Paramount, Nickelodeon’s ‘Rugrats: Complete Series’ Presentation Is Entertaining, But Imperfect

Courtesy: Nickelodeon/Paramount

Almost fifteen years have passed since Rugrats finally ended its run on Nickelodeon.  The timeless, beloved series has remained a favorite among its viewers since that time.  The thing is that until 2009, audiences had been left waiting and wondering if this series would ever receive an official release on DVD.  The constant questions and requests were finally answered in 2017 when Paramount and Nickelodeon released the series’ debut season in a two-disc set in stores.  Seasons 2-4 followed later in 2017 and 2018 respectively.  That is where the official releases ended.  More than three years later, audiences’ pleas were finally heard again though, as Paramount and Nickelodeon released the series’ full nine season run on a 26-disc DVD set May 18, complete with the series’ hour-long specials.  Those extras are their own positive to discuss and will be addressed later.  The fact that audiences finally get the full series in an official release is itself a positive.  Now, staying on the topic of the number of discs, the packaging of those discs proves somewhat problematic.  This will be discussed a little later.  When this negative is considered along with the positives of the set’s very presentation and its bonus content, the whole still keeps the collection as one of the year’s top new family DVD/BD box sets.

Paramount and Nickelodeon’s brand new release of Rugrats: The Complete Series is a presentation that longtime Rugrats fans will find mostly positive.  The appeal begins with the presentation of the series in full, just as advertised.  This is important to note because some of the on-demand standalone season sets that Nickelodeon released in partnership with Amazon allegedly were not full seasons.  Rather they were allegedly portions of seasons assembled on-demand on DVD in many cases.  In the case of this set though, audiences get the whole of all nine seasons of the show in precise chronological order within the precise confines of their seasons.  What’s more, the most commonly occurring price listing for the set is $49.95 through Amazon and Walmart while Best Buy barely tops that number at $49.99.  Barnes & Noble Booksellers far exceeds each of those prices, listing the set at $79.99.  So even with tax and (thankfully) no added shipping & handling, audiences pay just over $50 for the set at its more economic prices.  Considering audiences are getting the series’ full run here, and in quite good quality, that price is well worth it.

While the series’ full run and relatively affordable price are clearly positives that audiences will appreciate, the set is not perfect.  That is evidenced through the set’s packaging.  The clamshell case that is used to house the set saves space on audiences’ DVD/BD racks.  At the same time though, that he discs are stacked as much as three high from one season to the next is anything but positive.  What’s more, that the stacks overlap one another throughout the case makes the packaging even less appealing.  That is because this packaging method greatly increases the odds that the discs will damage one another at some point by scratching one another.  Again, yes, it is ergonomic in its design.  At the same time though, true, longtime audiences will agree that a long box format with each standalone season would have made more sense and been more acceptable despite the less ergonomic packaging.  That is because it would have better protected the discs.  Maybe somewhere down the line, Paramount and Nickelodeon will take this into account and re-issue the set in such packaging.  In the meantime though, audiences are left to be so gentle with the discs in hopes that they do not inadvertently damage them as they have to constantly move them.  Keeping this in mind, anyone who owns the series’ first four seasons in their standalone sets (like this critic) are recommended to keep those sets just so they can avoid having to constantly move the discs around in this bigger set, and instead just worry about Seasons Five through Nine.

This is just one of the problems posed by the packaging.  Along with the concerns raised about the discs’ packaging, there is no note as to which discs contain the aforementioned bonus specials.  As a result, audiences will be left having to go through each season to find them.  This goes right back to the discussion on the discs being stacked and risking damage as a result.  So this is in itself another insult to longtime Rugrats fans.  To save audiences that trouble, here is a guide to follow:  “Runaway Reptar” is located on the third disc of Season 6.  The All Grown Up pilot, “All Growed Up” is located on the third disc of Season Eight.  The ‘Tales from the Crib” specials are located on the fourth disc of Season Nine along with the holiday special, “Babies in Toyland.”  Now, keeping the bonus content in mind, it rounds out the most important of the set’s elements.

As noted, all of the Rugrats specials are featured here.  The “Tales from the Crib” specials are available on a standalone DVD at a relatively low price while “Runaway Reptar” is available as part of another standalone Rugrats DVD.  “Babies in Toyland” is also featured in the Rugrats holiday DVD box set.  Until now, those DVDs were the only way to own those stories.  So in essence, audiences get for the first time here, the entirety of the Rugrats series from beginning to end.  While the musical numbers in the “Tales from the Crib” specials are forgettable, the stories themselves are entertaining.  Audiences will love the breaking down of the fourth wall in “Snow White” as Queen Angelica tries to figure out how to get rid of Snow White (played in this case by Susie Carmichael).  The reminder from the announcer that what was done in the original story cannot be done in this story because it is family friendly will have plenty of audiences laughing.  The jokes about three jacks in the Rugrats take on Jack and the Beanstalk makes for its own laughs, too.  In the case of “Runaway Reptar,” Tommy and company’s use of their imaginations as they try to figure out why Reptar has gone bad in a movie is itself moving.  Classic sci-fi fans will love the spoof of the original Godzilla vs. Kong and Godzilla vs. Mecha Godzilla here, too. The babies’ wonderings about what the future will be like for them in the All Grown Up pilot is entertaining in its own right, considering that the series had shown them as babies for so many years up to the point at which it originally aired.  All things considered here, the bonus specials add their own enjoyment to the presentation of the series here.  They and the full run of episodes make for plenty of reason to own this set.  That is even considering the highly problematic issue of the set’s packaging.  Even with that in mind, the set still proves itself among the best of this year’s new family DVD and BD box sets.

