Kids Will Love Going Back To School With Arthur

Courtesy:  PBS/PBS Kids

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Kids

PBS Kids recently released its latest collection of episodes from the family favorite animated series Arthur. Arthur Goes Back To School is an especially fitting addition to any family’s home DVD library now that many children are themselves headed back to school this week. Arthur Goes Back To School boasts plenty of positives. The first of those positives is its writing. The writing behind each of the four episodes is the cornerstone of the overall presentation. The quality animation is another factor to consider in the overall enjoyment of this presentation. Last but not least of all is the bonus material included with this collection of episodes. Each of the factors noted here stand by themselves with their own importance. Altogether, they make Arthur Goes Back To School one more wonderful addition to any family’s home DVD library whether at the start of the school year or any other time of the year.

The writing that went into each of the four episodes featured in Arthur Goes Back To School is the cornerstone of the DVD’s overall presentation. There are many reasons that this sole factor is the cornerstone to this DVD, too.   The primary reason for that is the themes incorporated into each of the episodes. “To Eat Or Not To Eat,” the first of the DVD’s episodes, presents a theme of healthy eating. When a new candy bar catches the attention of all the kids in Elwood City, Buster becomes wary of the candy bar because of its effects. His investigation leads him all the way to the head of the company responsible for making the candy bar. That is because of the chemicals he finds in the candy bar. When he and his mother confront the company’s head representative, Buster’s mother breaks the story in the city’s newspaper. This effectively shuts down the company. In an age when childhood obesity remains such a hot button topic, such an episode becomes increasingly important for children and their parents to watch together. That’s because it could serve as a starting point for a very important discussion about healthy eating. It’s just one of the important themes included in Arthur Goes Back To School.

Being that so many youths are headed back to school this week, the show’s writers tackle the stresses of standardized testing in a way to which the show’s young audiences will be able to relate in “S.W.E.A.T.” The writers also take on the much maligned subject of math education in “Brain’s Biggest Blunder.” Brain has a big chore in getting Binky ready for the school’s annual “Arithmattack” competition in this episode. The writers make the episode relatable to young viewers by showing that math isn’t as bad as they think here. There’s even a nice stand-alone episode in “Baseball Blues” that has come along just in time for the countdown to the MLB postseason. Not only does it promote baseball and athletics, it also teaches young viewers that everybody has a special talent. Even if someone isn’t good at one thing doesn’t mean that a person isn’t good at something else.

On a superficial level, Arthur’s writers are to be commended for crafting four episodes to which young viewers will definitely be able to relate given that so many children are now headed back to school this week. On another, deeper level, anyone familiar with Arthur will appreciate that the writers have actually maintained a certain amount of continuity with the inclusion of Harry Mills in “Baseball Blues.” Harry is a former romantic interest of Buster’s mom, as Buster’s parents are divorced. There’s even a reference to the initial episode in which Harry was introduced here. It’s so subtle. But older audiences will potentially catch this. And those that do catch it will appreciate that inclusion.

The writing that went into each of the episodes on this DVD is the most important factor of all in the overall presentation of Arthur Goes Back To School. Whether it be for its more superficial aspect or the deeper issue of continuity, it should be clear by now why the writing in these episodes is the cornerstone of the entire presentation. Just as important to the DVD’s overall presentation is the animation used in each of the episodes. The episodes included on this disc have been pulled from Arthur’s more recent seasons. That means that the animation used in each episode is actually flash animation instead of the hand-drawn animation used in the series’ early seasons. Despite the use of flash animation, the episodes still maintain the look of the original fully hand-drawn episodes. There are those that have complained about the series’ increased use of flash animation. The reality though, is that it would have been just as easy for the show’s heads to go the full-on CG route. This critic personally is thankful that that didn’t happen. Audiences should be thankful that these episodes still have that classic look. That the show’s animators and heads would go this direction couples with the solid writing to make Arthur Goes Back To School all the more enjoyable for audiences of all ages.

