Street Sharks Another Blast From The Past For Retro TV Fans

Courtesy:  Mill Creek Entertainment

Courtesy: Mill Creek Entertainment

The 1990s was the last real great era for television.  That decade-long span offered viewers of every age something that so few of today’s programs have.  One might ask what today’s shows lack.  They lack heart.  And they lack substance.  To quote Lois and Peter Griffin:  “All you see is violence in movies and sex on TV.”  Adults and families in general had great sitcoms such as The Cosby Show, Home Improvement, and Third Rock from the Sun.  There were even more wonderful shows for adults and families at the time worth watching.  This trio is just a sample of that mass of worthwhile shows that filled the networks.  Children had just as much from which to choose if not more.  Kids had multiple shows from which to choose on weekday mornings and afternoons across the Big 4.  And even Saturday mornings meant cartoons, too.  Not every one of those cartoons lasted.  But even the shorter-lived shows were worth an occasional watch.  Among the most notable of those short-lived shows was a little action series that went by the name of Street SharksStreet Sharks was DIC Entertainment’s (now dhx media) answer to the massively popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  There’s no denying the number of similarities between Street Sharks and TMNT.  But what can be said of Street Sharks that sets it apart from TMNT is the show’s animation.  Sure the story’s central plot is different.  But at its root, it is largely just a variant of the TMNT plot.  Keeping this in mind, the best place to start in examining this recently released set is to look at the transfer of the footage from VHS to DVD.

Nearly two decades have passed between the original premiere of this “little brother” to TMNT.  The footage has stood the test of time quite well as is evidenced in the set’s four discs.  A quick glance through all four discs contained in the set shows that.  What’s more, in watching through just some of the short-lived show’s forty episodes, one will notice something else that makes Street Sharks worth checking out at least once, if not more.  That other something is the show’s animation.  All forty episodes of Street Sharks were hand drawn.  And while the show might have had quite a few similarities to its “big brother”, one thing that can be said is that its animation style was completely different from TMNT and almost every other cartoon of its time.  Some might consider this to be minor.  But at a time when fully hand drawn cartoons are such a rarity, it proves to be far more important of a factor in the show’s success.  Its animation really made it look like it had jumped right off the pages of a comic book.  In the same breath, it reminds viewers of the importance of art being taught in public schools and colleges today.  Far too many of today’s “animated” features are created either entirely or in large part by computer.  It makes them all look like cookie cutter presentations.  Hand drawn features on the other hand, have more substance and soul about them.  Much the same argument could be made about the importance of Disney’s classic animated features being re-issued throughout 2013.  Keeping that in mind, this is a cartoon worth watching at least by those that grew up in the 90s.

Street Sharks’ animation was key in its ability to last as long as it did.  It isn’t the only positive to this release.  There are those that have criticized Mill Creek Entertainment’s continued use of paper sleeves to package its DVDs in this set.  Given, it isn’t the completely ideal packaging.  But in comparison to DVD sets such Syfy’s Ghost Hunters, at least the DVDs in this set aren’t stacked one on top of another with nothing between them.  It would be nice to have at least padded envelopes for the DVDs from Mill Creek, or even more standard packaging that other companies are using today.  But given the circumstances, viewers should be thankful that Mill Creek would take the time to try and protect the discs from each other if not entirely themselves.  Keeping this in mind, and the show’s old school animation style, the two factors make Street Sharks: The Complete 40 Episode Series worth checking out at least once for old school cartoon fans.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered online direct from the Mill Creek Direct website at https://www.millcreekdirect.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=Street+Sharks.  More information about releases from Mill Creek Entertainment is available on the company’s official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/MillCreekEnt and http://www.millcreekent.com.

