Maude: The Complete Second Season Shines In Its First Standalone Release

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Bea Arthur is one of the great names in television’s modern history.  The famed actress starred in a number of TV shows over the course of her life.  One of the most well-known of those roles (if not the most well-known) was as divorcee Dorothy Zbornak in NBC’s classic sitcom Golden Girls.  While most of her fame came from playing that role, it was not her only really well-known role.  Her role as the title character in CBS’ classic dramedy Maude can be argued to be the role that really made Ms. Arthur famous.  That is because as her character, Maude Findlay, was such anything but the typical female lead at the time.  She was a headstrong, self-assured figure who was also quite educated and witty (much like Dorothy Zbornak).  She was the very antithesis of every female lead on television up to that point.  It can even be argued that Maude remains today the inspiration for so many of the female leads on television today.  As popular as Maude remains, it mostly faded into the annals of television history after it ended its six-season run in 1978.  Though, earlier this year it was finally resurrected (and in grand fashion) with the release of Maude: The Complete Series on DVD.  The box set, released by Shout! Factory was the series’ first ever full-series presentation on any platform.  And this summer its release was followed up by the release of the series’ complete second season on DVD late this summer.  That box set, released August 11th, is a must have for any of the series’ original audiences.  It is just as important for anyone that wants to start learning about yet another of television’s most important series.  The main reason for this is the series’ writing.  The writing behind this series was, much like All In The Family, the series that spawned Maude, was just as hard-hitting as it was entertaining.  That is very much the case here.  In the same vein, the cast’s work in interpreting the episodes’ scripts is just as important to the season’s overall presentation.  Last but hardly least of note in regards to this set is its companion episode guide.  Once again, Shout! Factory has included a complete episode guide for viewers.  The company has done so in a familiar fashion, too.  It rounds out the elements that make this three-disc set worth the watch by audiences new and old alike.  Each element in its own right plays its own important role in the presentation of Maude: The Complete Second Season.  Altogether, they make this collection a fitting first installment of the series from Shout! Factory.

Shout! Factory’s recent release of Maude: The Complete Second Season this past August marks the first time ever that the series’ second season has ever seen the light of day on any home platform.  The series’ first season has been released twice over already, first by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and then most recently by Mill Creek Entertainment.  But save for that season, none of the series’ other five seasons had been released in any format until now.  There is plenty for fans of the classic dramedy to enjoy and appreciate here beginning with the work of the show’s writers.  While Maude was not necessarily groundbreaking in regards to its overall writing approach it was still an important series because of the fact that it was one of few shows on the air at the time that was brave enough to take on some tough issues  all while providing its own share of laughs at the same time.  “Florida’s Affair” is one prime example of this.  This episode is especially interesting in that it was penned by a male writer—Alan J. Levitt.  In this episode, Florida, Maude’s housekeeper at the time, is being pursued by a man other than her husband.  While Florida keeps telling the man no, he keeps coming after her.  Just as interesting here, is that Maude and Carol feel that it is okay for a woman to be attracted to a man other than her husband.  What makes all of this so important (at least in the eyes of this critic) is that it could be argued that it exhibits just how progressive mindsets were at the time in regards to gender roles and stereotypes in America.  It is a discussion that is just as relevant among men and women today as it was when this episode originally aired.

“Florida’s Affair” is an important example in its own right of how Maude’s writing is so important to its episodes in its second season.  It is also not the only example of the importance of that element.  “Maude’s Guest” is another key example of the importance of the series’ writing in the series’ second season.  That is because in its own way, it directly takes on the racial tensions that were still quite alive at the time of the episode’s airing.  When Maude decides to take in an African-American teen in this episode, it is obvious that it is for all of the wrong reasons.  While she thinks that her heart is perhaps in the right place, her reasoning isn’t.  Her own efforts reveal what could be argued to be a subconscious racist mindset within herself.  It is yet another issue that is just as relevant today as it was in the 1970s.  There are those people that do things such as what Maude did with the result that it maintains those very tensions that said people think they are trying to break down.  Of course in the case of this episode, everything ends on a relatively happy note. And as with “Florida’s Affair” it still is not the last example of the strength of the show’s writing this season. “Phillip’s Problem,” which comes later in the season’s run, is one more example of what makes this season’s writing so important to its overall presentation.