The writing and animation that went into the episodes included in Arthur Goes Back To School. Are both important elements to the overall presentation on this DVD. The activities and coloring pages included with the DVD round out the whole thing. One of the key activities included on the DVD is the “Definition of Cool” activity. This activity is directly related to the stand-alone episode “Baseball Blues.” Adults can use this activity to build self-esteem among young viewers. They do so by having children come up with a list of talents and attributes that they think are “cool.” After they come up with their lists, children can talk about why they think that the attributes and talents of other children in a group are cool, instead of their own. It is a wonderful activity for children especially with the current climate of bullying in schools today. The standard “Crazy Bus” activity is included here, as on previous Arthur DVDs as are the trading card and “Groove It” activities. If these activities aren’t enough for viewers, the coloring pages featuring Arthur and his friends will also make audiences happy. Whether audiences prefer the included coloring pages or the activities on this DVD, there is plenty of bonus material included on the disc to make any viewer happy here.

The bonus material included on Arthur Goes Back To School is the final touch to a DVD that every family will appreciate both now in the start of a new school year and any time of the year. Together with the writing and animation featured in all four episodes included on this disc, it makes this DVD a solid choice for any fan of Arthur whether they be kids or kids at heart. Arthur Goes Back To School is available now on DVD. It can be ordered directly from PBS’ online store at More information on Arthur is available online at More episodes of Arthur are available online at along with more activities and games for the whole family. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at

The Dinosaur Train Will Bring Lots Of Spooky Family Fun This Fall

Courtesy: PBS Kids/PBS/The Jim Henson Company

Courtesy: PBS Kids/PBS/The Jim Henson Company

PBS Kids and The Jim Henson Company will release another brand new DVD from PBS Kids’ family favorite series Dinosaur Train next month.

Dinosaur Train: Buddy’s Halloween Adventure will be available on DVD Tuesday, September 2nd.  The brand new DVD features four more family friendly Halloween-themed episodes that are perfect for any child’s Halloween party.  In “Haunted Roundhouse,” the first of the adventures on this disc, the Pteranodon family goes to Troodon Town.  During the family’s trip, the Dinosaur Train makes a stop at its roundhouse, which has been decked out in Halloween decorations by the Troodons.  While there, the Pteranodon kids meet Vlad Volaticotherium.

“Big Bond Pumpkin Patch” is the second of the shorts included on the disc.  The Pteranodon kids discover their first pumpkins in this episode while learning about the customs of their neighbors, the Lambeosaurus family at the annual “Gourd Day,” a prehistoric Halloween of soirts.  The whole family learns how to hollow out and carve pumpkins along the way.

“Night Train” is the third of the shorts included on PBS Kids’ latest Dinosaur Train DVD.  Buddy and Tiny go for a nighttime ride on the Dinosaur Train along with Mr. Pteranodon in this short.  They learn about all sorts of nocturnal animals during their ride.  T all ends with a walk under the full moon at the Big Pond.

Dinosaur Train: Buddy’s Halloween Adventure is rounded out with the short “Fossil Fred.”  Buddy, Tiny, and Don are searching for fossils around the Big Pond in this episode.  The result is the discovery of the complete skeleton of a dinosaur from the Jurassic era.

Dinosaur Train: Buddy’s Halloween Adventure will be available Tuesday, September 2nd on DVD.  It will retail for SRP of $7.99.  It can be ordered via the PBS online store at  Parents and children can get more information on Dinosaur Train, as well as games, activities and more episodes online at and  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at

PBS Kids Announces Release Date, Info For New Wild Kratts DVD

Courtesy:  PBS/PBS Kids

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Kids

Officials with PBS Kids announced this week that the network will release the latest DVD from its hit animated wildlife series Wild Kratts.

