There’s Plenty To Discover And Enjoy In The Latest Trip Into ‘Elmo’s World’

Courtesy: Sesame Workshop/Shout! Factory

Everyone’s favorite fuzzy family friendly TV figure (say that five times fast), Elmo has another new DVD on the way early next month, thanks to a new partnership between Sesame Workshop and Shout! Factory.  The DVD, Sesame StreetElmo’s World: Elmo Explores is only the beginning of the new Elmo’s World collections set for release through that partnership.  It is also a very good start for what is hopefully a long-running partnership.  This is proven in part through the DVD’s primary content.  This will be discussed shortly.  The bonus material included in the DVD is just as important to proving the DVD is a good first effort from the companies.  It will be discussed a little bit later.  The DVD’s average price point also serves to show what makes this DVD a good start for Shout! Factory and Sesame Workshop.  Each element is important in its own way to the whole of Sesame StreetElmo’s World: Elmo Explores.  All things considered, they make the DVD a welcome addition to any family’s DVD library.

Sesame Workshop and Shout! Factory’s new Sesame Street DVD Sesame StreetElmo’s World: Elmo Explores is a good first release for the companies in what is hopefully going to be a long series of DVDs from the series.  That is thanks in part to the DVD’s primary content, which teaches a wide variety of lessons and does so in a fashion that makes them accessible to target audiences.  The lessons featured in the DVD’s primary content range from music to the different kinds of families out there to population diversity to the different kinds of homes in which people live, the seasons, colors and more.  What’s interesting here is that while the lessons themselves are basic, Sesame Street’s writers managed to do more than just present the basic lessons.  Case in point that lesson on skin.  It teaches young viewers about skin on the surface (no pun intended).  That lesson in turn, leads to the aforementioned lesson on diversity in populations.  The lesson on the seasons includes a discussion on things that are associated with each of the four seasons, adding even more enjoyment for young viewers.  One could go on from there.  Considering that we live today in an all digital world, each lesson is taught through Elmo looking up information on his friend Smarty the Smart Phone, so that helps the show connect even more with young viewers.  The writers are to be commended for paying attention even to that detail.  Keeping all of this in mind, the primary content presented in this DVD forms a solid foundation for its presentation.  The bonus material included in the DVD strengthens that foundation even more.

The bonus material included in the DVD strengthens its presentation in that it features additional content associated with the primary content as well as two episodes of Sesame Street’s British spin-off, The Furchester Hotel.  The extra lesson content encourages creativity through art as it shows kids coloring with crayons and their fingers in association with colors and painting.  There is also additional content in relation to the lesson on music that encourages children to try music in different ways.  There is even a bonus lesson promoting literacy among children included as an extra that audiences will enjoy.  As if all of that is not enough, the DVD’s bonus material also includes two bonus episodes of Sesame Street’s British spin-off series The Furchester Hotel.  The episodes – ‘Space Alien Party’ and ‘The Count’s Vacation’ – are both taken from the series’ second season.  ‘Space Alien Party’ finds the “famed” Furchester Hotel hosting an “Alien Party” that receives a pair of interstellar guests who older fans of Sesame Street will find very familiar.  When the two aliens join the party, Cookie Monster’s cookies suddenly and mysteriously disappear.  Of course, Cookie Monster finally finds out what happened.  In “The Count’s Vacation,” the seemingly ageless Count and his wife the Countess go on vacation at the hotel, but the Countess does not want him to count anything.  Of course that doesn’t exactly happen, leading to plenty of laughs and even learning.  Both episodes are surprisingly entertaining and engaging, and considering that the late great Jim Henson started his career in Great Britain, it’s fitting that the latest bunch of Muppets come from there.  It leads one to wonder if perhaps American audiences will ever see more episodes of that series get a domestic release.  That aside, the bonus episodes add their own education and entertainment value to the overall presentation of this DVD.  When this is considered along with the DVD’s primary content, the overall content gives audiences of all ages more than enough to appreciate.  Keeping this in mind, that invaluable content makes the collection’s average price point, the last of the DVD’s most important elements, worth the money.

The DVD’s average price point, using prices from Target, WalMart, Best Buy, Amazon and Shout! Factory, is $11.99.  Tax added in, that average price pushes to just over $12.  That is not bad considering the amount of content provided to audiences with this DVD.  Looking at the different retailers, the most common price is $11.99 and the least expensive is $9.99.  Keeping this in mind, it makes that average price that much more affordable and welcoming.  When this is considered, again, with the DVD’s overall content, the whole package proves well worth the money, even if one has to order it online.  It is a DVD that every family will find itself welcoming into their DVD library.

