Denver The Last Dinosaur Is Extinct No More

Courtesy:  Cinedigm/VCI Entertainment

Courtesy: Cinedigm/VCI Entertainment

Denver The Last Dinosaur is extinct no more!

Courtesy:  Cinedigm/VCI Entertainment

Courtesy: Cinedigm/VCI Entertainment

Cinedigm and VCI Entertainment will release Denver The Last Dinosaur: The Complete Series on Tuesday, September 16th. The series ran a total of fifty-two episodes from 1988 to 1990. It follows the adventures of Denver—a Corythosaurus—and his human friends who discovered him after he unexpectedly hatches from a fossilized egg. The series received a recommendation from the National Education Association for its engaging and nonviolent story lines. The series features the talents of some of today’s most well-known voice talents including: Tress MacNeille (The Simpsons, Futurama, Hey Arnold!), Frank Welker (The Real Ghostbusters, Curious George, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse), Kath Soucie (Dexter’s Lab, The Real Ghostbusters, Tiny Toon Adventures), June Foray (The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Garfield & Friends), Brian Cummings (Duck Tales, Garfield & Friends, Adventures of the Gummi Bears) and three of the voice talents from the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series in Cam Clarke, Townsend Coleman, and Rob Paulsen among so many others.

The upcoming box set will contain not only the series’ complete fifty-two episode run but also a handful of bonus materials, too. Those bonus materials include interviews with the series’ Creative Director Jeremy Corray, image galleries, and even a glimpse at other classic cartoons including the likes of Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs. The six-disc set will retail for SRP of $59.99. More information on this and other releases from Cinedigm is available online at http://www.facebook.com/Cinedigm, http://twitter.com/cinedigm and

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Beverly Hills Teens A “Rich” Classic From Mill Creek

Courtesy:  Mill Creek Entertainment

Courtesy: Mill Creek Entertainment

Mill Creek Entertainment’s release of Beverly Hills Teens Volume One is a blast from the past for anyone that grew up during the 1980s.  This classic cartoon is one of a handful that rose to popularity on the original Family Channel.  For those that don’t know, there actually used to be a Family Channel before ABC Family and even Fox Family.  It was just The Family Channel.  Getting back on topic, Beverly Hills Teens was originally aimed at a very niche audience.  Despite that, it was still an important program in its own right.  It was important in that it could be argued that it was one of the influences behind the hit 90s teen-centric drama, Beverly Hills 90210.    This is just one factor to consider in viewing this classic series.  Something else to consider with Beverly Hills Teens is its writing.  And its animation style was one more example of what used to make anime an interesting animation genre to watch.  Now, those audiences that grew up with this “old school” toon can share those positives with their own kids.  And that’s thanks also to the fact that the transfers from VHS to DVD were handled so well.  That factor works with the show’s animation and writing to make Beverly Hills Teens Volume One one more that any classic animation fan will appreciate.

It could very easily be argued that Beverly Hills Teens played at least a partial role in the eventual hit 90s primetime drama that was Beverly Hills 90210.  Yes, there is a vast difference in the storylines in the two shows.  But the fact that only three years separated the two shows’ debuts only serves to cement that argument even more.  Considering how long it would have taken to write the scripts for the latter, shop the show around to networks, cast the show, and record the episodes, it would make sense that the same audiences that watched Beverly Hills Teens would be the same people to watch the more teen-centric Beverly Hills 90210.  That’s because the same audiences that watched the prior would have been old enough to be more interested in the latter of the two by the time it premiered in 1990.  If there is any credence to this possibility, then it would prove without a doubt what makes Beverly Hills Teens at least a slightly important piece of modern television history.

The potential influence that Beverly Hills Teens had on the creation of Beverly Hills 90210 makes the prior important in any discussion of the latter of the pair of TV shows aimed at young viewers.  The writing makes Beverly Hills Teens just as interesting to watch, at least in hindsight.  The adventures that the kids embark on through the show’s first thirty-two episodes are much like that of so many other cartoons at the time.  That familiarity made the show more accessible to its younger audiences.  A prime example would be the episode, “Camp Camping.”  Wilshire ends up becoming “slave” to Pierce after Pierce “saves” him.  This is a story that had been done many times before on other shows, and had been done just as many times after this episode.  There’s also a playful stab at the far more classic cartoon, Woody Woodpecker in this episode.  The short-lived series (it only lasted for one season) even has the standard kid friendly Halloween episode in “Halloween in the Hills.”  While there’s no paranormal activity in this episode, it does teach two lessons.  It teaches the lesson of not letting one’s self be bullied by others and about responsibility when Bianca throws a house party when her parents go out of town.  As with the previous episode, the lessons taught in this episode are both more common fare for children’s programs of that era.  Again, that ability to relate to young audience maintained the show’s importance that much more. 

