True ‘Transformers’ Fans Will Appreciate ‘The Transformers: The Movie’ 30th Anniversary Edition

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Hasbro Studios

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Hasbro Studios

It’s hard to believe but thirty years ago this year The Transformers: The Movie made its big screen debut.  The movie, which was essentially just a way for Hasbro to eliminate its original Transformers toy line and pave the way for a new line of bots, didn’t do too well in its original run.  However, it is gone on to become a cult favorite among the franchise’s fans in the decades since.  Now thanks to Shout! Factory and Hasbro Studios Transformers fans can own the movie for themselves in its new 30th Anniversary edition.  There is a lot for fans to appreciate about the movie’s new release, beginning with its story.  That will be discussed shortly.  The bonus material that is included in the movie’s new 30th anniversary edition presentation is another of the positives to note in its presentation. The various platforms on which the movie is available is just as notable but hardly least of note.  One could also make note of the cast’s acting, the movie’s artwork, and much more in considering its overall presentation.  All things considered, the new 30th Anniversary edition of The Transformers: The Movie is a welcome addition to any true Transformers fan’s movie library.

Shout! Factory and Hasbro Studios re-issued the classic animated movie The Transformers: The Movie this week in a brand new 30th Anniversary Edition. The new re-issue is a presentation that will be welcome in any true Transformers fan’s movie library.  That is especially the case for fans that perhaps don’t already own the movie in its previous releases.  Its story is one of the reasons that audiences will enjoy it.  The story centers on the battle for control of Cybertron between the Autobots and Decepticons. As is discussed in the movie’s bonus features, the purpose of the story was essentially a way to eliminate Hasbro’s original Transformers toy line and introduce a new line of toys.  Even with that in mind, and the fact that the movie bears little to no connection to the Transformers TV series, the story is still interesting.  It eventually sees both the Decepticons and Autobots having to face the ultimate evil in Unicron, the planet devouring Transformer.  If that sounds familiar, it should.  Marvel Productions played a role in the movie’s creation. Marvel Productions was the film branch of Marvel Entertainment Group, the parent group to Marvel Comics.  Fantastic Four is one of Marvel Comics’ titles.  For those who might not know, the Fantastic Four faced a similar villain in its original comics storyline named Galactus.  Galactus had a herald called The Silver Surfer who would hunt out new worlds for him to devour. In the case of The Transformers Movie Galactus and The Silver Surfer were replaced with Unicron and Galvatron (Megatron reborn, so to speak).  What all of this means to say is that the story isn’t exactly original per se when one really analyzes all of the facts.  But it is still a fun story nonetheless, especially since it created new worlds within the Transformers universe as well as new characters.  To that end, the story is still an important part of the movie’s overall presentation.  It is just one of the movie’s key elements to note.  The bonus material that is included in the movie’s 30th Anniversary Edition is just as important to note in examining its presentation as the movie’s central story.

The story at the center of The Transformers: The Movie is clearly an important piece of the movie’s presentation.  Considering all of the facts, it is not exactly an original story, as has been noted already.  But it is original within the Transformers universe.  To that end, it is just one of the movie’s key elements.  The bonus material that has been included in the movie’s new 30th Anniversary Edition presentation is just as important to note as its story.  The movie’s new 30th Anniversary Edition comes with some bonus material that despite originally having been recorded for the movie’s 20th anniversary in 2006, is still interesting for those who might have not seen it before.  That is clear both in the discussions themselves and in posters sitting behind star Susan Blu, who voiced Arcee for the movie. Audiences get to hear from Blu as well as cast mates Dan Gilvezan (Bumblebee), Gregg Berger (Grimlock), and others.  Audiences learn some interesting tidbits through the discussions provided through the bonus interviews including the revelation that when Orson Wells recorded his lines for Unicron, no one was allowed to be in the booth with him.  It is revealed here that Wells demanded to be alone when he recorded his lines.  That is just one of the more interesting revelations that are made through the bonus interviews.  The cast and crew also reveal that the movie got less than a warm welcome by fans when it killed off Optimus Prime.

