Audiences Of All Ages Will Applaud Littlest Pet Shop: Paws For Applause

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory Kids/Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory Kids/Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory Kids’ latest collection of Littlest Pet Shop episodes, Littlest Pet Shop: Paws for Applause is yet another fun-filled collection for any fan of the hit Discovery Family series. The newly-released collection boats five more episodes from the family friendly series that will entertain not just the series’ target young female audiences but their parents, too. That is thanks in large part to the writing behind each of the collection’s five episodes. That is just one part of what makes this collection so enjoyable. On a related note, audiences will appreciate that at least one of the episodes included in this collection is largely a musical episode of sorts. This is different from most of the episodes features in the series’ previous DVD collections. It’s actually entertaining in its own right, too. The bonus sing-a-long that has remained commonplace among previous Littlest Pet Shop collections is present here, too. Even as short as it may be it proves to be one more part of the whole of the collection that makes it one more enjoyable set of episodes for audiences of all ages.

Littlest Pet Shop: Paw for Applause is not the first collection of episodes from the hit Discovery Family series to see the light of day. It is however, just as enjoyable as the series’ previous collections in its own right. The central way in which it proves itself to be just as enjoyable as its predecessors is the writing that went into its featured episodes. The writing presented in the featured episodes presents both heart and comic element that will put a smile on any viewer’s face. The heart is evident in the episode “Super Sunil.” This episode teaches young viewers the timeless lesson about believing themselves. It teaches viewers that they don’t have to be superheroes to do great things. It does this presenting a story that sees Sunil having to face his fears. It is not until Penny Ling develops “super suit” for Sunil and makes the pair a “super duo” that he thinks he can overcome his fears. He eventually comes to realize in the long run that he doesn’t need the super suit to overcome his fears and do great things. It’s a lesson from which audiences of all ages can take something. For all of its heart, it also presents its own share of comedy as Penny Ling comes to realize that she’s bitten off more than she can chew (no pun intended). She has to deal with Sunil’s delusions when he puts on the super suit. Given, the whole concept behind the episode is familiar as it has been used in some form or another by other animated (and live action) series any number of times in the past. But that doesn’t take away from its enjoyment here.

Staying on the element of the writing’s comic elements, older audiences will be entertained by the nonstop Alfred Hitchcock references in the collection’s closer “Back Window.” The episode’s very title is a reference to Hitchcock’s gripping 1954 thriller Rear Window in which photographer L.B. Jeff Jeffries (Jimmy Stewart) discovers a crime in a building right across from his as he sits wheelchair-bound in his apartment. The story presented in “Back Window” even plays off of that story as Russell the hedgehog ends up in a body cast after being injured. Russell swears he sees Blythe’s friend Josh Sharp stealing her discarded designs and giving them to her arch enemies, the Biskit Twins. The difference here is that Russell didn’t actually see what he thought he saw (not to give away too much). That aside, there are references to The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, North By Northwest and other Hitchcock hits throughout the episode that older audiences will especially enjoy. Those combined references show the comic element clearly in this set. It’s just one example of the laughs that are offered up in the episodes featured in this collection just as “Super Sunil” is just one example of the heart presented in the episodes’ writing. The remaining three episodes—“Missing Blythe,” “Blythe’s Big Idea,” and “Some Assistance Required”—each offer their own share of heart and entertainment in their own right, too. Regardless of which episode(s) audiences choose, the writing in each of the featured episodes proves equally enjoyable both for its heart and its comic timing. It shows exactly why the writing behind Littlest Pet Shop makes it a hit for audiences of all ages. It shows even more specifically why the writing behind this set of episodes makes it one more hit for audiences of all ages, too. Of course it is hardly the only element that makes the episodes featured on Littlest Pet Shop: Paws for Applause such a hit. At least two of the episodes featured in this collection offer up quite a bit of musical content. That is rare for this series. So it goes without saying that it makes these episodes stand out even more.

The writing that went into each of the episodes featured on Littlest Pet Shop: Paws for Applause is key to the DVD’s enjoyment. It offers more than enough laughs and heart throughout each episode to put a smile on any viewer’s face. This includes both younger and older audiences. It’s just one way in which Littlest Pet Shop: Paws for Applause shows itself to be another welcome addition to any family’s home DVD library. The inclusion of the “musical” episode “Missing Blythe” is another way that it impresses. This episode follows up on Blythe’s joining a prestigious fashion academy while her animal friends remain at the pet store, awaiting her return. Audiences get at least two full-on musical numbers in this episode–one from Blythe and the other from the animals—that is sure to have young viewers singing along happily. It may even find them dancing as they sing along, too. Speaking of singing and dancing, Littlest Pet Shop: Paws for Applause boasts not only five fun, well-written episodes but a bonus sing-a-long, too. That is nothing new to this DVD and its predecessors each also presented their own sing-a-longs. While it is relatively short it will still have viewers singing and dancing along, rounding out the ways in which the DVD shows itself to be yet another impressive addition to Littlest Pet Shop’s already extensive series of DVDs.

