Netflix, Lionsgate Announce Release Date, Specs For Grace And Frankie Season One

Courtesy:  Netflix/Lionsgate

Courtesy: Netflix/Lionsgate

Netflix’s original comedy Grace and Frankie is coming to DVD this spring.

Lionsgate announced this week that it will release the first season of the original Netflix comedy Grace and Frankie on Tuesday, April 12th. The series centers on its title characters–played by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin—who had been at odds with one another until their husbands—played by Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston–reveal one day that they are gay and want to marry one another. This leaves Grace and Frankie to turn to one another to get through it all. Season One’s thirteen will be spread across three discs in a DVD + Digital platform that will retail for MSRP of $29.98. Along with its thirteen episode-run , Season One will also feature a number of bonuses including but not limited to: audio commentaries, a sneak peek at Season Two, which is currently slated to premiere May 6th, and a gag reel.  The full list of the set’s bonus material is noted below.



  • “Beginning of the End” Featurette
  • Gag Reel
  • Audio Commentaries with the Cast and Crew
    • The Elevator – Commentary with Creators Marta Kauffman and Howard J. Morris
    • The Vows – Commentary with actors Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin and creators Marta Kauffman and Howard J. Morris
  • Season Two Sneak Peek

*Subject to Change


Grace and Frankie was created by Marta Kauffman (Friends) and Howard J. Morris (Home Improvement) and is co-executive produced by the pair. Along with Fonda, Tomlin, Sheen, and Waterston, Grace and Frankie also stars Brooklyn Decker (Battleship, Friends With Better Lives, Just Go With It), Ethan Embry (Sweet Home Alabama, Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle, Can’t Hardly Wait), June Diane Raphael (Bride Wars, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues), and Baron Vaughn (Cloverfield, Fairly Legal, Black Dynamite).

More information on this and other titles from Lionsgate is available online now at:





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The Magic School Bus Box Set Will “Rev Up” Viewers Of All Ages

Courtesy:  Scholastic/New Video Group/New Kideo

Courtesy: Scholastic/New Video Group/New Kideo

The history of television is rife with programs that most audiences will agree are timeless.  Among some of the most well known are the likes of: The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle & Friends, Looney Tunes, and The Flintstones just to name a few.  These classics have transcended generations and gone on to become family favorites decades after they ended their runs.  Now in the twenty-first century, a whole new crop of cartoons has gone on to be added to that list.  Among the newer cartoons deserving of the title of “timeless” are most of Nickelodeon’s modern classic Nicktoons from the 1990s and the focus of today’s review, Scholastic’s The Magic School BusThe Magic School Bus has been broadcast on a number of networks.  It has run on PBS, TLC, and most recently, Qubo.  It would seem that Qubo has dropped the classic cartoon though, sadly.  Thankfully, Scholastic has teamed up with New Video and New Kideo in the past year or so to release this modern classic on DVD for both its original audiences and a whole new generation of young fans.  The companies have already put out a number of compilations containing episodes from the justifiably timeless show including the complete fifty-two episode collection. Most recently, the single-disc compilation, The Magic School Bus: In A Pickle was released alongside another new triple-disc collection, The Magic School Bus: Revving Up.  The prior of the two new compilations is impressive in its own right.  The latter of the pair offers just as much enjoyment as the prior, if not more.

The Magic School Bus: Revving Up takes twelve more of the original series’ fifty-two episodes and compiles them for this collection.  The twelve episodes culled for this set are each spread across three more sing-disc compilations within the larger box.  And just as The Magic School Bus: In A Pickle does, the episodes contained on each disc of The Magic School Bus: Revving Up follow a given theme.  The first of the compilations within the box is The Magic School Bus: Under Construction.  This compilation contains the title episode of the larger box.  The kids have to save the Magic School Bus in this episode as it’s in danger of being condemned by their school district’s Vehicle Maintenance Inspector, Junkett.  Get it?  Junkett? Junk It?  Ba-dump-bump-bump.  The late Sherman Hemsely (The Jeffersons, All in The Family, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) voiced the character of Inspector Junkett.  Junkett wants to condemn the bus because he claims it has so many problems.  So it’s up to the kids to find out what’s making the bus sick and in turn save it from being condemned.  It’s one more fun filled episode that parents and kids alike will love watching again and again.  And as with every episode of this modern classic series, it’s another great tool for kids to learn at home or in the classroom. 

