PBS Distribution Keeps Rolling Along Strong With Its Latest ‘Dinosaur Train’ DVD

Courtesy :PBS Distribution/PBS/PBS Kids

Paramount Pictures’ Jurassic Park franchise is a hugely successful series of movies.  That goes without saying.  The property has spawned five movies with a sixth on the way next year.  There is also a lego-based series on Nickelodeon and a series of related kid-friendly video games.  It has even spawned any number of second-rate knock offs from so many independent studios that are anything but memorable.  It really speaks to the franchise’s popularity and longevity.  This past April, the franchise’s popularity was shown even more when PBS and PBS Kids aired a new Dinosaur Train “movie” in the form of Adventure Island.  Unlike all of those noted knock-offs, this take on the Jurassic Park franchise this take is completely entertaining.  That is thanks to its story, which will be discussed shortly.  The bonus episodes that accompany the “movie” make the movie’s home presentation appealing in their own right.  Considering that content featured in this DVD, it makes the DVD’s pricing a positive in its own right.  Each item noted is important in its own right to the whole of the DVD.  All things considered, they make Dinosaur Train: Adventure Island one more of this year’s top new family DVDs/BDs.

PBS Distribution’s home release of Dinosaur Train: Adventure Island is a welcome new addition to the show’s ongoing series of DVDs.  It is so enjoyable that there is no doubt it deserves a spot on the list of this year’s top new family DVDs/BDs.  The DVD’s appeal comes in large part through its main feature, its almost hour-long “movie,” Adventure Island.  As has been noted, the “movie” is a spoof of the movies in the Jurassic Park franchise.  In this story, the Pteranodon family is invited to Adventure Island, a theme part island populated by a bunch of robot dinosaurs and filled with what are supposed to be fun rides.  The robotic dinosaurs are powered by steam, and when unexpectedly go wrong with some of the island’s systems, the dinosaurs get too hot and end up going haywire.  Fittingly, it is up to the Pteranodon kids – Tiny, Shiny, Don, and Buddy – as well as the park’s employees to set things right and get the automatons working right again.  The head of the whole operation denies the problems at first, but eventually admits something is wrong, leading to the eventual happy ending.  While the story is clearly a lifting from the Jurassic Park franchise, it is still its own story.  That originality — and the very fact that unlike the Jurassic Park movies, this movie is family friendly – makes for even more appeal. 

The story’s pacing plays into the presentation, too.  It ensures the story plays out fluidly from beginning to end.  The result of the attention to that item is that it ensures audiences’ maintained engagement and entertainment in its own right.  Keeping that in mind along with the story’s very presentation, the whole shows clearly why this main feature is so important to the DVD’s presentation.  It is just one part of what makes the DVD so appealing.  The bonus episodes that accompany the main feature add their own enjoyment to the whole.

The bonus episode, “Junior Conductor’s Academy” stands out because it marks the first time that the series has taken on the issue of autism.  It joins the likes of Arthur, Hero Elementary, and Sesame Street to focus on the matter as the Pteranodon kids go to the Junior Conductor’s Academy and meet a new dino friend named Dennis.  Dennis is autistic, but at no point do the show’s writers bring extra attention to this matter.  Rather, they ensure that the Pteranodon kids treat Dennis just like he is one of them.  In other words, the writers have normalized the condition rather than pointing it out.  This is actually something hugely important.  It is important because in reality, pointing out such a condition and bringing that added attention can in fact do more emotional and mental harm than good for someone who is autistic.  It can actually be in advertently turned more into a stigma even if one’s attentions in pointing out the condition are honorable.  The same applies to anyone with any handicap, whether mental or physical.  Just like someone in a wheelchair does not want special attention or accommodations, but to be treated like a person first and foremost, so would a person with autism want to be treated as a person first and foremost.  That is exactly what the writers have done here.  The writers are to be highly commended for that approach, just like the writers on the other noted shows for their approaches.

The second bonus episode, “Rollin’ on the Riverboat,” is completely opposite from “Junior Conductor’s Academy.”  In the case of this episode, the Pteranodon family takes a trip along a river on a paddle wheel boat.  The kids learn about the animals that call the river ecosystem home.  This lesson stands out because for so much of the series, the focus on aquatic life has been in the ocean or at a beach setting.  So for the family to go down a more contained aquatic setting and learn about its ecosystem is a major change of pace for the series.  The show’s writers are to be commended just as much for this switch-up as for the approach taken to “Junior Conductor’s Academy.”  There is even a musical number that, in its own way, pays tribute to the one and only Tina Turner and one of her greatest songs.  Audiences will be left to take in this moment for themselves.  Along the way, the passengers even meet a giant dinosaur that they thought was only a myth, leading to a lesson about another dinosaur, which is sure to engage audiences of all ages even more.  The combination of these two fully engaging and entertaining bonus episodes enhances the viewing experience even more.  When that impact is considered along with the engagement and entertainment guaranteed through the DVD’s main feature, the whole shows the DVD’s content as one large whole that makes the DVD well worth the purchase.  Considering the content featured in this DVD and its impact on the viewing experience, it makes the DVD’s pricing a positive in its own right.

