It’s hard to believe, but there is officially a little more than a week left in the almost old year. For most of the country, it means winter break is here and kids are out of school, getting excited over Christmas and relaxing. That means lots of parents out there are struggling to find ways to entertain their kids and maybe also keep their brains growing at the same time. Phil’s Picks’ final “best of” list for this year will hopefully help with those efforts.
The last of this year’s “best of” lists focuses on the year’s top new single-disc family friendly DVDs and Blu-rays. It features new releases for families from PBS, Shout! Factory, and Nickelodeon, as well as Turner Broadcasting/Cartoon Network, and even 20th Century Studios. It runs the gamut from the educational to the entertaining, too.
Without any further ado, here is the last of Phil’s Picks’ “best of” lists for 2021, this year’s Top 10 New Family DVDs/BDs.
PHIL’S PICKS’ 2021 TOP 10 NEW FAMILY DVDs/BDs
Hero Elementary: Sparks’ Crew Animal Rescue
Wild Kratts: Cats and Dogs
Dinosaur Train: Adventure Island
Molly of Denali: Molly & The Great One
Are You Afraid of the Dark?: Curse of the Shadows
Victor & Valentino: Folk Art Foes
Ron’s Gone Wrong
Paw Patrol: The Movie
PBS Kids Christmas Collection
Thomas & Friends All Engines Go!: Time For Teamwork
Sesame Street: Things Elmo Likes
Sesame Street: Wonderful World of Friends
Baby Shark’s Big Show!
PBS Kids 15 Girl Power Adventures
That’s it for this year, folks. Again though, there are lots of new titles already announced and scheduled for 2022, so Phil’s Picks is already looking forward to next year for all the new family DVDs and BDs and so much other content. Stay tuned!
PBS Kids’ animated series Molly of Denali has been in the news a lot in the past year or so. The series’ fans got good news about the show back in April when WGHB and PBS Kids announced that more than two years after its launch, the series will get a second season. According to the information provided at the time, the award-winning series is set to premiere its second season “in Fall 2021.” The announcement came only months after PBS Kids released an extensive collection of Season One episodes in the form of Molly’s Awesome Alaskan Adventures. Its released was followed up last month with the release of the show’s first single-disc presentation, Molly and the Great One. The DVD is another wonderful presentation from PBS Kids and WGBH that audiences of all ages will enjoy. The presentation’s positives begin with its primary content, which is the hour-long episode, “Molly and the Great One.” It will be discussed shortly. The bonus content that accompanies the main feature builds on the appeal created through the main content. It will be discussed a little later. Considering the content in terms of its breadth and depth, it makes the DVD’s pricing key in its own way. To that end, this item will also receive its own attention here, too. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the DVD. All things considered, they make the presentation one of the best of the year’s new family DVDs/BDs.
PBS Kids and WGBH’s recently released DVD presentation, Molly of Denali: Molly and the Great One is a wonderful new presentation from PBS Kids and WGBH. As with its predecessor, this first-ever single disc collection from the series (the first collection was a double-disc set) offers a lot for audiences to like, beginning with its primary content. In this case the primary content is the hour-long episode, “Molly and the Great One.” The episode serves as what would appear to be the season finale for the first season of Molly of Denali. There is a lot going on in the story, but it is all woven together so seamlessly. The central story finds Molly and her friend Tooey joining Molly’s Grandpa Nat as he and Molly’s dad, Walter, make their way up Mount Denali, North America’s tallest mountain. The journey happens because Molly wants to help Grandpa Nat achieve a lifelong dream, a bucket list item so to speak. Everyone has their own bucket list, so to that end, this is a starting point that will make it easy for even grown-ups to relate to this story. Also along for the hike is the internet celebrity Mac McFadden. Meanwhile, Molly’s other friend Trini is finally – albeit temporarily – reunited with her mother back in town. Her mom ends up playing her own important part in what happens on Mount Denali, too. Obviously everything has a happy ending. That goes without saying. What is really interesting here is the clear cultural divide between Molly’s father and grandfather, and Mac. Mac is a solid representation of not only today’s internet celebrity culture, but also of so much American culture, specifically of white Americans of European descent. Case in point is when Nat and Walter warn Mac to not try to get to the mountain’s peak alone during a major snowstorm. Like the fool that he is, he ignores their warning, leading to the noted role that Trini’s mom ends up playing. Mac’s behavior – that machismo, that refusal to listen to wiser people who know the land – is so representative of how dismissive Americans of European descent have been to people of other ethnicities for centuries, and it is fully deserved. The writers are to be commended for taking on this matter and doing so without being preachy about it in the process.