Wild Kratts: Tiny Trouble will be released Tuesday, June 10th. The DVD features two more episodes from the award-winning series created by brothers Chris and Martin Kratt. The first of the adventures included on the upcoming DVD, “Termites vs. Tongues,” sees the Kratt brothers having to save their friends Aviva and Koki after the pair is carried away by termites. Chris and Martin have to use their creature powers to turn into a termite and termite predator in order to save Aviva and Koki. Viewers learn through this episode how predators and prey develop their own defenses and attacks in order to protect themselves from one another.

In a turn of events, the crew of the Tortuga is forced to rescue Martin after he’s whisked away by a baby spider monkey. He and Chris had miniaturized to study spider monkeys, which leads to the abduction by the baby monkey. Now, there’s no doubt what the brothers’ next adventure is. It’s up to Chris and the rest of the Tortuga’s crew to get Martin back. Viewers will learn through this short about the different anatomical adaptations that animals use to move through specific habitats.

Wild Kratts: Tiny Trouble will be available Tuesday, June 10th. It can be pre-ordered now via Amazon at More information on this and other Wild Kratts DVDs, as well as the latest news from the Kratt brothers is available online at and Parents, students, and children can watch more episodes of Wild Kratts online now and play Wild Kratts games online at To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at

Trouble With The Heights More Proof Of The Power Of Indie Flicks

Courtesy:  Viva Pictures

Courtesy: Viva Pictures

Viva Pictures’ crime drama, Trouble in the Heights is an interesting movie.  This is not exactly what one would think about when one thinks about crime dramas.  And it’s also not the standard shoot-‘em-up action movie, either.  Rather than letting itself descend into the standard action subgenre, Writer/Director Jonathan Ullman offers audiences a story that is a deeply emotional piece that will instantly pull in audiences and keep them engaged right to the end of the story’s roughly ninety-minute runtime.       

The story at the center of Trouble in the Heights focuses on the theft of drug dealer Nevada’s (Raul Esparza) ill gotten money by main character Diego’s little brother Javy (Antonio Ortiz) and his friend, Robby (Cruz Santiago).  Because of the actions of Javy and Robby, Diego (Rayniel Rufino) is forced to make some tough decisions.  Those tough decisions only make this hard working man’s life even more difficult, especially in finding out that his girlfriend Ana (Alexandra Metz) is carrying his child.  Diego’s personal struggles both as a result of his brother’s actions and news that he gets from Ana make him a sympathetic and far more believable character than any of the anti-hero stereotypes from other closely related crime thrillers.  Because he is such a believable character, audiences will find it so much easier to root for him.  And because viewers will find it so easy to root for Diego, they will in turn find themselves becoming increasingly engaged in the overall story right to its surprise conclusion.

Ullman’s writing and acting on the part of Rayniel Rufino in Trouble in the Heights are both important parts of the movie’s success.  Just as important to its success was its general lack of violence.  This may come across as a minor factor.  But one would be remiss to ignore this factor.  While guns are brandished, not a single shot is fired and not a single drop of blood is shed throughout the course of the story.  The most extreme level that the violence reaches comes early in the story when Nevada has two of his men throw Robby over a bridge in front of an oncoming train for having stolen his money.  The actual act is never actually shown.  But it is understood that this is what happens to Robby.  Aside from this vile act, the only other extreme included in Trouble in the Heights is the movie’s coarse language.  The language is obviously not suitable for younger viewers.  But it helps to make the characters and story that much more believable.

