PBS’ Vietnam War Docu-Series Is A Timeless Look At A Critical Conflict

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

The clock is ticking on the year.  In a little more than 24 hours, 2017 will finally winding down and the world will be looking forward to 2018.  Before those final hours pass by, there’s still work to be done from Phil’s Picks in the year-ender department.  That work includes year-enders for the year’s top new box sets for grown-up audiences.  In saying grown-ups, that does not necessarily mean solely that the material is inappropriate for younger viewers, but that it might simply not appeal to younger viewers because of the issue of their ability to relate to the material in question.

PBS and Shout! Factory dominate this critic’s list this year with a rather wide array of titles with PBS’ new miniseries doc The Vietnam War taking top honors.  Whether or not one is a military or even history buff, this set is a must see.  Period.  The fourth season of PBS’ British import crime drama Endeavour is also on the list alongside new releases such as Shout! Factory’s Green AcresThe Complete SeriesThe Good PlaceSeason 1 and Ernie Kovacs retrospective Take A Good Look.  Smithsonian Channel even gets some nods with the first two seasons of Air Warriors and the first season of Sports Detectives.  Even mpi Media Group’s Gerry Anderson collection The Lost Worlds of Gerry Anderson is on this critic’s list.

As with every previous list from Phil’s Picks, this list features this critic’s Top 10 New Grown-Up Box Sets plus five additional honorable mention titles for a total of 15 titles.  Developing this list was anything but easy, but every title included was well deserving of its place in the list.  that being said, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks 2017 Top 10 New Grown-Up DVD/BD Box Sets.


  1. The Vietnam WarA Film By Ken Burns and Lynn Novick
  2. EndeavourSeason 4
  3. Green AcresThe Complete Series
  4. Sports DetectivesSeason 1
  5. Mystery Science Theater 3000 Vol. XXXVIII
  6. Mystery Science Theater 3000 Vol. XXXIX
  7. Ernie KovacsTake A Good Look
  8. The Good PlaceSeason 1
  9. The Lost Worlds of Gerry Anderson
  10. Air WarriorsSeason 1
  11. Air WarriorsSeason 2
  12. Just Shoot MeThe Complete Series
  13. Ned & StaceyThe Complete Series
  14. IceSeason 1
  15. From Dusk Till DawnSeason 3

That’s it for this list, but still not it for this year’s new DVD and BD titles.  Still up for grabs are spots on Phil’s PIcks 2017 Top 10 New Family DVD/BD Box Sets.  That list is nearly compiled and will be posted ASAP, so stay tuned!

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.

‘Just Shoot Me!: The Complete Series’ Hits All The Right Marks

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

NBC at one point was one of the leading networks in primetime broadcasting.  Series such as Cheers, 3rd Rock From The Sun, Seinfeld and so many others made the network a powerhouse.  Just as many of those series have already seen full-series releases on DVD and/or Blu-ray.  Early next month, yet another of the series that once made NBC a leader will see a full series home release for the first time ever thanks to Shout! Factory in the form of Just Shoot Me!: The Complete Series.  The 19-disc set will be released Sept. 5 in stores and online.  Being the first time ever that the series has been released in whole, it is easy to say that it will be difficult for any company to top what Shout! Factory has done with this collection.  That is due in no small part to the set’s packaging, which will be discussed shortly.  The set’s average price point is just as important to note in examining the set’s overall presentation as its packaging, and will be discussed later.  The set’s bonus material rounds out its most important elements.  Each element is important in its own right to the collection’s overall presentation.  All things considered, Just Shoot Me!: The Complete Series proves to be one more of the year’s top new DVD and Blu-ray releases for grown-ups.

Shout! Factory’s forthcoming Just Shoot Me!: The Complete Series box set is one of this year’s top new DVD and Blu-ray releases for grown-ups.  That is thanks in part to the 19-disc set’s packaging.  The series’ first six seasons are packaged together in three of the set’s cases while the seventh season is housed in its own standalone set.  The discs themselves are placed on either side of the case’s plates, safely protecting them from marring one another.  In some cases, the discs even sit alone on a spot inside the case separate from the plates, yet again showing Shout! Factory’s dedication to protecting the discs from damage.  Considering that the series ran for seven seasons and a total of 148 episodes, such packaging–which is the norm for Shout! Factory–is surprisingly ergonomic.  Considering all of this, it becomes clear why this set’s physical packaging is so critical to the set’s overall presentation.  It is only one aspect of that packaging that should be noted, too.  The episode listing inside each box is just as important to note as the actual physical packaging.