Paramount and Nickelodeon’s recently released official full series presentation of Rugrats is an entertaining but imperfect presentation.  That audiences finally get the full series in one, official set will appeal to any of the series’ longtime fans.  That is because up until its release May 18, audiences only had the series’ first four seasons available in official box sets.  It shows that someone(s) at Paramount and Nickelodeon finally listened to audiences’ pleas.  While the presentation of the series in full is positive, the packaging thereof detracts considerably from its appeal.  The packaging presents all nine seasons in a clamshell package with each season’s discs stacked as many as three high.  This greatly increases the chances of damage to the discs, especially considering each stack overlaps another in each season.  This means the discs have to be moved far more than necessary.  That increased movement of the discs increases, again, the odds of the discs getting invariably scratched.  A long box presentation with each standalone season therein would have been far more proper here.  Time will tell if the people at Paramount and Nickelodeon heed that advice and eventually re-issue the collection in that more proper setting.

The lack of a guide for the bonus content makes the set’s packaging even more problematic.  That is because it will lead audiences to have to otherwise search through the discs, moving them just as much, just to find the extras.  That they are so spread out across the set’s seasons makes things even more problematic.

On the opposite hand, the fact that the bonus content is collected here together for the first time ever adds to the appeal again.  That is because the specials have only been available separate of one another up until now.  So to have them culled here along with the series’ run puts the finishing touch to this presentation.  The collective content’s presentation makes the set at least one of the year’s top new family DVD and BD box sets, but not its best.  It is available now.  More information on all things Rugrats is available online at  

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Vintage, Modern Offerings Gave Families Lots To Like This Year

Courtesy: MVD Entertainment Group

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.


  1. Laurel & Hardy: The Definitive Restorations
  2. The Buster Keaton Collection: Volume 4
  3. Dolly: The Ultimate Collection
  4. Arthur: The Complete Friendship Collection
  5. The Berenstain Bears: Tree House Tales Vol. 2
  6. The Berenstain Bears: Tree House Tales Vol. 3
  7. Molly of Denali: Molly’s Awesome Alaskan Adventures
  8. The Jetsons: The Complete Series
  9. Sesame Street: Old School Volume 1
  10. Sesame Street: Old School Volume 2
  11. Spongebob Squarepants: Season 11
  12. Paw  Patrol: PUP-tastic 8-DVD Collection
  13. The Flintstones: 2 Movies & 5 Specials
  14. Garfield & Friends: Season Three
  15. 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.

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PBS, Nickelodeon Offer Kids, Families Lots Of Worthwhile DVDs, Blu-rays In 2020

Courtesy: Nickelodeon/Viacom

PBS, PBS Kids and Nickelodeon are some of the most important television networks for children today.  In an age when it seems like families are becoming increasingly segregated within their own homes thanks to technology and general television programming that is anything but family friendly, these networks continued to provide so much content to bring families together in 2020.  That content was presented not just on the small screen, but also on DVD and Blu-ray.  To that extent, even new children’s DVDs and Blu-rays deserve their own year-end best of list.  That list is what is presented here from Phil’s Picks.  This  year’s list of top new children’s DVDs and Blu-rays pulls mainly from the noted networks, and even from Warner Brothers.  Topping the list this  year is S.T.E.M. programming from Nickelodeon in the form of a new DVD from Blaze and the Monster Machines.  Also featured in this list is new content from series, such as Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Sesame Street, and even a certain Cartoon Network movie.

As with every other year-ender 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 titles.  Without any further ado here is Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New Children’s DVDs & Blu-rays.


  1. Blaze and the Monster Machines – Knight Riders
  2. The Berenstain Bears – Bear Family Vacation
  3. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood – Explore The Outdoors
  4. Tex Avery – Screwball Classics Vol. 1
  5. Tex Avery – Screwball Classics Vol. 2
  6. Space Ghost & Dino Boy: The Complete Series
  7. Are You Afraid of the Dark?
  8. Ben 10 vs. The Universe
  9. Blaze and the Monster Machines – Race for the Golden Treasure
  10. Elmo’s World – Things Elmo Loves
  11. Monster Hits – Rock & Rhyme With Elmo
  12. Paw Patrol – Dino Rescue
  13. Paw Patrol – Mighty PupsSuper Paws
  14. Paw Patrol – Jet to the Rescue
  15. Garfield World Two Movie Collection

Up next from Phil’s Picks is the year’s Top 10 new Family DVD & Blu-ray Box sets.  Stay tuned for that. 

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There’s Nothing To Fear About The New ‘Are You Afraid Of The Dark?’ DVD

Courtesy: Nickelodeon/Paramount/Viacom

Do you like scary stories?  That simple question, posed nearly a year go, heralded the long-awaited return of what is one of the most beloved series in Nickelodeon’s history – Are You Afraid of the Dark?  The series’ reboot (and for others its “eighth” season) was met largely with applause from audiences new and old alike.  Now almost a year removed from the mini-series event’s premiere, audiences are able to watch it anytime on DVD, as it was released Friday through Nickelodeon and Paramount at Target stores nationwide.  The DVD is a positive addition to the home library of any fan of Are You Afraid of the Dark?  That is due primarily to the actual episode, which will be discussed shortly.  It is just one of the DVD’s positives.  Its bonus content adds to its appeal and will be discussed a little later.  The DVD’s average price range rounds out its most important elements.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the DVD.  All things considered, they make this latest installment of Are You Afraid of the Dark? scary good.

