The unofficial start of the annual holiday season is only days away. For those who don’t know, that is a reference to Halloween. As Halloween nears, many are already turning their attention to colder weather and Christmas, including officials with PBS Kids and PBS Distribution. The companies are scheduled to release two new seasonal DVD collections Oct. 19 on DVD in the form of PBS Kids: 20 Snowy Stories and PBS Kids Christmas Collection. The collections, one a double-disc collection and the other a single-disc set, are successful new offerings. Their success comes in part through the episodes featured in the set. This will be examined shortly. While the featured episodes do plenty to keep viewers engaged and entertained, the sets are not perfect. Each collection suffers in the way of their packaging. This element will be examined a little later. The sets’ pricing rounds out their most important elements and will also be discussed later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the collections. All things considered, they make the collections wonderful ways for families to get into the seasonal and holiday spirit.
PBS Kids and PBS Distribution’s upcoming DVD collections, PBS Kids: 20 Snowy Stories and PBS Kids Christmas Collection are mostly successful offerings from the companies. Their success is due in large part to their featured episodes. The episodes are culled from a variety of PBS Kids’ most beloved series past and present, such as Arthur, Splash & Bubbles, and Word World just to name a few. Also featured are episodes from the likes of Let’s Go Luna!, Dinosaur Train, and World World just to name a few more. For the most part, the episodes feature stories that match the collections’ titles, too. The only episode that is out of place is the Dinosaur Train episode, “Cretacious Conifers.” Featured in the 20 Snowy Stories collection, it has no snow or even ice. Yes, there is a mention of the winter solstice at points throughout, but it also focuses heavily on more of a Christmas theme as the story progresses. To that end, it seems more of a fit on the Christmas Collection set. While the Ready Jet Go! episodes featured in the 20 Snowy Stories collection are a little bit of a stretch – they feature Jet and his friends bringing ice back from outer space to beat the summer heat in two separate ways and for two separate reasons – they do at least fit a little bit.
In the case of the Christmas Collection, its episodes are more uniformly in line with its title. One of the most notable of its episodes is “Luna’s Christmas Around the World.” After getting stuck in Antarctica thanks to the captain of the ship on which they are riding, Andy, Carmen and Leo lean from the members of the Circo Fabuloso how Christmas is celebrated in different regions of the world. By the episode’s end, the kids learn the most important lesson of all about Christmas as they finally get the boat working again and leave Antarctica.
WordWorld’s episode, “The Christmas Star” is another of the most notable of the Christmas Collection episodes. The title sounds like something that might present a religious theme, but that could not be farther from the truth. Rather, in this case, Duck is on a search for the Christmas star because it belongs on top of the Christmas tree that he and his friends have put up. Duck wants to use the star as his present to his friends. Of course it has a happy ending that also ties in a basic spelling lesson.
Wild Kratts: A Creature Christmas has already been released on a standalone Wild Kratts DVD. That aside, it is still welcome here. In this extended episode, it’s up to Chris, Martin and their friends to save a group of animal babies from Zach Varmitech after he kidnaps the cute, cuddly creatures for use as ornaments on his own metal Christmas tree. As with every other episode in which the guys face off against Zach, they come out on top and get the animals back to the wild and living free. How it happens will be left for audiences to discover for themselves if they have not yet seen this special episode. Between this episode, the others examined here and the rest of those in this set and in 20 Snowy Stories, the episodes in whole make for more than enough reason to add these collections to one’s home library. This is the case even though at least one episode is a bit out of place in its collection.
While the episodes featured in these collections form a strong foundation for the sets, the collections are not necessarily perfect. The lack of an episode guide anywhere in the packaging detracts from the presentations to a point. The episode guides are obviously there when audiences put the sets’ discs into their DVD and/or Blu-ray players, but they are not printed anywhere within the packaging. As a result, audiences are forced to figure out and essentially memorize which episodes are aligned with which discs. Yes, this is an aesthetic issue, but it would certainly help the presentation because it would save audiences time and effort in trying to decide which episode(s) they want to watch. Instead of the episodes, the packaging lists the episodes’ sponsors inside the case. That could have been done on the back of each set’s case. This is not enough to make the presentations failures, but certainly would have benefited the sets’ presentations.
Keeping in mind that the lack of episode guides in the set is not enough to completely ruin them, there is one more positive to address. It comes in the form of the collections’ pricing. The average price point for PBS Kids: 20 Snowy Stories is $7.95. Rounded up, it is a mere $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. Books-A-Million and PBS are the only retailers that exceed that price point, while the majority of the others list the double-disc collection at either $6.95 or $6.99. Best Buy lists the collection at $7.99, which while a few cents over the average, is still right in line with the average price point. Considering the amount of content featured across the set and the representation of the PBS Kids shows, that affordable price point definitely proves positive and money well-spent.
The average price point for PBS Kids: Christmas Collection is $11.33. That price was reached by averaging prices at the noted retailers. Amazon’s listing of $29.99 is either an anomaly or just outright incorrect, but for the most part, it is listed between $6.69 and $9.99, with a middle ground of $7.99, listed through Best Buy and Barnes & Noble Booksellers. Books-A-Million and PBS each list the single-disc set at $9.99. Walmart and Target each have the least expensive listing, at $6.69. Yet again, these prices are mostly such that they will not break anyone’s budget. Knowing how much content even this set features, that knowledge makes purchasing the set even more encouraging, too. Keeping in mind the affordability noted in each set along with the content featured in each collection, those elements make the sets well worth owning and successes in their own right. That is even with the issue of the lack of episode guides in mind. One becomes one more of this year’s top new family DVDs and BDs while the other more than earns its spot among the year’s top new family DVD and BD box sets.
PBS Kids and PBS Distribution’s forthcoming seasonal/holiday DVD sets, 20 Snowy Stories and Christmas Collection are successful new offerings from the companies. Their success comes in large part through their featured episodes. The episodes largely follow the theme of each set’s title. They also teach important lessons within the stories. That education and entertainment that they offer is sure to keep audiences engaged and entertained. While the episodes are the key point of the collections, the lack of any episode guide in either set detracts from the sets’ presentation to a point. It is not enough to make the sets failures, but still does hurt them to a point. Keeping in mind the breadth and depth of the content featured in each set, the sets’ pricing proves positive, too. That is because their pricing proves so affordable for the most part. Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the collections. All things considered, they make each set successful by themselves and collectively.
PBS Kids: 20 Snowy Stories and PBS Kids: Christmas Collection are scheduled for release Oct. 19. More information on these and other titles from PBS Kids is available online at:
More information on this and other titles from PBS Distribution is available at:
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