The bonus sing-a-long that is included with Littlest Pet Shop: Paws for Applause rounds out the ways in which the DVD shows itself to be one more enjoyable addition to the series’ already relatively extensive series of DVD releases. It focuses on Blythe’s “F.U.N. Song” from the disc’s opening episode “Missing Blythe.” It is in the course of this song that Blythe eventually realizes that she’s not as happy as she thought she would be. It isn’t all down as viewers that watch the episode will recall. Its catchy chorus and equally infectious harmonies are sure to have any young viewer singing and dancing along even up to Blythe’s realization that she misses her pet shop pals. Even with the song reaching that moment it still doesn’t take away from the rest of the song. Because it doesn’t, it proves once and for all why it is indeed a bonus feature and a fitting final piece to the whole of Littlest Pet Shop: Paws for Applause. Together with the episodes’ solid, fun writing and the musical numbers incorporated into disc’s lead episode, all three elements combine to make this new DVD yet another welcome addition to any family’s home DVD library.

In case it hasn’t already been made clear, Littlest Pet Shop: Paws for Applause is yet another welcome addition to any family’s home DVD library. The solid mix of heart and comic timing in each episode’s writing makes for its own share of enjoyment. The “musical” episode that opens the set is enjoyable in itself. The bonus sing-a-long included in the presentation rounds out the whole thing. All three elements taken into consideration, it becomes crystal clear why this latest collection of Littlest Pet Shop episodes is such a joy for any family to have. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered online direct from Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/kids/kids-animation/littlest-pet-shop-paws-for-applause. 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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Dean Martin Celebrity Roast Collection Is A Laugh Riot

Courtesy:  Time Life Entertainment/Star Vista/NBC Universal

Courtesy: Time Life Entertainment/Star Vista/NBC Universal

Groundbreaking and hilarious.  Those are the best two words that one can possibly come up with when one thinks of singer/actor Dean Martin’s celebrity roasts.  There was nothing else like this series on television when it was spun off from his equally entertaining Dean Martin’s Comedy Hour.  And even today, when one watches Comedy Central’s celebrity roasts, one can’t deny the influence of Martin’s show on today’s celebrity roasts.  Martin’s celebrity roasts were just as irreverent as anything broadcast on Comedy Central today.  Anyone that has any knowledge of classic movies and television will attest to that.  And that’s just one reason that audiences will appreciate the recent release of Dean Martin’s Celebrity Roasts: Collector’s Edition.  Decades have passed since these shows aired.  Despite that, the jokes are still as biting today as they were back then.  While the celebrities and jokes featured in each of this set’s shows are the most important aspect to the set, they’re only part of what audiences will appreciate about this new laugh riot collection from Time Life Entertainment and Star Vista.  Viewers will also appreciate the bonus features included in each of the set’s six discs.  And last but definitely not least, Time Life and Star Vista are more than deserving of praise for the packaging of this set.  The manner in which each of the set’s discs was placed protects each disc, and is ergonomic for any DVD rack.  When one takes into consideration everything noted here, one will see just how important it is to the history of television and movies that Star Vista and Time Life Entertainment have released this set.  It’s a set that any fan of true, pure comedy must see at least once.

The celebrities and jokes that fill each episode of Dean Martin’s Celebrity Roasts: Collector’s Edition are the most important aspect of the episodes culled for the set.  Audiences that are more familiar with classic television and movies will appreciate seeing big names such as Rich Little, Don Rickles, former President Ronald Reagan, Sammy Davis, Jr., and so many others.  Little’s impersonations of some of Hollywood’s biggest names are among the many highlights.  Audiences will roar with laughter as he impersonates Johnny Carson.  Carson does everything that he can to not do the mannerisms that Little lists off one at a time.  The funny thing is that he can’t help but do those same mannerisms.  It shows just how closely Little studied his subjects.  It’s just one of so many moments that will have audiences laughing so hard that they cry.  There’s actor Kirk Douglas’ joke comparing fellow actor Don Rickles to a weasel, Rev. Billy Graham’s golf joke about Bob Hope, and even Foster Brooks’ ever entertaining drunk act from one show to another.  Somehow that act never loses its shine, no matter how many times he does it.  There is plenty more material from which audiences will be able to call their favorite moments.  Everything listed here is just a small sampling of that to which audiences can look forward with this collection of hilarious roasts.

