Animaniacs Volume Four A Fitting Sendoff For The Warners

Courtesy:  Warner Brothers Home Video

Courtesy: Warner Brothers Home Video

All good things must come to an end…or must they?  Thanks to the good people at Warner Brothers Home Video, fans of the modern classic cartoon, Animaniacs, the laughs never have to come to an end now that the show’s fourth and final volume has finally seen the light of day.  This latest volume of episodes is just as entertaining as the show’s previous volumes.  The writers take no prisoners, going after everyone in pop culture from Disney and Hanna Barbera to Universal and even Fox.  They’re not the only victims of the show’s witty writing.  Even the best movies in Hollywood’s modern history  aren’t safe as the show goes after the likes of The Maltese Falcon, Mary Poppins, and even The Sound of music just to name a few.  And that’s just on the set’s first disc.  The second and third discs are just as top heavy with laughs.  Audiences will love that the show’s writers make a farce of all the serious TV specials out there with its very own “Very, Very, Very, Very Special Show.”  The set’s third disc even includes a little holiday flavor in “The Christmas Tree.”  Everyone’s favorite sour squirrel Slappy, takes center stage here.  Her constant delivery makes for so many laughs.    

The jokes are nonstop throughout all three discs of this outrageously hilarious cartoon.  They’re just part of the show’s continued enjoyment.  Along with nonstop laughs provided by the razor sharp comedy, the show also continues to show heart throughout various episodes as well as some educational content believe it or not.  “Multiplication Song” teaches math and pokes fun at how drawn out it can be in the same breath.  It’s that same brand of comedy established with shorts such as “Chalkboard Bungle”, “Planets Song” and “The Senses” (all from Season One).  Audiences will love this continued tradition just as much as the show’s other laughs provided throughout all three discs in this set.    

Animaniacs Volume Four offers audiences laughs from beginning to end in every short.  Those laughs wouldn’t have been possible without solid writing and equally solid performance by the show’s cast who return once again in this final set of twenty-four episodes.  Mauriche LaMarche (The Simpsons, Futurama) is back yet again as the voice of The Brain.  And fellow veteran voice actor Frank Welker (Scooby Doo, The Real Ghostbusters, Tiny Toon Adventures, etc.) returns yet again as the voice of the dopey security guard Ralph, the equally dopey dog Runt (whose spoof of Dustin Hoffman’s Rain Man character Raymond Babbitt is as hilarious as ever), and many others.  And even Tress MacNeille (The Simpsons, Futurama) is back once more.  Having the whole team back again is a huge win as the chemistry built between cast members is a big part of its ability to effectively interpret the scripts and make them entertaining both for kids and parents even years after the show’s end.

The voice acting, the jokes, and heart from the first three volumes of Animaniacs episodes all remain in Animaniacs Volume Four.  There is one other factor that makes this show timeless.  That last factor is its animation.  Yet again reference must be made to the difference in today’s computer generated “animation” and that done by hand from actual human animators.  The animation that was a trademark of Animaniacs in previous seasons is just as solid in this new release.  Save perhaps for Steven Spielberg’s other hit cartoon, Tiny Toon Adventures no other shows looked like this one.  It really served as one more factor in developing the show’s identity, unlike so much “animated” content out there today.  Combined with the show’s comedy and its heart, its animation goes into making this a wonderful way for this wacky show to go out.  It’s available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct from Warner Home Video’s online store at http://www.wbshop.com/product/steven+spielberg+presents+animaniacs+vol+4+1000023671.do?sortby=ourPicks&from=Search

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

It’s Morphin’ Time Once Again Thanks to Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Saban Brands

Shout! Factory has done it again.  This company that specializes in nostalgia television has brought the children of the late 80’s and 90’s another childhood favorite in the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.  That’s right, everyone.  The team that started it all back in 1993 is finally seeing its adventures released both in a triple disc set containing the show’s first thirty episodes, and in a box set containing the entire original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers series.  For the sake of this review, the main focus is going to be on the very first release that is Season 1 Volume 1.

In Season 1 Volume 1, fans see the very first team of rangers assembled by the interdimensional leader Zordon, and his robot assistant, Alpha.  Fans will also get to see the complete five-part “Green With Evil” story arc in which long time ranger Tommy is introduced to the show.  And in one of the better stand alone episodes, fans see Billy, the Blue Ranger, face Bulk and Skull with a little help from Trini’s uncle, Howard.

The massive franchise that is the Power Rangers all started with the episode, “Day of the Dumpster.  Audiences discover that Rita escapes when her “space dumpster” is opened by a pair of curious astronauts.  When Zordon and alpha learn of Rita’s escape, the first team is chosen.  Jason, Billy, Zack, Trini, and Kimberly are transported to Zordon’sCommandCenter.  What fans will really get a kick out of is Alpha’s response.  He pleads with Zordon, saying, “Not teenagers!”  Zordon’s comment that sets up Alpha’s response adds to the moment of laughs.  He tells Alpha, get me five overbearing, overemotional humans!”  Who wouldn’t laugh at that joke?  At first the Rangers don’t’ believe Zordon.  But when they have to face Rita’s Putty Patrollers, they morph for the very first time, and are sent back to Angel Grove to face Rita’s henchman, Goldar.  Goldar almost has the Rangers beat until they get the Megazord’s Power Sword.  Seeing that, Goldar retreats back to Rita’s moon base.  In the end, the Rangers all agree that they’re in it for the long haul, and vow to protect the world from Rita and her attacks, thus marking the beginning of the now long running Power Rangers franchise.

The very first season of the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers could be summarized as a season of firsts.  It’s the season when the original team of Rangers is formed.  And it’s the season when the very first “extra’ Ranger is introduced.  The five-part story arc, “Green With Envy” sees the introduction of new team member—and long time Power Ranger—Tommy.  Tommy starts out in this story arc as a new “kid” in Angel Grove.  Rita sees this and takes advantage of it, putting a spell on him, forcing him to serve her and fight the Rangers.  He serves her as the evil Green Ranger.  But when the rest of the Rangers realize it’s just because Tommy’s under a spell, they learn that they have to destroy his Sword of Darkness to break the spell, which Jason does in a final showdown.  Rita’s spell is broken, releasing Tommy.  When he agrees to join the team, Zordon reveals to the Rangers, the very first brand new Megazord alternate combination when Tommy’s Dragonzord combines with three of the Rangers’ zords to make the Dragon Megazord.  Of course, as any true Power Rangers fan knows, Tommy’s first incarnation as the Green Ranger is short lived, thanks to Rita.  But he would later return to the Power Rangers as the White Ranger.  And years later, he would return as the head of the Power Rangers Dino, too, making mention of the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers team.

The firsts experienced in Season 1 are great moments for this show.  But they aren’t all that made the show great.  There were also life lessons in the show, such as in the episode, “The Dark Warrior.”  Blue Ranger Billy learns about facing bullies in this episode, when Bulk and Skull start harassing him.  Thanks to teaching from Trini’s uncle Howard, he learns how to handle them without fighting.  And of course, Howard’s (Trini’s uncle)  invisibility formula helps, too.  That formula is also the basis for the Rangers’ adventure in this episode.  Rita sends down the Dark Warrior to steal the formula and use it to make the Rangers disappear.  That, of course, doesn’t happen, as the Rangers defeat the Dark Warrior, and Howard retrieves his formula that he had accidentally misplaced.

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Season 1 Volume 1 is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct from Shout! Factory’s store at http://www.shoutfactorystore.com.  To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/ 381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.