The general lack of violence, the solid acting of Rayniel Rufino, and writing throughout Trouble in the Heights help to make the movie stand on its own feet against the endless flow of fare more violence and sex laden movies within the crime drama/thriller genre.  There is at least one more factor that viewers should take into account in considering the movie’s success.  The movie’s cast in general has plenty of acting chops under its belt.  But none of the cast members are major name stars.  Case in point: Dominic Colon.  Colon plays Diego’s friend, Junior, which is a small role.  Colon is known largely for his role of Manny Spamboni on PBS’ re-imagined take on the classic educational show, The Electric Company.  He has also had roles in the hit movies, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, August Rush, and We Own The Night just to name a few.  Keeping in mind that the cast is largely unknowns, they have collectively put on performances that play their own role in the overall success of the story.  This, along with the story’s other previously mentioned factors makes Trouble in the Heights a surprisingly interesting movie within the annals of recently released crime dramas/thrillers.  It turns out to be a movie that is deserving of at least one watch.  It is available in stores and online now.  It can be purchased online via Amazon at  A trailer for the movie can be viewed via YouTube at

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Bailey’s Latest Adventure One Fun Roundup For The Whole Family

Courtesy:  Entertainment One/Engine 15 Media Group

Courtesy: Entertainment One/Engine 15 Media Group

The latest release from Engine 15 Media Group’s Adventures of Bailey series takes the beloved Golden Retriever down south to the Lone Star State in a mix of young love and literal puppy love and a madcap canine caper.  A Night in Cowtown centers on a bumbling criminal that accidentally steals an elderly woman’s dog named Felix after losing Frankie, his boss’s dog.  The theft happens as a result of a case of mistaken identity.  This leads to the intertwining stories of young love between Bailey and Trixie, and that of his teenage owner, Abbi (Christine Galyean) and Marc (Mason Dye).  The resultant hunt for Felix offers plenty of laughs and warm moments for the whole family.

The story behind this latest of Bailey’s adventures is a pretty simple one to follow.  And much like many of Engine 15 Media Group’s other releases, this story too offers some slight Christian undertones.  During one scene, audiences find Ski Bidwell (Mark Hanson) in a small church, holding Felix, and contemplating his personal future.  This is the only moment throughout the course of the movie’s near hour and a half run time in which any religious imagery is presented.  This is actually a very good thing for church groups as it keeps the story from being too preachy.  It offers the remainder of its time to plenty of moments that make it a fun, family friendly movie that is worth the occasional watch.

While A Night in Cowtown is not a major motion picture, it holds its own with Disney’s releases in its Buddies franchise.  Sure, the dog’s mouths don’t move with the Bailey movies.  But other than that, Bailey’s latest adventure has just as much heart as Disney’s Buddy movies.  Its production values, cinematography, and acting are at about the same level as the aforementioned series.  Rick Shew, Trey Bumpass, and Christine Galyean have all returned for this third installment of the series as are Kenzie Pallone and Liz Franke who just happens to be directly related to director Steve Franke.  That so much of the cast from the series’ second installment has returned for this film is largely to credit for the on screen performances.  The performances from the cast are but one part of what held this direct-to-DVD movie together.  Its cinematography was just as nice as the series’ previous installments.  David Pinkston headed up the movie’s cinematography.  He is the series third head of cinematography.  And while each movie has now had someone different heading up that department, the shooting for this movie was just as solid as that of the previous installments.  That leads to the movie’s production values.  These are just as positive as everything else that went into bringing this installment of Bailey’s adventures to life. 

Any viewer that is a fan of Disney’s Buddy movies or PBS’ classic series, Wishbone, will enjoy Adventures of Bailey: A Night in Cowtown.  It isn’t as well known as the previously mentioned movies and series.  But young viewers will enjoy this movie (and the previous adventures of Bailey) just as much as them.  Its cast does a good job in its own right.  The camera work, production, and scenery are just as good, too.  All said and done, for a straight-to-DVD feature, it’s an enjoyable feature.  It will be available in stores and online next Tuesday, May 21st.  It can be purchased online via Amazon at  The Phil’s Picks Facebook page is also giving away three copies of the movie on DVD this week for three lucky fans.  Fans need only “Like” the Phil’s Picks Facebook page and write on the page’s timeline, noting that they want to be entered in the drawing for a copy of the movie. 