The average price point for Dinosaur Train: Adventure Island is right at $8.00.  That price is obtained by averaging prices listed through Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Books-A-Million, and PBS’ store.  Considering that the average price point is less than $10 speaks volumes, considering how much content is offered in this DVD and its ability to keep viewers engaged and entertained.  It is definitely something in itself that will encourage audiences to purchase the DVD.  The least expensive listing is through Amazon and Target, at only $5.89.  PBS, Books-A-Million, and Barnes & Noble Booksellers each list the DVD on the high end (so to speak) at $9.99.  Walmart lists the DVD at $6.27, just above that lowest listing from Amazon and Target.  Best Buy’s listing of $7.99 serves as the mid-range price.  Looking at all of these prices, only three exceed the average price point, and Best Buy’s listing is the only one that even reaches that point.  Walmart, Target, and Amazon all offer relatively affordable prices that will not break anyone’s budget by any means.  Again, considering the amount of content featured in this DVD and that content’s ability to ensure audiences’ engagement and entertainment, it makes those prices all the more appealing.  Keeping that in mind, it shows why it is just as important to examine as the DVD’s content.  All things considered, they make Dinosaur Train: Adventure Island one more of this year’s top new family DVDs/BDs.

PBS Distribution’s recently released Dinosaur Train DVD, Adventure Island is yet another impressive offering for the while family.  It continues to show why the series is such a beloved property in part through its main feature.  The main feature is a nearly hour-long story that uses the beloved Jurassic Park franchise as its inspiration, while keeping the story family friendly at the same time.  That blend of originality and familiarity pairs with the story’s family friendly nature to make the story so enjoyable in itself.  The two bonus episodes make for their own entertainment because they are unlike one another and unlike the main feature.  Considering the content and its impact, the DVD’s pricing proves to be its own positive.  The pricing comes in largely at less than $10 both in terms of the average price point and the separate listings.  In other words, it will not break any viewer’s budget.  Keeping that in mind, the pricing works with the DVD’s content to offer audiences even more motivation to own this presentation.  All things considered, they make the DVD one more of the year’s top new Family DVDs/BDs.

Dinosaur Train: Adventure Island is available now. More information on Dinosaur Train is available online now along with lots of activities, printables, videos and more at:



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Arrow Films’ New Harryhausen Doc Is A Must See For Any True Cinephile

Courtesy:  Arrow Films

Courtesy: Arrow Films

Ray Harryhausen is one of the greatest and most influential figures in Hollywood’s history.  It is thanks to his vision and his work that audiences today can enjoy classic movies such as 20 Million Miles To Earth, It Came From Beneath The Sea, Earth vs. The Flying Saucers, The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, and so many other greats.  He and his movies have been the influence for countless filmmakers and special effects experts over the years with his sequences and movies being rebooted in various ways.  So it is no surprise that considering the massive footprint left by the cinematic “titan” that so many documentaries and books have been released over the years centered on him and his work.  The problem with those documentaries and books there is very little variance in the material presented in each one from one to the next.  Enter Arrow Films’ new Ray Harryhausen retrospective Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan.  This presentation is the best Harryhausen documentary to be released to date.  That is due in part to it being such a deeply comprehensive presentation.  This will be discussed shortly.  The information and material that makes up the body of the program is just as important to the documentary if not more so.  It will be discussed later.  The bonus material that is included in the documentary’s Special Edition Blu-ray rounds out the documentary’s most important elements.  It joins with the program’s story and information to make the presentation in whole one that is a must see for any true cinephile.