Nickelodeon and Paramount’s newly released DVD presentation of Are You Afraid of the Dark? is a welcome addition to the home library of any of the series’ fans.  That includes fans of the original series and those of this latest reboot.  That is due in no small part to the DVD’s primary content.  The primary content in question is the central three-part story that finds a story told by the Midnight Society’s newest member Rachel coming to life.  Rachel’s story is about a Carnival of Terror that has haunted  her dreams for years.  The carnival and its creepy ringmaster Mr. Tophat (Rafael Casal – Blindspotting, bad Education, Def Poetry) first manifested in Rachel’s dreams when she was a child.  Now that she is living in a new town with her parents and joins the Midnight Society, those nightmares have become reality following her telling of the story.  Things start going bad from here, especially after Rachel and her new friends visit the carnival.  Gavin, Rachel’s crush (played here by Sam Ashe Arnold – Best. Worst. Weekend. Ever., Brotherhood, Winter Hymns), ends up going missing. At the same time, a mystery is revealed about another young man’s disappearance.  As it turns out, that boy’s disappearance is also linked to the carnival. This is just some of the trouble that happens when the carnival comes to town.  Akiko’s brother Hideo falls victim to the forces of evil, so its up to the Midnight Society to save him and everyone in town as they work to defeat Mr. Tophat once and for all.  There are other twists and turns tied into the story that add to the story’s interest.  Viewers who have not yet seen this story will be left to discover those twists and turns for themselves.  While Nickeldeon spaced out the story over the course of three weeks back in October, the new DVD release allows audiences to choose between watching the same way or just watching the movie all the way through.  In other words, viewers are free to watch the story at their own pace, rather than be tied down by any time constraints.  This works together with the story’s content to make this aspect a strong foundation for the DVD.  While the story and its presentation on the DVD clearly help its appeal, it is just one part of what makes the DVD a positive new presentation.  Its bonus content adds to its appeal.

The bonus content featured with the new home release of Are You Afraid of the Dark? is three episodes from the original series.  Specifically, hey are the episodes, “The Tale of Laughing in the Dark,” “The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner” and “The Tale of Dead Man’s Float.”  The episodes in question are considered by many fans to be among some of the series’ best stories.  “The Tale of Laughing in the Dark” is taken from Season 1, “The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner” from Season 4, and “The Tale of Dead Man’s Float” from Season 5.  Considering that the original series ran for seven seasons, this alone makes for a good representation of that series.  The first episode focuses on a young man named Josh (Christian Tessier – Fear The Walking Dead, The Day After Tomorrow, Real Detective) who stole the nose from a clown named Zeebo.  According to the legend told in the tale, Zeebo was believed to be the ghost of a clown also named Zeebo, who died in a fire after trying to steal money from a carnival.  Josh learns an invaluable lesson when Zeebo come after Josh in a scenario that will appeal to fans of Scream and pretty much any slasher flick.  On another level, one could also argue that the classic Appalachian story of the Tailypo played an influence in this story.  For those who have never heard the story of the Tailypo, it is a timeless, chill-inducing tale in its own right.  It centers on a hermit who is being stalked by a creature whose tail he took after shooting the creature.  The primary story there has a pretty dark ending.  That aside, it’s easy to see how that timeless tale might have influenced this story.

“The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner” will appeal to comic book fans.  It centers on young hopeful comic book artist Ethan (Amos Crawley – Billy Madison, The Virgin Suicides,  Night of the Twisters) as he is given a comic book by the owner of a new shop in his town.  Ethan unwittingly unleashes the comic book’s villain, The Ghastly Grinner when he puts the comic book into a microwave to dry the document.  It ends up being up to him and his friend Hooper (Heidi Burbela – Adam, Great Canadian Cookbook, Big Brother Canada) to stop the Ghastly Grinner and return it to its comic book world.  The story has a happy ending, just like every other episode of the classic series.

The Tale of the Dead Man’s Float is considered by many audiences to be the series best episode.  This story focuses on Zeke Matthews (Kaj-Erik Eriksen – The 4400, The Commish, 88 Minutes) as he and his classmate Clorice (Margot Finley – D3: The Mighty Ducks, Opposite Sex, First Wave) fight to stop an evil being (played by Marcel Jeannin – 300, Wicker Park, Taking Lives) that haunts the swimming pool in the students’ school.  Zeke has to overcome his fear of the water in order to help defeat the monster.  The story has a happy ending, with Zeke and Clorice becoming a couple.  That little secondary story line will appeal to certain audiences while the overarching horror story at the center of the tale will appeal more widely.  Between that, the episode’s production values and cinematography, this episode leaves little doubt why it remains such a memorable addition to the original run of Are You Afraid of the Dark?  When it is considered alongside the other bonus classic episodes, the trio goes a long way toward adding to the DVD’s appeal.