Getting back to Trini’s story, while it is secondary, it is still an important part of the story in its own right. In this case, it is revealed that Trini’s mom is a helicopter pilot. It should be obvious from here how she plays into what happens atop Mount Denali later in the story. She works with the military to a certain extent. This means that she is gone a lot, which would explain why it is the first time that audiences have seen her this season. By showing the dynamic between parent and child here, it serves as a certain representation for those children whose parents serve in the military, whether full-time or as reservists. It helps those children watching this program to see that they are not alone, and that they will be okay, even as emotionally tough as it may be to not have that parent there all the time. To that end, it is a great addition to the story that works both as its own strong standalone story and as an equally enjoyable addition to the primary story. Keeping all of this in mind, the main story featured here does a lot to make the DVD’s main story enjoyable and engaging. While it does so much to keep viewers engaged and entertained, it is only one of the DVD’s positives. The bonus content (of sorts) that accompanies the main feature is also of note.
The bonus content that is featured in this new DVD is actually composed of more episodes from Season 1. For those who perhaps do not keep up with Molly of Denali, its current lone season (thankfully Season 2 is coming…allegedly) is composed of 38 episodes, each episode being composed of two separate stories. Last year’s double-disc release, Molly’s Awesome Alaskan Adventures featured 16 of those episodes. That is just under half the season. This DVD presents another four episodes, putting the total count now to more than half of the season’s episodes. Even more impressive is that the stories featured in this DVD are not carry-overs from the previous collection. They are all previously unreleased on DVD. Yes, it’s sad that the entirety of Season One hasn’t been released to DVD, but maybe that will come sooner rather than later. In the meantime, having these additional stories along with the mass of stories featured in the previously released box set should make any fan of Molly of Denali happy. From making a journey to one of her people’s important cultural events in “Canoe Journey,” to adopting a frog in “Froggy of Denali,” to trying to save Trini’s garden from the work of some beavers in “Busy Beavers,” and more, the stories here offer entertainment for audiences of all ages. Keeping these stories in mind along with the fact that technically, “Molly and the Great One” is in fact technically just another episode (just in hour-long format), and it makes the whole that much more appealing for audiences. Considering the content and depth therein of this DVD’s content, the presentation’s pricing proves to be its own positive worth discussing.
The average price point of Molly of Denali: Molly and the Great One is $9.02. That price was obtained by averaging prices listed through Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Books-A-Million, and PBS’ store. Believe it or not, while PBS often has the most expensive of listings for its DVDs, that is not the case with this case. As a matter of fact, its listing of $9.99 is also not the least expensive, but is the most commonly occurring price. In this case, Walmart’s listed price of $11.80 is the most expensive. Amazon and Target’s listing of $6.69 is the least expensive. Looking at these prices, that they are mostly less than $10 (technically right at $10 or a little more counting tax, and shipping and handling for online ordering), the DVD clearly will not break any viewer’s budget. Those who are able to find the DVD in store will not have to pay that noted S&H, meaning the prices will be what they are. To that end, it makes those less expensive listings that much more appealing. Either way, the pricing for this DVD is largely positive. That is especially considering the amount of content featured between the DVD’s primary and bonus content and the depth therein. When this is considered along with the content, the whole makes the DVD that much more of a win for all involved.
