Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Shout! Factory Kids
Shout! Factory Kids’ latest entry in its ongoing series of Littlest Pet Shop DVD, Littlest Pet Shop: Pet Stars is a star in itself among the bigger picture of the series’ current collections. The DVD, released Feb. 14, is yet another enjoyable collection of episodes for the whole family. That is due in part to the collection’s featured episodes and their sequencing. That will be discussed shortly. The episodes’ writing is just as important to note in examining this collection if not more than the episodes themselves. While it is a minute detail here, the series’ animation can actually be noted in the case of at least one of the collection’s episodes. Each element plays its own important part to the collection’s overall presentation. All things considered, this collection proves in the end to indeed be another enjoyable addition to the series’ current list of entries and another one of this year’s top new children’s DVDs.
Shout! Factory Kids’ latest Littlest Pet Shop DVD Littlest Pet Shop: Pet Stars is yet another enjoyable addition to the series’ current list of home releases. It is also an easy, early pick for any critic’s list of the year’s top new children’s DVDs. That is due in part to the episodes that are featured on the DVD. As with the series’ previous DVD releases, this collection features five more episodes from the family friendly animated series. The episodes featured in this collection take families through the series’ second and third season. What truly stands out here is that the episodes are presented in relative chronological order from start to finish. This includes both overall and within the seasons themselves. ‘Heart of Parkness’ and ‘Standup Stinker’ are both lifted from Season Two while ‘The Secret Recipe,’ ‘A Night at the Pawza’ and ‘Sue Syndrome’ are all lifted from Season Three. On the surface, this seems like an unimportant element to examine. In the bigger picture though, presenting the episodes in almost the same order as they aired in their original television broadcast shows a dedication to properly transferring the episodes from television to DVD. Simply put, it’s an aesthetic element, but an important one nonetheless. To that end, it is still a highly important piece of the DVD’s overall presentation, and not the only important piece either. The writing behind each episode is just as important to examine as the episodes themselves.
The episodes featured in Shout! Factory Kids’ latest LPS DVD collection are in themselves important to the DVD’s overall presentation. That is because they are presented in relatively the same order as they were in their original broadcast. This is not the first time that Shout! Factory Kids has taken such painstaking efforts to properly transfer the series’ episodes from television to DVD. That being the case, it makes this element well worth noting. Just as important to note in examining the collection’s overall presentation is the work of the show’s writers within each episode. The writing is notable first because of the stories that are at the center of each episode. The writing in the set’s opening episode “Heart of Parkness” shows that the episodes can and do entertain even when only one of the cast is a story’s focus. In this case, Sunil is the focus as he is separated from his fellow pet pals and is forced to defend a group of “native” raccoons in the park from a King Cobra. The setup for the story comes from the Biskit twins’ release of the exotic snake from their father’s pet store because of their own selfishness. Considering the very real issue of people having (many times illegally) exotic pets and the dangers posed therein, suspension of disbelief here becomes relatively easy.
“Standup Stinker” is another key example of why the episodes’ writing is so important to note. The dual-pronged story line presented in “Standup Stinker” sees both Pepper and Minka following their own dreams, connecting both with plenty of humor along the way. This touches on another element of the writing that is so important to note–its pop culture references. True lovers of classic sci-fi flicks will enjoy the manner in which the writers spoofed so many classic sci-fi/alien flicks here as the pets try to make Minka believe she has become the first monkey on Mars right down to the poorly designed alien costumes. On another note, there is also a joke made through a reference to eBay at the episode’s end that only parents will appreciate. Speaking of jokes that only grown-ups will appreciate, the story at the center of “The Secret Recipe” is one that adults will enjoy just as much as their children if not more so.
The story at the center of “The Secret Recipe” sees Blythe’s friend Youngmee Song pitching her not so tasty pet treats on a show called Bear Cave, which is very similar to ABC’s hit series Shark Tank. In the case of Bear Cave, the “hosts” are dressed in bear suits (yes, bear suits). The full-on spoof of Shark Tank highlights the often times silliness despite attempts by its heads to make it come across as something serious. That is shown through the “hosts’” reactions and their general personas as well as Youngmee’s pitch. The scenario is set up through a class project in which Blythe, Youngmee and their classmates have to develop their own businesses. Again, such a setup is believable as there are some schools (and teachers) who do use this teaching method in their classrooms in real life. It’s just one more way in which the writing proves so important to the DVD’s overall presentation. Together with so many other examples, it becomes clear why the writing is so important to the collection’s presentation. It still is not the last element worth noting here. The animation is, surprisingly, worth noting here, too.
The episodes that make up the body of LPS: Pet Stars and the writing within each episode is important alone and collectively to this collection’s presentation, as has been pointed out already. While both elements are clearly important in their own right to the DVD’s presentation, they are only two of its most important elements. The show’s animation is a minute detail to note here, but is in fact worth noting in this case. That statement is supported partially in the design of the King Cobra in “Heart of Parkness.” Rather than make the snake a full-on scary character, the show’s animators maintained a King Cobra’s look but also made the snake not look too scary or menacing. By making sure the snake didn’t look too scary, the animators helped ensure even more engagement by the show’s younger audiences. The work of the series’ animators also proves important in “Standup Stinker” as they designed a famous comedian as the host of a comedy competition show. The animators took David Letterman’s tooth gap for the comedian’s design, crossed it with Conan O’Brien’s face and hair, and Jay Leno’s chin for quite the interesting hybrid figure. Just as with so much of the writing, this design is something that only adults will appreciate. On another note, the “hosts” of Bear Cave are an impressive likeness of the “sharks” on ABC’s Shark Tank; so much so that the “sharks,” if they see these designs, would be moved to laugh at the similarities between themselves and the “bears.” It’s just one more ways in which the animation proves so important to this collection of episodes. When it is set alongside the episodes, their sequencing and the equally impressive writing within each episode, the whole of these elements shows fully why this collection is a star among this year’s current field of new children’s DVDs.
Littlest Pet Shop: Pet Stars is a star in itself among this year’s current crop of new children’s DVDs. That is, as already has been explained, due to the episodes featured in this collection and their sequencing, the writing within the episodes and even the animation featured in the series. Each element shows in its own way to be an important piece of the presentation’s whole. All things considered, they make Littlest Pet Shop: Pet Stars another enjoyable experience for audiences of all ages and—once again—one of this year’s top new children’s DVDs. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered online direct via Shout! Factory’s online store.
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