Sesame Workshop and Shout! Factory’s new Elmo’s World DVD Sesame StreetElmo’s World: Elmo Explores is a presentation that every family will welcome into their home library.  That is proven in large part through its content.  This includes its primary and secondary (bonus) content.  Between the primary and secondary content, audiences are given a total of roughly two hours of educational and entertaining content.  The relatively affordable average price point of $11.99 is well worth the money considering all of that content.  Keeping all of this in mind, Sesame StreetElmo’s World: Elmo Explores proves to be a DVD that every family will appreciate owning.  It will be available Oct. 2 and can be pre-ordered online now via Shout! Factory’s online store.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

 

 

 

More news, printables, activities and more from Sesame Street is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.sesamestreet.org

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/sesamestreet

 

 

 

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Time Life To Release New Bob Hope Holiday Collection Next Month

Courtesy: Time Life Entertainment

Courtesy: Time Life Entertainment

Time Life Entertainment is releasing a new Bob Hope collection just in time for everyone to get in the holiday spirit.

Bob Hope: Hope For The Holidays will be released on Nov. 1. The collection features monologues from Hope’s USO holiday tours, a special holiday skit with Red Skelton as his famed character Freddie The Freeloader, an appearance with Jack Benny, and visits by former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Dolores Hope, Naomi and Wynona Judd, and many others.

Courtesy: Time Life Entertainment Bob sings 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas' With The Muppets in "Bob Hope: Hope For The Holidays"

Courtesy: Time Life Entertainment
Bob sings ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ With The Muppets in “Bob Hope: Hope For The Holidays”

The new holiday collection runs 110 minutes on a single disc.  It will retail for MSRP of $12.95.  More information on this and other titles is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://timelife.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/TimeLifeUS

 

 

 

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Lionsgate Takes Viewers On A Magical Trip To Turkey Hollow This Fall

Courtesy: Lionsgate

Courtesy: Lionsgate

This fall, Lionsgate will release a special, family friendly movie from none other than the late, great Jim Henson.

Lionsgate will release Turkey Hollow on Tuesday, November 24th. The movie is based on a story originally conceived by Henson before his untimely passing in May of 1990 and writing partner Jerry Juhl. The story stars Jay Harrington (Benched, American Reunion, Hot in Cleveland) as recently divorced father of two Ron Emmerson. Ron and his children Tim (Graham Verchere–A Girl’s Best Friend, Perfect Match, Impastor) and Annie (Genevieve Buechner–The Final Cut, Caprica, Jennifer’s Body) take a road trip on Thanksgiving to see the the kids’ eccentric aunt Cly (Mary Steenburgen–Back To The Future Part III, The Proposal, Step Brothers). Cly lives in the rustic town of Turkey Hollow. While there, Tim and Annie learn about a legendary creature called the “Howling Hoodoo” and set off to find the elusive creature. While Tim and Annie hunt for the “Howling Hoodoo” another issue arises as one of Cly’s neighbors frames Cly for turkey theft, threatening to ruin the holiday for everybody. However, when Tim and Annie team up with some surprising friends, things take a turn for the better. Rapper Ludacris serves as the story’s narrator.  The movie will air November on Lifetime Saturday, November 21st at 8pm ET  ahead of the movie’s release in stores and online November 24th.  Pricing information will be announced at a later date.

Lisa Henson, Halle Stanford (Jim Henson Company Executive VP of Children’s Entertainment) and Michael Taylor of Multiple Media Entertainment served as the movie’s co-Executive Producers. Christopher Baldi and Tim Burns wrote the script for Turkey Hollow, which was based on a story originally penned by Jim Henson, Jerry Juhl, and Kirk Thatcher. Thatcher (It’s A Very Merry Muppet Christmas, Muppet Treasure Island, The Muppets Wizard of Oz) directed. The puppets used in the movie’s filming were developed at the Burbank, CA location of Jim Henson’s famed Creature Shop. More information on this and other TV titles from Lionsgate is available online now at:

Website: http://www.lionsgate.com

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

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PBS Goes Prehistoric Again Next Month With New Dinosaur Train DVD

Courtesy: PBS Kids/PBS Distribution

Courtesy: PBS Kids/PBS Distribution

PBS Kids is going prehistoric next month!