PBS Kids and WGBH’s recently released Molly of Denali DVD, Molly and the Great One is a wonderful new collection of episodes from the series. It is another great way for fans to pass the time as they wait for the show’s alleged second season to premiere “this fall.” The DVD’s success is shown in large part through its main feature, the hour-long story which bears the DVD’s title. The story is fully immersive, engaging and entertaining. That is thanks to the writing and acting alike. The bonus content that accompanies the main feature is actually more episodes from the series’ lone season. That content and the main feature, which is actually Season One’s finale, bring audiences even more episodes from Season One along with last year’s box set. Considering the content featured here and its depth, the DVD’s pricing proves to be its own positive. That is because it is largely so affordable, even when ordered online with shipping and handling. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the DVD. All things considered, they make the DVD one more of the best of this year’s new family DVDs/BDs.
Molly of Denali: Molly and the Great One is available now. More information on PBS Kids and WGBH’s new Molly of Denali DVD is available along with games, activities, printables and more at:
PBS Kids is doing its part to honor its female viewers with a new DVD. The DVD, 15 Girl Power Adventures, was released Sept. 7 through PBS Distribution. The episodes featured in this collection –15 in all as the DVD’s title notes – are the main strength for the presentation. While the episodes are important in their own right, the very fact that they are centered on just female audiences detracts notably from the DVD’s presentation. It will be discussed a little later. For those audiences willing to overlook this shortcoming, the DVD’s pricing proves to be its own positive. When it is considered along with the episodes featured herein, the DVD proves far from perfect, but still entertaining enough.
PBS Kids’ recently released compilation DVD, 15 Girl Power Adventures is an intriguing offering from the network. The DVD’s primary strength comes in its featured episodes. The episodes lift from the majority of PBS Kids’ series. There are some omissions, though (E.g. Odd Squad, Wild Kratts, Curious George, etc.) but by and large, the episodes pull from a respectable amount of the networks’ shows. Arthur is represented through the episode, “Muffy’s New Best Friend.” The story here finds Muffy and Francine learning a valuable lesson about friendship even when two people have differing opinions on things, and that those differences can actually help friendships grow. It is a familiar topic that will appeal not only to young females, but to audiences in general. This leads to the aforementioned discussion on the DVD’s one main shortcoming, which will be addressed shortly. Molly of Denali’s episode, “Stand Back Up” finds Molly learning a valuable lesson about pushing on through failings in any situation in life when she learns how to ski. Once again, here is a show that yes, is centered on a female character, but with a lesson that applies to girls and boys, men and women alike. Again, it leans toward the DVD’s noted concern. On yet another note, Let Go Luna!’s episode, “Aren’t We A Pair” centers on Carmen and her Egyptian friend Leyla and their search for their pets. The friendship element is there, but as with so many episodes of the family favorite series, the episode is more about promoting multiculturalism, which is wonderful in its own right. The thing is that the series focuses not just on a girl, but a group of friends (two boys and a girl, plus Luna, who is female). The story is a great way to teach and learn about culture in Egypt. Again, it will appeal just as much to boys as it will girls. It is one more way to show the importance of the DVD’s episodes to the disc’s presentation. That is done as it pulls from yet another of so many PBS Kids series. On the other hand it is yet another example of how problematic the DVD is in the bigger picture.
While the episodes featured in this disc make for plenty of appeal, the very fact that they will appeal to boys and girls alike as well as men and women alike, it makes the very presentation format extremely problematic. As noted, the stories and lessons that are presented in the majority of this DVD’s featured episodes will appeal to and connect with boys as well as girls. Add in that the fact that many of the shows from which the episodes are pulled are examples of PBS and PBS Kids’ long-running tradition of trying to normalize equality among genders, sexes, races, and ethnicities and it just makes the whole presentation seem like a knee-jerk reaction from someone or some people at PBS and PBS Kids. Given again, a show, such as Molly of Denali is centered on a young girl, but the stories and lessons involve her as well as her friends, who are male and female. Even a “newer” series, such as Elinor Wonders Why is centered not on just its titular character, but on her and her friends, who are male and female alike. Once again, the diversity is evident in the episodes and their lessons. That has been a trademark of PBS Kids shows for such a long time. It just leads one to wonder why someone would even take the time to try and release a collection of episodes that it claims are “Girl Power” adventures. The very approach is counter to everything for which PBS Kids has come to be known. It is really disconcerting. Even with the concern raised by the DVD’s very presentation, there is at least one more positive to examine, and that is its pricing.