The celebrity lineups and jokes that fill each of Martin’s celebrity roasts easily make Dean Martin’s Celebrity Roasts: Collector’s Edition make it an easy contender for the top spot on this year’s list of the best new box sets.  One can’t make such a statement without examining the set’s bonus material.  Bonus is a word that is bandied about far too often with DVDs and Blu-rays today.  But the additional content included in this set couldn’t be more properly labeled than bonus material.  Audiences are offered interviews with those that shared the stage throughout Martin’s Celebrity Roasts and bonus shows, too.  The interviews with the likes of Carol Burnett, Rich Little, and others show just how honored the chosen celebrities were to have been chosen both for the celebrity panel, and as the subject of the roasts.  The celebrity interviews included across this set are definitely worthy of being called bonus material.  Audiences will also appreciate the bonus segments of The Dean Martin Show, as well as a comparison between Martin’s celebrity roasts and what is offered today on the likes of Comedy Central.  It’s very interesting to note Carol Burnett’s own words, stating how today’s comedy is “mean” versus Martin’s roasts being just good clean fun.  She makes a valid argument.  One can really tell that Martin’s celebrity roasts were really meant all in good fun.  There were some off color material.  But even back then, the comedians on the panels didn’t have to work blue unlike today’s comedians.  It’s a telling statement.  And when they order this set, audiences will see that and more for themselves.

The bonus material included in Dean Martin’s Celebrity Roasts: Collector’s Edition puts this set way over the top.  Unlike the extra material crammed into other sets by other companies, the extra material included in this set is more than deserving of the title of “Bonus.”  When set next to the celebrity lineups and their jokes, it makes this set one that any classic TV and movie fan absolutely must add to their own home library.  Those same fans will notice in adding this set to their home DVD library that the packaging is another plus.  The box itself takes up a small amount of room on one’s rack.  That’s because of how the discs inside the box were themselves packaged.  The discs are placed on either side of a group of “inserts” inside the box.  They are given their very own space on either side of each insert.  This not only saves space, but also protects the discs from scratching one another at the same time.  This means being able to share the laughs again and again for years to come.  They are laughs that will be welcome with every watch.  And they can be enjoyed when audiences order the set from Time Life Entertainment and Star Vista online at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00D2UMI9Q/ref=s9_simh_gw_p74_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0JVYS83R0PH9M3VZQVZP&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1630083502&pf_rd_i=507846.  More information on this and other releases from Time Life Entertainment and Star Vista is available online at http://timelife.com and http://www.facebook.com/TimeLIfeUs.  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.

Anchor Bay’s Touchback Is A Touchdown For Sports Movie Fans

Courtesy: Anchor Bay

Anchor Bay’s new family friendly football based flick is something one might expect more to see on Lifetime network or Trinity Broadcast Network than in theaters.  This blend of It’s A Wonderful Life, Friday Night Lights and so many other football based movies and TV shows is the sort of story that fans of Sherwood Pictures’ movies would enjoy, too.

The story behind Touchback is sappy and schmaltzy.  But that’s not an entirely bad thing.  It centers on former high school standout quarterback Scott Murphy.  Murphy was on his way to stardom until he suffered a catastrophic leg injury on the last play of the last game of his last year in high school.  Now he’s a down on his luck farmer living with his wife and daughters, struggling to make ends meet.  It seems that ever since that injury in high school, bad luck has followed him everywhere he goes.  And the worst is yet to come.  When it’s revealed that he and the family might lose the farm, literally, he contemplates the unimaginable.  Whether or not actual farmers have reached these limits is anyone’s guess.  But to the credit of the story’s writer, Don Hanfield, the struggles of the American farmer do add some believability to the movie.  Murphy’s struggle to maintain his farm is something that so many farmers face every year in real life.  On one hand, it could be considered cliché to use this struggle as the basis for the story.  But that relate ability is what adds the real emotion to the story. 

The real factor of Scott losing the farm isn’t all that makes the movie work.  Much to the surprise of the viewer, veteran actor Kurt Russell actually takes a back seat to Brian Presely and Melanie Lynskey (Two and a Half Men, Sweet Home Alabama) in this movie.  He allowed them to shine, which went a long way to allowing the movie’s survival.  What’s more, the makeup department responsible for Russell’s makeup is to be commended.  Those responsible for making him look much older did a very good job at that.  Viewers are really led to believe that that’s likely what he would look like even off screen in his older years.  So kudos to them for that.

The movie’s makeup people aren’t the only ones to be commended.  The backdrop of the hills of Ohio aids this movie, too.  Seeing the country setting, with the fall colors gives the movie a “warm” feeling that adds to the movie’s emotional depth.  That setting will almost instantly pull in viewers who allow themselves to suspend their disbelief, and simply take in the story.