On Tuesday, November 10th, PBS Kids and PBS Distribution will release Dinosaur Train: Dinosaurs Are Different, the latest collection of episodes from its hit family friendly series Dinosaur Train. It will be available in stores and online exclusively on DVD and will feature eight more episodes from the hugely popular series. Viewers of all ages will enjoy this collection as it teaches about even more dinosaurs including Velociraptors, Masiakasaruses, Euplocephaluses, and lots of others. The complete episode listing for the collection is noted below along with episode summaries.

Now With Feathers: Buddy, Tiny, Shiny, and Don turn detective when their dad gives them a feather that belongs to a velociraptor. The kids’ hunt leads them to meet Valerie Velociraptor and learn what life is like as a feathered dinosaur.

Long Claws: The Pteranodon kids learn a little bit of biology when they meet the Therizinosaurus family and ask them about their claws. They find out that the Therizinosaurs family uses its claws for self-defense.

The Old Bird: Buddy, Tiny, and Mom ride the Dinosaur train for a playdate with Petey Peteinosaurus. Along the way, mom and the kids also meet Arlene Archaeopteryx, who comes from the oldest family of birds. They also learn that Arlene is both a bird and a dinosaur in talking to her.

Buck-Tooth Bucky: The kids are off on another investigation in this episode. This time it stems from a mystery tooth found in Dad’s tooth collection. Their investigation leads them to a dinosaur known as the Masiakasaurus. This interesting dinosaur’s mouth is full of buck teeth that stick out.

New Neighbors: When a family of Lambeosauruses move in next door to the Pteranodon family, things get interesting thanks to the new neighbors’ noisy crests. After a little bit of a rough start, though Dad and the family’s new neighbors work things out and become quick friends.

An Armored Tail Tale: A Euplocephalus named Eugene has caught the attention of Dinoball scout Hank Ankylosaurus. So Hank heads to the big pond, accompanied by Mr. Pteranodon to check out the armored dino, whose tail resembles a spiked club. After talking to Eugene, he and Hank really “hit” it off and Eugene joins Hank’s Dinoball team.

The Wing Kings: The Pteranodon familly takes a trip to one of Dad’s favorite childhood spots called Quetzalcoatlus Canyon. When he was much younger, dad used to go there a lot and even earned the nickname “Wing King.” While the family is there, they meet Quincy Quetzalcoatlus and his dad, who is a very large, flying Pterosaur. The duo’s talents allow them to do a little showing off for their own families together.

Hornucopia: The Pteranodon family joins Hank at the Big Pond and meets Tank’s friend Stacie Styracosaurus. Stacie is a Ceratopsian. One of her most noticeable traits is a large crown of horns on her head. Stacie invites everybody to her “Hornucopia” celebration, where she reveals her new horns and performs a special dance by moonlight with her Styracosaurus family.

Dinosaur Train: Dinosaurs Are Different will be available Tuesday, November 10th in stores and online. It will be available exclusively on DVD and will retail for MSRP of $12.99. It can be ordered online direct via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=69016486&cp=&sr=1&kw=dinosaurs+are+different&origkw=Dinosaurs+are+Different&parentPage=search. More information on this and other Dinosaur Train DVDs is available with lots more Dinosaur Train activities, videos, and games at:

Website: http://pbskids.org/dinosaurtrain

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

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PBS Kids Announces Release Date, Info For Upcoming Dinosaur Train DVD

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Kids

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Kids

PBS Kids will release the latest DVD from its family favorite series Dinosaur Train next month.

Officials with PBS Kids have announced that Dinosaur Train: Adventure Camp will be released June 10th alongside new DVDs from Wild Kratts and WordGirl. The last of the trio of new DVDs from PBS Kids, the DVD will feature four more shorts taken from the series. Tiny, Shiny, Don, and Buddy go on adventures that will teach them about erosion, tree lines, rainforests, and canyons in this DVD’s episodes. It all starts off with “Adventure Camp: Rafting.” The Pteranodon kids learn about erosion as they travel down the river in their first river rafting trip. Viewers will learn through this episode how streams and rivers work together and how different plants and animals depend on them.

After going on their first river rafting Tiny, Shiny, Don, and Buddy go on a mountain hike. During their hike, the kids learn about tree lines. They notice that as they get higher on the mountain, the trees get shorter and shorter. They learn that the lack of air at higher altitudes and lower temperatures causes the trees to be shorter near the top of the mountain. Younger viewers will learn these same lessons in watching this episode.