The episode listing is important to discuss because it, too is a norm for Shout! Factory.  The season-specific listing presents short but concise summaries for each episode. This easily gives audiences a reference point not only for the episodes’ stories but also which gives them a reference point for the seasons, too.  That is important to note since the seasons are not noted on the discs.  Simply put, Shout! Factory has shown through attention to even this detail its determination to present the best product possible to the series’ fans.  Considering this and the set’s equally wise physical packaging, Shout! Factory is to be highly applauded for its efforts to present solid packaging for Just Shoot Me!: The Complete Series.  The series’ packaging is only one of its key elements.  Its average price point is important to note in its own right.

The average price point for Just Shoot Me!: The Complete Series is important to discuss because it is a relatively affordable price.  For the sake of this review, the set’s average price point was determined using its price as listed at Shout! Factory’s store, Target, Best Buy and Wal-Mart.  The average price point from those prices is $55.44.  What is really interesting about this price point is that it would be little different if fans were to order the set online.  That is because each of the noted outlets generally allow for free shipping,  Taxes would push up the average price point a little, but not by much. Considering that the series’ 148-episodes are spread here across 19 discs, that—again—makes the set’s average price point relatively affordable.  While it is clearly an important part of the set’s whole, it is not the last of the collection’s most notable elements.  Its bonus material rounds out its most important elements.

The bonus material included with Just Shoot Me!: The Complete Series is an important piece of the collection’s whole because it is material that was not included in any of the series’ previous standalone sets, none of which were released through Shout! Factory.  That makes the set’s bonus material all the more important and a bonus.  Audiences will be happy to know that Shout! Factory doesn’t tease them and hold the bonus material for the set’s last disc either.  Instead, they present that material right from the series’ outset.  “Always in Fashion,” the set’s lead bonus is also the bonus material’s cornerstone.  Audiences will be interested to learn about the series’ roots from series creator Steven Levitan and star Laura San Giacomo’s thoughts about the importance of the sitcom being led by female stars versus male stars in this nearly half-hour featurette.  Audiences also hear from fellow stars David Spade, George Segal and Wendy Malick about their characters, and how the characters worked together on screen among other items.  Everything presented in this bonus is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg in regards to the bonus material.  Four of the series’ episodes also include audio commentary that offers its own extra insight and entertainment, strengthening the set’s viewing experience even more.  Given, all of the episodes featuring audio commentary come only from the series’ first two seasons, but that is not necessarily a negative.  The laughs and learning that said commentaries present still makes for enough enjoyment that it doesn’t matter that other episodes don’t have any commentary.  Keeping all of this in mind, it should be clear why the bonus material include in the first-ever full series release of Just Shoot Me! is just as important to its overall presentation as the set’s packaging and pricing.  When all three elements are joined, they prove this collection to be one of the year’s best new DVD and BD box sets for grown-ups.

Just Shoot Me!: The Complete Series is one of this year’s top new DVD and Blu-ray box sets for grown-up audiences (versus new releases for kids and family).  That is due in no small part to well-thought out packaging that even includes a solid episode list for each season.  The set’s relatively affordable average price point strengthens it even more.  The bonus material included in the 19-disc set rounds out its most important elements.  It is previously unreleased material and material that offers plenty of insight and entertainment for audiences.  Each element is clearly important in its own right.  All things considered, the noted elements make Just Shoot Me!: The Complete Series, once more, one of this year’s top new DVD and Blu-ray box sets for grown-up audiences.  It will be available in stores and online on Sept. 5.  It 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




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.

Lionsgate’s Latest Family Friendly CG Centerpiece Will Entertain The Whole Family

Courtesy:  Lionsgate

Courtesy: Lionsgate

Lionsgate’s latest CG animated feature Jungle Master is one of the year’s more welcome family features to come along so far in 2014.  Unlike so many of the movies released in recent years by Dreamworks and Disney/Pixar, Jungle Master actually takes the road less travelled.  The movie’s animation is the most obvious way in which it takes that road less travelled.  Despite being a CG presentation, it doesn’t bare that cookie cutter appearance of the movies released by Dreamworks and Disney/Pixar.  Another reason that it stands out is its run time.  The movie’s run time comes in at just under the ninety-minute mark.  That’s a very good thing and will be discussed later.  Last but not least of all that makes this movie stand out is its script.  The story lifts lightly from The Wizard of Oz believe it or not and adds in a touch of Avatar for good measure as well as other sci-fi flicks.  The end result is a story that the while it may never be as big as anything from Dreamworks or Disney/Pixar, is still enjoyable in its own right.  It proves to be a movie that the whole family should watch together and will enjoy together when they do watch it together.

