9 Story Media Group Comes Up Short Of Expectations Again With ‘Garfield & Friends: Season 3’ Set

Courtesy: 9 Story Media Group

If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.  Everybody knows that timeless adage.  Even knowing the hugely important mantra, some out there refuse to acknowledge that famed words of wisdom.  9 Story Media Group is among that mass.  The company has proven that already with the release of the first two seasons of the classic animated series Garfield & Friends on DVD.  Now with the forthcoming release of the series’ third season later this month, the company has once again ignored the noted recommendation.  That is evidenced through the most notable of the set’s negatives, its general presentation.  This will be discussed a little later.  While the general presentation detracts quite a bit from the forthcoming set to a point, it does not make the set a complete loss.  There are at least a couple of positives, the most important being the featured shorts.  This will be addressed shortly.  The set’s packaging couples with its episodes to make the collection at least a limited success.

9 Story Entertainment Group’s forthcoming release of Garfield & Friends: Season 3 is a moderately positive new release from the company, at best.  As with the series’ previous DVD sets released by the company, it is a collection that even with its positives, still leaves audiences wanting for more.  The set’s featured shorts are collectively one of the collection’s rare positives.  The shorts are just as entertaining in this season as in any of the show’s other four seasons.  One of the most memorable and enjoyable of the season’s shorts comes late in the season’s run in the form of the U.S. Acres short “Barn of Fear II.”  This short’s story once takes audiences back to the farm’s haunted old barn.  Orson and company’s ancestors save the day again after Orson’s brothers plot to tie up Orson and his friends and steal their harvest.  Wade’s reaction at seeing the ghosts of the group’s ancestors is classic to say the very least.  The tricks that the ghosts use to save the day, and the reaction of Orson’s brothers at being stopped are just as great. That the writers managed to avoid a certain sense of redundancy with this “sequel” to “Barn of Fear” puts the finishing touch to the short.  All things considered, the short stands out as one of the season’s best moments.

The Garfield short “How The West Was Lost” is another of the season’s most memorable moments.  This episode features returning character Cactus Jake, who was voiced throughout the series by Pat Buttram (Robin HoodThe AristocatsThe Fox and the Hound), out of a job after his ranch is automated.  Jake tries a variety of fields, but to no success.  It shows you can take the cowboy out of the west, but you can’t take the west out of the cowboy.  Thanks to Garfield, Jake ends up getting his job back after Garfield sabotages some of the ranch’s robots to prove mechanization is not the answer to the workplace.  That very adult topic is another example of what made this series so far ahead of it’s time, along with the likes of “TV of Tomorrow” and other shorts.  It is a matter that grown-ups are sure to love.  The comic aspects of the short will appeal to audiences of all ages, meanwhile.  It’s yet another way in which the season’s shorts prove so important to its presentation.  The U.S. Acres short “Secrets of the Animated Cartoon” is yet another unforgettable moment from this season.


”Secrets of the Animated Cartoon” is educational and entertaining.  The very fact that it is meant to be presented as an educational style presentation is itself so funny.  That audiences learn about topics, such as the various types of takes (spit, delayed, double ) the classic falling gag, the running gag, and even the famed breaking down of the fourth wall, is just as great.  It’s such a simple approach to story telling, yet is just so entertaining.  It forms a foundation that will help audiences appreciate any cartoon.  To that end, it just makes for so many laughs.  This is one of the season’s (and series’) best moments overall.  When it is considered along with other memorable moments, such as those in “Count Lasagna,” “Quack to the Future” and “DJ Jon” among so many others, the shorts in whole prove to be the most important aspect of Garfield & Friends’ third season.  They form a strong foundation for the set.  Sadly though, the folks at 9 Story Media Group did not build too well on that foundation in looking at the set’s general presentation.

The general presentation is composed of a variety of aspects, including by relation to the episodes, the actual listing of the episodes.  It should be noted here, that the episodes are listed only on the discs.  They are not featured anywhere in the collection’s packaging.  This is a concern in itself.  Sure, the set is composed of only two discs, but it certainly would have been nice to have had an episode guide in the packaging so as to determine which disc one wants to play.  On a related note, the episode listings that are available on the discs completely omit the U.S. Acres shorts.  Why this course of action was taken is anyone’s guess, but it is misleading.  It’s like someone at 9 Story Media Group thought the Garfield shorts were more important than the U.S. Acres shorts.  That is troubling, since the latter are just as important as the prior.  As the old adage states, “you can’t have one without the other.”