Having already gone on a river rafting trip and climbing a mountain, the next step for the Pteranodon kids is a trip down a zipline through a rainforest in “Adventure Camping: Ziplining.” Young viewers will learn along with the Pteranodon kids about the different levels of a rainforest’s ecosystem, from the forest floor to its canopy. Along with this, young viewers will learn about the various plants and animals that live in rain forests, as well as the surprising amount of rain that falls in rain forests each year. They will also learn about the importance of rain forests to the entire world because of the amount of oxygen that they provide for the world.

There is one more adventure for the Pteranodon kids after having hiked through a rainforest, up a mountain and having gone on a river rafting trip. That one adventure is a hike through a canyon. In “Adventure Camp: Canyon Hiking,” Mr. Conductor and his nephew Gilbert lead the Pteranodon kids on a hike down a canyon. As they make their way down the canyon, the kids see the different layers of the Mesozoic Era. Before they can even get their hike down the canyon started though, it’s up to Don to convince Lily Lambeosaurus that the new adventure isn’t as hard as she thinks. Having convinced her, Lily comes along and each member of the group comes back with its own Ammonite fossil. Young viewers will learn through this short how erosion helps canyons as rivers flow through them.

Dinosaur Train: Adventure Camp will be available Tuesday, June 10th at SRP of $7.99. Along with the episodes included on the DVD, there will also be an interactive game titled “River Run” in which Buddy and Don have to collect bugs for Don’s collection. Players will learn about river currents and insects as they make their way down the river, collecting bugs for Don’s collection. The DVD can be pre-ordered now via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Dinosaur-Train-Adventure-Camp/dp/B00H540LD0/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1400377558&sr=1-1&keywords=dinosaur+train+adventure+camp. More information on Dinosaur Train is available online at http://www.facebook.com/DinosaurTrain and http://www.pbskids.org/dinosaurtrain. Parents, teachers, and children can also go online to http://www.pbskids.org/dinosaurtrain to see more episodes of Dinosaur Train and play Dinosaur Train games. 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.

Every Family Will Enjoy PBS Kids’ Latest Dinosaur Train DVD

Courtesy:  PBS/PBS Kids/The Jim Henson Company

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Kids/The Jim Henson Company

The Dinosaur Train Gang (get the joke there?) is back! Tiny, Shiny, Don, and Buddy are headed back out on the Dinosaur Train yet again for more family friendly fun in the latest release from The Jim Henson Company and PBS Kids, Dinosaur Train: We Are A Dinosaur Family.  This latest grouping of episodes from the hit PBS Kids show is just as fun as any of the show’s previously released DVD compilations.  What sets this compilation of episodes apart from others is the constant underlying theme of family in each of the set’s eight episodes.  All the fun lessons about different dinos are there, too.  And just as with previous sets, PBS Kids and The Jim Henson Company have made sure to include Dr. Scott’s segments.  There are even printable coloring pages and interactive DVD-Rom games and more that the whole family will love.  All things considered, the episodes and the special features included in Dinosaur Train: We Are A Dinosaur Family make this another wonderful inclusion to any family’s home DVD library.

Dinosaur Train: We Are A Dinosaur Family includes eight more entertaining and educational episodes of the hit PBS Kids series that the whole family will enjoy.  All eight episodes included in this latest compilation have the underlying theme of family in each episode.  Each episode features a different family theme that parents and kids alike will enjoy and appreciate.  It all opens with the introduction of the Pteranodon kids’ grandparents in “Meet The Grandparents.”  There are also special Mother’s Day and Father’s Day themed episodes in “Flowers For Mom” and “Dad’s Day Out.”  Parents and kids will both enjoy “Date Night”, the set’s closer.  On the surface, it may not seem like it fits.  But it’s just as important to the set as any of the other episodes.  Kids sometimes think that then their parents go out on a date night or a weekend alone, that their parents don’t love them, believe it or not.  This episode serves as a great starting point to illustrate that parents just need some mom and dad time just like kids need kid time.  And even when moms and dads get their mom and dad time, it doesn’t mean they don’t love their kids.  If anything, they love them just as much, if not more.  Any parent will be able to relate to this theme.  It’s just one more example of what makes this compilation so worth adding to any family’s home DVD library.