One of the cast members reveals in the discussion on this topic that one young viewer was so devoted to the Transformers franchise that after Optimus was killed off in the movie, that unnamed viewer allegedly locked himself in his room for two weeks straight, mourning for the loss.  That viewer’s reaction wasn’t the only negative reaction.  The reaction was so negative in fact, that the creative forces behind the G.I. Joe Movie, which was released not too long after The Transformers: The Movie, made sure that Duke survived just to avoid the same negative reaction from audiences.  As if that isn’t enough for viewers, it is also revealed that the foul language included in the movie’s original presentation is also included here, thus providing the movie’s “PG” rating.  One of the instances in which that language is presented comes as Spike and Bumblebee are trying to escape the Autobots’ moon base 2.  Spike drops an “S”-bomb in that moment.  There is also a moment later in which another character drops the “D” bomb.  They are the only times throughout the movie in which any foul language is used.  But those instances combine with the movie’s themes of death and its violent content to clearly show why the movie received a “PG” rating in its original presentation.  The revelation about the use of that language and its inclusion here is just one more of so many examples of what makes the movie’s bonus material so enjoyable in its new re-issue, even if said material isn’t original.  Keeping all of this in mind, the bonus material that is included with the new 30th Anniversary edition of The Transformers: The Movie proves in the end to be. Again, just as important to the movie’s presentation as its story.  It is still hardly the last of the movie’s most important elements.  The various platforms on which it is available are just as important to note as its bonus material and its story.

The story at the center of The Transformers: The Movie and its bonus material are both key elements in the movie’s new 30th Anniversary Edition.  The story, while not exactly original, stands apart from the series and the bonus material is enlightening and entertaining for audiences that might not have seen it before.  It provides quite a bit of extra insight into the movie, and in turn appreciation for the movie, too.  For all of the value that each element brings to the movie’s presentation, there are still plenty of other elements to note including the various platforms on which the movie has been made available in its new re-issue.  It has been made available on DVD, Blu-ray, and special edition steelbook.  For the sake of this review, movie’s Blu-ray re-issue will receive the attention.  The Blu-ray re-issue presents the movie in both letterbox and full screen.  It also includes a code for a digital download of the movie so that audiences can take the movie with them everywhere that they go.  The movie’s availability on Blu-ray for this presentation also marks the first time that the movie has ever been available on said format.  It is also the first time that it has been made available on a digital platform, too.  To that end, Shout! Factory and Hasbro Studios have covered al of their bases in presenting the movie in its expansive Blu-ray presentation as well as its DVD and steelbook presentation.  It allows audiences across the board to be able to enjoy the movie regardless of whether they have a Blu-ray player or a DVD player.  When this positive is set against the movie’s central story and its new bonus material, all three elements join together to show clearly why The Transformers: The Movie is welcome in the home library of any Transformers fan’s home library in its new 30th Anniversary re-issues.

Shout! Factory and Hasbro Studios’ new 30th Anniversary re-issue of The Transformers: The Movie is a welcome addition to the home library of any of the franchise’s true hardcore fans.  That is evident in the movie’s story, which holds its own against the franchise’s TV installments.  It may not exactly be an original story, considering Marvel Productions’ role in its creation.  But it is still a story that holds its own. The bonus material that is included in the movie’s new re-issue adds even more entertainment and appreciation to the movie’s presentation.  The various platforms on which it is available in its new re-issue are—collectively speaking—just as important to its presentation here as its story and its bonus material.  These elements, as important as they are to the movie’s presentation, are hardly the movie’s only key elements.  The movie’s artwork, its soundtrack, and so many other elements can be noted just as easily as the elements discussed here.  All things considered, the new 30th Anniversary Edition of The Transformers: The Movie is a welcome addition to the library of any true hardcore Transformers fan’s movie library. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct online via Shout! Factory’s online store.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

 

 

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Clap Your Hands! Shout! Factory Kids Set To Release Another New Collection Of Episodes From Littlest Pet Shop

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory Kids/Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory Kids/Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory Kids will release the latest collection of episodes from the Discovery Family series Littlest Pet Shop later this month.

