Reading Rainbow is back again. And it’s all thanks to the people at PBS and PBS Distribution. This past January PBS and PBS Distribution released the latest collection of classic Reading Rainbow episodes to DVD. It features four more episodes from the original, literary-based series proving yet again that even in a nearly all-digital age, there is still a place and need for actual books. It also shows that there is still a place for such a show even as much as television has changed since the episodes’ original run. Speaking of the disc’s featured episodes they are altogether the collection’s most notable element. They are just one important element to note in the collection. The episodes’ specific content is just as important to the disc’s presentation as the episodes themselves. This will be discussed at more length later. Last but hardly least of note here are the bonus lessons included inside the disc’s case. There is a trio of bonus lessons featured inside the disc’s case which prove beneficial both for parents and educators alike. It rounds out the collection’s most important elements. By itself it is a bonus in every sense of the word. Alongside the episodes and their production values, the collection in whole proves to be a piece that while it might have been released back in January is just as invaluable with the summer approaching as any other time of the year. Simply put it is an early candidate for the critics’ lists of the year’s “Best New Family DVDs.”
PBS’ latest addition to its series of classic Reading Rainbow DVDs is an early candidate for any critic’s list of the year’s top new family DVDs. It only boasts four episodes. But it is four more episodes that fans of the long-running literary-based series didn’t previously have. The episodes in question represent a relatively healthy cross section of the series’ run. Season One is represented in the collection’s lead episode in which host LeVar Burton presents the timeless classic Miss Nelson Is Back. Season Nineteen and Season Fourteen are both represented here with episodes that see Burton presenting Our Big Home and How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World. And from Season Nine audiences get to take in the real life story of Kate Shelley in Kate Shelley and the Midnight Express. While the episodes represents a relatively healthy cross section of the series’ run, the opening sequence used in each episode cannot be ignored. It is a little bit problematic just as in the episodes presented in the series’ previous DVDs. Instead of using the season-specific openings, all four episodes are preceded by the opening used in the series’ later years. It is a minor detail. But it is important in its own right. That is because of the role that it plays in the episodes’ overall viewing experience. This is especially the case for the series’ original audiences. Now that aside, it is really the only negative to the whole presentation. The episodes that are featured in this set stand out because when compared to the episodes presented in the series’ previous pair of releases (which were released in 2015). One presented episodes largely from the series’ later years while the other largely represented more of a progression of the series over its years. This collection reaches more across the board for its content. So it gives audiences a richer picture of where the series was throughout its life. Keeping that in mind it shows why the episodes in themselves are so important to the whole of the DVD’s presentation. They are just one of the DVD’s notable elements. The material within the episodes is just as important to the disc’s presentation as the episodes themselves.
The episodes that are featured in PBS’ new Reading Rainbow collection are in themselves hugely important to the set’s presentation. That is because in comparison to the series’ previous collections they reach from a broader swath of the series’ run. The series’ previous sets seemed more centered on specific periods of the series’ run. But this one shows a broader picture of the series’ evolution because it isn’t so centrally focused. As important as this is to the collection it is just one important part of the set’s presentation. The material presented in the episodes doesn’t focus on just one subject. What’s more the subjects that are tackled are done so in a manner that makes them just as accessible for today’s young viewers as they were for the series’ original audiences when they were young. The set’s lead episode takes on magic and masks in connection to Miss Nelson is Back. They’re both fun subjects that audiences of all ages will enjoy. In the set’s second episode, Burton takes viewers on a trip to the United Nations and explains how the people of the world work out their differences there peacefully. Even as dates as the episode is it is still an interesting episode with its basic discussion on international relations and its emphasis on peaceful negotiations versus the use of military conflicts. If that isn’t enough for viewers, seeing LeVar struggle with tears as he cuts onions in the set’s third episode generates its own share of laughs. And Burton’s train trip up the California coast is just as entertaining. No matter what age a person is, everybody loves trains including this critic. And learning the history of the railroad’s creation even briefly is educational and entertaining for audiences. It’s one more example of what makes the episodes’ content just as important as the episodes themselves. Both elements together make for plenty of reason for audiences to check out this new collection of classic Reading Rainbow episodes. They still are not the only elements to note of importance in this collection. The bonus lessons included inside the DVD’s case round out its presentation.
The episodes that are featured in PBS’ new Reading Rainbow collection and their content are equally important to the overall presentation of the set. As important as they are to its presentation they are hardly the only notable elements included in the disc’s presentation. There is also a trio of lessons included in the disc’s case that serves as bonus material. It rounds out the disc’s presentation. The first of the bonus lessons is tied to “Our Big Home.” It encourages parents to learn about people from different parts of the world and what makes their cultures so important. There are suggestions about cooking a traditional meal from another culture, going to a museum, going to a library to check out books on different cultures, and plenty more. The en result is a deeper appreciation for people from other countries and cultures. The second bonus lesson, “Helping Others,” is tied in to “Our Big Home.” It teaches the importance of community service and simply helping out as part of a family. It does so by having parents assign children “secret service” missions. They are missions that children can do for others around their communities. In an age when children seem increasingly self-centered and self-absorbed, thinking the world owes them everything, this lesson is perhaps the single most important lesson included in the set. The set’s final lesson is one of the biggest (and tastiest) surprises. It is a complete recipe for an apple pie. What’s more the lesson encourages young viewers to make the pie not for themselves but for a friend or just as a means to make a good impression on someone in general. It links right back to the lesson of helping others. And to a lesser degree it could be argued that those two lessons even tie back around to the set’s main lesson on valuing others an their various cultures. All things considered the lessons featured in PBS’ new Reading Rainbow collection prove in the end to be collectively just as important to the set as the set’s episodes and their general content. All three elements together make Reading Rainbow: Miss Nelson Is Back yet another wonderful addition to any family’s home DVD library and an early candidate for any critic’s list of the year’s top new family DVDs.
Reading Rainbow: Miss Nelson Is Back is one of 2016’s top new family DVDs. That is proven through its episodes, which represent a healthy cross section of the series’ episodes. The content contained therein is just as important. That is because it both entertains and educates audiences of all ages even now decades after the series ended its original run on PBS. The bonus lessons presented in the set round out its presentation. They are just as invaluable for audiences as the episodes as their content. All things considered the elements noted here come together to make Reading Rainbow: Miss Nelson Is Back a treat for the whole family. It is available now and can be ordered direct via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=80523506&cp=&sr=1&kw=reading+rainbow&origkw=Reading+Rainbow&parentPage=search. More information on this and other titles from PBS is available online now at:
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