The family-centric themes that run through all eight episodes in this set are just one reason that parents and their kids will both enjoy this latest DVD compilation.  Just as with previous Dinosaur Train compilations, this one is loaded with even more paleontology lessons.  The kids meet a burrowing dino called Oryctodromeus in “The Burrowers.”  Viewers of any age will love how the kids are first introduced to the Oryctodromeus family.  After a whole day of waiting to meet them, the kids come up with a hypothesis about the holes that they see which proves to be right in the end.  They also meet a Hadrosaurus when they go to visit their grandparents in “To Grandparents’ Nest We Go!”  They even learn about “classification” when they visit their grandparents.  This is just part of all the fun lessons that are offered throughout all eight episodes in this set.  Kids, parents, and even teachers will enjoy and appreciate all the lessons tied in to each episode just as much with each watch.  Of course, the fun in this compilation doesn’t end with the direct lessons.  There’s plenty of enjoyment thanks to Dr. Scott’s segments and the bonus activities, interactive game and printable coloring pages.

The bonus interactive game, activities, and coloring pages included in this latest compilation of Dinosaur Train episodes are all accessible when audiences pop the DVD into the DVD drive of their computer.  Parents can print out coloring pages for their kids.  The bonus interactive game will be familiar.  As with previous Dinosaur Train DVDs, kids can learn just how big the dinosaurs featured in some of the episodes here really were.  And Dr. Scott’s segments are just as much of a bonus.  While they’re included as part of the episodes on TV, kids can watch them separately yet again on this DVD.  Separating Dr. Scott’s segments from the episodes helps kids to focus better on the subject of each episode.  It serves as another positive way to teach young viewers.  Along with its companion bonus features, and the set’s episodes, it makes Dinosaur Train: We Are A Dinosaur Family one more wonderful compilation from PBS Kids and The Jim Henson Company for any family’s home DVD library.  It is available this week and can be ordered direct from the PBS online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=23765876&cp=&kw=dinosaur+train+we+are+a+dinosaur+family&origkw=Dinosaur+Train+We+Are+A+Dinosaur+family&sr=1.  Parents and kids can get more information on Dinosaur Train, watch episodes and play even more Dinosaur Train games online at http://pbskids.org/dinosaurtrain/.   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.

Kids, Adults Will Love To Meet The Fraggles For The First Time Again

Courtesy:  The Jim Henson Company/Vivendi Entertainment

Courtesy: The Jim Henson Company/Vivendi Entertainment

Jim Henson was one of the most brilliant minds of the 20th Century.  He was the brilliant mind behind the Muppets, Sesame Street, Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, and so many other creations.  While he was most well known for the aforementioned creations, one of his lesser known creations celebrates its 30th anniversary this month.  That creation is Fraggle Rock.  In honor of the thirtieth anniversary of the beloved children’s series’ debut, The Jim Henson Company has released the entire series on single season collections and a complete thirtieth anniversary box set with the entire series.  The company has also released a special single disc collection that serves as a nice introduction to the world of the Fraggles for today’s younger audiences, while re-introducing them to the generation that grew up with these wonderful underground dwelling creatures in Fraggle Rock: Meet The Fraggles.

Fraggle Rock:  Meet The Fraggles offers six episodes of the classic children’s series on a single DVD.  It is aptly titled as it starts off from the series’ very first episode, “Beginnings.”  It is in this episode that audiences first meet Doc and his dog Sprocket, along with the Fraggles.  It’s through a hole in the wall of Doc’s residence that viewers travel into the world of the Fraggles.  Right from the very first episode, audiences are introduced to a program that is full of enjoyable musical numbers, colorful backdrops, and important life lessons.  The execution of the life lessons through the storylines does so much to make this show so timeless.  One of the best examples of this in this collection comes in the episode, “Red’s Club.”  This episode teaches an important lesson about acceptance of others.  It does this through setting things up through the storyline involving Sprocket being rejected from an elite dog club.  After having been rejected, Doc suggests that Sprocket start up his own club.  Meanwhile in the world of the Fraggles, Red is fed up with always going along with Gobo, and starts her own club.  The problem is that her club is so exclusionary that the one single member that she ends up with is a Doozer.  And the Doozer in question—Cotter Pin—ends up leaving Red’s club, too because of how exclusive it is.  Red ends up learning a very valuable lesson because of her actions.  Doc also learns a lesson in talking with Sprocket about why he couldn’t be in Sprocket’s club.  The lesson is told outright, making it easy for young audiences to understand.  This is the kind of writing existent throughout every season of this classic kids’ show.  This includes all six episodes included in this six-disc introduction to Fraggle Rock.