The average price point for 15 Girl Power Adventures is $8.22. That price was obtained by averaging prices listed through Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, and PBS. The DVD was not listed through Books-A-Million at the time of the DVD’s review. An average price point of less than $10 for a DVD that for the most part will appeal to boys just as much as girls and that pulls from so many of PBS Kids’ shows new and old alike is not bad at all. Adding to the appeal is that for the most part, the separate listings are below that price point, save for PBS’ own listing of $9.99 and (surprisingly) that of Walmart, at $12.37. Target actually has the least expensive listing this time out at only $4.99. Amazon and Barnes & Noble Booksellers each list the DVD at $6.99 while Best Buy is not the best buy at $7.99. So in looking at these prices, the overall pricing really is not bad. It will not break any viewer’s budget. So taking that into account with the DVD’s content, the whole makes for at least some appeal even despite the incongruous nature of the content with the DVD’s title. Keeping this in mind, the DVD is problematic. There is no denying this matter. At the same time, it is not a complete failure.
PBS Kids/PBS Distribution’s recently released DVD, 15 Girl Power Adventures is hardly the best presentation that the company and its home distribution arm have ever released. At the same time it is not the worst, either. The DVD succeeds largely because of its episodes and their stories. The episodes pull from a healthy cross section of PBS Kids’ shows. The stories and their lessons will connect to boys just as much as girls because despite the DVD’s title, they are not centered just on females and will relate not only to girls, either. This leads to the DVD’s one major shortcoming, its titling. The DVD’s title markets the presentation as being “girl power,” but as noted the episodes are largely a continued display of PBS Kids’ successful efforts to normalize equality among genders, sexes, races, and ethnicities without being preachy. Keeping that in mind, there really was no reason for any branch of PBS to present such a DVD since it has always treated males and females, blacks, whites, and otherwise equally. While this is clearly problematic, it is not enough to make the DVD a total failure. The DVD’s overall pricing proves positive, considering the amount of content presented therein. The pricing will, for the most part, not break any viewer’s budget. That selling point (no pun intended) along with the content is just enough to save the DVD. Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the DVD’s presentation. All things considered, they make the DVD problematic but not a total failure.
15 Girl Power Adventures is available now. More information on this and other titles from PBS Kids is available along with all of the network’s latest news at:
Families spent a lot of time indoors together this year thanks to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Between parents working from home and students forced to take classes online, parents and their children have seen a lot of each other this year; Probably a lot more than usual. That increased time together can often lead to tensions between families. Thankfully, plenty of new DVD and Blu-ray box sets were released this year to help relieve that tension and give families plenty to enjoy together. That has already been pointed out in part through Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New DVDs & Blu-rays list. Single disc presentations are just a part of what families had to enjoy together this year. There was also plenty of content thrown in this year in the form of new DVD and Blu-ray box sets for families. Among some of the best of this year’s new family box sets are first time releases from the likes of Time Life, PBS, and Nickelodeon.
As with each list from Phil’s Picks, this list features the year’s Top 10 new titles and five additional honorable mention titles for a total of 15. Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New Family DVD & Blu-ray Box Sets.
PHIL’S PICKS 2020 TOP 10 NEW FAMILY DVD & BLU-RAY BOX SETS
Laurel & Hardy: The Definitive Restorations
The Buster Keaton Collection: Volume 4
Dolly: The Ultimate Collection
Arthur: The Complete Friendship Collection
The Berenstain Bears: Tree House Tales Vol. 2
The Berenstain Bears: Tree House Tales Vol. 3
Molly of Denali: Molly’s Awesome Alaskan Adventures
The Jetsons: The Complete Series
Sesame Street: Old School Volume 1
Sesame Street: Old School Volume 2
Spongebob Squarepants: Season 11
Paw Patrol: PUP-tastic 8-DVD Collection
The Flintstones: 2 Movies & 5 Specials
Garfield & Friends: Season Three
Benji 4-Movie Collection
Next up from Phil’s Picks is the 2020 Top 10 New Grown-Up Box Sets and then the year’s top new re-issues to finish off this year’s lists. Stay tuned for all of that this weekend.