Staying on the topic of the classic episodes, it is known that all seven seasons of the original series are available exclusively through Amazon.  The problem is that those box sets are not official releases.  They are DVR sets that are essentially created on demand.  On another note, PlutoTV is streaming episodes from the original series, but the selection right now is limited.  To that end, having these three episodes featured in this DVD leaves one hoping that eventually Nickelodeon, Viacom and Paramount will finally take the steps to release all seven seasons in official sets complete with bonus content.  It’s one more series that will undoubtedly sell very well should officials with each company come to their senses and make that move.  Time will tell.

Getting back on track, the primary and secondary content featured in Nickelodeon and Paramount’s new home release of Are You Afraid of the Dark? go a long way toward making the DVD entertaining and engaging.  For all the value that they present, it should be noted that they make the DVD’s average price range appealing in its own way.  The DVD’s average price range is $14.45.  That price was obtained by averaging prices listed at Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, and Books-A-Million.  Amazon and Best Buy offer the least expensive listings at $11.99 each.  Walmart, Books-a-Million, and Barnes & Noble Booksellers all broke that price point with listings at $16.99, $15.76, and $16.99 respectively.  Target’s listing of $12.99 is the only listing below the average price point — $12.99 – other than those of Amazon and Best Buy.  As an additional note, research has shown that Target is the only one of the noted retailers that offers the DVD in store.  The other retailers force audiences to order online.  This is important to note because some people prefer to shop in person instead of online.  In other words, audiences wanting the lowest price (even including shipping and handling) will have to order the DVD through Amazon and Best Buy.  Otherwise, audiences who prefer to shop in store will have to pay a dollar more at Target.  The other retailers are just too expensive, in comparing the listings.  That those key listings are all under the $15 mark for a DVD that has just over two hours of content old and new alike, makes that average price point appealing, without question.  What’s more the noted less expensive listings are affordable for audiences, too.  That is the most important thing here.  When this is considered along with the DVD’s primary and secondary content, the whole of this DVD becomes a welcome addition to the library of any Are You Afraid of the Dark? fan.

Nickelodeon and Paramount’s newly released DVD presentation of Are You Afraid of the Dark? is a positive presentation for new and old fans alike of this unforgettable series.  That is due in part to the DVD’s primary content, the three-part episode that originally aired in 2019.  It is a gripping story that will haunt audiences in all of the best ways.  The trio of classic episodes that accompany the new story as bonus content adds even more appeal to the DVD.  It will take fans of the original series back to another time while also introducing a new generation of audiences to that great series.  The DVD’s average price point is relatively affordable.  That is especially the case with its least expensive listings.  All three noted elements are important in their own way to the whole of this DVD.  All things considered they make Are You Afraid of the Dark? one of this year’s top new family DVDs/BDs.  More information on the DVD and the forthcoming second (technically ninth) season of Are You Afraid of the Dark? is available along with all of the series’ latest news at

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The BeatBuds To Hold Live Streaming Concert Event This Month

Courtesy: Waldmania PR

Family entertainment act The BeatBuds will join Nickelodeon’s lineup next year, but first will hold a special family event this month.

The duo — Jonathan Jonah and Matthew Shapiro — is scheduled to hold a live 360-degree online concert event at 1 p.m. EDT July 12.  Dubbed a “virtual beach bash,” the concert event will take place in partner with Experiential Supply through The BeatBuds’ official website, where people can also purchase tickets.

Family tickets are $12 on pre-sale and $15 standard.  Each ticket allows access to The BeatBuds’ concert on one device.

The duo has partnered with Rock The Vote for the upcoming live event.  Jonah talked about the partnership in a prepared statement.

In light of current events and out of a desire to ensure that everyone has a voice, The BeatBuds are happy to announce that they have partnered with Rock the Vote, a 30-year-old non-profit organization that has consistently worked hard to increase voter turnout and give young people a voice,” said Jonah.  “We want to empower young people and their families to get educated, get out, and fill the ballot boxes because we believe it is one of the most effective ways to be heard and make a change. On top of our partnership with Rock the Vote, we plan to donate a portion of proceeds from the event to support youth civic education and get out the vote campaigns.”

Shapiro added to his band mate’s comments, explaining the motivation for the concert.

“Music has always been a positive force in helping us get through tough times, said Shapiro.  “We have so much in store for this show and couldn’t be more excited to be among the first to reintroduce a live music experience to families in a way that’s fun, innovative, and safe.  As artists, it’s our job to keep families smiling, and that’s exactly what we plan to do. Let’s jam!”

More information on The BeatBuds’ upcoming streaming concert is available at:





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2017 World Series Box Set Hits It Out Of The Park On Phil’s Picks’ 2017 Top 10 New Family Box Sets List

Courtesy: Major League Baseball/Shout! Factory

Family programming.  What does one think of when one hears the term?  One probably thinks of stuff that appeals more to kids than it does grown-ups, right?  I.E. cartoons and other programming aimed at younger viewers.  The reality of family programming is that it can include programs that grown-ups can watch with their younger counterparts, whether it is something new or perhaps even something older such as the classic television shows that today’s grown-ups watched when they were children.

Keeping all of this in mind, one might ask what does that have to do with anything.  It is important to note in setting up Phil’s Picks 2017 Top 10 New Family DVD/BD Box Sets.  This year’s list features titles that will appeal to children and grown-ups alike.  Some of the material might even appeal to both audiences at the same time (E.g. Cook’s Kitchen Season 10 and America’s Test KitchenSeason 17).  Both titles are included in this list alongside the ninth season of Nickelodeon’s Spongebob Squarepants and even the 2017 World Series Collector’s Edition, which the whole family can watch together.  For those families who already enjoy baseball, it’s a great watch.  For those parents perhaps hoping to connect with their children over a common interest, it’s just as critical.  Add in everything in its presentation, and it proves an important release all the way around.