The title episode from the new triple-disc set, The Magic School Bus: Revving Up is a joy for parents, teachers and students.  The same can be said of its companion episodes in this first of the set’s discs.  All four episodes on this disc take a look at the different ways in which technology works.  There’s a lesson on how computers work, and even one on construction technology that is just as relevant today as it was in its original broadcast.  These episodes are just part of the whole that makes this set so enjoyable.  Also included across the three-disc set are episodes that teach about how electricity works, and about animals and their habitats.  Whether one is a parent, teacher, or youth, every one of these episodes will entertain viewers of every age.

All twelve episodes culled for this latest multi-disc set are enjoyable in their own way.  They are so enjoyable thanks to the show’s writing staff.  Each episode contained here maintains the standard established in prior collections of simple writing.  The episodes’ writing is simple, but it doesn’t leave viewers feel like they are being talked down to (including adults).  It makes viewers feel like they’re actually watching Ms. Frizzle’s class learning each lesson rather than themselves.  At the same time, they know that they too are learning a lesson without the educational aspect being too overt.  It’s one more of so many positives that can be discussed.  To point out all the positives would take far too much time and too much time.  So suffice it to say that the writing, along with the animation and lessons in general make this latest compilation of episodes one more must in the living room or the classroom.  It is available now in stores and online.  Parents and teachers can order it online via the New Kideo website,  And to keep up with all of the latest releases from Scholastic and New Kideo, parents and teachers can go online to the New Kideo website or the official Scholastic website, or each company’s Facebook page, and     

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Scholastic, New Kideo Impress Again With Latest Single-Disc Magic School Bus Collection

Courtesy:  Scholastic/New Kideo/New Video

Courtesy: Scholastic/New Kideo/New Video

Ms. Frizzle and her students are back yet again for another set of adventures in another new single-disc compilation of episodes.  The new compilation, The Magic School Bus: In a Pickle offers audiences four more episodes that see Ms. Frizzle and her students investigate the process that turns a cucumber into a pickle in the set’s lead episode.  That episode is joined by two more episodes and a bonus fourth episode that investigates another way that something rotting actually benefits other living beings.  The kids also learn how water molecules and how microbes create different scents.  Regardless of which episode viewers choose, each episode offers plenty of family friendly entertainment and equally fun science lessons worth watching again and again.

The lead episode in The Magic School Bus: In A Pickle sees Ms. Frizzle out on “trial” by her own students after Keesha’s cucumber has “gone missing.”  Ms. Frizzle is the main suspect since the cucumber was left in the classroom while the kids were on vacation.  This is a great set-up for this episode’s lesson as “The Friz” has to prove her innocence.  And it’s a creative way to let the kids take control before learning that there’s so much more to the world than they realize.  It’s an example of writing done right.  What kid doesn’t like doing adult things such as playing court?  That makes the episode even more relatable and enjoyable for viewers of all ages.  It’s just one of the truly standout episodes included in this compilation.  For that matter, it’s just one example of writing done right.  The writing in all four episodes included in this set provides its own share of entertainment.

The writing behind all four episodes included in The Magic School Bus: In A Pickle is impressive first and foremost because of its ability to entertain and inform audiences.  The irony of the writing is that many parents will be amazed at what they have actually forgotten since they themselves were children.  As Jeff Foxworthy proved with his short-lived show, Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?, we lose a lot as we get older.  So keeping this in mind, the balance of entertainment and educational content in each episode makes for another wonderful starting point for both parents and children alike.  What’s more, when one takes into account the current state of public education in America, a set such as this becomes an increasingly important, not just entertaining, set for any family.  While it may have been off the air for some time, its material is still just as impactful as any classroom if not more so.

The writing behind each episode in this set is just as important as it is educational.  Its animation is just as impressive.  This critic has noted many times before the increasing de-evolution of animation in children’s programming and the connected dangers of that de-evolution.  More and more programs across the board are switching to either flash animation or CG based “animation” in general.  The Magic School Bus was neither of these.  Each episode of this show–including the ones in this set–was hand drawn.  One might ask what makes this difference so important.  This is important as it serves as a starting point for another discussion.  The discussion in question is of the show’s identity.  Anyone that remembers the days of classic hand drawn animation will recall how every cartoon had its own animation style, thus helping to establish its identity.  This cartoon definitely had its own identity thanks to its original hand drawn animation style.  It’s one more aspect of this new release that especially parents and teachers will appreciate.  It isn’t the last of the set’s positives, either.