To keep up with the latest news from Entertainment One on its latest releases, fans can go online to  And to keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, fans can go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always get the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at

PBS Kids Debuting New Episode Of Curious George

Courtesy:  PBS Kids

Courtesy: PBS Kids

PBS Kids debuts a brand new episode of Curious George next Monday, February, 4th.  The new episode includes two brand new shorts that teach some very valuable lessons about different kinds of safety.  The first of the two new shorts in Monday’s new episode teaches about pet care and pet safety in “Where’s The Firedog?”  The second of the new shorts couldn’t come at a better time as we enter the homestretch of Winter and the annual flu season.  “Toot Toot Tootsie Goodbye” re-introduces the blues-singing germ, Toots.  It teaches young viewers about health safety and ways to keep from spreading germs and especially germs that can cause colds and the flu.

The first half of Monday’s new episodes introduces two brand new friends to George.  He meets Blaze the firehouse dog and his fellow probationary, Sam.  One of Sam’s tests to pass is to keep Blaze from running away, as that’s the biggest problem that Blaze has; he likes to run off, causing Sam to have to chase him.  Eventually it leads Blaze to be caught by the dogcatcher and sent to the local animal shelter.  This is where kids and parents can learn a valuable lesson together.  Sam and George pick up Blaze and in order to keep him from being caught again, they take him to the local pet shop to get a leash and his very own collar and dog tag.  The tag has Blaze’s name, Sam’s name and all the information to the firehouse including phone number.  This is a very important lesson to teach young viewers; especially young viewers who might be first time pet owners.  An equally valuable lesson taught is that some dogs do better with others.  In the end, it turns out that it was Blaze wanting to connect with another dog that was leading him to run out.  So instead of one dog, the firehouse welcomed two dogs.  And thanks to that, not only did Blaze stay at the firehouse, but Sam also become a full fledged firefighter.

In short, the first half of this episode teaches younger viewers the importance of being a responsible pet owner.  Pet owners have to keep track of their pets to keep their pets safe and keep them from being taken to a shelter.  The weather across the country will be turning warmer in the next couple of months.  So what better time than before the weather gets warm to teach potential new pet owners about being responsible and keeping their pets safe and keeping track of them?

The second half of Monday’s new episode is equally well timed, as the nation is coming down the home stretch of Winter and its associated flu season.  When the man in the yellow hate comes down with the flu, George tries to help him get better.  When George nearly eats from the same spoon that the man had just used, George learns about how germs spread and how to keep them from spreading.  Along the way, there’s a dream sequence that leads George to chase down an old foe named Toots.  Toots is a germ whose only goal is to make everyone sick.  George has to stop Toots from infecting everybody around the man.  Kids learn two very important ways to prevent the spread of germs in this short.  One is obvious.  The other one is more subtle.  The more obvious way in which George learns to keep germs from spreading is through washing his hands.  The other way is more subtle.  As the doctor comes to visit the man in the yellow hat, he sneezes.  Rather than sneezing into his hands, the man sneezes into his sleeve.  This is the more commonly used manner to keep germs from spreading if one doesn’t have a tissue immediately at hand.  As subtle as it is, this is in itself just as important for young viewers to learn, so that they can help prevent the spread of germs both at home and at school.

The lessons taught in both halves of Monday’s new episode teach some very important lessons to viewers.  They’re lessons that offer excellent opportunities for both parents and teachers to use as discussion points with children.  Given they cover different topics.  But there is one theme that runs through both episodes.  That central theme is responsibility.  Responsible pet ownership keeps pets safe.  And responsible personal hygiene care keeps a person and everyone around said person safe and healthy.  It makes for one more wonderful reason for kids and their parents and even teachers to sit down and check out Monday’s new episode of Curious George.  Viewers should check their local listings for exact air times for Monday’s new episode.  And to keep up with all the latest from Curious George and other PBS Kids shows, parents and kids can “Like” the PBS Kids Facebook page at

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New Clifford DVD A True Celebration For Every Fan