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Disney Nature’s Chimpanzee A Heartwarming And Enlightening Documentary

Courtesy: Disney/Disney Nature

Good morning, everyone.  In the second of today’s mega blast of new reviews, I’ve got a look at one of the many new blu-ray/dvd combo packs from Disney.  The first of that new group of releases is the brand new home release of Disney nature’s hit documentary, Chimpanzee.  There is a lot to say about this documentary.  So rather than try to take lots of time setting it up, I’ll let you see for yourselves everything that went into it.  Needless to say, it’s a documentary worth watching.  It definitely will go into the reviewer’s list of the year’s best DVD/Blu-ray releases.  From the footage itself to the narration to the bonus documentary, it has so many positives.  So without further ado, I offer for your consideration dear readers, Disney Nature’s brand new home release of Chimpanzee.

Disney and Disney Nature have a hit on their hands with the latest release in the Disney Nature series, Chimpanzee.  This nature documentary is touching and heartwarming for the entire family.  At the same time, it is also quite eye opening, considering the most commonly known social roles of the primate community.  Generally, males in this community are not known for taking on the caretaking role.  Yet here, audiences see something that can only be described as miraculous.  Add in equally spectacular footage of the jungles of West Africa and the subtle narration of veteran actor Tim Allen, and audiences get a truly memorable work.

Chimpanzee has so many positives going for it.  But if there is one factor that stands out more than any other as the key, it is that young Oscar is fostered by the head of his group of Chimpanzees, “Freddy.”  This generally goes against common logic of this group of primates’ behavior patterns.  Yes it is wonderfully touching for audiences.  But on a more scientific level, it makes for quite the interesting display.  Disney and Disney Nature included on the home release of Chimpanzee a behind the scenes look at the work that went into filming the documentary. Almost everyone involved in the filming who was interview, noted how “human” the behavior was.  Even the most casual of viewers can’t help but be equally amazed at this behavior.  Take into note that this isn’t just another animated Disney feature, either.  This is the real world that audiences are seeing.

The fatherly behavior of “Freddy” is extremely enlightening and surprising as well as touching.  Just as interesting to note is the chimpanzees’ use of “tools” to crack open the notes in their grove.  Add in that the younger chimps were being “taught” so to speak how to use them was even more incredible to see.  The chimps both young and old “learned” what they needed to use in order to crack open the tough shells of the nuts.  This real life vision of adaptation is another extremely interesting portion of the documentary.

The material shown in Chimpanzee is enlightening and interesting to say the very least.  It alone makes for a documentary that every family and even teacher should watch at least once.  It is the meat and potatoes of the documentary.  That being the case, then the narration of veteran actor Tim Allen (Home Improvement, The Santa Clause 1 – 3) is the garnish that makes the whole display that much more appealing to the viewer.  His narration is subtle enough to not overpower the sheer beauty and intellectual value of the film.  If anything, the narration adds a nice light hearted humor throughout the work.  And hearing him pull out his classic Tim Allen Tool Time grunt at one point was a nice additional touch. 

So much work went into bringing Chimpanzee to life.  As noted already, from the stunning visuals, to the very behaviors of the chimpanzees to Tim Allen’s narration, Chimpanzee has so much going for it.  Whether or not viewers had the opportunity to see the film in theaters, the home release of the documentary has one more touch that makes it a memorable work.  That one extra touch was the extensive behind the scenes documentary that followed the film crew over the course of its filming.  Seeing that the crew was actually worried when it turned out Oscar was orphaned showed how much the film meant to them.  And that the crew endured bee stings, bug bites and so much more adds to the appreciation of the work turned in to bring this piece to life.

Chimpanzee is not a simple piece.  The footage presented in the blu-ray presentation is crystal clear on an HD TV.  The story of Oscar’s journey and Tim Allen’s narration make everything that much more enjoyable.  And the bonus documentary is more proof of the importance of bonus features on a home release of a feature.  Assembled all together in one double disc Blu-ray/DVD package, they combine to make a feature that any family will enjoy watching time and again.  It gives that much more hope for Disney Nature’s next release.

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