Beverly Hills Teens’ potential influence on the creation of any later shows and the writing behind this short-lived show both exhibit what made it such a hit in its original run among its key audiences.  Both factors continue to do so today.  There is one more factor to consider in watching this first set of episodes that made the show popular during its run.  That factor is the show’s animation.  Audiences will note that the animation of Beverly Hills Teens was very much like that of The Littles, which also happened at the time, to run on the original Family Channel.  It also bears at least a slight resemblance to the animation used in The Real Ghostbusters.  The similarity isn’t full on.  But it is there.  This form of animation was anime before it became the over the top bizarre art form that it is today.  It serves as an example of anime when it was still respectable.  It’s something that any of today’s anime fans truly need to see in order to see how anime has de-evolved over time.  It’s animation done right.  And it is this factor along with the show’s writing and its potential influence as a TV show that it is a classic worth watching once again for those that were fans of the show in its original run on TV.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct from the Mill Creek Direct store at http://www.millcreekent.com/beverly-hills-teens-volume-1-32-eps.html.  And for all of the latest from Mill Creek Entertainment, audiences can go online to the Mill Creek Entertainment Facebook page and “Like” it at http://www.facebook.com/MillCreekEnt

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The Hunchback Of Notre Dame II One More Enjoyable Stand-Alone Sequel

Courtesy:  Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

The sequel to Disney’s modern classic, The Hunchback of Notre Dame has hardly been one of the most accepted of sequels from Disney’s canon.  While it has been largely rejected by fans and critics alike, perhaps the reason for this is that much like Mulan II, it has been improperly marketed.  The Hunchback of Notre Dame II is, much like Mulan II, less a sequel than a stand-alone story.  Hunchback of Notre Dame II picks up years after the events of the first movie.  Esmerelda and Phoebus have a young son who it would seem is at least six or seven years old.  And having originally brought the pair together, Quasimodo is now looking for his own special woman.  It just so happens that said woman enters his life when a circus comes to town.  The circus is led by a less than honorable man, thus audiences get the story’s central conflict, thus pushing Quasimodo’s romance plot to a secondary role.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame II—as noted–has almost no link to its predecessor.  Its only link to the previous film in this franchise is the inclusion once again of Quasimodo’s gargoyle friends, as well as Esmerelda and Phoebus (both voiced once again by Demi Moore and Kevin Kline).  Jason Alexander also returns as the gargoyle, Hugo.  Other than the return of these characters and a couple other returning cast members, this sequel really is not a sequel at all.  But because it was titled as a sequel, expectations by audiences and critics alike were high to say the least, and thus dashed when it turned out that it was not so much a sequel, but more a stand-alone story.  Here’s where things get interesting.  Should The Hunchback of Notre Dame II been marketed directly as a sequel?  Probably not.  However, that doesn’t mean exactly that it’s a bad story.  When viewed as the stand-alone story that it is, it actually has its merits.  The first of those merits would have to be its animation.  One must absolutely remove this movie from its predecessor in order to fully appreciate this.  Audiences must also keep in mind in watching this movie that a certain amount of time has passed.  So there should be no expectation of this movie having direct relationship to the first of the franchise’s films.  Doing so will make suspension of disbelief easier and thus will make the movie more enjoyable.

One of the biggest qualms that audiences and critics have had with The Hunchback of Notre Dame II is the movie’s animation.  This is a full on hand drawn movie.  Most audiences might compare it to Disney’s most recent anime brand of movies.  However, older audiences will appreciate the animation as it throws back to the hand drawn animation of certain 80s TV shows.  One of the most notable of those shows would be a little animated cartoon called The Littles.  Just knowing this reference and comparing the cartoon in question to this movie will surely generate a certain sense of nostalgia among older audiences.  And it serves as a reminder that cartoons made in the twenty-first century still can be made in the “old school” style.  For that matter, it proves that audiences still need the style of animation in question, considering that so many movie studios and TV companies rely so heavily on digital animation today.  So while many audiences have panned this movie for having used classic hand drawn animation, odds are those people that did so are those who have grown up knowing only digital animation rather than the joy and identity that comes with hand drawn animation.  It proves too, that Disney can and should at least try more often to use hand drawn animation versus digital for its big theatrical animated features.

It was nice to see Disney return to actual animation with The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  Being able to enjoy the animation allows one to focus on the story itself.  The story behind this “sequel” is only slightly tied to that of the original movie at best.  It takes place years after the original.  The ability of audiences to keep this in mind helps to separate this movie from the original, in Disney’s defense.  On the other hand, had this movie been given a different title, instead of being simply titled, The Hunchback of Notre Dame II, it might have been better received by viewers.  That aside, the story itself is simple enough for any viewer to follow.  Quasimodo is forced to make a very important choice when the woman for whom he falls turns out to not be entirely everything that she seems.  In the end, audiences get a happy ending that proves love truly does conquer all.  It will leave viewers whose minds are open enough with enough of a warm feeling that they will hopefully be able to overlook their past view of the movie and see it for its value as another enjoyable stand-alone story from Disney.  It’s available now on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack alongside The Hunchback of Notre Dame in stores and online.  The new combo pack is available in stores and online.  It can be ordered online in the Disney Store at http://www.disneystore.com/the-hunchback-of-notre-dame-blu-ray-and-dvd-combo-pack/mp/1331583/1000316/ and at the Disney DVD store at http://disneydvd.disney.go.com/the-hunchback-of-notre-dame-two-movie-collection.html