“Phillip’s Problem” is one more example of what makes the writing in Maude’s second season so important to its presentation here. This episode centers on not one but two very serious issues that are just as important in today’s culture as they were in American society in the seventies—divorce and its effect on families, and child discipline. In both cases, the subjects are tackled with both heart and humor. It is interesting to watch as Maude and Carol debate how best to discipline Phillip, who has been acting out quite a bit lately in this episode. It turns out in the long run that his behavioral issues stem from Carol dating another man. This is a very real portrayal as many young people caught in the middle of a broken family do tend to have behavioral issues. The issues stem from not having that family bond that is common among families not split by divorce. The discipline issue is even more wide-reaching. That is because it is a much broader topic. To this day, there is still intense discussion among Americans about disciplining children and whether or not something as simple as spanking a child should be considered abuse.   The manner in which both topics were presented here by itself will most assuredly keep viewers engaged. The balance of both topics throughout the course of the episode is just as impressive. The combination of both factors shows clearly why this episode is such a clear example of what makes it a key example of the show’s strong writing in its second season. Even considering this, it still cannot be said that it is the only other example of the strength and importance of the show’s writing. Any of the season’s twenty-four total episodes could be used as examples of the writers’ impressive work. That in mind, the season’s writing overall can easily be said to be among the most important elements to note in the set’s presentation.   The writing is just one part of the equation, though. The work of the series’ cast in interpreting the episodes’ scripts is just as important as the scripts themselves.

The writing behind the second season of Maude is a key element in the presentation of the season’s new standalone season box set. That is thanks in large part to the topics tackled in each episode and the manner in which they were handled. It is very reminiscent of the approach taken in All in the Family, which was the very show that led to Maude’s creation. As important as the writing is to the overall presentation of Season Two, the cast’s interpretation of Season Two’s scripts proves to be just as important as the scripts themselves. From beginning to end, Bea Arthur was wonderful to watch. Her comic timing and her ability to handle the show’s more serious moments makes suspension of disbelief simple. This is just as much the case when she is set against Walter (Bill Macy). The pair’s back and forth feels so natural in every exchange. Macy is a laugh riot in his own right with his take on Walter. He is the polar opposite of Maude. He is more grounded in his personality. That set against Maude’s overly self-righteous and self-confident personality (and at times thoughtless) makes for a great dynamic. Adreienne Barbeau (Escape From New York, The Fog, Creepshow) is just as entertaining as Carol whenever she is included in an episode’s script. Again, that is thanks to the dynamic created between herself and Arthur. It shows the very real chemistry that the cast had in whole throughout the season’s run. And because they had such fun, it makes every episode just as enjoyable for audiences. It is yet one more way in which Maude: The Complete Second Season well worth the watch by audiences old and new alike. It still is not the last way in which the box set shows to be so well worth the watch. There is still one last element to note in the overall presentation of this season. That element is the set’s featured episode guide.

Both the scripts and the acting within each of Season Two’s episodes are of the utmost importance to its overall presentation in its new standalone season set. While both elements are equally important in their own right to the presentation, the episode guide included in the box set is just as important as the set’s content. The episode guide lists all twenty-four Season Two episodes. They are split between the front and back inside cover of the box. Each episode is noted in relation to its disc throughout the guide. There is also a short yet concise summary of each episode outlining each episode’s central plot. This is, by and large, nothing new for Shout! Factory. That is given. However, there are other studios that put out TV series’ box sets but refuse to include an episode guide of any sort. Those studios will remain nameless here. Getting back to the point, the fact that there are those studios that refuse to include such guides are only shooting themselves in the foot. It is a minor aspect of any box set’s presentation. But it is still an important element nonetheless. It is part of that viewing experience. Having that guide saves time for audiences as it prevents them from having to go through one disc or another, trying to remember which episode(s) is/are on which disc(s). It’s incredible to think that there are some studios out there that will omit this minor yet important element in their box set presentations. Luckily Shout! Factory has once again made a point of including it in Season Two’s box set. Because the company did, it completes the viewing experience here and shows once and for all why this box set is well worth the watch by any audience regardless of familiarity with the series.

