This is a major departure for Mill Creek. More often than not, when it presents multi-disc sets, it places them one atop the other on one single or in ordinary CD sleeves that are then placed atop one another in the same format as its other multi-disc sets. Neither practice is ergonomic nor safe for the sets’ discs. Keeping that in mind, seeing Mill Creek take the proverbial road less traveled here makes the company and the set’s presentation deserving of praise. Now having noted this one cannot ignore a point at which Mill Creek came up short in the set’s presentation.
The packaging that is used for Mill Creek Entertainment’s recent re-issue of Bump in the Night: The Complete Series is deserving of praise in its own right. At the same time though, that packaging is not perfect. Each of the series’ twenty-seven episodes is listed on the cover of each of the sets two discs. Thy are placed clearly within their given season, too. This is where the problems begin. While Mill Creek is to be applauded for doing this, one cannot ignore the fact that they are not listed on the back of the set’s box. There is also no companion booklet to help guide viewers along the way with either episode guide or even episode summary. On a related note the only bonus feature included in the set is the series’ special holiday episode “Twas The Night Before Bumpy.” Other than that there are no bonuses to make up for the lack of episode guides other than the episode listings on each disc. To that end the set’s overall packaging is hardly perfect. But it deserves at least some points for effort. It is not the only element that should be noted here. The presentation of the episodes themselves is just as important to note here as the set’s packaging.
The packaging method used in Mill Creek Entertainment’s recent re-issue of Bump in the Night is a mixed bag. It has its positives. But it also has its negatives. Considering this the packaging is not a total loss. But it still could have been better. Moving on, the set’s packaging is not the only important element to note here. The episodes’ actual presentation is just as important to note as the set’s packaging. The episodes clearly have not been touched in their transfer to DVD in this latest re-issue. Though, in defense of Mill Creek Entertainment here, they don’t look that bad. Given, they could have benefited from at least a little bit of touching up, but in the bigger picture of their presentation they look just as they did in their original broadcast on ABCs Saturday morning broadcasts from 1994 – 1995. The look of the series—for those not familiar with the series–was something completely unlike that of any of its counterparts and even any show that has since come along. It mixed together live action elements with stop motion/claymation for a look that was all its own. It didn’t have that spit-shined look that so many animated series had at the time nor even more experimental look of a show such as Reboot. It was its own, look. And luckily it actually does end up looking quite interesting in its own right. In turn it makes the episodes presentation deserving of its own praise despite, again, being slightly imperfect, too. It still is not the last of the sets most important elements. Last but hardly least of note in examining the series is its writing. The writing is the set’s primary saving grace.
Mill Creek Entertainment’s recent re-issue of Bump in the Night is not a perfect re-issue. But it is still deserving of at least some praise in considering. That is determined in considering the set’s packaging and the look of the series’ episodes. Neither is perfect by any means. But they could also have been much worse. That’s especially considering Mill Creek Entertainment’s overwhelming reputation. Having examined both of the noted elements there is just one more element to examine here. That element is the series’ overall writing. Just as the series’ look was completely unlike that of any other children’s series at the time so was its writing. In regards to its writing it was a partly goth-style show that would have (perhaps) made even Tim Burton proud. It follows Mr. Bumpy (Jim Cummings—The Lion King, CatDog, Transformers Rescue Bots) and his pals Squishington (Rob Paulsen—Animaniacs, Darkwing Duck, Danny Phantom) and Miss Molly Coddle (Gail Matthius—Bobby’s World, Tiny Toon Advenures, Animaniacs) as they have all kinds of nocturnal adventures in the room of Mr. Bumpy’s 10-year old boy. One can’t help but wonder, in considering this what if any role it had to have played in influencing the development of Pixar’s Toy Story. And there are plenty of laughs to be shared in each episode along with important life lessons, too. “Better Homes and Garbage” is one of the best examples of what makes the writing so impressive. It is a classic Odd Couple style story that will leave audiences of any age laughing. In the end, Mr. Bumpy learns, just as Oscar did in The Odd Couple the value of his counterpart’s friendship. Therein is the episode’s important life lesson—valuing one’s friends. On a completely different note, “Danger: Unexploded Squishington” doesn’t really boast any life-altering lesson. But it does offer plenty of laughs as Mr. Bumpy realizes that his friend might have unwittingly eaten a bomb. Spongebob Squarepants has a similar episode in which Squidward gives Spongebob a pie laden with a bomb. So one can’t help but wonder here if the prior might have been an influence for the latter. “Party Pooper” is another example of what makes the series’ writing so important. When Molly wants to go to a party being held by the Cute Dolls, she learns an important lesson about being true to herself rather than trying to be what the Cute Dolls think that she should be. It is a timeless lesson from which audiences of all ages. These episodes are all included in the series’ first season, meaning that there are plenty of other episodes that could be used to cite the importance of the series’ writing. Altogether the writing behind this series (including all of the great pop culture references within each episode) proves to be one of just two shining, saving graces in its latest presentation. The other would be its relatively affordable price. The set is retailing on average for about eight dollars. When that and the series writing are set against the set’s overall packaging and the look of the show’s episodes the whole of the set makes it an imperfect re-issue but one that is still a welcome addition to any family’s home DVD library.
Bump in the Night: The Complete Series is, in its most recent re-issue, an imperfect collection. But even in considering its imperfections it is still a welcome addition to any family’s home DVD library. That applies especially to families who have knowledge and respect for the cartoons that once made Saturday mornings so great. There is no denying that its packaging in this new presentation leaves at least a little something to be desired. Though, it could have been so much worse. And while it would have been nice to see Mill Creek Entertainment do at least some re-touching in regards to the look of the series, it doesn’t look so bad that it makes the episodes unwatchable. In fact one could argue that its original look still makes it stand out even today especially against television’s current sea of CG-based children’s series. The writing behind the series and the sets pricing are the set’s saving graces. The writing will entertain and educate (so to speak) audiences of all ages. And the set’s relatively affordable price (averaging about eight dollars) will increase the odds that families will want to purchase the set and consider all of the previously noted elements for themselves. Each element is important in its own right. That goes without saying. It has its pros and its cons. But all things considered the combination of those pros and cons balances itself out and in turn makes this new re-issue one that its fans will want to add to their own home DVD libraries. It is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered online direct via Mill Creek Entertainment’s online store at http://www.millcreekent.com/bump-in-the-night-the-complete-series.html. More information on this and other titles from Mill Creek Entertainment is available online now at:
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