Also included in this year’s list are new Peanuts collections from Warner Home Video as well as the “new” Real Ghosbuters DVD set, which was released this past October.  It features “over 100 episodes” of the series.  That still is not the entire series, but it is more cost efficient than buying each of the standalone collections separately.  Originally aired in France, the programs included in those box sets definitely stand out from their American counterparts, but could still be entertaining for the whole family.  For older youths, this list also features recent releases from Saban’s Power Rangers universe.  Even Green AcresThe Complete Series has been pulled over as it might not wholly appeal to younger viewers, its content is appropriate for the whole family.  It is a family friendly sitcom — something that is sadly missing from television today.

Between the titles noted here and the others that make up the rest of this list, audiences will see that there is plenty out there for the whole family — just as much as there is solely for grown-ups.  As with every previous list, this list features this critic’s Top 10 new Family DVD/BD Box Sets alongside five additional titles for a total of 15 titles.  Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks 2017 Top 10 new Family DVD/BD Box Sets.


  1. 2017 World Series Collector’s EditionHouston Astros
  2. Green AcresThe Complete Series
  3. C.O.P.S.The Animated Series
  4. Cook’s CountrySeason 10
  5. America’s Test KitchenSeason 17
  6. Spongebob SquarepantsThe Complete Ninth Season
  7. Sports DetectivesSeason 1
  8. PeanutsSnoopy Tales
  9. PeanutsGo Team Go
  10. PeanutsSchool Daze
  11. Power Rangers SPDThe Complete Series
  12. Power Rangers Mystic ForceThe Complete Series
  13. Power Rangers Jungle FuryThe Complete Series
  14. The Secret World of Alex MackThe Complete Series
  15. The Real GhostbustersVol. 1 – 10

That’s it for this list.  Now we’ve got the top new box sets for grown-ups and for families.  Again, some of the grown-up sets are just as viable as family entertainment as they are for grown-up audiences.  That is a testament to the ability of their content to reach a wide range of viewers.

While this list is now done, there’s still work to be done.  There is still a list of the year’s top new Children’s DVDs as well as potentially the year’s top new independent movies, theatrical releases and overall movies to wind down the year.  It can’t all be guaranteed before the year ends tomorrow, but this critic will try nonetheless.  So stay tuned!

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Nickelodeon, Paramount’s ‘Spongebob Squarepants’ 5-Season Set Re-Issue Is Imperfect, But Fun

Courtesy: Nickelodeon/Paramount

This past May, Nickelodeon and Paramount brought the first five seasons of Nickelodeon’s hit animated series Spongebob Squarepants home once again in a massive 14-disc, 100 episode collection simply titled Spongebob Squarepants: The First 100 Episodes.  It marked the first time the collection had been re-issued, and came a little more than a month ahead of the premiere of the series’ 11th (yes, eleventh) season.  Not even the network’s classic Nicktoons – as wonderful as so many of them still are today – lasted that long, with most running their course at four or five seasons.  That is an aside.  Getting back on track, this recent reissue of the box set, which was originally released to the masses in 2009 as part of the celebration of the series’ 100th episode’s airing, is a largely impressive reissue, albeit not perfect.  The set’s episode listing is its most obvious positive, and will be discussed shortly.  The set’s one negative, its packaging, will be discussed later.  Last but most definitely not least of note here is the bonus material included in the set.  Each element is important in its own right to the set’s overall presentation this time out.  All things considered, they make the first re-issue of Spongebob Squarepants: The First 100 Episodes one of this year’s top new DVD & BD Re-Issues.

Nickelodeon and Paramount’s recent reissue of Spongebob Squarepants: The First 100 Episodes is a surprisingly enjoyable presentation for true hardcore fans of the beloved Nicktoon.  That is due in part to the set’s episode listing.  The 100 episodes presented in this collection make up the series’ first five seasons. Not a single episode from that first half of the series’ current run is missing either.  Even the roughly 2:30 short “Reef Blower,” which was part of the series’ very first episode is included here.  This is something important to note due to its tie to the set’s average price point.  Stores nationwide right now are carrying nearly every one of the series’ current seasons either in single-season sets and in some cases as bundle packs, that include single season sets together at a set price.  The cost of those sets eventually adds up.  In the case of the series’ first five seasons, the average cost of the sets runs approximately $50 both by themselves and in standalone form regardless of the outlet.  In the case of this set, its average price point is $34.73, with most of the major retailers – Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Amazon – selling it at a price point of 32.96.  Target is the only standout with a price point of $39.99.  Add in the fact that most of the noted retailers sold the set at roughly $38 in its 2009 release, that indicates a noticeable price drop this time around.  Considering all of this, audiences will see that this collection is, for the relation between its primary content and average price point, a welcome addition to their collections.  While this is clearly a positive for the set, it is not without at least one glaring problem.  That problem is its packaging.