Littlest Pet Shop: Paws For Applause will be released on DVD Tuesday, June 16th. The single-disc compilation will boast five more episodes from the family friendly animated series at a total run time of 110 minutes. This collection offers up plenty of laughs from the series’ second and third seasons including a spoof of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller Rear Window in the episode “Back Window.” Also in this collection, Penny Ling has her hands full after trying to help Sunil overcome his fears in “Super Sunil.” Penny Ling gives Sunil a “super suit” and makes the pair a superhero duo in this episode in order to help Sunil overcome his fears. But she finds out that she’s bitten off more than she could chew when Sunil actually believes that he is a superhero. And in “Missing Blythe,” Blythe’s pet friends concoct a plan to visit her at her summer fashion camp with some rather interesting results to say the least. These are just a few examples of what audiences have to expect from Littlest Pet Shop: Paws for Applause. The complete episode list for this compilation is noted below.

Episode Episode Title
1 Littlest Pet Shop: Missing Blythe
2 Littlest Pet Shop: Super Sunil
3 Littlest Pet Shop: Blythe’s Big Idea
4 Littlest Pet Shop: Some Assistance Required
5 Littlest Pet Shop: Back Window

Littlest Pet Shop: Paws for Applause will be available on DVD in stores and online on Tuesday, June 16th. It will retail for MSRP of $14.93. It can be pre-ordered online now for a discounted price of $13.93 via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://shoutfactory.com/kids/kids-animation/littlest-pet-shop-paws-for-applause. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

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Day At The Races Is A Fine Final Lap For Chuck and Friends

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Shout! Factory Kids/Discovery Family/Hub/Hasbro Studios

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Shout! Factory Kids/Discovery Family/Hub/Hasbro Studios

The Adventures of Chuck and Friends: Day at the Races is more than likely Shout! Factory Kids’ last installment of episodes from the family friendly series. If it is in fact the last collection of episodes that audiences will receive, then it is safe to say that it is a great way for the series to go out. That is thanks in large part to its writing. Once again, audiences get ten episodes that present a solid mix of both entertainment and invaluable lessons for young audiences. The overall run time of this allegedly last installment of episodes is another important key to the whole of the DVD. The work of those behind the show’s look is worth the note one more time, too. The episodes here look largely unlike other CG-based children’s offerings out there in terms of its overall design. It rounds out the reasons the audiences of all ages will appreciate the episodes presented here and shows together with the other noted elements why it is fully deserving of a spot on any critic’s list of the best new DVDs and Blu-rays for children and families.

If the latest collection of episodes of The Adventures of Chuck and Friends is in fact the last that audiences will get to enjoy, it is something of a sad thing. That is because even over the course of only two seasons it offered audiences so much to like. And this collection of episodes is no different from the series’ previous releases, either. The main reason that it proves itself just as enjoyable as its predecessors is the work of the series’ writers. Once more, the writers have crafted ten more episodes that expertly balance both entertainment and education so to speak. The education in question comes in the form of lessons that are just as invaluable for young viewers as those presented in the series’ previous compilations. Right from the disc’s outset this time, viewers are presented with an important lesson about teamwork in the episode “Contest Countdown.” The lesson in question is taught as a contest is held for the chance to ride with a well-known traffic reporter chopper. The way to win is to answer a riddle. Chuck and his friends end up working together and answer the riddle together. The lesson obviously taught here is that when people work together, everybody wins. As a sidebar, viewers also learn about the importance of developing problem-solving skills along the way. These two lessons are just a couple that show how the show’s writing proves its value to The Adventures of Chuck and Friends: Day at the Races. The disc’s second episode “Tough Break” teaches an equally invaluable pair of lessons.

When Chuck breaks his mom’s brand new wench in “Tough Break,” he enlists his friends to try to rebuild the wench. But in trying to cover it up, he ends up being caught and has to confess to what he’s done. He and his friends do end up fixing his mom’s wench. Along the way, he realizes the episode’s dual lessons–respecting others’ property and taking responsibility for one’s actions. These are lessons that can’t be driven home enough for young viewers. And they aren’t the last important lessons, either.