The writing behind Fraggle Rock is the show’s primary reason for its success.  But it isn’t the only part of its success.  As already noted, Jim Henson did during his life, things that no one else was doing.  The musical numbers which were part of his even more beloved Muppet Show 2 Tbsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
Oil for frying
Powdered sugar for topping

Mix egg and milk. Sift dry ingredients and gradually add to milk mixture, beat until smooth.

Preheat oil in fry pan to 375 degrees F.

Pour batter into hot oil with a funnel with a ½ “ or ¾” hole. Let batter drizzle into hot oil. Spiraling to create a circle.

Cook about 1 minute, flip over, cooking both sides. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and top with fruit preserves while still warm. 2 Tbsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
Oil for frying
Powdered sugar for topping

Mix egg and milk. Sift dry ingredients and gradually add to milk mixture, beat until smooth.

Preheat oil in fry pan to 375 degrees F.

Pour batter into hot oil with a funnel with a ½ “ or ¾” hole. Let batter drizzle into hot oil. Spiraling to create a circle.

Cook about 1 minute, flip over, cooking both sides. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and top with fruit preserves while still were just as integral to Fraggle Rock.  Even as old as this show is, its musical numbers will still have young viewers dancing and singing along.  It’s another of the show’s elements that sets it apart from so much of today’s children’s programming, even today. 

Fraggle Rock’s writing and musical numbers will entertain audiences of all ages.  There is still one last piece of the puzzle to this show that makes it so enjoyable for any viewer.  That piece is the simplest.  Yet it’s still one of the most important.  That final piece is the originality of using puppets.  Children’s television is at a point today at which so much programming is much the same in terms of its format.  Children are being placed in front of television sets, and for all intents and purposes left to let the television teach them.  Fraggle Rock doesn’t allow that, as audiences will see in this introductory set of episodes.  It’s not one of those shows in which the characters talk to the children.  It forces parents to sit down with their children and discuss the lessons taught through each episode.  It forces parents to be parents and spend time with their children.  This is exactly what children and parents need.  They need to spend time together and bond.  And what better way to bond than on what is an original and timeless program.  If parents and children enjoy this set, they can also pick up the complete Thirtieth Anniversary box set with the show’s entire run.  Both sets can be ordered online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BCMT1RS/ref=s9_psimh_gw_p74_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0X19EM0G0KMXPWH3S33S&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1389517282&pf_rd_i=507846 and http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BCMT4B6/ref=s9_psimh_gw_p74_d0_i2?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0NFWRPA7QJPVK8VF9MHY&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1389517282&pf_rd_i=507846.

Fans of Fraggle Rock and Jim Henson’s creations can get all the latest news from the Jim Henson Company online at http://www.henson.com and http://www.facebook.com/hensoncompany

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks.com.  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.

The Muppets Bring More Joy And Heart To The Holidays With New Re-Issue

Courtesy:  Walt Disney Home Entertainment

Courtesy: Walt Disney Home Entertainment

Jim Henson was without a doubt, one of the most creative minds in both television and movies during his life.  So it goes without saying that in his death, the world lost both a great person and a great mind.  Considering the success of movies such as Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal and The Muppet Show, following up the success of those features while paying tribute to the Henson’s memory at the same time would not be easy.  However, Disney and Henson’s son made a valiant effort to accomplish both tasks with the release of The Muppet Christmas Carol in 1992.  Now twenty years after the original release of that story Disney has re-issued it onto a new Blu-ray/DVD combo pack for a whole new generation of audiences to enjoy. 