So much was done right with the episodes included in The Magic School Bus: In A Pickle.  The episodes culled for this set are each impressive examples of what still makes it a fan favorite cartoon to this day.  It is a fan favorite among viewers of every age.  There is one more aspect of this compilation that makes it a nice addition to any family’s home library.  That aspect is that all four episodes contained within this set follow one recurring theme so to speak.  Each one sees the class shrinking down to microscopic size as it learns its lessons.  From learning how water and soap react with dirt to how smells form to how microbes turn a cucumber into a pickle, all three of the set’s main episodes follow that same theme of the class learning about the microscopic world.  The bonus fourth episode, The Magic School Bus: Meets the Rot Squad doesn’t take the class into the microscopic world.  But it does see the class shrinking down once again.  This time, the class learns a biology lesson and even an environmental lesson.  So while it may not go directly with the set’s other episodes, it’s still a nice addition and worth the watch every time.  The single-disc compilation is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct from the New Kideo website at  Parents and teachers can also keep up with the latest releases from New Kideo on the official New Kideo Facebook page at  Even more information from Scholastic is available online at and

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Get On The Magic School Bus Again With The Phil’s Picks Blog

Courtesy:  Scholastic/New Video/New Kideo

Courtesy: Scholastic/New Video/New Kideo

Courtesy:  Scholastic/New Video/New Kideo

Courtesy: Scholastic/New Video/New Kideo

Scholastic is loading up the bus again as the year starts to count down.  That is to say that Scholastic is loading up The Magic School Bus.  That’s right.  On Tuesday, July 30th, two more new DVD sets will be released by Scholastic and New Video.  Next Tuesday, the two companies, along with New Kideo, will release the single-disc set, The Magic School Bus: In A Pickle and The Magic School Bus: Revving Up.  The prior of the pair will be presented in a single-disc presentation with four more episodes from the timeless kids’ cartoon.  The latter is a three-disc set containing a total of twelve episodes, thanks to a fourth bonus episode accompanying the main trio of episodes on each disc.

Thanks to Scholastic, New Video, New Kideo, and the Phil’s Picks blog and Facebook page, you can enter for a chance to win one or both sets.  On Friday, August 9th, one copy of The Magic School Bus: In A Pickle and The Magic School Bus: Revving Up will each be given away to one lucky winner.  And one lucky grand prize winner will take home both sets, totalling fifteen episodes.  All you have to do in order to enter is first, “Like” the Phil’s Picks Facebook page.  Once you have done that, just write on the Phil’s Picks timeline or send a private message noting that you want to be entered for a chance at one or both sets.  It’s that easy.  Entries will begin being taken next Monday, July 30th.  So mark your calendars, spread the word and good luck!

Those that aren’t lucky enough to win one of these new sets can still pick them up online at the New Kideo website, at and  Parents and teachers can order even more Magic School Bus DVDs and other new DVDs on the New Kideo website.  And to keep up with even more giveaways and all the latest new releases from New Kideo, parents and teachers can “Like” the New Kideo Facebook page at

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Wreck-It Ralph Offers More family Fun From Disney

Courtesy:  Walt Disney Home Entertainment

Courtesy: Walt Disney Home Entertainment

Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph was originally said by the company to be the first in a movement to attract more young male audiences.  Disney made the announcement in 2010 when it released what was said to be its last princess movie for the foreseeable future in Tangled.  Ironically enough, Wreck-It Ralph proves to be a movie that will appeal to both young male and female audiences as well as parents.  Kids will enjoy the movie thanks to the backdrop of the video game world.  Parents will appreciate the movie for its multi-pronged moral story placed against the video-game based world.

Wreck-It Ralph is an interesting story.  On the surface, some might argue that it’s just a blatant advertisement for the video game industry.  That is true, but only partially.  It’s more than that.  It pays homage to both the video game industry’s golden era and its more modern era.  It’s more than that though.  Anyone that remembers Pixar’s groundbreaking movie, Toy Story will almost instantly recognize something a similarity between that movie and this work.  It is basically Toy Story set against the world of video games.  Just as the toys in Toy Story had their own secret world and life, so do the video game characters in Wreck-It Ralph.  And just as Woody was worried about being replaced, the characters in Wreck-It Ralph worry about their game being permanently unplugged.  The lesson of friendship is also present in both stories.  As can be seen, there are quite a number of similarities between Pixar’s groundbreaking CG based story and this latest release from Disney.  For all the similarities between the two works, Wreck-It Ralph does manage to establish its own identity.  It does this through its multi-pronged moral story.