The packaging in this set is problematic in that its 14 discs overlap each other, two to each side of the set’s plates.  While this may be a positive ergonomically speaking, the size of the set has not been reduced that much in comparison to the set’s previous release.  What’s more, by making the discs overlap in that effort to save space, it also greatly increases the odds of the discs being scratched both when they are taken out for play and when they are replaced.  To that end, this is just not smart packaging.  Audiences would probably settle for bulkier packaging if only for the reduced chance of the discs being damaged.  Even worse, this is not the first time that Paramount has gone this route in recent memory.  The company has used the same packaging method for its recent re-issues of Star Trek The Original Series: The Complete Series, The Andy Griffith Show: The Complete Series, I Love Lucy: The Complete Series, Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.: The Complete Series, Hogan’s Heroes: The Complete Series and The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series.  Considering this, one would have thought the people at Paramount would have learned their lesson by now, but apparently not, and that is disappointing.  Maybe if Nickelodeon and Paramount release a “mega-set” for the series’ second half, they will take this issue into consideration.  Again, while another method might be bulkier, it would be worth it if it meant decreased odds of discs being damaged.  Luckily, it is the set’s only negative and doesn’t completely ruin the collection.  The bonus material included in the set rounds out its most important elements.

The bonus material included in this presentation of Spongebob Squarepants: The First 100 Episodes is important to note because it is the same material presented in the set’s 2009 presentation.  The nearly hour-long VH1 special Square Roots: The Story of Spongebob Squarepants is the most important of that bonus material. It takes audiences through the series’ history up through its fifth season from its unlikely roots in series creator Seth Hillenburg’s early career at an aquarium to the religious right’s attempt to slander Spongebob to Hillenburg’s eventual departure from the series.  The 40-minute-plus doc presents the series’ humble roots on Nickelodeon to its surprising rise to worldwide fame all while looking ahead to its future, which obviously has proven to be quite bright.

As if that extensive history lesson isn’t enough, the set also includes a multi-lingual presentation of the series’ debut episode ‘Help Wanted’ as a bonus.  The episode includes the series’ theme song being sung in Spanish, Chinese, French, German and other languages for the opening segment.  The episode itself continues in a variety of languages, showing even more Spongebob Squarepants’ far-reaching popularity.

The “Life Lessons From Bikini Bottom” brings its own entertainment as it is in reality just a character profile of Bikini Bottom’s most beloved (and not so beloved) inhabitants. It’s a relatively short segment, running about five minutes, but is still entertaining thanks to the work of the editors who pieced the program together.  The timing of the profiles and the show clips makes for plenty of laughs even in this short presentation.

The short “Kick-Wham-Pow-Bob” music video, which crosses music from Pantera and video from the series, adds its own enjoyment to the set’s presentation.  No worries about hearing from the band’s former front man either.  The musical portion of the video is all instrumental.  Audiences will recognize the music as the same musical base used in the episode “Prehibernation Week.”

Each of the bonus elements discussed here is an important piece of this set’s presentation in its own way.  All things considered, they show in whole why the set’s bonus material is so important to its overall presentation.  When that material is joined with the set’s episode listing, its related price point, and even that one negative that is the set’s packaging, the whole proves to be a collection that while not perfect, is still enjoyable in its own right.  That packaging prevents it from being the year’s top new DVD or Blu-ray re-issue, but also doesn’t keep it from being one of the year’s best in that category.

Nickelodeon and Paramount’s recent re-issue of Spongebob Squarepants: The First 100 Episodes is one of this year’s top new DVD and Blu-ray re-issues.  That is the case even when one takes into account the set’s problematic packaging.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this set, other Spongebob Squarepants collections and all of the series’ latest news and more is available online now at:









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Paramount, Nickeldeon’s ‘Rugrats’ Season Sets Honor The Series And Its Fans

Courtesy: Nickelodeon/Paramount

The long wait is finally over…well…sort of.  More than a decade after it ended its run on Nickleodeon, Rugrats finally started getting a proper in-store release courtesy of Paramount and Nickelodeon.  The companies partnered to release the series’ first two seasons in store this week. This week is not the first time the series has been released.  All nine seasons have previously been released via Amazon on Made-On-Demand DVD-R discs.  Even with this in mind, this first true official release for the series’ first two seasons proves to be an impressive start for fans waiting years for the series to get any proper release.  The seasons’ episodes largely support that statement despite one lingering problem.  This will be discussed shortly.  The sets’ packaging is another important element to discuss in examining these new releases.  It will be discussed later.  The sets’ average price point may seem insignificant to discuss, but in reality, it plays its own important part in their overall presentation, too.  Each element noted here is important in its own right to the sets’ presentations.  All things considered, these sets prove to be collections for which every Rugrats fan has waited and hoped.

Paramount and Nickelodeon’s newly released full season sets of Rugrats: Season 1 and Rugrats: Season 2 are everything that the series’ fans have hoped for in a long-awaited proper release.  That is proven first and foremost through the seasons’ episodes.  Audiences will be happy to know that both seasons are presented here in the same chronological order in which they were presented in their original broadcasts.  The only episode that is not included here is the series’ original pilot episode “Tommy Pickles and the Great White Thing.”  Why this episode was omitted from Season 1 is anyone’s guess.  In defense of Paramount and Nickelodeon, the Season 1 set released by Amazon and Nickelodeon back in 2009 faced the same issue.  Considering this, one has to think the omission is linked to someone at Nickelodeon more so than Paramount or even Amazon.  Keeping that in mind, the episodes presented in the first and second season of Rugrats in their new home release builds a solid foundation for these sets’ presentations.