The episode listings that are and are not featured in Garfield & Friends: Season 3 are collectively just one of the important aspects of the collection’s general presentation.  Another equally important aspect to address is the re-mastering of the episodes themselves.  As with the series’ first two seasons, 9 Story Media Group letterboxed this season’s episodes.  That means that yes, there was once again content loss.  Heads and get were cut off, as were other aspects of specific scenes.  Interestingly enough, the company avoided the use of the black bars on the top and bottom of the screen once more in an attempt to try and recreate the series’ original full-screen presentation.  Even with that approach taken, audiences who own 20th Century Fox’s original Garfield & Friends collections will be able to easily catch the content loss.  Case in point is the short “Close Encounters of the Garfield Kind.”  The scene in which the alien is looking into the house allows viewers to see what the alien was seeing through its viewing device.  The shot was much more zoomed in (for lack of better wording), leading much of the picture to be cut off all the way around.  Other shorts feature loss in other ways.  Between that moment and others featured throughout the set, the overall content loss featured in this collection is enough to hurt the collection that much more.  It still is not the last of the concerns raised through the general presentation.  That the show’s opening and closing sequences have been altered, too, detracts from the general presentation even more.

Noting 20th Century Fox’s Garfield & Friends sets again, everything featured in those sets stays true to the original animated series, including even the opening and closing sequences.  This set has completely re-worked both.  Season Three’s closing sequence features Garfield and all of his friends at the bottom of the screen, with Garfield in the center, flanked by all of the series’ other characters fanning outwards.  The show’s credits play above the static picture over a black background that also boasts a spotlight type effect just above the characters.  The show’s theme song plays over the whole of the imagery.  By comparison, the new closing sequence changes this a lot.  Garfield, Jon, Liz, Nermal, and Odie are on one side of the screen while the U.S. Acres gang is on the other side of the screen.  The credits play in the middle of the screen.  Making things even worse is the spit shined look that it all has.  It just looks too perfect.  That original closing sequence does more for viewers’ sense of nostalgia than this re-worked closing sequence.

The opening sequence completely does away with any elements of the original opening from the time – the three Garfields, Orson falling in the mud, the famous cheerleading scene from the short “Basket Brawl,” etc.) and replaces all of that with a whole new opening sequence.  It begs that noted adage again, if it’s not broke don’t fix it.  Why those behind this set’s creation would go to this length is just a headscratcher.  There was no reason to replace the original opening sequence just like there was no reason to replace the closing credits sequence.  To that end, this aspect of the general presentation detracts even more from the set’s presentation.  When the changes to the opening and closing sequences are considered along with the content loss in the actual presentation of the shorts and the concerns in the episode listings, it becomes clear that the general presentation of Garfield & Friends: Season 3 completely fails.  It collectively detracts greatly from this set’s presentation overall.  Thankfully for all of the damage that the general presentation does to the set, it does have at least one other positive to try and make up for all of the negatives.  That one other positive is the packaging.

The packaging used for the third season of Garfield & Friends is much more ergonomic than that of 20th Century Fox’s previously released sets.  Instead of the slim cases housed inside the bigger box approach that 20th Century Fox used, 9 Story Media Group instead used the now more commonly used packaging practice of placing each disc on its own spindle inside the case.  This serves to protect the discs from damaging one another while also saving space.  That reduced capacity can and does also help reduce the price for consumers.  It is an approach that the people at 9 Story Media Group has also used in the DVD presentations of the series’ first two seasons.  Now in defense of 20th Century Fox’s sets, the slim cases also protect the discs from one another in their own way.  At the same time, those slim cases also present episode listings on the casesSo even while 20th Century Fox’s sets take more space on viewers’ DVD/BD racks, they still prove just as good as that of this set if not better.  When all of this is taken into account along with the season’s shorts and all of its negatives, the end result is a presentation that once again falls short of expectations for Garfield & Friends fans.

9 Story Media Group’s forthcoming DVD release of Garfield & Friends: Season 3 is another interesting release from the company, which has also handled the release of the series’ first two seasons.  That the season features lots more entertainment in its featured shorts makes it somewhat enjoyable.  That cannot be credited to the people at 9 Story Media Group, though.  The set’s packaging can be credited to the company, too, though even it has its own concern.  That concern and those raised by the set’s general presentation detract so much from the collection’s overall presentation that the set in whole ends up coming up short of fans’ expectations once again.  The set is scheduled for release Oct. 27.  More information on this and more from 9 Story Media Group is available at:

Website: http://9story.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/9StoryMediaGroup

Twitter: http://twitter.com/9StoryMG

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.  

PBS Distribution Announces ‘Garfield & Friends: Season 3’ Release Date

Courtesy: PBS Distribution

PBS Distribution will release the third season of Garfield & Friends to DVD next month.