Jungle Master is not one of the most well-known family flicks to be released by any of Hollywood’s major studios this year.  That aside, it still proves in the long run to be one of the year’s more welcome family friendly flicks.  One reason for that is the movie’s “animation.”  Lionsgate’s CG features are completely unlike those of Dreamworks and Disney/Pixar in the realm of animation.  It’s almost impossible to tell Dreamworks’ CG movies from Disney/Pixar’s because they all look alike.  The only way to really differentiate the two studios’ works is by the studio names.  That speaks volumes.  Lionsgate on the other hand has strived to keep itself separate from the mold used by those studios in terms of its animation.  The look of Lionsgate’s CG movies is rawer for lack of better wording.  But it isn’t raw to the point of looking like some pieces from perhaps independent studio Engine 15 Media Group and others.  There is actually some attention paid to detail with Lionsgate’s CG movies, including this one.  That attention to detail helps Jungle Master maintain its own identity separate from its bigger name counterparts from Dreamworks and Disney/Pixar.  It even helps the movie to maintain its own identity from Lionsgate’s previously released CG features.  That mostly original look is just one of a number of positives that surround Jungle Master and make it stand out among this year’s crop of CG movies.

The largely original look of Jungle Master plays a key role in the movie’s ability to keep audiences engaged through its entire eighty-two minute run time.  That run time is another reason that families will enjoy this movie.  It doesn’t even reach the ninety-minute mark.  That relatively short run time drastically increases the chances of keeping audiences engaged from start to finish.  This is especially the case with the movie’s target younger audiences.  Most of the CG movies released since 1995—which is when Pixar broke the mold and released Toy Story—have averaged about ninety minutes.  There have been a small number of movies that have come in just under that time.  But most either reach the ninety-minute mark or go well over it as was the case with Toy Story 3.  That movie came in at almost forty-five minutes.  Luckily its story worked well enough that it still succeeded and quite well at that.  Speaking of story Jungle Master’s story works wonderfully with its run time.  Its story combines elements of a number of other movies to make a story that somehow actually works.  It’s one more way in which Jungle Master works and makes itself one of this year’s more welcome family films.

Both the look of Jungle Master and its run time are important to the movie’s overall success.  They each play their own important role to the overall presentation as they both have an impact on whether or not audiences are kept engaged.  Luckily, both factors succeed by themselves and together.  As much as they succeeded, the look of Jungle Master and its run time are not all that made this direct-to-DVD feature work.  One would be remiss to ignore the movie’s script as an equally important part of the whole.  The movie’s script centers on a twelve year-old girl named Rainie (pronounced rainy) who runs away from home ater her mother forgot about her birthday.  It is assumed by the fact that Rainie was upset enough to run away that her mother (who remains nameless throughout the movie) has probably left Rainie alone more than once.  Her decision to run away ends up taking her to al alien planet  and a much biger adventure that is directly linked to the company for which her mother works.  It’s thanks to her adventure that Rainie realizes her mom hasn’t intentionally ignored her, obviously leading to an eventual reconciliation between mother and daughter.  The central story of the parent/child relationship is obviously anything but new.  It’s been done more times than a person can count on his or her own two hands.  However, the story’s execution is what makes this plot work.  Screen writer Steve Kramer lifted liberally from the likes of The Wizard of Oz and Avatar to make this story.  While he obviously lifted from the noted movies, Kramer didn’t try to just remake them and mix them together.  He used them more as influences for his story about family.  What’s more he balanced said elements quite well; well enough in fact that audiences will be moved to overlook the references to said movies and enjoy the presented story.

Kramer’s re-telling of original writer/director Xu Kerr’s story is one of the most important of this movie’s aspects in considering its level of success.  He obviously used at least a couple of rather well-known movies that have come before as both influences and elements of this movie.  But he also didn’t try to just rip off either work.  He balanced them together to make a largely original story that centers on family.  That creativity and homage still is not all that makes this movie work.  One should also take into account the movie’s cast and even its bonus shorts.  Victoria Justice (Victorious, Victoria Justice, iCarly), Jane Lynch (Glee, Hollywood Game Night, WreckItRalph), David Spade (Just Shoot Me, The Benchwarmers, Tommy Boy), Josh Peck (Drake & Josh, Ultimate Spiderman, Ice Age: Continental Drift), Christopher Lloyd (Cyberchase, Back to the Future 1 3), and John Lovitz (Saturday Night Live, The Critic, Gorwn-Ups 1 & 2) make up the movie’s cast.  Lovitz proves to be the real star of the story with his comical antics voicing Mulla.  The fact that so many well-known names overall would feel confident enough about such a movie makes it even more worth the watch.  And the bonus shorts included with the movie will entertain children for a little while after the movie ends.  These extra positives combined with the positivews already noted make Jungle Master a movie well worth at least one watch together by any family.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other releases from Lionsgate is available online at:

Website: http://www.lionsgate.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/lionsgatemovies

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.