Arrow Films’ new Ray Haryhausen retrospective Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan is a must see for any true cinephile.  It is the best Harryhausen documentary to be released to date.  That is due in part to its story.  It is the most comprehensive look at Harryhausen’s life and impact that has yet been produced.  Unlike so many other previously released Harryhausen docs, it focuses on more than just his major movies.  Rather it follows Harryhausen’s life from his youth to his earliest work making stop motion fairy tale films all the way up to the height of his popularity and eventual retirement.  Audiences (even those that are largely familiar with his work) might find themselves in awe at the “giant” (bad pun fully intended) footprint left by the film legend even today in taking in this program.  That is due to the discussions on the standards that he created and his adaptation to the changing course of movies and its impact on his success as well as discussions on the reach of his influence on filmmakers across the film world and so much more.  The discussions include some very candid one-on-one interviews with Harryhausen himself before his passing in 2013 as well as some of the most well-known filmmakers and special effects experts in the business today.  Between those discussions and the focus on each of his feature films, the comprehensive nature of this doc proves it to be unquestionably the best presentation on the film legend to be released yet.  Its comprehensive nature is just part of what makes it such a standout documentary.  The information and material that makes up the body of the program is just as important to its presentation as its overall story.

The story at the center of Arrow Films’ new Ray Harryhausen documentary is in itself an important part of the program’s presentation.  That is because it is the most comprehensive look at the film legend’s life and career that has been released to date.  It is not the program’s only important element, though.  The information and material that makes up the body of the program is just as important to its presentation as its story if not more so.  The information and material that is presented throughout the program is just as awe-inspiring as the story itself.  One of the most interesting of the program’s revelations is that it is thanks to Harryhausens creature features—specifically The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms—that the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park move the way that they do.  It is openly stated by many of the interviewees that before that movie was created no one knew how dinosaurs moved.  And ever since then every dinosaur-centric movie that has been made has used Harryhausen’s work as a model for its own creations.  On a related note, there is a subtle yet powerful statement made by Harryhausen himself that he never made “monsters.”  Rather he made “creatures.”  It is a statement that said he didn’t want to make scary, horror style movies.  Rather he wanted to make movies with creations that the whole family could enjoy without fear of anyone having nightmares.  It is a statement that cannot be ignored.  On another related note, audiences will be just as intrigued to learn that Mr. Harryhausen was the one responsible for the term “dynamation.”  He used that term as Hollywood was transitioning from black and white movies to color films.  He reveals in his interview that many people were beginning to use the term “animation/animated” to describe his movies.  He notes that this gave an incorrect perception of his movies, so he came up with the term “dynamation” in order to maintain the perception that his movies weren’t just children’s movies.  He wanted them to be taken more seriously.  This is just some of the program’s key information.  There are also some very interesting revelations about the influence of not only his movies but the sequences that were used in his movies, too.

The information that is revealed in the program’s interviews is enlightening to say the very least.  It is just some of the program’s most important information and material.  As the program progresses audiences will be just as interested to learn of the influence of the very sequences used in Harryhausen’s movies on so many more modern movies.  It is One of the most notable of the presented sequences is that of the creature in The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms eating its victims.  The motions are directly mirrored in a similar scene from Jurassic Park in which the T-Rex knocks over a bathroom and eats the man inside.  On another note, audiences will be just as interested to see the influence of the sword fight scene between Sinbad and Kali in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad and that of Obi Wan Kenobi and one of the key light saber battles in Star Wars: Episode II.  Here are two totally different movies from two wholly different eras yet even with such a span of time and genres Harryhausen’s influence is felt just as strongly even there.  It is just one more of so many examples of the far-reaching influence of Harryhausen’s sequences presented throughout the program.  There are so many other examples presented over the course of the program.  They collectively show why the material that is presented within the program’s story is just as important to the story’s presentation as its information.  Both elements join with the program’s story to make the documentary in whole an even more interesting program.  Even as interesting as the story and its content make this program, they are not its only key elements.  The bonus material that is included in the documentary’s special edition Blu-ray is just as important to its presentation as its story and related content.