The primary moral of Wreck-It Ralph is one of self-acceptance.  Ralph—voiced by veteran actor John C. Reily (Cyrus, Talladega Nights, A Prairie Home Companion) learns to accept himself and be comfortable with himself despite the labels placed on him by the social structure of the video game world.  But it isn’t until he develops a friendship with young Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) that he reaches this epiphany.  He realizes that he should be happy with himself because he sees in Vanellope someone just like himself.  And just as he sees a kindred spirit in Vanellope, she sees a hero in him, thus leading to the revelation that he doesn’t need a medal to be a hero.  As long as he is a hero to one person, that’s all that matters.  This is something to which any child and adult can relate, thus giving the story part of its heart.  The other part of the heart behind Wreck-It Ralph lies in the topic of social acceptance. 

Ralph learns in this story that regardless of the labels put on him by the video game world’s standards, he can be a hero to at least one other, thus leading to his epiphany of self acceptance.  He isn’t the only one that learns a valuable lesson though.  Those around him learn to be more accepting of him, too.  That’s thanks to him uncovering a “royal” sized secret that could have had a major impact on the video game world in his journey of self-discovery.  He ends up being a hero and saving the day.  How he does won’t be revealed here for the sake of those who have yet to see this movie.  But because word spread to his fellow video game characters, everyone’s view of Ralph changed.  And sure he was still the “bad guy” in Fix It Felix, Jr., but he was much more accepted than at the movie’s outset.  This lesson of social acceptance is one from which the entire family can benefit.  And it’s one more positive to what is another fun and family friendly story from Disney.  It may not be Disney’s finest.  But it is still an enjoyable work.  Wreck-It Ralph is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct via the Disney DVD store at

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Scholastic’s Latest A Delectable Dish Of A DVD

Courtesy:  Scholastic/New Video/Weston Woods

Courtesy: Scholastic/New Video/Weston Woods

Scholastic’s latest collection from its Storybook Treasures series is another hit for audiences of all ages.  This single disc compilation offers four more stories that not only entertain but also teach very important life lessons.  It’s all anchored by the famed children’s story, The Red HenThe Red Hen makes this compilation well worth the compilation’s price.  Though, it isn’t all that makes it so enjoyable.  Veteran actress Lily Tomlin (The Magic School Bus, Prairie Home Companion, Malibu Country) adds her touch to the short story, Bread Comes to Life.  And while it isn’t animated, this short story offers a nice little lesson how bread is made that easily understandable for younger audiences and just as entertaining.  Along with the entertainment factor of Bread Comes to Life, the other features on this disc offer their own entertainment from both their genuine animation and their lessons.  And as with Scholastic’s previous releases, this one also offers the option to toggle the read-along feature, depending on the age of one’s child/children.  It’s one more continued tradition that parents will enjoy whether they are first time audiences or more experienced.  And of course, let us also now forget the bonus recipe for Simply Splendid Cake that kids and parents can make together.  That recipe, along with the four features included here all come together for a compilation that will leave a great “taste” in any viewer’s mouth (ba-dump-bump-bump). Thank you, thank you.  I’ll be here all week!

The Red Hen…and More Cooking Stories is anchored by its title story.  The Red Hen is a story that both children and parents will enjoy because of its ability to connect to viewers.  The Red Hen wants to make a cake.  But no one will help her.  So she is left to do all the work of making a cake all alone.  When the work is all done and the cake is decorated, the cat, the rat, and the frog all offer to help her eat it, but get none.  There’s a very valuable lesson to be taught here.  It’s a lesson of cooperation and responsibility.  The cat, the rat, and the frog learned the hard way that no work means no reward.  This applies not just in the kitchen but in everyday life.  One reaps the rewards of the work that one does whether with a team or by one’s own self.  Considering this factor, “The Red Hen” instantly becomes that much more of a fit to start off this new set of shorts. 