There’s no denying the fact that Touchback lifted very liberally from It’s A Wonderful Life and certain other sources.  But then again, what movie today doesn’t do that?  Taking that into account, one has to admit that while it may not be the most memorable movie out there, it’s still a story that many families will find enjoyable this and every holiday season.

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Rocko’s Modern Life Season Three is a riot

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

90′s Nicktoons Nostalgics, stand up and “shout”!  Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon are on the home stretch with Rocko’s Modern Life.  This classic cartoon lasted a total of four seasons during its run on Nickelodeon.  And on July 3rd, the penultimate season will hit store shelves courtesy of the good people at Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon.  Season Three is rife with all the laughs that fans had in the show’s first two seasons.  In Season Three, fans get to see Rocko investigate what he thinks is Ed Bighead’s murder.  Also series creator Joe Murray takes on the barrage of sensational talk shows that pollute the airwaves.  And Rocko has to face his nail biting problem in another episode.

In “Ed is Dead” series creator Joe Murray spoofs Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller, “Rear Window.”  The episode opens with the Bigheads working in their yard one day.  Ed and Bev are arguing over how little work Ed is doing.  That night, Rocko swears he sees Bev use a trowel to kill Ed through the window of the couple’s house.  When he sees her bury something in the yard and clean the trowel afterward, Rocko’s sure Bev killed Ed.  So he goes into the Bigheads’ house to investigate what happened.  When he runs into Bev, she invites Rocko to stay for dinner.  But he freaks out and runs out of the house.  Later, when Rocko confronts Bev, she reveals that she was actually working on a sculpture of Ed, and that was what she buried.  So Rocko asks Bev where Ed is, it turns out that he was out getting a wart removed.  Though Rocko thinks that Ed was getting his tonsils taken out.  The whole thing ends full circle as audiences see the silhouettes of Ed and Bev kissing through their window.

“Ed is Dead” is just one of Season Three’s funny episodes.  Another example of what makes this season so funny is the episode, “Speaking Terms.”  Rocko and Heffer find themselves on the “Nosey” show after a big fight about Rocko’s birthday.  One could argue that this episode even went so far as to spoof the queen of daytime talk herself, Oprah Winfrey, considering the joke about Nosey’s weight issue.  The “twice told tale” format of the episode is nothing new to television.  That aside, it’s a tried and true story format.  Hearing Rocko and Heffer offer their own take on what happened regarding Rocko’s birthday is funny both times.  And of course the reaction from both the audience and Nosey to the pair being friends again after Heffer’s mother chides them for fighting offers its own share of laughs, too.  The real kicker, though, comes at the episodes end, when Filbert shows up with some aliens.  Audiences will have to see the episode to get that joke.

“Speaking Terms” has plenty of great jokes that will make audiences laugh nonstop.  It’s just one more piece of the puzzle that makes Season Three so fun.  As fun as that episode and “Ed is Dead” are, there’s at least one more episode that stands out as one of the season’s best.  That episode is “Tooth & Nail.”  “Tooth & Nail” opens as Rocko, Heffer, and Filbert are eating out at the Scratch & Sniff Restaurant.  Patrons have to order by scratching and sniffing items on the menu.  the problem is that Rocko can’t scratch the menu because his fingernails aren’t long enough.  Heffer confronts Rocko, telling him he has a nail biting problem.  Rocko denies that.  What makes this funny is that Rocko had just gotten through going after Heffer, telling him that he had an eating problem.  It’s a prime example of art imitating life.  Rocko ends up having to take a twelve step program to stop biting his nails.  However, when the “twelve steps” discover he was using them for such a simple problem, half of them leave for Vegas, telling Rocko that he only needs six steps for this problem.  The sixth and final step spoofs “A Christmas Carol.”  It’s a Ghost of Christmas Future style figure that shows Rocko what he would become if he didn’t overcome his nail biting problem.  This cures Rocko.  And just as in “A Christmas Carol”, it all turns out to be supposedly a dream.  The whole thing wraps nicely with the remaining six steps going bust in Vegas.  They end up on the curb outside a casino, with two of the “steps” arguing over whether one of them has a gambling problem.  It brings the episode full circle as it ends.

The episodes listed here are just a small sampling of what fans can expect from Rocko’s Modern Life Season Three.  However, audiences will find their own favorites on the double disc set.  And that’s what makes this show so great.  Even years after it ended its run, the episodes from this classic episode are still relevant and funny for audiences of all ages.  And now, thanks to Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon fans will get to re-live every episode from Season Three July 3rd.  

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