The 18-episode collection is scheduled for release Oct. 27.  It will retail for MSRP of $14.99.  Season Three features a variety of great shorts both from Garfield and from his U.S. Acres pals.  “For Cats Only” is one of the many great shorts featuring Garfield.  This episode finds Garfield hosting a special program that tells the history of cats on Earth.  According to the story, cats came from another planet, and that they control humans, not the other way around.

In what is yet another of the season’s most memorable moments, the series shows once how far ahead of its time it was in “How The West Was Lost.”  This episode features returning character Cactus Jake, who was voiced throughout the series by Pat Buttram (Robin HoodThe AristocatsThe Fox and the Hound), out of a job after his ranch is automated.  Jake tries a variety of fields, but to no success.  Thanks to Garfield, Jake ends up getting his job back after Garfield sabotages some of the ranch’s robots to prove mechanization is not the answer to the workplace.

In yet another great moment, the series pokes fun at how mainstream commercial radio works in “D.J. Jon” after Jon becomes a disc jockey at his local radio station.  His new (and short-lived) stardom leads Jon to inadvertently neglect Odie and Garfield, so Garfield takes it on himself to  get out of the industry’s grip, to hilarious results.

U.S. ACRES

The U.S. Acres shorts featured in Season Three offer their own enjoyment.  One of the most notable of this season’s shorts comes in what is clearly a tribute of sorts to The Andy Griffith Show in “The Legal Eagle.”  This short finds Roy Rooster taking it on himself to enforce the farm’s laws.  There’s just one problem:  The laws that Roy is enforcing are out of date, but Roy doesn’t know, so everyone ends up getting locked up, including Roy himself.  There was an episode of The Andy Griffith Show in which Don Knotts’ character Barney Fife got into some trouble for doing much the same, locking up lots of Mayberry’s residents for the tiniest infraction.

Another memorable U.S. Acres short from Season Three comes in the form of “Quack to the Future.”  The short’s title is a take-off of the Back to the Future franchise title.  The short’s story finds Orson hurting Wade’s feelings after he shouted at Wade following an accident.  It is not until after the fact that Orson realizes he overreacted to what happened.  He wishes he could go back in time and undo what he did, leading to another important lesson from the series; that of friendship and being aware of the power of words.

In another of U.S. Acres’ lighter moments, audiences get an adaptation of the classic story Alice in Wonderland when Orson dreams he has gone to Wonderland.  Lanolin plays the part of the Queen of Hearts and is just as loudmouthed as ever.  The dream sequence happened when Orson took a nap after searching for a missing croquet ball.

More information on this and other titled from PBS Distribution is available at:

Websitehttp://www.pbsdistribution.org

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/PBSDistribution.org

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Animal Lovers, Biologists Everywhere Will Enjoy ‘NOVA: Cat And Dog Tales’

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution/WGBH

Almost 30 years ago this year, the timeless animated series Garfield & Friends presented one of its most notable shorts, “For Cats Only.”  The episode is a hilarious telling of the history of cats (and to a point dogs) on Earth.  It is a laugh riot story that while largely fictitious, apparently had some truths, according to PBS’ recently aired NOVA episode Cat and Dog Tales.  Released to DVD in May, NOVA: Cat and Dog Tales is its own telling of the history of dogs and cats.  That story, complete with revelations about some other items – also addressed in the noted Garfield & Friends short – makes for its own reason to watch this episode of NOVA.  It will be addressed shortly.  The program’s general presentation adds to the DVD’s presentation.  It will be discussed a little later.  The DVD’s average price point rounds out its most important elements.  All things considered, NOVA: Cat and Dog Tales a presentation that will appeal to any feline fanatic and canine companion.

NOVA: Cat and Dog Tales is a presentation that pet parents and pals alike will enjoy.  That is proven in part through its central story.  The story in question tells the history of cats and dogs and how they came to become humans’ beloved companions.  Now unlike in the noted Garfield & Friends short, audiences learn here that cats did not come from another planet, but in fact from Europe and Asia while dogs descended from wolves that had existed around the world for thousands of years.  At the same time though, that noted short apparently proves right about cats being domesticated according to his real life documentary.  The documentary points out that humans did not domesticate cats, but that in fact they domesticated themselves.  The same can be said of dogs, according to this program.  It points out in its central story, that dogs (like cats) domesticated themselves over time.  How each species’ domestication happened is interesting to learn in its own right.  Another item addressed in the overall story is that of whether cats and dogs actually love us or if they love the food that we provide.  Not to give away too much, but owners of cats and dogs alike should find no surprise in either revelation here.  All things considered, the overall story of feline and canine history is certain to keep audiences wholly engaged and entertained throughout each segment of the two-part program.