Courtesy:  Lionsgate/Scholastic/PBS Kids

Courtesy: Lionsgate/Scholastic/PBS Kids

Clifford the Big Red Dog is turning fifty years old.  Unbelievable!  Everyone’s favorite oversized furry friend is celebrating his birthday with a brand new DVD release next month.  Celebrate with Clifford is the first new Clifford release in two years.  It will be available in stores and online February 5th.  The new release is a special double disc release loaded with lots of fun, family friendly adventures from Clifford, his fellow canine friends, and his owner, Emily Elizabeth.  The two discs in this new release boast fifteen episodes from the hit series.  The set’s first disc, Celebrate with Clifford has seven of the show’s episodes included in the set.  All of the aforementioned episodes included in the first disc are full of family friendly fun and important life lessons that ring true for audiences of all ages.

Audiences learn a number of important lessons throughout the first seven episodes included in the set.  In the episode, “Clifford on Parade”, Emily Elizabeth (Grey DeLisle—The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy) and Charley (Gary Leroi Grey—The Cosby Show) both learn about working together and about compromise when they have to decide on an idea for the float that they’ll enter in the town’s annual parade.  Thanks to Clifford, they end up with one interesting float that even incorporates Clifford himself.  In another episode, “Team Sprit”, young viewers are introduced to the lesson of good sportsmanship and being kind to others.  The story here centers on young Vaz.  Vaz is friends with Emily Elizabeth and the other kids.  But he’s not the best soccer player.  And Jetta doesn’t help as she openly tells Vaz he’s not that great of a soccer player.  Of course she learns her lesson in the episode’s end.  Audiences can find out how she learns her lesson when they check out this new DVD set for themselves.

All seven episodes included in the set’s main disc offer plenty of enjoyment and lessons for viewers.  Luckily for viewers, they’re not all that viewers get in this new set. The eight bonus episodes included in the bonus disc also offer their own enjoyment.  Just in time for Valentine’s Day, there’s even a Valentine’s Day themed episode in “Clifford’s Big Heart.”  In this episode, Clifford is trying to make a Valentine for Emily Elizabeth, but things don’t exactly go as planned.  That is until he finally realizes the best idea for a special Valentine just for her.  His special gift will warm the hearts of both kids and their parents.  Still not enough?  How about the birthday and party themed episodes included in the set?  “Clifford’s Big Surprise”  sees Clifford getting his very own birthday surprise from Emily Elizabeth, her parents and his canine friends.  At first it seems like everybody is avoiding Clifford.  It leaves Clifford bored since there’s no one to play with.  Luckily he finds a way to play by himself.  Ironically, it’s right about then that Emily Elizabeth comes looking for Clifford so she and the others can surprise him with his birthday party.  It’s just one of a handful of birthday themed episodes included in the set’s bonus second disc.  The complete double disc set will be available February 5th in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct via the Lionsgate online store at

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New PBS DVD “Wild” Fun For The Whole Family

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

Chris and Martin Kratt, the famed Kratt brothers, are back with another new DVD.  The fourth new DVD from the hit series features two more half hour episodes from the siblings’ hit PBS Kids show, Wild Kratts.  This time out the Kratts head into the deep blue sea where they learn to speak the language of the dolphins in the first of the episodes.  And then Chris and Martin have to help save a blowfish from the evil Donita Donata.  The episodes themselves are fun for the whole family.  That they’re shown in their entirety along with the companion live action segments makes for even more enjoyment for the entire family.  And of course the hand drawn animation adds one more touch of enjoyment to this latest pair of “wild” adventures from the Kratt brothers.