Courtesy: Nickelodeon/Paramount

The episodes presented in the first true official home release of Rugrats: Season 1 and Rugrats: Season 2 are in themselves more than enough reason for audiences to own these collections.  The episodes’ actual presentations are just as important to note in examining the sets’ overall presentations.  Audiences (and especially true fans) will appreciate the fact that the episodes are presented exactly the same way as they were in their original broadcasts.  The opening sequence is presented before every episode in both seasons along with each episode’s title sequence.  The end credits are there, too along with the post credits sequence, too.  Simply put, between the full episode listing in each season and the full presentation of each episode, these episodic elements build a strong, solid foundation for the first official home release of Rugrats’ first two seasons.  They are not the only elements to consider.  The sets’ packaging is important to discuss in examining their presentations, too.

The episodic elements incorporated into the first official home release of Rugrats’ first two seasons form a strong, solid foundation for the sets’ presentations.  They are not, however, the sets’ only key elements to discuss.  The sets’ packaging is important to discuss, too.  That is because of the obvious attention to detail here, too.  The sets’ packaging once again places each set’s discs on their own plates inside the ergonomic cases, which in turn protects the discs from scratching damage and saves space on DVD racks.  Even more interesting to note is that this time out, Season 1 is spread across only two discs instead of the apparent three that were used in its Amazon release.  Season Four is still spread across four discs, just as in its Amazon release.  So overall what audiences get in the sets’ packaging is the same attention to disc safety and space saving as was used in their Amazon releases.  Considering this, the sets’ packaging proves to be just as critical to their presentations in their new home releases as their episodes.  It still is not the last of the sets’ most important elements.  The sets’ average price point rounds out its most important elements.

The episodes presented in Nickelodeon and Paramount’s new home release of Rugrats: Season 1 and Rugrats: Season 2 and their very presentations are unquestionably critical to the sets’ presentations.  Collectively, they form a solid foundation for the sets’ presentations.  The sets’ packaging builds on that foundation, strengthening it even more.  While both elements are clearly critical both solely and collectively, they are not the sets’ only important elements.  Their average price point rounds out their most important elements.  The average price point of the series’ first season between Target, Wal-Mart, Amazon and Best Buy is $9.21.  Season 2’s average price point is $13.65 when averaged between those same retailers.  Considering that Season 2 is longer than Season 1, it is expected that its price would be a little bit higher than that of Season 1.  Regardless, the fact that Season 1 averages below the $20 mark and Season 2 averages under the same price with four discs, it goes without saying that both sets are relatively affordable.  For this critic in particular, buying both sets through Wal-Mart online proved the most economical.  Luckily, having ordered them on a free-shipping weekend, their total price together was just over $20.  Keeping in mind this relative affordability of Rugrats’ first two seasons in their first proper home release, the sets’ packaging, their episodes and related items, the whole of these sets’ presentations proves each season to be a must have for any longtime Rugrats fan.  It leaves one hoping that the wait for the series’ remaining seven seasons won’t be as long as it was for these two seasons.

Paramount and Nickelodeon’s first-ever proper home release of Rugrats: Season 1 and Rugrats: Season 2 are collections that are musts for any longtime fans of the beloved series.  Each season’s full episodic run is presented in its respective season save for the series’ pilot episode.  That episode was missing from Amazon’s Season 1 release in 2009, too.  The episodes are presented in these sets exactly as they were in the series’ original run on Nickelodeon, too, complete with opening and title sequences, end credits and even end slate sequence.  It all collectively gives audiences the full experience that they got in the series’ original run.  The sets’ packaging and average price point round out its most important elements, proving even more why every longtime Rugrats fan should own these sets whether they consider them re-issues or new releases.  They are available now in stores and online.  More information on these sets is available online.

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Acting, Production Save ‘Monster Trucks’ From Being A Monster Failure

Courtesy: Nickelodeon Movies/Paramount

Paramount and Nickelodeon’s latest effort at a family friendly action flick, Monster Trucks is a work that while not a monster failure, is anything but a monster success.  Originally released in theaters this past January, it was just recently released on DVD and Blu-ray on April 11.  It fails to run on all eight cylinders in part because of its story, which suffers from some major writing issues.  While the story does suffer from some undeniable issues, it isn’t a total loss.  That is thanks to the work of the movie’s cast.  This will be discussed later.  The movie’s balance of special effects and live action elements is another notable element worth discussing.  Together with the work of the movie’s cast (which clearly is not a group of teenagers, save perhaps for one cast member), the two elements are just enough to keep Monster Trucks’ engine running, albeit not on all cylinders.

Paramount and Nickelodeon Films’ new high-octane family action flick Monster Trucks is an entertaining watch.  However, it is a movie that clearly does not run on all eight cylinders.  That is due in large part to a story that is marred by a plot hole *ahem* large enough to drive a truck through and a story that is anything but original in its setup.  The plot follows high school student Tripp as he fights to save a friendly mutant half shark/half octopus from the clutches of an evil oil drilling company and get it back home.  The problem with this story is that he does this while driving a late-model truck that normally would be a gas guzzler.  The movie’s defenders might try to argue that putting the creature in place of the truck’s engine was a subtle way to argue in favor of alternative energy.  Odds are though, that the movie’s writing team did not exactly have that message in mind when they came up with the movie’s script.  Odds are they didn’t even begin to think about this plot hole at all and just thought it would make for a good way to bring in young audiences because it had monsters and trucks.  That is just one of the problems from which this movie’s story suffers.  It also suffers from a setup that is anything but original.