The lesson on cooperation and teamwork makes for a wonderful start to this most recent set.  It’s not the only lesson taught.  “How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food” also teaches another important lesson for children.  It teaches a lesson about manners.  What young child doesn’t love dinosaurs?  By using that connection, it teaches children that while they may be wild creatures, even dinosaurs have manners.  So if dinosaurs can have manners, so can children.  They should use the dinosaurs as an example of what behavior is right and wrong.  And that it features actual animation instead of CG based visuals makes it that much more enjoyable, especially in an age when so much children’s programming is CG-based.

“The Red Hen” and “How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food” are both enjoyable additions to Scholastic’s latest Storybook Treasures compilation.  The other pair of shorts is entertaining for its own purposes, too.  And just as they make for their own entertainment, so will the bonus feature, teaching kids and adults how to make The Red Hen’s Simply Splendid Cake.  The Red Hen takes viewers through the process of making the cake in this bonus feature. She even makes certain to point out to younger viewers that they should not try to make the recipe on their own.  They should have adult supervision in making it whether for cupcakes or for an entire cake.  So not only does the Red Hen teach about cooperation and teamwork, she also teaches young viewers about safety in the kitchen.  It makes for one more positive to this already enjoyable set for the whole family.

The Red Hen…and More Cooking Stories is available now.  It can be ordered online at the New Kideo online store at

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The Magic School Bus Is Still A Fun Family Ride After Twenty-Five Years

Courtesy: Scholastic/New Video

Twenty-five years is a long time for a TV show to air.  It’s an especially long time for a show that lasted only fifty-two episodes.  Even at fifty-two episodes, Scholastic’s The Magic School Bus has lasted a quarter of a century on air.  Numerous other shows have come and gone since The Magic School Bus first debuted.  But few have had the lasting impression that this family classic has had.  In celebration of The Magic School Bus’ twenty-fifth anniversary, Scholastic is giving families and teachers alike the opportunity to enjoy the series in its entirety on DVD September 4th.

The MagicSchool Bus:  The Complete Series is one of the best DVD releases and best box sets that any family can own this year.  All fifty-two episodes from the show’s original run are contained on eight separate discs.  Each disc is contained in its own slim case contained within the larger box.  This protects the discs, and thus increases their life for possibly another generation.  Scholastic and New Video are to be commended for this. 

The packaging for The Magic School Bus:  The Complete Series is only one part of the whole that makes this set worth the money.  When viewers decide on separate episodes, they are given a short summary of each episode’s story.  These episode summaries are also included in the bonus Activity Booklet and Parents’ Guide that is also included in the set.  The episodes themselves are presented exactly as they originally aired, complete with the post show “call-in’s” with the show’s producer (voiced by Malcolm-Jamal Warner—The Cosby Show). 

Getting back to the bonus Activity Booklet and Parents’ Guide, it is a nice addition to the set.  Not only does is offer a complete episode guide, but it also offers a handful of ideas for teachers and parents alike to use in coordination with what children are learning through the course of their school year.  For instance, it offers viewing tips for parents and teachers.  It mentions for parents to talk with their kids about what they’re learning at school before viewing the episodes.  That will allow parents to decide which of the episodes their kids could watch as an additional tool.  It even mentions viewing the episodes more than once to help kids really get the idea of what Ms. Frizzle and her class are studying.  This applies for teachers, too, as it will help show them ingenious ways to get their students to answer their won questions.  This is such a simple tool.  But it will go a very long way in teaching young audiences today.

Being that there are fifty-two episodes to watch, there’s something for everyone.  Given, there are little dated pieces here and there such as the older style computers, or that Pluto is still considered a planet in the very first episode.  But that can easily be forgiven.  What matters in that first episode is the fun of seeing Ms. Frizzle and her class blast off into space to study the planets.  Of course it isn’t their only adventure.  The class also gets to go to a coral reef, inside the human body (twice), and even to a supposedly haunted house in the episode, “The Magic School Bus In The Haunted House.”  Being that Halloween is coming up, that would be a great episode.  Not only is it a fun creepy episode, but it also teaches about the science of sound in a way in which young audiences would understand.

The MagicSchool Bus:  The Complete Series is a wonderful set for the entire family to own.  It’s one of those rare shows that continue to transcend generations, even a quarter of a century after its debut.  For those that might not be able to get their hands on the complete set, worry not.  That’s because again thanks to Scholastic and New Video, there are also six volumes of complete episodes available at a lower price available now.  Four of the sets are single disc compilations with four episodes each.  And the remaining two sets have three discs each, complete with twelve episodes.  To get more information on The Magic School Bus, parents and teachers can go online to,,, and  

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