The first of the pair of adventures included in the new Wild Kratts DVD takes Martin and Chris undersea where they meet up with a group of dolphins.  Long-time fans of Wild Kratts will appreciate right off the bat the continued excellence of the show’s animators.  In an age when even so much of children’s programming has gone the route of cg-based “animation”, it’s nice to see that real animated cartoons still exist.  The original hand drawn style has always given this show a big part of its identity.  And it continues to do so here.  This applies not only to the general style of art, but also to the use of bright colors.  This is subtle.  But its use helps to maintain the show’s positive vibe for younger audiences.  The animation of both this episode and its companion piece is just a tiny fraction of what makes this another outstanding DVD for the family.  As subtle as it is, the show’s writers did something that adds its own share of enjoyment to the first of the episodes presented here.  That subtle act was tied directly tied in to the brothers’ quest to learn the language of the dolphins.

In the first of the DVD’s two episode, the show’s writers pair the Kratts with a group of dolphins so as to learn the dolphins’ language.  It would have been so easy to go the standard route and suddenly have the dolphins speaking human.  But thankfully, the writers didn’t take that route.  Instead, they went a more realistic direction and had Martin and Chris have to figure out by mere chance what every sound meant that the dolphins were using.  This semi-realistic take makes this episode enjoyable by itself.  Just as interesting is the subtle addition of Aviva switching back and forth between English and Spanish.  It might not have been the immediate intent, but what the writers have done in incorporating this is noting the importance of learning a second language.  Ergo, those behind the scenes of this episode are to be applauded for such subtlety. 

The subtle inclusion noted and the animation make “Speaking Dolphinese” an enjoyable episode all its own.  The enjoyment doesn’t end with this episode though.  Audiences will also appreciate the DVD’s second episode, “Blowfish Blowout.”  Sure, there’s a bit of fantasy in Chris and Martin taking a little trip on an ocean current.  That can easily be forgiven.  Just as with the previous episode, the bright colors and original hand drawn animation continue to make for their own elements of enjoyment.  What really makes episodes such as this one so enjoyable for all audiences is its balance of teaching an important message and entertaining audiences at the same time.  It teaches ecological conservation without being preachy.  This balance of infotainment is something that other shows have gotten wrong, but that Wild Kratts continues to get right even here.  Adding to that balance is a villain in Donita Donata who is more entertaining than she is evil.  Versus villains from the likes of Captain Planet and the Planeteers, she and the villains in Wild Kratts are interestingly enough just as entertaining as Chris and Martin.  Audiences know they’re villains.  But she [Donita] and the show’s other villains somewhat harkens back to the days of cartoon villains from television’s early days.  They come across as bumbling clowns of sorts.  In simple terms, they’re more entertaining than threatening.  That minor element is actually pretty big in that it makes the show that much more family friendly.  And mixed with all of its other positive elements, they all join together to make for one more DVD that the whole family will enjoy it.  One can only hope that with future Wild Kratts DVD releases, audiences will get more than just two episodes.  That aside, it’s still a fun feature for the whole family.  And it will be available Tuesday, January 22nd.  It can be ordered online via PBS’ online store at

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Curious George Premieres New Season Dec. 3rd

Courtesy:  PBS/PBS Kids/PBS Kids Go!

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Kids/PBS Kids Go!

PBS and PBS Kids are bringing back Curious George for a seventh season.  Everybody’s favorite little primate pal comes back with a whole new season of adventures, fun and learning beginning this Monday, December 3rd.  The first new episode of the season sees Curious George and the Man with the Yellow Hat taking a trip down under.  It will guest star Bindi Irwin, daughter of the late Steve Irwin.  The young Irwin even gets her chance to spread her vocal wings as she gets her own song in this episode.  When the pair goes down under to the Aussie Outback, they meet Bindi and her mom.  George discovers kangaroos for the first time and even learns how to make a home-made watering hole while the Man with the Yellow Hat goes off with Bindi and her mom to take pictures of sea cows.