“The Short Cut,” the third episode included in this set, teaches its own equally invaluable lesson, to young viewers. The lesson presented here is that of the value of hard work. The lesson is taught as Chuck has some important things to do for his mom including building a new tool shed. In seeing the directions to building the shed, Chuck decides to try and take a short cut to finish the job, thinking nothing could go wrong. The end result is obviously quite the contrary. Simply put, the writers have presented to young viewers the message that nothing worth doing is ever easy. And the way to do things the right way is to follow the directions, NOT to try and do things one’s own way (I.E. taking shortcuts). This is an especially important lesson especially in an age when young audiences increasingly expect instant gratification for everything. It’s yet another example of how the writing used in these episodes shows itself the most important aspect of the collection. There are plenty of other important lessons that audiences will get out of the set’s other episodes. Those presented here are just a glimpse into how much the collection in whole has to offer audiences. For all of the value that the writing offers in this collection, the writing is just one part of what makes the collection in whole a success. The run time of each episode is just as worth noting in considering what makes The Adventures of Chuck and Friends: Day at the Races a success.

The work of the writers proves itself the most important aspect in The Adventures of Chuck and Friends: Day at the Races. That is because of the writers’ ability to balance the series’ entertainment with its more important developmental lessons. The lessons in question are presented in a fun way, rather than some obviously over the top, in-your-face approach that is used by other shows. As important as the writers work proves to be in the long run, their work would mean nothing without the time limitations put on each script or more simply put, the episodes’ run times. Each episode runs roughly eleven minutes. That means that the writers had a very fixed time in which to present each episode’s problem and solution/lesson. They managed those limitations with expertise, making sure not to spend too much time on the buildup or on the eventual outcome of each story. There are in fact some series whose episodes suffer from this issue of time management. The end result is young viewers easily losing interest even within the shows’ key demographics. That thankfully isn’t the case here. Because it isn’t the case, audiences will find themselves fully engaged yet again from beginning to end of each episode. Hopefully in the long run, that combination of solid writing and relatively short run times will lead to viewers of all ages picking up on the episodes’ lessons. In turn viewers will see for themselves why both elements of the episodes make this collection of episodes a success.

The run times and writing incorporated into the episodes featured in The Adventures of Chuck and Friends: Day at the Races are equally important to the set’s success. Of course they are only two-thirds of what makes this collection another success for audiences. The overall look of the episodes plays its own role in their enjoyment and success, too. Compared to so many other CG-based children’s series and movies (specifically Disney/Pixar’s Cars and Planes franchises) out there today, this series boasts its own identity thanks to its look. There’s something about the richness of the colors and even the design of the characters and their world in whole. While it’s obvious that this series was created via computers, it doesn’t look like the show’s heads and those behind its creation didn’t just toss something together and call it done. This has been a standard since the series’ first collection of episodes. There is a certain attention that has always been paid to the specific look of Chuck and each of his friends. Those responsible for bringing the characters and their world to life went to painstaking efforts to make each look as much like their real world counterparts as possible. That includes details as minute as the design of the vehicles’ tire treads and the overall shape of their chassis. Even the junkyard, the race track and Chuck’s “family home” received specific details. Audiences can tell that special attention was paid to especially this element with the inclusion of everything that a person would see in a normal everyday garage. It’s one of so many fine details that were given the utmost attention. Whether for these details or others not noted, the work put in to make them look different from the other CG-based series and movies out there paid off once again. Together with the work of the writers and the overall run time of each episode, all three elements make The Adventures of Chuck and Friends: Day at the Races one more (and last?) fun collection of episodes for audiences of all ages.