As noted, NOVA: Cat and Dog Tales is a two-part program.  This is important to note as it plays directly into the episode’s general presentation.  Rather than bundling everything together into a single, nonstop, two-hour presentation, audiences can watch each “story” in itself.  As a result, audiences won’t have to worry about feeling mentally spent.  They will then have an easier time remembering everything presented in each story.  This is something that audiences are sure to appreciate.  To that end, those responsible for making the decision to separate the segments are to be commended for that decision.  It proves to be just as positive as the program’s overall, in-depth story to the DVD’s overall presentation.  Together with the noted content, this element gives viewers even more to appreciate in the DVD’s overall presentation.  It is just one more aspect that audiences will appreciate about the DVD.  Its average price point rounds out its most important elements.

The average price point of NOVA: Cat and Dog Tales is $19.32.  That price is obtained by averaging price listings through Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Books-A-Million, and PBS’ online store.  That is a price point that will not break anyone’s budget.  The same can be said of most of the separate listings.  While PBS’ listing, and that of Barnes & Noble Booksellers’ listings exceed that average, they are not by much.  Meanwhile, the listing of $24.99 at Books-a-Million once more far exceeds the average.  Amazon, Walmart and Target each have the lowest price listing at $16.99 while Best Buy’s listing of $17.99 also comes in below that average.  It is not the least expensive listing, but is still less expensive than the average, proving once again that for the most part, the price for this DVD is not prohibitive for any viewer(s).  Considering all that the DVD offers in terms of its content and how said content is presented, it makes the DVD even more affordable and worth the price – save of course for that one noted listing.  Even with the listing at Books-A-Million noted, audiences should keep in mind that regardless of the retailer from which they buy the DVD, at least a portion of the price paid will go to benefit PBS.  That is always important to note considering how little funding PBS gets from the federal government.  Keeping all of this in mind, NOVA: Cat and Dog Tales proves itself to be a DVD that pet parents and pals alike will appreciate.

NOVA: Cat and Dog Tales is a presentation that animal lovers everywhere will enjoy.  That is due in part to its central story, which presents the history of cats and dogs and much more.  The manner in which the overall story is presented adds to the appeal of the DVD’s presentation.  Considering all that the noted items show in themselves and collectively, audiences will agree that the DVD’s average price point is money worth spending.  Each item noted here is important in its own way.  All things considered, they make NOVA: Cat and Dog Tales a presentation that any animal lover will enjoy.  It is available now.

More information on this and other episodes of NOVA is available at:

 

Websitehttp://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/NOVApbs

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/novapbs

 

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 http:///philspicks.wordpress.com.

‘Garfield & Friends: Season Two’ Is Entertaining, But Imperfect

Courtesy: PBS Distribution/PBS/ Paws Inc.

Garfield & Friends is back on DVD again.  PBS Distribution released the second season of the timeless animated series Nov. 5 in a three-disc set through a partnership with Skiprope.  The set’s release comes almost fourteen years after 20th Century Fox released the fifth and last of its Garfield & Friends volumes.  Those volumes are all available through Amazon and other online retailers, and as much as this critic dislikes having to say it, are better investments than this collection and its predecessor in Garfield & Friends Season 1.  That is not to say that this latest collection from PBS Distribution is unwatchable; far from it.  However, it does suffer from one key con – its remastering, which will be addressed a little later.  While the remastering has caused its own share of problems for this collection, the general content makes up for the problems caused by the remastering.  This will be addressed shortly.  The set’s packaging rounds out its most important elements.  It will also be discussed here later.  Each item noted here plays its own important part in the whole of Garfield & Friends: Season 2.  All things considered, they make the set a welcome addition to the library of any of this series’ fans, but only if they cannot get their hands on 20th Century Fox’s previously released Garfield & Friends collections.

PBS Distribution and Skip Rope’s recently released Season 2 set of Garfield & Friends is an entertaining offering for fans of the timeless animated series.  That is due in part to the set’s primary content – the episodes.  Audiences receive in this collection, the second season of Garfield & Friends in its entirety.  All 30 episodes from Season 2 are here from the season premiere to finale.  From the unforgettable “Rip Van Kitty,” — which finds Garfield falling asleep for fifty years, only to wake up in the future which finds Nermal just as cute and annoying as ever, Odie in a wheelchair and an alien invasion in which the aliens look just like Garfield – “Sludge Monster,” which finds Garfield, Jon and Odie staying the night in a “haunted” inn, and “Basket Brawl,” which spoofs the National Basketball Association, placing Garfield against Jon, Odie and Nermal in their attempts to prepare a picnic.  All of the U.S. Acres shorts that accompanied the main episodes are here, too.  Simply put, audiences looking for the second season of Garfield & Friends in its precise chronological order get exactly that here.  That is without question a key positive to the set and makes the set worth owning.  While the presence of Season 2’s full run forms a solid foundation for the set, the actual presentation of those episodes detracts from the set to a certain point.