In the second half of Monday’s season premiere, George and his friends Bill and Allie learn about the Persied meteor shower.  “Bright Lights, Little Monkey” starts off with Allie telling George and Bill about “The Perseids.”  She tells them they’re nocturnal creatures and tells them she’s going to go hunt for them.  In the process of searching for the elusive “Perseids”, the trio also learns about communication through Morse code and other non-verbal means.  In the end, it turns out that the three had seen the Perseids after all.  That’s all on Monday, December 3rd.

On Tuesday, December 4th, George and the Man with the Yellow Hat go on a nature outing that leads George to make friends with a young otter pup.  He also has to get a very important key back from the young otter when the two get to playing too much.  The key is so important because it’s the last of a group of keys that had all fallen down drains.  What’s funny about those keys is where they turn up in the episode’s end.

The second half of Tuesday’s new episode sees George taking part in his very first ever community theater event.  It’s a medieval play.  As George helps out with the play, he falls asleep and dreams the he really is in medieval times and that he has to fend off a “dragon.”  This gives George an idea about how to keep the “dragon” away in the play that he is helping with.  The idea in question is something that kids and their parents will have to discover together for themselves as “Sir George and the Dragon” airs this Tuesday, December 4th on PBS Kids.

Last up in next week’s trio of new episodes is a pair of new episodes slated to air Wednesday, December 5th.  George’s canine companion, Hundley makes friends with a caterpillar in the first half of this episode in “Hundley, Jr.”  The caterpillar is on a bouquet of flowers that is delivered for one of the tenants in Hundley’s building.  At first, Hundley doesn’t like the caterpillar.  But then realizing how similar the two were in his mind, the more he likes the caterpillar.  So he does everything he has to in order to protect the now named “Hundley, Jr.”  IN the long run, it teaches a valuable lesson about letting go and about responsibility in general.  It makes for a great episode for parents and kids to watch together.

Next week’s brand new episodes finish off with the second half of Wednesday’s brand new show in “Curious George Gets Winded.”  This is a clever name for this episode as it’s an episode that teaches about problem solving skills.  When George’s friend Bill sets out to win a special paper delivery award, George helps Bill figure out the best way to deliver the newspaper in the snow.  It involves a sled and a sail, along with learning how to steer the sled.  Both kids and their parents will cheer on George and Bill as they figure out how to beat the clock as they deliver the paper to everyone.  It’s a nice finish for the week’s new episodes and a perfect fit being that the weather is beginning to turn colder.  Together with the week’s other episodes, all three days’ new episodes are a great chance for kids and parents to sit down together and enjoy another of PBS Kids’ best shows.  Parents can check their local listing for air times in their area online at

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Clifford celebrates a “big” birthday

Courtesy: PBS/Scholastic Media/Scholastic, Inc.

Clifford the Big Red Dog is celebrating a “big” birthday.  Beginning September 24th, Scholastic Media and Scholastic, Inc. will kick off a birthday celebration that will span the entire 2012-2013 school year.  The party will celebrate Clifford’s 50th birthday.  It all leads up to a huge party on February 14th, 2013, the official birthday of Clifford The Big Red Dog. 

The entire year long event will kick off with a “Biggest Birthday Party Ever”/Live Classroom Webcast on September 24th.  The webcast will be run at 10am that morning live from Scholastic Inc.’s New York headquarters.  it will be broadcast to classrooms across the country.  The webcast will include lots of interactive events for kids in attendance and for those watching from school.

The celebration will also include the publication of Norman Bridwell’s Clifford Collection.  The collection will compile Bridwell’s six original Clifford stories published from 1963 -1977.  the collection will include some very special bonuses for those who pick it up.  There will also be a publication of a brand new Clifford book, “Clifford’s Bedtime Story” next Spring, along with the publication of “CLifford’s Birthday Party.” 

Publication won’t be the only celebratory avenue for Clifford’s coming year.  There will be a release of brand new apps, a brand new sweepstakes, and the brodcast of of Clifford’s Really Big Movie in December.  To find out more about this year’s upcoming “big” Clifford events, go online to,,, and

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