The story at the center of Arrow Films’ new Ray Harryhausen documentary and its content are both important pieces of the program’s presentation.  The story itself is the most far-reaching retrospective on the film legend that has been released to date.  The information and material that makes up the body of the program adds even more interest and enjoyment to the program.  That is because the collective mass includes some very insightful one-on-one interviews with Harryhausen as well as some equally insightful interviews with those who he influenced to work in the movie industry.  As much as the story and its content do for this documentary they are not its only key elements.  The bonus material included in its new home release is just as important to its presentation as those noted elements.  There is a feature-length audio commentary from those behind the program’s lens that offers even more insight for viewers as well as a number of outtakes that didn’t make the film’s final cut, and a pair of Q&A session with some of the interviewees just to name a few items.  One of the most notable mentions made in the bonus commentary is that of the reason for the program’s opening sequence.  It is noted that in opening with recent movie titles, younger audiences will hopefully see that those movies were influenced directly by Harryhausen’s movies.  It is a way to connect those younger viewers to the foundations of their favorite flicks.  The outtakes are each preceded with their own slates explaining in no uncertain terms why each was cut from the final product.  This in turn leaves no question as to the intentions of each outtake.  It also creates its own share of discussion among viewers as to whether or not they personally feel that the outtakes should have been outtakes.  It is another wonderful way to keep viewers entertained and engaged in the program’s overall presentation.  The live Q&A sessions with the interviewees are just as entertaining because of their light-hearted nature.  There are plenty of laughs to be shared even through the conversations and questions.  The questions and conversations include which of Harryhausen’s creations is his favorite, how did the filmmakers get the footage for the documentary (which is in itself rather eye-opening) and Harryhausen’s own thoughts on his legacy among so much more.  Between the two sessions audiences will find themselves just as engrossed in them as those that were there in attendance.  This is just scraping the top of the proverbial iceberg.  The “Treasure Trove” feature is simple.  But it is one of the most powerful of the bonuses included with the program.  It follows curators of the Harryhausen exhibit in London as they un-crate the models that the legendary filmmaker used in creating his movies.  Those models include the UFOs from Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers, the Pegasus from Clash of the Titans, the Brontosaurus from Evolution, and so many others.  The reverence shown for the models as they are removed from their crates is so moving.  It shows the understanding and respect that those removing them have for what Harryhausen created.  It shows an understanding and respect for the amount of time spent making them, too.  In essence that respect and understanding shows that there is still a very real respect for Harryhuasen’s work in general and the influence that he still has today.  It is just one more of the in-depth bonuses included in the program that makes the program’s presentation so enjoyable.  Together with those other noted bonuses, the program’s story and its content, all three elements come together to make it a must see for any true cinephile.

Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan is a must see for any true cinephile.  That is because it is the most in-depth and comprehensive presentation to be released to date about the film legend’s life and career.  That depth is exhibited directly through the program’s story and its content.  It follows Harryhausen’s  life from his childhood all the way to the height of his career and eventual retirement, touching on parts of his career that few if any previous Harryhausen documentary has touched on.  The content presented throughout the program adds to that depth as it shows the reach of his influence even to this day.  The bonus material included in the program rounds out the ways in which the program exhibits its depth.  It adds even more interest and insight through the bonus audio commentary, Q&A sessions, interview outtakes, and much more.  Each element plays its own important part in showing what makes this documentary such an impressive presentation.  All things considered they join together to make it, again, a must see for any true cinephile.  It is available now in stores and online, and can be ordered online direct via Arrow Films’ online store at http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk/?s=Ray+Harryhausen&x=0&y=0.  More information on this and other titles from Arrow Films is available online now at:




Website: http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ArrowFilms




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IFC’s Portlandia is As Solid As Ever Now In Its Fourth Season

Courtesy:  IFC

Courtesy: IFC

When it first debuted on IFC almost four years ago in 2011, Portlandia was little more than an unknown sketch comedy show.  Now three years later, it has gone on to quite the unexpected success.  It has garnered itself a nomination for an Emmy award and even a Peabody award win; this despite the show still being largely a cult favorite.  Now with the recent release of the show’s fourth season on DVD, audiences that might still be unfamiliar with Portlandia will be able to see for themselves just what has made this little show that could a fan favorite for four seasons now.  The first and most obvious reason that Portlandia has garnered such a fan following over the course of its run is its writing.  The writing behind this show is the sort of writing that will impress any fan of The Kids in the Hall and The Upright Citizens Brigade.  Also worth noting of this season is the acting on the part of lead stars Fred Armisen (Saturday Night Live) and Carrie Brownstein along with their co-stars and guest stars.  Speaking of the guest stars, the guest stars lined up for Season Four add their own comedic element that audiences will appreciate, rounding out the whole presentation.  All three factors together make the fourth season of IFC’s Portlandia a presentation that audiences new and not so new to the show will enjoy from start to finish.

The central point in the enjoyment of Portlandia Season Four is the show’s writing.  This season’s writing is a laugh riot.  Armisen and Brownstein take no prisoners with co-writer Jonathan Krisel throughout this season.  From social media to organized religion to horror movies, pet adoption agencies and so much more, nothing is off limits this season.  There’s even a spoof of the classic 1993 Robert Redford/Demi Moore drama Indecent Proposal in one episode.  The episode in question features none other than the star of HBO’s hit drama Boardwalk Empire, Steve Buscemi.  The pokes at all things pop culture alone make Season Four well worth the watch.  They’re just the tip of the proverbial iceberg in what makes this season’s writing work.  As with the series’ previous three seasons, each episode is split into multiple segments with one skit serving as the hub of each episode.  That hub is sandwiched by a group of other stand-alone sketches.  This aspect of the writing is likely thanks in large part to SNL head Lorne Michaels also playing a role in this series, too.  And it proves to work quite well surprisingly enough even here.