Shout! Factory’s release of Maude: The Complete Second Season marks the first time ever that it has received its own standalone DVD season set. Yes, it was originally released as part of the show’s full series set released earlier this year. But its release this past August by itself is the first time that it has ever been released by itself. Considering this, its first release proves to be quite the success. That is thanks in large part to the work of the series’ writers. The writers mixed heart and humor in every episode to make twenty-four episodes that are well worth the watch just for that reason alone. The cast’s interpretation of the scripts adds even more reason for audiences to purchase it. The companion episode guide that is printed inside the case’s box art rounds out the set’s positives. It gives a clear listing of the set’s episodes in regards to their respective discs and includes a short but concise summary of each episode. The full, clear listing dramatically reduces the amount of time that viewers have to spend searching for episodes. And the episode summaries make choosing which episode(s) to watch all the easier. All three noted elements combined together make the viewing experience in Maude’s second season fully immersive and enjoyable for fans new and old alike. They show collectively exactly why this box set is a solid first solo release from Shout! Factory and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and once again why Shout! Factory remains today the leading name in home entertainment. Maude: The Complete Second Season is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered direct via Shout! Factory’s online store at More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:







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Shout! Factory Resurrecting Maude March 17th

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory has very quietly placed itself at the forefront of the home entertainment world over the past decade or so. That is thanks to releases it has put out itself and releases it has put out in tandem with its partner company Timeless Media Group. 2015 has already proven to be much the same for Shout! Factory thanks to new releases from modern hit series such as Transformers Rescue Bots and The Adventures of Chuck & Friends to a classic the likes of Stingray: The Complete Series released via Timeless Media Group. Next month, Shout! Factory will add yet another notch to its belt with the release of Maude: The Complete Series, proving once more why it is the leading name in home entertainment.

Maude: The Complete Series will be released on DVD Tuesday, March 17th. The full-series set spreads the landmark series’ one hundred-forty-one episodes across nineteen discs. The box also boasts a bonus companion forty-page collector’s book. The book includes an essay penned by Pulitzer Prize-winning TV critic Tom Shales and a number of other bonuses.

Maude was originally ran for six seasons on CBS from 1972 – 1978. The series pushed the boundaries of television writing for its day as Maude (Bea Arthur—Golden Girls) portrayed a very liberal, outspoken woman. Her portrayal would earn her an Emmy® Award along the way. While it proved very controversial for taking on topics from which other series of its day shied away, it also offered its own laughs and equally impressive acting on the part of the series’ cast. That combination of elements has kept Maude one of the most important and influential series of the 20th Century. Now audiences can own the series themselves when it is released next month on DVD.

Maude: The Complete Series will be available on DVD Tuesday, March 17th. It will retail for $159.99 and can be pre-ordered online now via Shout! Factory’s online store for a reduced price of $128.99 at Those that order the box set online now will get free shipping and will also receive their copy a month in advance. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online at:



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New Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts DVD Another Example Of Comedy Done Right

Courtesy:  StarVista Entertainment/Time Life Entertainment

Courtesy: StarVista Entertainment/Time Life Entertainment

The world is in a tough place, right now.  Political and economic strife dominate the news every day.  And television and movies are more dominated by sex and violence than ever before.  Thankfully, StarVista has stepped up once again to offer audiences what is a great escape from all the death, destruction, sex and violence dominating television and movies.  StarVista Entertainment has stepped up and offered an escape from it all in the form of the latest Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts box set.  This collection, the second in a set of three boxes, is just as worthy of applause as the first Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts box set.  That is the case first and foremost because of the laughs that fill each episode in this set.  Audiences will also appreciate that the episodes contained in this set are presented just as they originally aired.  And last but definitely not least, the packaging itself is well worth mentioning, too.  StarVista Entertainment has once again quite wisely packaged each of the six discs that comprise this box set.  The company has also included as part of the packaging, a bonus booklet that serves as an episode guide for viewers.  That inclusion as part of the set’s packaging, along with the equally impressive quality of the show’s footage and the nonstop laughs, makes The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts: Fully Roasted one of this year’s best new box sets for adults.