The Muppet Christmas Carol is just one of any number of renditions of Charles Dickens’ classic literary tale.  There are so many different takes on the classic tale that it would seem that one needs a program to tell them all apart.  This modern take on the classic tale is enjoyable first and foremost for its general structure.  Rather than trying to be just another take on Dickens’ story, it comes across as a stage play on screen instead of a movie.  The sets and musical numbers alone give it that feel.  And the cast’s acting adds to that feel, too.  Veteran actor Michael Caine (Secondhand Lions, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises) does an expert job leading the cast as the infamous Ebenezer Scrooge.  While Caine does an extraordinary job as Scrooge, it’s The Great Gonzo and Rizzo who take the story’s other light.  Unlike other versions of A Christmas Carol in which the narrator is only heard and not seen, Gonzo takes on the mantle of Dickens, helping to guide viewers through the story on screen.  In its own manner, this is actually a visual aid of sorts for viewers.  It’s a very valuable aid, too.  The comic turns between Gonzo and Rizzo add for even more entertainment for viewers, as well.  Audiences will enjoy the pair’s physical comedy throughout the movie.  At one point, Rizzo falls down a chimney with rather warm results.  And the pair gets knocked off more than one window sill as it attempts to help viewers follow the story.  These are just a handful of examples of how the cast’s acting makes The Muppet Christmas Carol enjoyable for the family.  The acting aside, there is at least another aspect that makes this two decade old story enjoyable even today.  That aspect is the movie’s general presentation.  

The acting of both Caine and the puppeteers does a lot to make The Muppet Christmas Carol a believable and enjoyable story.  But it’s not all that contributes to the movie’s success.  The on-screen stage presentation is what really puts The Muppet Christmas Carol over the top.  As noted already, there are so many renditions of A Christmas Carol out there that it’s tough to keep them all straight.  Among that mass of different takes are movies that are obviously take offs of that story, just with different titles.  The Muppet Christmas Carol does the exact opposite of those adaptations.  Rather, it opted to pay homage to the original in its own way.  Instead of trying to be another movie adaptation of the original story, it takes the avenue of being a stage play complete with enjoyable musical numbers and sets that make audiences feel as if they’re watching a play on screen.  Combined with the acting, the musical numbers and sets will pull audiences in with ease and keep their attention throughout the near hour and a half story.  And for those audiences who perhaps might have to get up during the movie for any reason, they are treated to something very special courtesy of the bonus “Intermission” feature.  The “Intermission” feature allows audiences to pause the movie and enjoy extra musical numbers courtesy of other members of the Muppets cast.

Speaking of bonus features, the bonus features presented in the previous DVD presentation of The Muppet Christmas Carol are carried over to this new Blu-ray/DVD combo pack along with a pair of new additions.  The “Intermission” feature is one of that pair of new features.  The other new feature is an interview with Jim Henson’s son Brian Henson, who helmed this new take on the holiday standard.  The manner in which the interview was conducted is worth its own share of laughs.  That’s because Henson shares the moment with Gonzo and Rizzo.  The three discuss different aspects of the film and behind-the scenes stories that will keep the entire family especially entertained.  It’s just one more part of the whole that makes the new 20th Anniversary Edition of The Muppet Christmas Carol fun for the whole family this and every holiday season. 

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Being Elmo is fuzzy fun for the whole family

He’s red.  He’s fuzzy.  And he’s one of the most beloved characters on television today.  For those who perhaps haven’t already figured it out who is being referenced here, it’s Elmo!  Yes, Sesame Street’s Elmo.  Elmo is just as well known and beloved–if not more than–Big Bird, Oscar The Grouch and the rest of the gang on Sesame Street.  And now, thanks to docurama films and New Video, fans and families world wide finally get a glimpse behind the scenes at the man who has made Elmo a house hold name in the documentary, “Being Elmo:  A Puppeteer’s Journey.”

“Being Elmo:  A Puppeteer’s Journey” is a wonderful, touching look into the life and career of a man who is a star unlike any other.  Kevin Clash is the very body behind Elmo.  His love of the craft and art of puppetry has made what would have otherwise just have been another puppet into a worldwide phenomenon.  Yet in it all, audiences see in this documentary, a man who is entirely humble, and wants only to entertain.  It’s his love for his art that has brought joy to children and adults the world over, including a young terminally ill child.  It’s that same love of performing and entertaining that brought tears to the eyes of not only that child, but to those of Clash himself.  And it’s that same love that has even given Elmo his very own segment in the “new” version of Sesame Street.  That love of the art of puppetry all began thanks to the legend himself, Jim Henson.