Directly related to the writing behind Portlandia’s fourth season is the acting on the part of the both Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein.  The characters that have become so familiar and beloved by fans throughout the show’s first three seasons are back once again.  And the way that Armisen and Brownstein handle their portrayals makes for more than its share of laughs.  Those that might not be so familiar with the duo’s brand of comedy might see the duo’s acting as being aimed at a very specific audience.  The reality is that their acting is meant entirely to poke fun at certain groups of people.  They do so by going completely over the top in their stereotypical presentation of said characters.  It works perfectly with the scripts in general to make each of the sketches even more of a laugh riot.  Armisen and Brownstein’s acting combines with the season’s writing to make each of this season even more entertaining, regardless of audiences’ familiarity with the series.

Both the writing and acting that went into the fourth season of Portlandia play their own part in the overall enjoyment of this cult hit series.  Adding even more enjoyment to the overall presentation that is the series’ fourth season is the inclusion of a who’s who of guest stars.  It has already been noted that Boardwalk Empire star Steve Buscemi is on board this season.  Joining him are the likes of Kirsten Dunst (Spiderman 1,23), Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic ParkIndependence DayHoly Man), and singer k.d. Lang among others.  Goldblum actually makes multiple appearances throughout this season’s sketches.  And Dunst opens the season in a hilarious episode that pokes fun at all of the really bad horror movies polluting theaters, store shelves and online retailers.  It is certain to leave any viewer laughing so hard that they cry.  k.d. Lang’s appearance later in the season is just as funny.  She appears in a skit about a group of lesbians on a nature retreat.  The retreat just happens to be led by an older man.  Needless to say that things turn rather interesting for him and Lang’s character.  These are just some of the laughs offered by the guest stars throughout Portlandia’s fourth season.  Audiences will find their own favorite moments when they pick up this season’s box set.

The guest stars tapped to appear in Portlandia’s fourth season make for plenty of laughs.  The same can be said of the acting both on their part and that of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein (as well as their cat mates).  And the writing in general makes a solid cornerstone on which rests the equally solid acting and A-list guest list.  All things considered, Porlandia Season 4 proves in the end to be a collection of episodes that anyone looking for a good laugh will enjoy.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on Portlandia is available online at http://www.facebook.com/portlandia and http://www.ifc.com/portlandia.  More information on this and other releases from IFC is available online at http://www.facebook.com/IFC and http://ifc.com.  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.

VSC Announces Release Date, Product Info For Portlandia Season Four

Courtesy:  Video Services Corporation

Courtesy: Video Services Corporation

Video Services Corporation (VSC) will release the fourth season of IFC’s hit comedy series Portlandia this summer.

Portlandia: Season 4 will be released on DVD Tuesday, August 26th. Armisen’s beloved characters Dave and Kath are back in Portlandia’s fourth season, as are Spike and his uptight girlfriend, Iris. Spike and Iris have to deal with a difficult situation at a Thai restaurant while Dave and Kath actually give relaxation a try. And then there is the couple, Nina and Lance. Nina and Lance have to recover from the trauma of losing a pet this season.

Season Four sees a who’s who of celebrity guests across its ten episodes. Among some of the more well-known guests that appear on the show this season are: k.d. lang, Duff McKagan (Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver), Kirsten Dunst (Spiderman 1 – 3), Joshua Homme (Queens of the Stone Age), Mark Proksch (The Office), and many others. Also returning from Portlandia’s previous seasons is an equally high profile list of stars including: Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park 1 &2, Independence Day), Ed Begley, Jr. (Arrested Development, Pineapple Express), Jason Sudeikis (How I Met Your Mother), and director Gus Van Sant (Promised Land, Milk) and just as many other big names.

Portlandia: Season Four was shot entirely in Portland, Oregon. It is co-created and co-written by Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein, and Jonathan Krisel. Krisel is also the series’ director. The series is executive prodiced by Lorne Michaels (SNL) and produced by Broadway Video. Portlandia: Season Four is comprised of ten episodes on two discs. It will retail for SRP of $19.98. Portlandia has earned a Peabody © award and has been nominated for an Emmy ® award as well, and has run for four seasons exclusively on Independent Film Channel.

More information on this and other releases from Video Services Corporation is available online at http://www.facebook.com/videoservicescorp, http://www.videoservicescorp.com, and http://twitter.com/vidserv. 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.