Much like with the presentation of the series’ first season, this set is also presented in a 16:9 aspect ratio (widescreen).  For those less familiar with aspect ratios, that might not seem overly important.  However, for those who are more familiar with the matter of aspect ratios, this is a bad thing.  That is because in comparison to the original 4:3 presentation – which was used in the sets from 20th Century Fox – the 16:9 presentation does show a certain amount of loss.  There might be more visible in terms of horizontal content, but clearly there is a certain amount of loss in the picture’s vertical presentation.  Heads are cut off along with tops of scenes.  The series’ full-screen 4:3 presentation by comparison actually does give viewers the literal full picture in each episode.  What’s more, the remastering does show through in general, as the picture is much sharper in each episode.  The problem is that the picture is perhaps too sharp.  It is that clean.  There is something special about seeing this series exactly as it aired in its original broadcast.  Sure, some remasterings are good and necessary. Comparing this presentation to the presentation in the 20th Century Fox box sets really does make the earlier presentations that much more charming and appealing in general.  To that end, one cannot help but wonder if the remastering that was done with this set (and its predecessor in Season One) was truly necessary.  Luckily even with that question in mind, this set is not a total loss.  The set’s packaging helps its overall presentation in its own right.

The packaging for Garfield & Friends: Season Two is key to its presentation in that it does admittedly save space on audiences’ DVD/BD racks.  Unlike the Garfield & Friends sets from 20th Century Fox, this set (and its predecessor) compress the packaging by placing each of its three discs on its own plate inside the case.  The third disc is placed in its own spot inside the case.  By comparison, 20th Century Fox’s sets each consist of three discs.  However, the discs are each placed inside their own slimcase inside the bigger box.  This is key to note because the end result is more space taken up on racks than the packaging manner used in this set and that of Season One.  To that end, PBS Distribution and Skiprope have actually done audiences a favor here.

Adding to the positive of the packaging is that the packaging method used here serves to protect the discs from one another just as much as the manner used by 20th Century Fox.  Keeping that in mind, the packaging used for this collection is just as important to consider as the set’s content.  When the packaging and content are considered together, they make the collection in whole a set enjoyable for those who might not already own the previously released Garfield & Friends box sets released by 20th Century Fox and who might be unable to get their hands on those sets.

PBS Distribution and Skiprope’s recently released Garfield & Friends: Season Two box set is a presentation that will appeal to fans of the timeless animated series that who do not already own the series’ DVD sets previously released by 20th Century Fox and those unable to get their hands on those sets, which collectively present the series maybe not in chronological order, but in full.  Audiences do get here, the whole of Season Two in its entirety and in precise chronological order.  They also get positive packaging.  For all of the positives that the set shows, it also does have a negative that cannot be ignored – the general presentation of the episodes.  While it clearly detracts from the set’s presentation, it is not enough to make the set entirely unwatchable.  It just shows that perhaps the remastering was not entirely necessary.  Keeping all of this in mind, the whole of Garfield & Friends: Season Two is enjoyable, but still leaves itself lacking to a point.  Garfield & Friends: Season Two is available now.  More information on the set is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.pbsdistribution.org

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PBSDistribution.org

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

PBS Distribution Releases ‘Garfield & Friends: Season 2’

Courtesy: PBS Distribution/PBS/ Paws Inc.

Everybody’s favorite flabby feline is back on DVD.

PBS Distribution released the second season of the timeless animated series Garfield & Friends Nov. 5.  Season 2, which originally premiered Sept. 16, 1989, features 30 episodes including Garfield’s farm friends from U.S. Acres.

Among some of the most notable of the season’s episodes are the unforgettable “Rip Van Kitty,” “Sludge Monster,” and “Basket Brawl” as well as the equally entertaining “Robodie,” “Swine Trek” and “Heatwave Holiday.”

“Rip Van Kitty” plays on the classic take of Rip Van Winkle, putting Garfield into a dream sequence that finds him sleeping for fifty years. When he wakes up, it’s the future, and an army of Garfield lookalikes from the planet Zizzabonnawannawanna Boink Boink Three (say that three times fast) has invaded Earth.  For all the changes that have happened during his nap, two things haven’t changed — Nermal is still as annoying as ever and Binky the Clown is still on the air, only much older.

“Sludge Monster” plays on Universal Pictures’ classic monster movies as Jon, Odie and Garfield have to stop for the night at a hotel that is allegedly haunted by the infamous sludge monster.  The discovery leads to an entertaining musical number by Jon.

“Basket Brawl” is one of the series’ most memorable episodes, as it finds Garfield going solo in a game of basketball against Jon, Nermal and Odie as they try to get food for a picnic into a picnic basket.  The show’s writers poked fun at famed broadcaster Marv Albert in this episode, creating a mouse version of Albert to anchor the showdown.