The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts: Fully Roasted is one of the year’s best new box sets for adults.  The primary reason for that is the fact that these roasts are just as funny today as they were in their original broadcasts so many decades ago.  Given, some of the jokes are a little bit off color.  Case in point, actress Lawanda Page’s (Sanford & Son) jokes aimed at her fellow roasters in the roast of Betty White (Password, Golden Girls, Hot in Cleveland).  But there are just as many jokes that are pure laugh riots throughout each of the set’s sixteen total episodes.  One great example of this is in the celebrity roast of George Washington.  Yes, George Washington.  Famed historical impersonator Jan Leighton played the role of the nation’s first president.  And Audrey Meadows filled the role of George’s wife, Martha.  This roast is one that every viewer will love.  Whether it be the roast of George Washington, Betty White, or any of the others included in this box set, every one of the included roasts will most certainly leave viewers in stitches.  They will find themselves laughing so hard that they cry.  And that’s just the starting point of what makes this box set so fun.  The quality of each show’s footage makes the set even more enjoyable.

The jokes churned out throughout each of this set’s sixteen total episodes are certain to leave viewers laughing tears of joy.  If not for the work of those charged with restoring and transferring each episode, the set (and its predecessor) would not be worth the purchase.  Thanks to their work, the decades old footage still looks just as good as it did in its original broadcast.  StarVista made certain to include a disclaimer on each disc informing viewers that there may be some issues with the footage quality.  But this critic will attest to the fact that any issues with the quality of the episodes’ footage are minute at best and barely noticeable.  To that extent, the quality of each episode’s footage will create a welcome sense of nostalgia for older viewers that order this box set.  That sense of nostalgia in turn adds even more overall charm to the set, making it even more of a must have for any classic TV lover.

The impressively restored footage and the nonstop laugh riot roasts together are the collective cornerstone to The Dean Martin Roasts: Fully Roasted.  They aren’t all that make this new release such a joy.  There is still one more factor to consider in the success of this set.  That factor is the overall packaging of the set.  StarVista Entertainment  established a tradition of smart, quality packaging with previous box sets including the previous Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts set and all of its current Carol Burnett Show sets.  That tradition has been carried on in this set.  Each of the set’s six discs receives its own spot on either side of a handful of “inserts” inside the set’s box.  This protects the discs from scratching one another and it helps to save a certain amount of space on any viewer’s DVD rack.  Add in a bonus booklet that serves as an episode guide and gives background information on each episode, and viewers have what is another complete and completely impressive package from StarVista Entertainment and Time Life.  They flesh out a package that is in the eyes of at least this critic, one of the year’s best new box sets for adults.

The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts: Fully Roasted is available now on DVD and can be ordered online direct from Amazon at  More information on this and other releases from StarVista Entertainment 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

StarVista, Time Life Announce Release Date, Details For Mama’s Family Season Three

Courtesy:  StarVista Entertainment/Time Life

Courtesy: StarVista Entertainment/Time Life

Thelma Harper returns this winter!  StarVista Entertainment and Time Life have announced that they will release the third season of the hit sitcom Mama’s Family on February 25th, 2014.  There are changes for the Harper family in the series’ third season.  The most noticeable of those changes is the departure of Vint’s kids, Buzz and Sonja.  The pair was replaced in Season Three by a new character named Bubba Higgins.  Bubba was the child of Ed and Thelma’s daughter Eunice.  He was played by Allan Kayser.  His sudden appearance is explained by his having been previously incarcerated in juvenile hall.  It is explained that he decided to move in at Thelma’s because Ed and Eunice had moved to Florida.  It’s not the only change that viewers see this season.  Ellen (Betty White—Golden Girls) goes under the knife, and Thelma’s sister Fran (Rue McClanahan—Golden Girls) dies.  Of course, Thelma doesn’t let it remain a somber occasion.  She harps on Ellen for how she did her hair for the funeral.  There are plenty more laughs from this, the penultimate season of Mama’s Family in its original run.  The upcoming box set’s release’s bonus features and guest appearances will impress, too.