The setup for this movie’s story sees a young person (or at least what is supposed to be a young person—obviously played by someone who is not a teenager in this case) saving a harmless creature from an evil heartless corporation.  In case that doesn’t sound familiar to anyone out there, similar story lines have been put forth in E.T., Free Willy, Pete’s Dragon, Super 8, and so many other movies.  Given the plots are not mirror images.  They are close enough though, that the comparisons are undeniable.  Considering this and the problem posed by the movie’s massive plot hole, the movie’s story is a major problem for its overall presentation.  Even with the problems posed by its plot hole and its setup, the movie is not a total loss.  It just takes a big hit.  The work of the movie’s cast is a saving grace in examining its overall presentation.

Monster Trucks’ cast is obviously supposed to be made up of characters who are teenagers.  However, it is clear in watching this movie that save for maybe one of the supporting cast, none of the other young cast members are teenagers.  On the surface that seems like a bad thing.  However on a deeper level, it may account for why each cast member’s performance is, while slightly over-the-top, at least entertaining to a point.  None of the performances necessarily pulls audiences into the movie or is award-winning by any means.  It is however entertaining enough that collectively, it is just enough to keep audiences watching through to the movie’s finale.  Case in point, lead star Lucas Till’s interaction with his CG-rendered co-star.  Till is to be applauded for the exemplary job he does of imagining the shark/octopus hybrid is actually in the scene alongside him.  That is exhibited in happier and more high-energy moments.  Co-star Thomas Lennon (Reno 9-1-1, Night at the Museum 1 & 2) is just as entertaining when he is on camera as geologist Jim Dowd.  Audiences will find themselves rooting for Dowd thanks to Lennon’s performance of the reluctant oil company employee who turns out to not be so bad (not to give away too much).  Lennon shows through each moment on camera that he understands Dowd is a supporting character and still makes the most of each moment without taking over said scenes.  His is just one more way in which the cast’s performance proves to be so important to the movie’s overall presentation.  If not for their work (and that of the rest of the cast), the movie’s plot hole and equally problematic setup would be unbearable and would otherwise not make the movie worth watching even for five minutes.  The cast’s work on camera, while important is not the movie’s only important element.  The balance of the movie’s special effects and live action elements rounds out its most important elements.

The balance of live action and computer generated effects used throughout Monster Trucks is the last of its most important elements.  As with the work of the movie’s cast, the lack of this element would make the movie’s story even more unbearable, and in turn, the movie overall even less worth the watch.  The CG is limited to Tripp’s subterranean pal and its family (or at least they seem like family) members.  Audiences will be impressed by this minimalism and the effect of said minimalism on the movie’s look.  In a weird way that expert balance actually serves to add to audiences’ ability to suspend their disbelief.  That leads to even more ease in watching the movie.  When the work put into making the movie look believable is set alongside the work of the movie’s cast, the two elements do just enough to keep the movie’s batteries charged along with those of its audiences.  Keeping that in mind, Monster Trucks proves to be an entertaining watch even though it proves to be a movie on which hopefully future models will improve.

Nickelodeon and Paramount’s high-speed family flick Monster Trucks is a work that would benefit greatly from a tune-up.  That is the case even taking into consideration the positives of the cast’s work and that of those responsible for balancing its CG and live action elements.  The movie’s story keeps it from running on all eight cylinders.  That is because of its massive plot hole and the unoriginal setup exhibited in its setup.  Even with the problems posed through its negatives, its positives are, thankfully, just enough to keep its batteries (and audiences’ batteries) charged from start to finish.  In other words, it proves to be another movie that is fun but ultimately forgettable.  More information on Monster Trucks is available online now at:










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Shout! Factory Kids Announces Release Date For First ‘Kuu Kuu Harajuku’ Collection

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Shout! Factory Kids

The first collection of Nickelodeon’s animated series Kuu Kuu Harajuku is set to be released in stores and online this summer.

The series, which features the voice talent of Gwen Stefani (No Doubt, The Voice), will see its first volume of episodes, Kuu Kuu Harajuku : Music, Baby!, released in stores and online on Tuesday, June 13, 2017.  It will feature 14 episodes from the series’ debut season.  The collection’s episodes are noted below.

Episodes Include:

Totally Teen Genie / Angel’s Flight

Music, Baby / Wanted Audience

Game Over / Phony Ponies

Hello Puppy / G, This Is Awfully Deep

Baby’s Birthday / Labor Of Love

Bad Boy and Little Girl / Yummy Bear Nado

Drums of Doom / Adventures In Housesitting

*Special Features TBD

Early shipments of the DVD will include a bonus code to download the series’ theme song while supplies last.  It can be pre-ordered online now via Amazon and

Kuu Kuu Harajuku follows the all-girl band HJ5 through its world of music, fashion and style.  It is Stefani’s brainchild and aimed directly at young female audiences, encouraging them to express themselves, celebrate their individuality and use their imaginations.

The series is co-created and produced by Moody Street Kids (Australia), Vision Animation (Malaysia) and Gwen Stefani.  It is commissioned by Network Ten with investment funding from Film Victoria (Australia) and MyCreative Ventures (Malaysia).

DHX Media distributes the series internationally and licensed the series to Shout! Factory.

More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now along with all of the company’s latest news and more at:










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