Whether it be for the work of the writers, the run times of each of the collection’s ten episodes or for the work of those responsible for designing the characters and world of Chuck and his friends and family, there is plenty to say to the show’s positive. It’s too bad that it looks like the series has now come to its end. One look at Discovery Family’s new website would seem to hint that it is no longer running the family friendly series. Even if it is indeed the end of the road for this series, then this potentially last installment of episodes proves a fine final lap (ba-dumb-bump bad pun fully intended) for one of the more underappreciated series in the last decade. The Adventures of Chuck and Friends: Day at the Races is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct from Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/kids/kids-animation/the-adventures-of-chuck-friends-day-at-the-races. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory and Shout! Factory Kids is available online now at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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Transformers Cybertron Offers Entertainment For Fans Of All Ages

Courtesy:  Hasbro Studios/Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Hasbro Studios/Shout! Factory

When it debuted earlier this summer the Michael Bay directed Transformers: Age of Extinction was met, as expected with rather mixed reviews.  And as audiences will note, it apparently didn’t last very long in theaters, either.  While it didn’t last very long, Shout! Factory has made up for the failure of that film by releasing earlier this month Transformers Cybertron: The Complete Series.  There is plenty to say of why this box set will last far longer than its big screen counterpart.  The primary reason for the success of this “series” is its writing.  While it is its own series, it is actually just one part of larger story.  Another reason that many audiences will appreciate this latest installment of the beloved Transformers franchise is its mix of hand drawn anime style animation and CG elements.  And lastly, the packaging of the discs rounds out the whole thing.  It is even more proof of why Shout! Factory remains not only the leader in classic and modern classic series, but in home releases overall.

The central point of success behind Transformers Cybertron: The Complete Series is its writing.  Transformers Cybertron: The Complete Series is the final installment of a three-part series that started with Transformers Armada and continued with Transformers EnergonCybertron picks up right where Energon left off.  In this installment of the Unicron trilogy, the Autobots are trying to close a black hole created due to Megatron interfering with Cybertron’s new Energon sun.  The only way to close the black hole is to get a group of “Cyber Planet Keys” that will close it.  Along the way, the Autobots have to face off against their old foes the Decepticons time and again.  This aspect of the series will bring in even the oldest of fans that perhaps are more familiar with the Transformers than their younger counterparts.  Younger fans of this long-running franchise will be impressed as this latest installment incorporates certain elements of today’s hit anime series into its writing.  One of those elements is the use of “cyber keys” to “power up” the Autobots and Decepticons.  This is very similar to the way that characters in Pokemon, YuGi­Oh, Digimon and others of their ilk use their own special power ups for their characters.  The very fact that the Autobots and Decepticons are searching for very specific hidden objects is much in line with other current anime programs, too.  Given in the original Transformers animated series, the Autobots and Decepticons were searching for Energon cubes on Earth.  But the “Cyber Planet Keys” are more specific, almost legendary type of objects much like those hunted in those other anime series.  So again, the use of this element will certainly bring in today’s younger audiences.  With any luck, bringing in younger audiences will also get those same audiences interested in the original Transformers series that remains the gold standard for what is one of Hasbro’s most well-known properties.

Audiences of all ages will appreciate the writing behind Transformers Cybertron: The Complete Series.  The writing incorporates elements of the franchise’s original series and those of more current anime favorites into one series that can in turn perhaps bring the whole family together.  Just as important to note of this installment in the Transformers franchise is its “animation.”  Just as it incorporates the writing elements of current anime series, so does it also incorporate the “animation” elements of today’s hit anime series.  Again, the similarities to the likes of Pokemon, Digimon, and even Yu-GiOh are quiet clear.  There’s even a similarity to the likes of Monsuno to a lesser degree.  That’s because that series and the others use both hand drawn anime and CG-based creations together, too.  While the use of such animation techniques will not grab everybody, it is sure to pull in audiences that are fans of those animation techniques.  And then having pulled in the fans of those techniques, hopefully those same fans will become even more interested in the original Transformers franchise through the inclusion once more of the Autobots and Decepticons, even if some of the characters have changed.  Yet again, audiences see just why Transformers Cybertron: The Complete Series will be far more welcomed by audiences than Michael Bay’s recent big screen adaptations of the Transformers.

The animation techniques used throughout Transformers Cybertron: The Complete Series and the writing that combines both the original Transformers series with its more recent incarnations are both important in their own right to the overall success of this box set.  There is one more aspect of the set overall that is worth noting when considering what will make audiences appreciate this set.  That last aspect is the set’s packaging.  For the longest time, Shout! Factory has proven to be the leader in multi-disc home releases not just for the content of their releases but also for their packaging.  The packaging of their sets has maintained a certain bar that has been the model to which so many other companies aspire to achieve.  Transformers Cybertron: The Complete Series is no different.  The series is spread across seven discs.  Each of those discs is placed on its own spindle on either side of a group of “plates.”  One disc is placed at the top of said plate on one side, while the other disc is placed at the bottom of that same plate on the other side of that plate.  The set’s seventh disc is placed on the inside back of the box’s case on its own spindle, too.  This method of packaging multi-disc sets saves the discs from one another and it saves space on DVD racks.  It’s too bad that some other companies out there still don’t strive to achieve this model.  It only serves to exemplify once more why Shout! Factory is the leader in home releases.

The packaging used for Transformers Cybertron: The Complete Series is a model to which every home entertainment company should aspire to achieve.  That model set alongside the animation techniques used in this series and the series’ writing make this box set even more enjoyable for those that are fans of both anime and the Transformers.  The three factors together make this a box set that as one can tell, so many audiences will appreciate and enjoy. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct online from Shout! Factory’s online store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/product/transformers-cybertron-complete-series-0. More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory is available online at http://www.shoutfactory.com and 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.

Shout! Factory Releases The Final Chapter Of The Transformers’ Unicron Trilogy On DVD

Courtesy:  Hasbro Studios/Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Hasbro Studios/Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory released the latest Transformers box set this week.

Transformers: Cybertron was released Tuesday. The new box set was released yesterday fresh on the heels of the release of the latest Transformers big screen feature Transformers: Age of Extinction. Transformers: Cybertron is the final piece in the Transformers’ Unicron trilogy, which includes the series: Transformers: Armada, Transformers: Energon, and Transformers: Cybertron.

This new box set follows the events of Unicron’s defeat and resultant consequences. A black hole has been created as a result of Unicron’s defeat. And now it is threatening Cybertron, the home world of the Autobots. The only way for Optimus Prime and the autobots—and their new human friends Coby, Lori, and Bud—is to find the four mystical Cyber Planet Keys. Of course the search for the keys won’t be easy as the Autobots still have to deal with Megatron and his Decepticon forces. The fate of the galaxy and even the universe is at stake in the Autobots’ search.

Transformers: Cybertron is available in stores and online now for SRP of $44.99. It can be ordered direct from Shout! Factory’s online store now at http://www.shoutfactory.com/product/transformers-cybertron-complete-series-0. More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory is available online at http://www.shoutfactory.com and 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.

Pound Puppies’ Latest Compilation One Of The Show’s Best Yet

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Hub Network/Hasbro Studios

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Hub Network/Hasbro Studios

Shout! Factory has teamed up with Hasbro Studios and the Hub network once again another compilation of episodes from Hub’s Pound PuppiesPound Puppies: Holiday Hijinks is one of the best compilations from this family and kid favorite series to be released yet.  That is largely because of each episode’s writing.  This compilation offers viewers some of the series’ most heartfelt episodes to date.  Just as noteworthy in this compilation is the guest voice talent.  Both parents and kids alike will recognize the celebrity voices that are included in some of the episodes in this set.  Something more subtle, but just as worth noting in this collection of episodes is that each one features its own musical number.  It’s something that hadn’t been seen (or rather heard) in previous collections.  It’s a nice touch to the episodes in question.  The reason for that will be discussed later.  All things considered, Holiday Hijinks is one more great addition to any family’s home DVD library, whether it’s their first introduction to the new Pound Puppies or not.

The latest compilation of Pound Puppies episodes includes five more episodes from the Hub network’s hit children’s series.  This follows the same format as the previous DVD compilations that have been released.  The episodes collected for this collection stand out because they are some of the series’ most heartwarming episodes yet.  The collection’s opener, “I Heard The Barks on Christmas Eve” is the collection’s only actual holiday themed episode.  It’s still a wonderful story, nonetheless.  For the first time ever, viewers see that Mr. McLeish actually has a heart and isn’t the mean middle aged man that he comes across as being in most episodes.  It presents those classic messages that everybody needs somebody and that everybody deserves somebody, especially during the holidays.  Audiences will appreciate how writer Joe Ansolabehere expanded on the show’s central theme of family in the set’s second episode, “I Never Barked For My Father.”  Lucky meets his long lost father and brother for the first time ever in this episode.  These are two of the collection’s finest.  What’s more, older audiences will appreciate the guest vocal talent shared here.  That is another positive to this set of episodes.

The episodes collected for Pound Puppies: Holiday Hijinks offer plenty of heart and laughs.  The writers behind the show are to be applauded for their work.  Just as worth noting of these episodes is the guest vocal talent recruited for these episodes.  Lucky’s father is voiced by none other than Gary Cole in “I Never Barked For My Father.”  And his long lost brother is voiced by one Gary Cooksey.  Cooksey is best known for his time on Diff’rent Strokes as well as voicing Montana Max on Tiny Toon Adventures and portraying Robert “Buddy” Budnick on Nickelodeon’s hit 90s series, Salute Your Shorts.  Older audiences will recognize Gary Cole from his roles in Office Space, Dodgeball, Talladega Nights, and Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law just to name some of his work.  Cole and Cooksey are just a couple of the well-known names that grace this collection of episodes.  Fred Stoller (Wordgirl, Everybody Loves Raymond) guests on the collection’s opener as the voice of Ralph.  Ralph is a stray that has lost his Christmas spirit because he has never had a single owner.  That all changes thanks to the Pound Puppies.  Wayne Knight (Seinfeld, Scooby-Doo & The Goblin King, Jurassic Park, The Exes) also shares his talents as the voice of Ralphie, Mr. McLeish’s old friend in “Good Dog, McLeish.”  If that isn’t enough, then the addition of both Tress MacNeille (Futurama, The Simpsons) and Charles Shaughnessy (The Nanny) as guest talent in “Prince and the Pupper” will certainly convince parents to check out this latest collection of Pound Puppies episodes with their kids.  The list of guest talent included in Pound Puppies: Holiday Hijinks is only a glimpse of the big name actors and actresses that have lent their talents to this series over the course of three seasons.  And it’s just one more reason for families to enjoy this collection together.  There is one more reason that families will enjoy the episodes presented in this set.  That reason is that each of the set’s five episodes includes its own musical number.  It would have been so easy for the writers to go over the top considering the history of musical numbers in shows that aren’t known for musical numbers.  Instead, the show’s writers made each episode’s musical number respectable and within limitations.  They didn’t make them big, cheesy tongue-in-cheek numbers.  They actually add a certain amount of emotion and comic relief where necessary.  Just as with the guest vocal talent and the equally enjoyable writing overall, the musical number become one more part of the whole that makes Pound Puppies: Holiday Hijinks well worth the watch any time of the year.  It is available now on DVD in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct from the Shout! Factory store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/product/pound-puppies-holiday-hijinks.  More information on this and other Pound Puppies DVDs is available online at http://www.shoutfactory.com and http://www.facebook.com/shoutactoryofficial.  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.

Parents and Kids Will get Revved Up With The Latest Chuck and Friends Compilation

Courtesy:  Shout! Kids/Shout! Factory/Hasbro/The Hub

Courtesy: Shout! Kids/Shout! Factory/Hasbro/The Hub

Chuck, Soku, Digger, and the rest of his friends are back once again with a whole new collection of family friendly episodes from The Hub’s The Adventures of Chuck & Friends

The Adventures of Chuck & Friends: Bumpers Up is the fourth release from the hit children’s cartoon on The Hub.  It will be available next Tuesday, August 13th.  As with the previous DVD releases, this compilation of episodes offers parents and children ten more episodes full of family friendly fun and important life lessons.  The writers behind the show are to be commended once again as neither the lessons nor the general entertainment steps on the other.  This is just one of the positives to this new set.  Viewers will also enjoy the fun musical numbers in each episode.  And speaking of the musical numbers, Bumpers Up includes its own sing-a-long feature as a bonus element.  The bonus sing-a-long on this DVD from Shout! Kids includes the words to the song that kids can read while they sing.  This is actually a double whammy in the best possible way.  And while most audiences don’t take it into account, even the bright colors used in each episode play their own part in the overall enjoyment of these episodes.  All combined, they make for one more collection that parents and kids will enjoy every time that they pop it in their DVD or Blu-ray player.

The episodes included in this collection are just as enjoyable for parents and children as the show’s previous trio of releases.  That is thanks in large part to the show’s writers.  The storylines and life lessons included in each episode are very well balanced thanks to the show’s writers.  Neither element steps on top of the other even once.  Audiences can take their pick of episodes in this set.  Each episode serves as a wonderful example of exactly that.  A random example of this balance is in the set’s first episode, “Choosy Chuck.”  Chuck’s parents are going to take him to the truck history museum.  There’s just one problem with this.  They have an extra ticket, which they give to Chuck to use with one of his friends.  The result is that Chuck has to make a very difficult decision.  Of course, it ends with a happy ending.  Again, the general storyline and the important life lesson perfectly balance out.  What’s more, it’s enjoyable because it is so relatable.  Scenarios such as that presented here do in fact happen in real life.  So it becomes an even more valuable addition to this compilation.  “Choosy Chuck” teaches young viewers a very deep lesson in a very simplistic way, thanks to the show’s writers.  The even deeper lesson taught here is of personal sacrifice.  Even adults have to make the choice at times of personal sacrifice.  To that end, it becomes an even more invaluable addition to this new compilation.  Even adults can take something away from it (and the other included episodes).

Just as important an inclusion to “Bumpers Up” is the episode, Soku-Kun.  As with “Choosy Chuck”, this episode also teaches viewers of all ages some very important lessons. It teaches the lessons of acceptance, tolerance, and understanding.  These are lessons that adults need just as much as children, as is evidenced every evening on the nightly news.  The writers are to be commended just as much for this episode as for “Choosy Chuck” and the other episodes included here.  It’s through this lesson that Chuck’s friend Soku learns that just because someone is from another country and different culture, it doesn’t make them any less than anyone else.  He learns this lesson when his cousin from Japan comes to visit.  His cousin can’t speak English though.  The resultant language barrier causes Soku to resent his cousin.  That is until Chuck and the others help Soku understand his cousin more easily.  The end result is a happy ending, and a lesson that is just as valuable as any other in life and in this set.

The episodes noted here are merely a sample of what “Bumpers Up” offers for children and their parents.  Along with the family friendly writing, viewers also get plenty of family friendly musical numbers too.  The musical numbers go hand-in-hand so to speak with the lessons of each episode.  They help to drive home each lesson on the surface.  On a slightly deeper level, they’ll also have kids dancing and singing along as they clap their hands.  Staying on the matter of the songs, included as a bonus feature in this compilation is a brand new sing-a-long for kids.  The sing-a-long lets kids sing along karaoke style, as the song’s lyrics are included at the bottom of the screen.  What’s more, the song in question brings the entire compilation full circle.  It brings the compilation full circle as it teaches a lesson about the importance and value of teamwork all while rocking out.  And on an even deeper level, the included lyrics could also serve as an aid in teaching young viewers to read.  So not only does it serve two purposes, but in fact three.  This three-way attack of sorts makes the overall presentation over the top and that much more worth picking up or ordering when it becomes available on Tuesday, August 20th.  It can be ordered online direct from Shout! Factory’s online store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/?q=node/217614.  Parents and kids can keep up with all of the latest family friendly releases on the Shout! Factory website at http://www.shoutfactory.com and 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.