Mama’s Family Season Three comes packed with its own share of bonus features.  Fans of The Carol Burnett Show that weren’t lucky enough to get their hands on any of the stand-alone box sets or the complete series set get yet another classic “The Family” skit taken from said show as a bonus in this set.  Also included is a profile of Bubba Higgins, an interview with Allan Kayser, and a Mama’s Family cast reunion.  If the bonus features aren’t enough for viewers, maybe the guest star lineup will.  Golden Girls star Betty White returns again.  Brent Spiner (Star Trek: The Next Generation), Dr. Joyce Brothers, Jack Dodson (The Andy Griffith Show), and Lewis Arquette (Best in Show) all make appearances, too.

All twenty-five episodes of Season Three are included across four discs.  The set is listed at an MSRP of $29.95.  More information on Mama’s Family Season Three and other releases from StarVista Entertainment and Time Life is available online at and  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at

Time Life, StarVista Deserve Applause For Mama’s Family Re-Issue

Courtesy:  Time Life/StarVista/Warner Home Video

Courtesy: Time Life/StarVista/Warner Home Video

Television today is a pale shadow of what it once was.  It used to have so much heart and substance.  But somewhere along the way, something changed.  Both the heart and substance were thrown out the window in favor of programming overly laden with sex and violence.  Thankfully StarVista, Time Life and Warner Home Video have officially released another nugget of television’s past in the form of Mama’s Family Season 1 that reminds audiences of what once made television great.  The first season of this spinoff from The Carol Burnett Show is front loaded with so many laughs that even audiences not familiar with the iconic comedy will agree it’s a welcome re-issue.  It also boasts some wonderful acting on the part of star Vicky Lawrence and her co-stars.  On a more extrinsic level, audiences will appreciate Season One’s packaging.  The packaging for the discs is right along the lines of most other companies.  All things considered, Mama’s Family Season One proves in its new re-issue to be just as fun as it has ever been.  It is a highly recommended piece for anyone looking for a change of pace from what TV studios offer today.

The debut season of Mama’s Family is the funniest of the show’s six total seasons.  It offered some of the greatest writing of any sitcom of the twentieth century.  It was completely unlike anything else on the air at the time.  It took the classic nuclear family setup from older family based sitcoms and completely turned it on its ear.  Even more interesting, it did so without being too racy or edgy.  By comparison to today’s programming, that speaks volumes for this sitcom.  Mama’s Family walked a very fine line even during the 80s.  But it never crossed that line.  It’s just part of the writing that made (and still makes) it such a cult hit.  Season One also offered its share of pure laughs.  A prime example of that lies in an episode that sees Thelma and company make an appearance on the hit game show, Family Feud.  Then host Richard Dawson was even on hand for the laugh riot episode.  This was such a funny episode in that it took that dysfunctional family element and took it outside the walls of Thelma’s house into a wholly new environment.  The result is one of the funniest episodes of Season One and of the entire series.

The writing behind Mama’s Family made this sitcom unlike anything else on television at the time.  It continues to do so today.  But what is good writing without a cast to bring the scripts to life?  Luckily, the cast that made “The Family” a hit on The Carol Burnett Show were also the cast here in Season One of Mama’s Family.  It would have been so easy to replace any of the core cast with new actors for the series.  Luckily that didn’t happen.  In turn, the chemistry developed among the original cast members was allowed to develop here.  It was obvious just how much chemistry the cast had, too.  This is especially the case between Burnett and Lawrence.  Audiences will be laughing nonstop as they watch the pair argue so convincingly as if they really were mother and daughter.  The episode, “Cellmates” is proof of that.  When the pair end up in jail together, it leads to one of the funniest moments between the pair in Season One.  The occasional appearances of Betty White and Rue McClanahan as Fran and Ellen added their own extra comic element, too.  Ironically enough, the pair would go on to star together in The Golden Girls only a couple years later.  That aside, the acting of both women and the rest of the show’s cast in Season One proves to be one more reason that any true fan of comedy should watch at least this season.