Audiences will be enthralled as they experience Clash’s journey from backyard puppet shows to a spot on Captain Kangaroo to his amazing start with Jim Henson’s company after having turned down job offers from Henson himself twice.  Yes, twice.  Most people wouldn’t get a second chance after turning down such a legend only once. But for whatever reason, Henson believed so much in Clash that he gave Clash a third offer.  He offered to let Clash work on his movie, “Labyrinth.”  Clash took the job, and impressed Henson so much that he was offered a spot on Sesame Street.  The story of how Clash eventually became the voice and life of Elmo is just as interesting as the story of how he reached that point.  What’s even more interesting is the impact that he has had to this day as Elmo’s puppeteer.  There are lots of funny moments in that story.  And there’s also an equally touching story of the impact that he and Elmo had on a young, terminally ill child.  Seeing the tears welling up in his own eyes as the little girl smiled while she hugged Elmo will bring even the strongest person to tears, too.

While the documentary about how Kevin Clash came to basically be Elmo is so impressive, one can’t ignore the bonus features included in the documentary.  One might think what could bonus features add to this documentary.  But the bonus features here really do add a whole extra dimension to Kevin’s story.  Audiences learn that a lot of Elmo was influenced by Clash’s own parents.  His parents constantly showed love and support to him.  That love is reflected in Elmo’s love for children.  What’s more, even in public audiences see how genuine Clash is about wanting to make children smile.  It’s another truly touching moment.  On the opposite hand, one of the funniest moments comes when it’s explained that his mother’s love of something as simple as mowing lawns was infused into Elmo.  That childlike love of the simple things in life made Elmo relateable to young audiences. 

Elmo’s relateability to young audiences is wonderfully exhibited in a combination of the bonus features and the final sequence of the documentary.  As the documentary closes, Clash welcomes a young viewer into his office who he took under his wing, just as Kermit Love took Kevin under his own wing years prior.  That young man got his first taste of fame as he joined Clash and the other Sesame Street Puppeteers in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.  He was the actor behind the Baby Bear character in the parade.

“Being Elmo:  A Puppeteer’s Journey” is a wonderful piece of family entertainment.  It does hold a “PG” rating though.  However, parents should note that that is mainly thanks to a clip from the Rosie O’ Donnell Show.  The clip was taking during the height of the Tickle Me Elmo craze.  A star had asked her about getting a Tickle Me Elmo doll.  To that, she joked that she felt like a drug dealer.  Other than that brief moment, “Being Elmo” is an otherwise wonderful documentary for parents and kids alike. 

So much could be written and spoken of this documentary.  But doing so would take entirely too long and would take far too much space.  So audiences would be best to experience it for themselves.  From the story itself, to the equally  entertaining bonus features, “Being Elmo:  A Puppeteer’s Journey” is one of the best documentaries of 2012, if not the best. 

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The not so new Muppets is still great nostalgic family fun

Thank you Jason Segel.  Thank you Disney.  Thank you for bringing one of the most beloved franchises in the history of both television and movies back to life.  In an era when so few truly family friendly movies exist, the return of The Muppets is a breath of fresh air.

This new installment in the Muppets franchise isn’t exactly the most original work.  It lifts very liberally from most of the previous movies in the Muppets franchise.  And it goes without saying that it goes way over the top with its glut of blatantly Broadway style musical numbers.  Sure the other Muppets movies have musical numbers.  But not to the extent of this one.  All of that aside, star and co-writer Jason Segel is to be commended for his role in bringing this beloved franchise back to life.  Segel has stated that he grew up with Jim Henson’s characters.  That would explain the constant references to the previous Muppets movies.  Considering that, Segel and co. can be forgiven for essentially rehashing said movies and tossing them into a big pot for this flick.  It could be argued that making so many references to the other Muppets movies might even go so far as to raise interest in them, and bring that much more interest in the Muppets mong this new generation.

For the issues that The Muppets has, there’s also plenty of good in it.  The most obvious of the movie’s positive aspects is in the statement of The Muppets’ relevance in today’s cultural world..  The story presents that Muppets in a world in which they are no longer relevant, or so they think.  That is until Walter and his brother,  Gary (played by Jason segel) try to get the gang back together.  It’s not the first time that’s been done in a Muppets movie.  In the real world, of course, the Muppets have always been relevant.  There has really never been a time when the Muppets haven’t been relevant.  Now thanks to this new movie, Kermit, Miss PIggy, Animal, Rolf, and all the rest will likely be even more relevant than ever.  It’s kept these beloved characters alive for a whole new generation.  And with any luck, this new generation will carry the Muppets torch lit for the generation that follows it.  More than likely, as the movie’s ending shows, there’s little rason to worry about that.  Suffice to say that while this new incarnation of The Muppets isn’t overly original, Jim Henson would still be proud of it if he were with us