“Robodie” makes Odie the star after he is kidnapped by a mad scientist — of sorts — who wants to make robot versions of Odie.  There’s just one problem:  Odie’s robot doubles are just as absent minded as Odie, which leads to its own share of laughs.

“Swine Trek” is one of many U.S. Acres shorts featured in Season Two of Garfield & Friends.  This episode spoofs CBS’ classic Star Trek series, with Orson taking on the role of Captain Kirk, Lanolin playing Uhura, Wade as Dr. Bones (fittingly), Booker as Chekov and Bo sheep as Scottie and Sheldon as Spock.  Orson’s evil brothers play the part of the Klingons.  the whole story rises from a dream sequence that Orson has after he falls ill with a cold.

These episodes and so many other memorable episodes make up the whole of Garfield & FriendsSeason Two.  The collection is available now through PBS’ online store for MSRP of $14.99.  Garfield & FriendsSeason One is also available through PBS’ online store.

More information on these and other titles from PBS Distribution is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.pbsdistribution.org

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PBSDistribution.org

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Nickelodeon, Shout! Factory Finishing Off Another Classic Nicktoon Next Month

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon established a partnership only a few years ago that has seen some of the network’s greatest classic series, called Nicktoons, get full, proper releases. Almost all of those classic Nicktoons has seen releases in separate seasons and complete series box sets. Now what is one of the last of those series sets will be released next month in the form of CatDog: The Complete Series.

CatDog: The Complete Series will be released on DVD Tuesday, October 14th. The series’ complete four-season, sixty-eight episode run will be released in one complete multi-disc set. It will retail for MSRP of $29.93. After this release, the only full series sets that are left to be released under the companies’ current partnership are The Wild Thornberrys: The Complete Series and Hey Dude: The Complete Series. Audiences can keep up with the latest on all of these releases online at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

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

http://www.cinedigm.com. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

WHV Finally Gets It Right On Its Latest Peanuts DVD Release

Courtesy:  Warner Brothers Home Video

Courtesy: Warner Brothers Home Video

Warner Home Video has struggled quite a bit in the past year or so with its home releases. The 2013 releases of Tiny Toon Adventures Volume 4, Taz-Mania: Season 2 Part 1, and Hats Off To Dr. Seuss were all troubled with their own problems. 2014 hasn’t exactly been off to much of a better start thanks to the release of The Flintstone Kids: Rockin’ in Bedrock. That release presented only the main Flintstone Kids shorts minus the companion Captain Caveman and Son and Dino shorts. That alone took off major points from that set. But now WHV has finally started to pick up the ball and get things back on the right track thanks to the brand new release of This is America, Charlie Brown. This brand new double-disc has officially made its own spot on this critic’s list of the year’s best new DVDs and Blu-rays for families and children. The primary reason for that the features included in this set are both entertaining and educational. Another reason for the set’s enjoyment is the use of both hand drawn animation and historical photos to help illustrate each “lesson.” The last factor to examine in what makes This is America, Charlie Brown a success is its packaging. Each of the noted factors by themselves, play important roles in the success of the set. Together, they make this brand new release one of the year’s best new box sets for families and children.

The first and most important factor in the success of This is America, Charlie Brown is the combination of both entertainment and education. The eight features spread across the set’s two discs educate viewers in such fashion that it doesn’t even feel like viewers are being taught. Thanks to the legacy of the Peanuts gang, it feels more like viewers are going on a fun field trip through America’s history than just learning about history from another documentary. There are even some fun little pop culture references that parents will appreciate along the way. One of those references is to the command module of the Apollo 10 being named Charlie Brown. Lucy comments on this saying that she doesn’t know where such a name could have come from. The kids also see their own comic strip hanging in the Smithsonian Museum of Art. The little reference there is just as funny. On a more subtle level, audiences that know anything about animation history will appreciate Frank Welker (The Real Ghostbusters, Curious George, Garfield & Friends) as the voice of a number of characters here including Wilbur Wright in “The Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk.” Gregg Berger (Garfield & Friends, Aahhh!!! Real Monsters, G.I. Joe) joins Welker as the voice of Wilbur’s brother Orville. This isn’t the only feature to which Berger and Welker offer their talents, either. Lou Rawls joins them in “The Music and Heroes of America” and makes the journey all the more enjoyable even as being an educational journey. It serves as one more example of how the combination of education and entertainment is such an important factor in the success of this set. It isn’t the only important factor to the set, either.

The combination of entertainment and education in the features that make up This Is America, Charlie Brown is a solid foundation for the mini-series in whole. Just as important to the set’s success is the use of both hand drawn animation and historical photos to help illustrate and advance each story. Kids will be entertained by the hand drawn animation. And parents that grew up in the days of true animation will appreciate the original animation style of this Peanuts presentation. Those behind the mini-series balanced the animated segments with just enough historical photos to help drive home the stories in each feature. They even included some vintage video to help advance each “lesson,” too. And that video is just as balanced. The resultant effect is a presentation in each feature that will keep viewers of any age fully engaged from start to finish. It’s one more aspect of the whole mini-series that maintains the set’s value.

The visual presentation of the mini-series’ features and the ability of the features to entertain and educate without being too outright about their educational purpose are key to the success of This Is America, Charlie Brown. There is still one more factor to examine in the set in considering what makes it worth the purchase and the watch. That factor is the set’s overall packaging. Both of the discs in the set are placed on their own spindle inside the case. On one level, this protects the discs from scratching one another, thus increasing their life span. On another level, it minimizes the size of the box used to contain the discs. The bigger picture of this is that it conserves space on any viewer’s DVD rack. So not only is the mini-series in whole educational and entertaining, its case is ergonomic. Sure, there’s little else to the set whether extrinsic or even intrinsic. It’s a bare bones presentation. But these factors together make This Is America, Charlie Brown a much needed win for Warner Home Video and for fans that have waited so many years for this mini-series to get a proper release.

This Is America, Charlie Brown is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered direct online from the WB Shop at http://www.wbshop.com/product/this+is+america%2C+charlie+brown-+the+complete+series+dvd+1000411223.do. 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.

Nicktoons Nostalgics Will “Scream” With Joy for Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: The Complete Series

 

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Halloween is right around the corner once again.  That means that lots of people are looking for entertainment for their annual parties.  This includes parents looking for entertainment for their children’s parties.  Next Tuesday, Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory will release one more new fun release for the whole family that is a perfect fit for those parties in the form of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: The Complete Series.

Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: The Complete Series is great fun for both new young audiences and for those that grew up with the series.  It is one of Nickelodeon’s famed Nicktoons that brought Arlene Klasky and Klasky Csupo to fame during the 1990s and early 2000s.  And just as the pair set itself apart from the crowd with its groundbreaking series, Rugrats and the equally innovative Wild Thornberrys, it did so just as much with this series, too.  Klasky Csupo showed just how far ahead of its time it was with this series.  To an extent, one could argue that it might well have been the influence behind Disney/Pixar’s 2001 movie, Monsters, Inc.  That’s because the movie in question didn’t come into being until at least three years after Aaahh!!! Real Monsters had ended in 1998.  This is just one part of what makes the series so important for any fan of Nickelodeon’s golden era.  In direct connection, audiences will appreciate the show’s writing.  Again, a comparison to both Klasky Csupo’s other cartoons and to Monsters, Inc. is necessary to show how far ahead of the times and quick the writing was in this series.  A third factor to consider in deciding whether or not to buy or order this new set is its packaging.  Yet again, Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon have set the bar with another box set’s packaging in this collection.  What can be said that hasn’t already been said about that?  But that’s a good thing.  And it seals the deal on what is another great trip back in time for any purist Nicktoons Nostalgic.

Klasky Csupo was the Pixar of the television world from the early 1990s to the early 2000s.  That is thanks to its long strain of original hit cartoons that would be the backbone of Nickelodeon’s Nicktoons programming.  Those hits included the likes of Rugrats, The Wild Thornberrys, and what would end up being the studio’s last Nicktoon, All Grown Up.  Throughout all of the cartoons created by the studio, each one was entirely different from the last.  And Aahhh!!! Real Monsters was one that definitely stood out.  It stood out among both other Nicktoons and other cartoons in general.  The only other studio doing anything remotely similar at the time was DiC Enterprises with its claymation based Bump in the Night.  Between the two, Klasky Csupo’s cartoon still stood out and in a good way, as it lasted well past the latter of the two toons.  No one at the time had thought of the concept of a trio of young monsters living in a dump, learning how to scare humans.  Even the characters themselves were original.  One look at David Eccles’ Krumm makes one wonder if he in fact wasn’t an influence behind Mike Wazowski.  Both of these factors (and others) show just how far ahead of its time this series was.

Aahhh!!! Real Monsters was well ahead of its time in so many ways.  From the general story and characters to other smaller aspects, its cast and writers proved that in so many ways.  In direct connection, it is just as impressive thanks to its writing.  From learning how to scare and avoiding the wrath of their teacher, The Gromble (Gregg Berger—Garfield & Friends, The Angry Beavers, The Garfield Show) to trying to escape capture by Simon the Monster Hunter (Jim Belushi—Life According to Jim, Hey Arnold!, the Adventures of Jimmy Neutron), the writers found so many ways to keep the show fresh through all four of its seasons.  There was even a hunt for a pail that sends Ickis on a wild chase that will leave audiences laughing.  It’s one more of so many wonderfully entertaining moments that make this new set so fun for anyone that grew up with the series and for their kids, too.