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NCircle Entertainment brings back another piece of television nostalgia

Courtesy: NCircle Entertainment

The 1990’s was one of the greatest eras of television.  That’s especially the case for children’s programming.  However, it wasn’t the only great era of broadcasting for kids.  Kids had a lot from which to choose during the 1980’s, too.  One of the greatest of the cartoons from the 1980’s was the one and only Super Mario Brothers Super Show.  Who doesn’t remember watching this after school animated classic on the original Family Channel way back before it became Fox Family and then ABC Family?  Now, fans that grew up watching Mario, Luigi, Toad and Princess Toadstool take on King Koopa can enjoy a whole volume of episodes all over again, thanks to Super Mario Brothers Super Show Volume One.

Originally, both volumes of this classic cartoon’s episodes were released by Shout! Factory in 2006.  Now, NCircle Entertainment has re-released the show in a trimmed down format.  This collection offers all of the classic Super Mario Brothers Super Show cartoons sans the live action segments that bookended them in the show’s original airings.  As enjoyable as those segments were, the cartoons themselves were just as enjoyable.  And Volume One has more than its share of enjoyable episodes.  Volume One sees Mario, Luigi and Toad having to care for Princess Toadstool after she’s turned into a baby.  Also, Mario and company tackle the classic tale of Jack and The Beanstalk in their own way.  And in a Halloween themed episode, the gang faces King Koopa and his evil minions in their own take on Brams Stoker’s horror classic, Dracula.

One of the key episodes in this most recent release of Super Mario Brothers Super Show is “Two Plumbers and a Baby.”  It could be argued that the title is a spoof of the classic 80’s movie franchise, “3 Men and a Baby.”  In this episode, Mario Luigi, Toad, and Princess Toadstool are in the kingdom of youth.  They have to face down King GooGoo GaGa Koopa.  Of course, it’s really King Koopa in disguise.  They are hunting Koopa down because he’s using the kingdom’s fountain of youth for his own evil purposes.  Surprisingly, the fountain works.  Only it works too well.  When Princess Toadstool accidentally falls into the fountain, she gets turned into a baby.  So Mario, Luigi, and Toad are left to protect her from King Koopa.  She causes all kinds of trouble for the guys along the way, including being carried away on a raft.  Things reach a head when the princess follows some fireflies to Koopa’s castle. During the conflict, Mario and Luigi swing King Koopa into the fountain, turning him into a baby, too.  Once he’s out of the way, the guys turn the water’s flow and turn everyone back into an adult.

The Super Mario Brothers Super Show spoofed more than popular culture during its run on television.  It also spoofed classical literature.  One of the best of those spoofs is in the episode, “Mario and The Beanstalk.”  This episode is a loose take-off of the classic tale, with a few minor changes thrown in.  Mario and Luigi have to get 100 Gold Coins to save the Mushroom Kingdom orphange.  So the princess tells them to sell the royal cow to get the coins.  They end up selling the cow for a handful of Garbanzo beans.  When they bring the beans back, the princess is anything but happy.  She tells them that she’s allergic to Garbanzo beans, and tosses them out.  While everyone is sleeping later that night, a giant beanstalk grows.  The group discovers the beanstalk in the morning, and climbs it to see how high it goes.  It leads them to a castle in the sky.  Instead of a giant, they encounter a giant King Koopa.  In their attempt to outrun Koopa, they stumble on his treasure room, and the fabled “Golden Goose.”  Instead of laying eggs, the goose lays Gold Coins.  When they help the goose escape being held captive by Koopa, the goose helps Mario, Luigi, Princess Toadstool, and Toad get away from the castel.  They all get out together and climb back down the beanstalk where Mario cuts it down.  When the beanstalk falls, it brings Koopa’s castle with it.  The castle falls into a pond, causing Koopa to shring down to their size. 

Jack and The Beanstalk is just one piece of classical literature that The Super Mario Brothers Super Show spoofed during its run.  In “Count Koopula”, Mario and the gang are lured into the castle of Count Koopula, who is, of course, really King Koopa.  This time, he takes on the mantle of the infamous Count Dracula.  As they try to escape Count Koopula’s castle, the group has to face wereturtles, zombie Goombas and Koopa’s lead henchman, Mouser.  When the princess is captured, the guys take some spare garlic that they have, and eat it.  They use their powerful garlic breath and natural light to defeat Koopa.  Koopa turns into a bat and flies out the castle, leaving it to crumble after being defeated.  The group gets out of the castle safe and sound before it crumbles.

Super Mario Brothers Super Show has so many great episodes.  There are far more in this new volume of episodes than there is room and time to discuss.  That in mind, this is one more great piece of nostalgia for anyone who gew up in what is arguably one of the greatest eras of animation.  After having released so many single disc collections, it’s great to see NCircle Entertainment release this newest double disc set.  And with any luck, whenever the next volume is released, it will include  not just the rest of the show’s original episodes, but the Mario Bros. plumbing live action segments that originally came with the show, too.  Until then, this first volume is still a great chance for many viewers to go back to their own childhoods once again.

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