The wait is officially over for the first ever collection of episodes from PBS Kids’ animated series Molly of Denali. The two-disc collection features 32 episodes from the series’ debut season released Tuesday, and it largely lives up to its title. That is proven in part through its episodes, which will be discussed shortly. The stories that are featured in the episodes build on the appeal formed through the compilation’s featured episodes. They will be discussed a little later. The set’s average price point rounds out its most important elements, considering the extensive content featured in this set. Each item noted is key in its own way to the presentation of Molly of Denali: Molly’s Awesome Alaskan Adventures. All things considered, they make this double-disc set a great first collection from the Peabody Award®-winning series.
PBS Kids’ first-ever collection of Molly of Denali episodes, Molly’s Awesome Alaskan Adventures is an impressive DVD debut from the series. That is due in no small part to its featured episodes. The collection features 32 episodes from the series’ debut season. That equals to 16 full-length half hour episodes, which is almost half of the body of the series’ only season so far. Season one consists of 40 full half-hour episodes. For the most part, the featured episodes are presented in chronological order, though there is some jumping around at points. Ironically, being that each episode is presented in full, one can’t help but wonder why they were split up in the presentation here rather than being presented exactly as they were on television. That aside, it is still good to see so much of the first season presented together rather than just have a jumble of shorts from the bigger overall episodes. Hopefully audiences will not have to wait too long to complete their Season One collections, keeping all of this in mind.
While the episodes that are featured in Molly’s Awesome Alaskan Adventures (that’s a lot of alliteration, isn’t it?) do a lot collectively to make this collection appealing, they are just a part of what makes it so appealing. The stories that are featured within the episodes play into the collection’s appeal in their own right. That is because they are so diverse. Case in point is the story featured in “Book of Mammoths.” As Molly and her dad go on a camping trip, they meet a tourist named Travis who is a conspiracy theorist of sorts. He has read a book that has led him to believe that mammoths are still alive in Qyah. This is a sort of spoof of all the people who think aliens have been to Earth since prehistoric times. On a completely different note, “Name Game” and “Grandpa’s Drum” focus on the importance of accepting, appreciating, and recording cultural diversity and history. “Qyah Spy,” yet another featured entry in this set, offers audiences yet another enjoyable story. Molly and Tooey play spies as a mysterious stranger comes to Qyah and she thinks some of the town’s residents are being very secretive. She thinks someone in town is up to no good, but the reality is the exact opposite. Between these stories and so many others featured in the collection’s episodes, audiences get so much wonderful variety throughout the course of the collection’s approximately six-and-a-half hour run time. Keeping this and the sheer volume of content in the set in mind, the set’s average price point proves to be its own positive.
The average price point of Molly of Denali: Molly’s Awesome Alaskan Adventures is $12.49. That price was reached by averaging listings at Amazon, Best Buy, Books-A-Million, and PBS’ online store. It was not listed through Walmart, Target, and Barnes & Noble Booksellers’ stores at the time of this review’s posting. PBS’ listing and that of Books-A-Million are the most expensive, at $14.99 each. Amazon and Best Buy each list the set at $9.99, which is well below that average. Considering again, the extensive amount of content featured in this collection, and the variety therein, a listing of roughly $10 is not bad at all. Even $15 is not too bad though obviously lower prices are available. Regardless of which retailer one chooses, PBS will still benefit in the end, so either way along with audiences. To that end the set’s average and separate price listings prove their own value to this presentation just as much as the set’s content. All things considered , PBS Distribution’s new Molly of Denali proves to in fact be awesome.
PBS Distribution’s debut Molly of Denali DVD set, Molly’s Awesome Alaskan Adventures is an impressive first home release from the award-winning animated series. That is proven in part through its extensive episode listing, which covers almost half of the series’ first (and only so far) season. The variety presented within the episodes is certain to keep audiences engaged and entertained throughout. The set’s average price point puts the finishing touch to its appeal, coming in at less than $15. The separate listings each are less than $20, adding even more appeal to that note. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the double-disc set. All things considered, the collection truly lives up to its name, leaving no doubt that it is in fact awesome.