Writing and acting are obviously the most important part of any television program’s success.  Both elements have made Mama’s Family a huge success even roughly three decades after it first premiered.  There is one more piece of the puzzle to examine in what makes  the newly re-issued first season of Mama’s Family a success.  That piece to the puzzle is its packaging.  Season One’s packaging follows the standard used so commonly today for multi-disc box sets.  Two of the set’s three discs are placed on either side of a plastic “insert” while the third is placed in its own spot on the back side of the case.  This standard packaging format helps to protect the integrity of the discs.  It also is more ergonomic.  Packaging usually doesn’t get much credit for DVD and blu-ray sets.  But it really is an important part of any release’s full presentation.  And in this case, it’s the icing on the cake of a much welcomed and needed blast from the past that is available now on DVD.  It can be ordered along with the larger complete set online at

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The New Pound Puppies Is Fun For The Whole Family

Shout! Factory/Hasbro Studios/Hub

Dog is man’s best friend, it’s often said.  Well dogs are also every child’s friends.  And after seeing the new compilation DVD from Hasbro Studios and Shout Factory, the dogs of the new Pound Puppies will be a favorite of every child, and maybe even some adults out there, too.  In this new single disc compilation, audiences get five episodes from the new series that will leave both parents and kids alike smiling and watching over and over again.  In the first of the set’s five episodes, pound manager Leonard and his flunky Olaf have to track down his mother’s dog.  Megastar Betty White guests in this episode.  The compilation’s second episode is a heartwarming episode both for adults and kids alike as Cookie learns a valuable lesson about being a parent.  Lauren Tom, Maurice LaMarche, and Cree Summer all add their guest vocal talents to this episode.  And in one more episode, a new pup named Patches joins the gang.  He looks up to the Pound Puppies so much that he, Cupcake, and Rebound form their own group called The Super Secret Pup Club.  Of course, lots of laughs and mayhem ensue.This five-episode collection opens with the episode, “Bone Voyage.”  Betty White (Golden Girls, Hot in Cleveland) guest stars as the voice of Agatha, the mother of the pound’s manager, Leonard.  Agatha has brought her puppy, Rebound, to the pound so that Leonard will look after Rebound while she goes on vacation.  While Lucky and the others try to get Rebound to understand that Agatha will be back, Rebound sees Agatha leave and freaks out.  She takes off after Agatha, causing not only the Pound Puppies to take chase, but so do Leonard and Olaf.  They all end up on board the cruise liner on which Agatha has taken her vacation.  Of course, lots of mayhem and laughs ensure.  Viewers will have to see for themselves how things unravel.  It does, of course, have a happy ending.

In one of the set’s deeper, more emotional episodes, Cookie learns a valuable lesson about being a parent when a young new pup named Cupcake is brought to the pound.  This is one that parents will appreciate in their own way.  Cookie becomes emotionally attached to Cupcake.  So much so that she doesn’t want Cupcake getting adopted.  In its own way, this is somewhat representative of parents letting their own children go as they get older.  That likely wasn’t the primary intent.  But parents will be able to relate to Cookie’s emotional ordeal.  They may even be left a little bit teary eyed by the episode’s end.  Lauren Tom (Futurama), Maurice Lamarche (Futurama, The Simpsons, Animaniacs, etc.) and Cree Summer (Rugrats, Codename:  Kids Next Door, etc.) all add their guest vocals to this episode.

Once parents get over the emotional moments of “Mutternal Instincts”, they’ll find themselves laughing in “The Super Secret Pup Club.”  Cree Summer returns again as Cupcake.  Rebound is back again.  The two team up with another new puppy named Patches.  Patches is a young Dalmatian.  He really looks up to the Pound Puppies.  He tells them of the stories he’s heard of the Pound Puppies, and how he wants to be as great as them.  So the trio forms its club and tries to emulate the Pound Puppies.  But as is the course with any new puppy, the run off, forcing the others to hunt them down.  This causes all sorts of trouble for the Pound Puppies.  It also causes lots of laughs for audiences.  Audiences will have to see for themselves what happens.  Pound Puppies:  Super Secret Pup Club will be available in stores and online Tuesday.  It can be ordered online at

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