The writing and general ingenuity of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters went a long way toward making it one more of Klasky Csupo’s most beloved cartoons.  The same can be said of what made it one of the best Nicktoons of Nickelodeon’s golden era.  There is one last factor in this new set that fans of the show will appreciate in its upcoming release.  That factor is the set’s packaging.  Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory have already released both Rocko’s Modern Life and The Angry Beavers in complete series sets.  Those sets both managed somehow to contain eight discs in a box that only takes up the space of two standard DVD cases on any DVD rack.  The same can be said of this set’s box, too.  Each of the set’s discs are placed on either side of their own “plate” within the case.  As large as it may make the box seem, it actually manages to conserve space in the long run.  For that, both companies are more than deserving of even more credit.  What’s more, this form of packaging also protects the discs from being scratched up.  So it serves as a double whammy in the best possible manner.  Keeping this in mind along with the original writing and the generally original concept behind the show, audiences are presented with another welcome shining release from Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory.  One can only hope that from here, the two companies will eventually strike a deal to release Klasky Csupo’s other classic Nicktoons next.  Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: The Complete Series will be available online and in stores Tuesday, October 8th.  It can be ordered direct online from Shout! Factory’s store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/node/218263.  More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon is available on the official Shout! Factory website, http://www.shoutfactory.com and Shout! Factory Facebook page, 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.

CatDog Goes Out On Top In Its Final Season

Courtesy:  Nickelodeon/Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Nickelodeon/Shout! Factory

The end is finally here for another classic Nicktoon courtesy of Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon.  The two companies have released CatDog: The Final Season to the masses at long last.  Unlike the show’s previously released season sets, this season contains only a single disc.  Even in just the one disc, viewers are treated to even more fun, zany adventures from everybody’s favorite canine feline, including the now beloved three-part mini-epic, “CatDog and the Great Parent Mystery.”  This episode was the cornerstone of Season Four.  It’s just one example of the continued top notch work from the show’s writers even four seasons into the show’s run.  The show’s writing isn’t all that audiences will appreciate from this final season.  Also worthy of note in CatDog’s final season is the return once more of Tom Kenny and Jim Cummings as the voices of CatDog.  Also to be noted in this season is the guest appearances by veteran actors Billy Bob Thornton and Jane Krakowsi along with one of the most famed of all voice actors, the one and only Frank Welker. All elements combined together, they make CatDog: The Final Season one more wonderful addition to the library of any true Nicktoons Nostalgic.

The writing in Seasons Four’s episodes is just as fun and zany as it has ever been throughout CatDog’s previous three seasons.  This season sees the boys have to convince Winslow to come back to their house after he’s kicked out by his own niece and nephew in “Harasslin’ Match.”  This is a tried and true storyline, given.  It’s been used in so many cartoons and sitcoms past and present.  But that makes it no less funny in this episode.  In another of this season’s best moments, CatDog’s parents make a return appearance.  And once again they are voiced by some very well-known names in the form of Billy Bob Thornton (Bad Santa, The Astronaut Farmer, Armageddon) and Jane Krakowsi (30 Rock, Ice Age, Ally McBeal).  The pair return in the episode titled, “Vexed of Kin.”  Having finally found their “parents”, CatDog deals with the issue of sibling rivalry in their own wacky way.  It makes for a very good tie in the season’s three-part premiere episode.  The two episodes together exhibit what is another of the positives carried from the show’s first three seasons into this season.  The positive in question is the writers’ ability to once again balance the show’s zaniness with its heart.

The writers responsible for bringing CatDog’s adventures to life have done an expert job of balancing the show’s funny side with its heart over the course of its past three seasons.  This season is no different as evidenced by Season Four’s three-part premiere episode.  The boys’ adventure and the final reveal about their past are both as zany as any previous episode.  On the other side, this episode shows more heart than previous episodes.  Who doesn’t want to feel love from a parent, regardless of whether or not that individual is one’s birth parent?  The love of a parent is the greatest love of all.  It’s that knowledge that makes this episode just as heartwarming as it is funny.  It is a tribute to the talents of the show’s writers, even four seasons in.  And along with the season’s remaining seven episodes, they all come together to make this season one more enjoyable collection for any Nicktoons Nostalgic.

CatDog: The Final Season is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online through Shout! Factory’s online store at http://www.shoutfactorystore.com.  And to keep up with all of the latest news from Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory, parents and kids and go online to http://www.facebook.com/nickelodeon, http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial, http://www.nick.com, and http://www.shoutfactory.com.

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.