More information on Molly of Denali is available along with games, activities, printables and more at:
PBS Kids’ animate series Molly of Denali is coming to DVD.
PBS Distribution is scheduled to release its new two-disc compilation Molly of Denali: Molly’s Awesome Alaskan Adventures Nov. 10. The Peabody Award-winning series’ new collection with feature 32 episodes, more than three-quarters of its existing first season at an MSRP of $14.99.
Among the most notable of the collection’s featured shorts are episodes, such as “Hot Springs Eternal” (yes, a spoof of Hope Springs Eternal), “A-Maze-ing Snow,” and “First Fish.” The latter of that trio features a story of Molly going on her first fishing trip with her family. She wants to catch her first fish, but along the way, ends up catching her friend Tooey’s boot. It’s up to Molly to use her knowledge of the salmon life cycle to catch her first fish.
A-Maze-ing Snow” the roof on Molly’s school needs repairs, but the school can’t afford them. As a result, Molly comes up with the idea for a community ‘fun’-raiser with a large snow maze. Things don’t go exactly as planned, though Molly and her friends do manage to raise enough money to repair the school’s roof.
“Hot Springs Eternal follows Molly as she tried to find a hot spring that her Grandpa Nat discovered in his younger days. The pair sets off with Molly’s dad and her best friend Tooey to find the fabled hot spring. It’s up to Molly’s knowledge of the stars to help guide the group to the hot spring.
More information on Molly of Denali is available along with games, activities, printables and more at:
PBS Kids is streaming more episodes of Dinosaur Train on the PBS Kids Amazon Prime Video Channel.
Dinosaur Train: Volume 10 started streaming Friday. The five-episode collection features the episodes ‘The Tiny-Saur Train/How Many Horns,’ ‘Don’s Hole-iday’/’We’re Not All Dinosaurs,’ ‘Gilbert The Conductor’/A Clubhouse of Their Own,’ ‘Mom Was A Kid Once (Parts 1 & 2)’ and ‘A Brand New Species (Parts 1 & 2).’
This latest collection of episodes takes the Pteranodon kids off to China for one episode. In yet another episode, the kids meet a new friend who happens to be a small mammal named Adele Alphadon. ‘A Treehouse of their Own’ finds the Pteranodon kids wanting a place of their own to hang out that is separate from that of the neighbors. The kids eventually find the right materials to build their treehouse, thanks to help from their mom.
Courtesy: PBS Kids/PBS/Amazon
The Dinosaur Train episodes that are streaming now via the PBS Kids Amazon Prime Video Channel will help audiences pass the time until the premiere of Molly of DenaliVolume Four and the new Arthur special, ‘The Rhythm and Roots of Arthur.’ The prior is scheduled to start streaming Jan. 17 and will feature five episodes from the fledgling series while the latter is scheduled to start streaming Jan. 21.
Molly of Denali Volume Four will feature the episodes ‘Northern Lights/Fiddlesticks,’ ‘Mollyball/Visit Qyah,’ ‘The Night Manager/Not So Permafrost,’ ‘Tooth or Consequences’/Qyah Spy’ and ‘Ice Scuplture/Tale of the Totem.’
‘Northern Lights’ presents Molly working to introduce her friend Trini to the famed Northern Lights after Trini confesses she has never seen them in person. Molly and her friends make up their own game called ‘Mollyball’ in the aptly-named episode after wet cements ruins plans by Molly and her friends to play a game of basketball.
Courtesy: PBS Kids/PBS/Amazon
In Arthur‘s new movie ‘The Rhythm and Roots of Arthur,’ Arthur learns an important lesson about family and about music, culture and history when he and his family take a trip to visit his Great-Grand Uncle Theo. Theo is celebrating his 85th birthday, and as the family celebrates, Arthur leans that life in the country is dramatically different from life in the city.
‘The Rhythm and Roots of Arthur’ runs one hour.
More information on these collections and the latest news from PBS Kids is available online at: