Out Of The Vault Christmas Will Put Any Nicktoons Nostalgic In The Holiday Spirit

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon debuted its re-branded classic Nicktoons programming block this week. “The Splat,” formerly “The 90s Are All That” debuted Monday on Nickelodeon’s TeenNick network. Not everybody has been overly happy that it was put out on one of Nickelodeon’s digital networks instead of the main network. That is because TeenNick is essentially a premium network. While those arguing against the decision by Nickelodeon’s heads to keep that classic programming on a premium network have a somewhat valid argument that argument is also somewhat flimsy as Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory teamed up a few years ago and have since released both single season standalone and full season box sets from a number of Nickelodeon’s classic series. Those series include: Hey Dude, Hey Arnold!, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, The Angry Beavers, Danny Phantom, Rocko’s Modern Life, and The Wild Thornberrys over the course of the past few years or so. The sets have all been made available on DVD in stores and online. It’s anyone’s guess if Doug, Rugrats, Rocket Power, or even the likes of Salute Your Shorts or Are You Afraid of the Dark? will ever get proper DVD releases in stores (since those series are currently only available online). One can only hope that one day Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory will strike a deal that will lead to those latter series each getting their own proper releases. Until then Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory have yet another classic Nicktoons release for all the 90s Nicktoons fans out there in the form of the new holiday compilation Out Of The Vault Christmas. This single-disc compilation features sixteen episodes from five of Nickelodeon’s beloved classic animated series. It is just one reason that viewers (especially those without the TeenNick network) will enjoy and appreciate this collection of classic cartoons. It is just one reason that audiences will enjoy it, too. The writing behind each of the compiled episodes is just as important to the collection’s overall viewing experience as the presentation of the episodes in general. As with the previously released Nicktoons Halloween collection, the diversity of the shows’ animation styles rounds out the reasons that viewers will appreciate this latest collection from Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon. Each noted element is important in its own right in the DVD’s overall presentation. When set together they show Out Of The Vault Christmas to be a great way for any Nicktoons Nostalgic to get into the holiday spirit.

Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon’s new holiday-themed collection of Nicktoons episodes is a great way for fans of the classic cartoon series to get into the holiday spirit. The central way in which it proves this is in its very collection of episodes. Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon have stepped things up in this new collection, offering viewers a grand total of sixteen episodes. That is up from the ten featured in both of the companies’ previous Out Of The Vault collections. What’s more, none of the episodes featured here have been carried over from the respective series’ previous DVD releases but not from the previous Out Of The Vault DVDs. This means that while technically they have been recycled, they also have not been recycled. It’s semantics, yes. But it’s true. Because they have been carried over from the series’ previous season (and full series) sets but not from the previous OOTV sets (as it will henceforth be known), their presentation here makes them quite the boon for anyone that might not have any of the featured series’ previously released box sets. This includes both the series’ single season standalone sets (say that five times fast) and their full-series sets. Considering all of this it shows that the presentation of the episodes tapped for the collection is in itself an important part of the set’s whole albeit just one part of that whole. It gives those that might not have any of the series’ sets a solid start to their Nicktoons collections. Even for those that have some or even all of the previously released Nicktoons sets from Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon it still serves as a fun holiday collection. To that extent the episodes that make up the body of the DVD show their importance even more. It is just one reason that audiences will enjoy and appreciate the collection, too. The writing behind the collection’s featured episodes makes for even more enjoyment.

The episodes presented in Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory’s new Nicktoons holiday compilation DVD are in their own right an important part of the DVD’s overal enjoyment and success. Being that the episodes have been recycled only from their series’ respective season and series sets, and that the companies have increased the episode count from ten to sixteen, the episodes more than give viewers reason to check out this new DVD. Of course the episodes are only one part of what makes this DVD so enjoyable. The writing behind the episodes plays its own part in the DVD’s success. That is because while there are some directly holiday-themed episodes presented across the collection’s episodes, there are some that are not so direct yet still maintain at east some hoiday connection. In regards to the episodes whose scripts are directly linked to Christmasnone of those episodes are like the others. A comparison of “Arnold’s Christmas” to “Rocko’s Modern Christmas” and “A Very CatDog Christmas” clearly shows this. “Arnold’s Christmas” is a touching half-hour episode of Hey Arnold! that boasts just as much heart as any of the series’ other episodes if not more. Even more interesting about this episode is that for all of the emotional impact that it offers, at no point did the show’s writers ever allow it to become just another over-the-top, schmaltzy holiday presentation. Instead the writers maintained full control throughout the episode, presenting a very real and relatable story that will tug at the heartstrings of viewers of all ages. On the other side of that proverbial coin, the stories presented in “A Very CatDog Christmas” and “Rocko’s Modern Christmas” both present rather dysfunctional characters who ironically enough still manage to learn the true meaning of Christmas in their own manner. The dysfunction is made clear in “A Very CatDog Christmas” as Cat and Dog end up causing Santa to cancel Christmas because they decide to sell themselves to Rancid’s daughter Rancine. Of course the four-legged friends eventually learn a very important lesson, in turn bringing back Santa.

In regards to the episodes that are not directly holiday-themed but still carry some connection to the holidays, even those episodes are just as fun. Aaahh!!! Real Monsters’ episode “Gone Shopp’n” is a prime example of that entertainment. Ickis, Oblina, and Krumm sneak into a department store on the holidays and end up stopping a robbery in their own attempt to scare the mall’s patrons. Audiences will laugh out loud as Krumm harnesses a pair of security dogs and hooks them up to a sleigh. The dogs end up pulling the sleigh a la Santa’s reindeer. It is really the episode’s only connection to the holidays. But it is a funny moment nonetheless. “Monsers Don’t Dance” is yet another example of how this collection’s less holiday-themed episodes make for their own share of enjoyment. It is an episode that the show’s now grown-up audiences will fully appreciate because of the truths presented throughout. This episode makes fun of the likes of Barney and so many other similar performing figures who brainwash kids into buying their products. Every parent out there will be able to relate fully to this episode and in turn will find himself or herself laughing just as much. It’s just one more way in which the work of the shows’ writing makes these episodes so enjoyable. “Arnold’s Thanksgiving” is yet another example of exactly that. Arnold and Helga both learn to appreciate their own families in this episode even despite each family’s rather dysfunctional nature. It reminds viewers that no matter how bad they might think they might have things and how dysfunctional their own families might be, there is always someone that has it worse. It’s a great lesson for viewers to remember whether on Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any other time of the year. And it reminds viewers even more of why the writing behind each of the episodes featured on this DVD adds to the enjoyment in the DVD’s overall viewing experience.

The episodes featured within the body of OOTV Christmas and the writing behind each episode are both equally important in the grand scheme of the DVD’s viewing experience. Both elements make the DVD enjoyable in their own right. Together, they give viewers plenty of reason to pick up this latest addition to Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon’s OOTV series of releases. While both elements prove equally important in their own right, the animation styles presented in each show proves just as important to the DVD’s overall enjoyment. That is because so few of today’s “animated” series are actually animated in the traditional sense of the word. So many of today’s “animated” series are animated in name only. That is because they are largely crafted on a computer screen rather than an animation cell. There is no identity to said series. The series presented here however are the polar opposite of today’s “animated series.” Viewers that are familair with Nickelodeon’s classic ainmated series will see a clear connection between the early days of the network’s hit series Rugrats and that of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters in watching its episodes. It should come as no surprise since Krumm, Ickis, and Oblina happened to make a guest appearance of sorts in one of the Rugrats’ hallloween episodes. There is also a certain similarity to the animation style presented in The Wild Thornberrys. By comparison, the more rigid style of The Angry Beavers helps to give that show its own identity separate from that of the set’s other shows. CatDog and Hey Arnold! also hold their own in regards to their animation styles. CatDog’s animation style is as close as any of the series come to having a real cartoon-ish look. Hey Arnold! on the other hand presents something of a (believe it or not) more realistic look. From the show’s backdrop that is the city to the look of Arnold and the rest of the characters there is something about their design that makes them look more believable than cartoon-y. It is a great look separate from that of any of the set’s other series. And it is yet another example of why the animation styes presented within each of the set’s show’s plays just as important a role in the set’s enjoyment as the show’s writing and their very presentation in general. It is one more reminder of everything that was once right with children’s mainstream programming just as with the episodes’ writing. Both elements together with the presentation of the episodes themselves make OOTV Christmas a great way for any Nicktoons Nostalgic to get into the holiday spirit.

Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon’s new collection of Christmas-themed Nicktoons episodes is a great way for fans of the classic shows to get into the holiday spirit this year and any year. That is thanks in large part to the fact that none of the episodes presented in this set have previously been presented in the companies’ previous OOTV collections. They have been presented only in the shows’ previously released season and full series sets. Whhat’s more, Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory have given audiences sixteen episodes this time instead of the ten episodes each presented in the previous OOTV collections. The various animation styles presented within each show serves as a reminder of everything that used to make animation so great. It gives each show its own identity separate from the others. Each element exhibits its own importance over the course of the DVD’s nearly four hour run time. All three elements combined make OOTV Christmas yet another collection of cartoons from Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory that will get any Nicktoons Nostalgic in the holiday mood. It is available now in stores. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon is available online now at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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CatDog: The Complete Series Is Another Welcome Addition To Any Classic Cartoon Lover’s Library

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Next Tuesday, October 14th, Shout! Factory will release its latest complete Nicktoons box set thanks to its partnership with Nickelodeon and Viacom.  CatDog: The Complete Series follows Shout! Factory’s most recent complete Nicktoons box set Hey Arnold!: The Complete Series.  That box set was released August 19th.   And as with that series, CatDog: The Complete Series will be available exclusively via Wal-Mart stores nationwide.  This latest box set is another wonderful addition to the home library of Nicktoons Nostalgic that grew up in Nickeldeon’s golden era.  The most obvious reason that any grown up fan of this series will appreciate this new complete series set is the same as Shout! Factory’s previous full series Nicktoon sets.  It contains every episode from the series’ original run on Nickelodeon.  In connection to the episodes, they are contained on the same total number of discs from the previously released stand-alone sets.  The difference is that the twelve discs that make up the series are contained within only two boxes.  This saves space on any DVD rack.  It’s one  more reason that audiences will appreciate this set regardless of whether they have already purchased any of said the said stand-alone boxes.  And last of note that makes CatDog: The Complete Series another welcome release from Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon is the writing that went into the episodes.  Together with the set’s packaging and the inclusion of every one of the series’ episodes, it completes the box set and makes it all the more welcome an addition to the home collection of any Nicktoons Nostalgic.

CatDog is one of the last of Nickelodeon’s great series that earned the title Nicktoon.  Next to the likes of Hey Arnold!, Rugrats, and Doug, it was one of the last of a special breed of cartoons for kids.  After it ended its initial run on Nickelodeon, it ran in re-runs for a while until the network’s heads decided to move the kid favorite series over to Nickelodeon’s digital “sister station” Nicktoons.  Most cable and satellite carriers general keep Nicktoons on their upper digital tiers, thus making it a premium channel that costs extra for subscribers.  Suddenlink made things even more difficult for audiences recently when its dispute with Viacom led the carrier to drop not just Nicktoons but all of the Viacom networks that it once carried for customers across the country.  This means that for possibly thousands of audiences, there is now no way to see CatDog on television.  This makes CatDog: The Complete Series even more of a positive for anyone that grew up with this series and other Nicktoons.  So now regardless of whether or not audiences can get Nicktoons for one reason or another, Shout! Factory have made it possible for every Nicktoons Nostalgic to own one more piece of television greatness in its entirety.  Things only get better from here, too.  The set’s overall packaging should be taken into consideration, too in its overall success and enjoyment.

The inclusion of CatDog’s complete series in Shout! Factory’s new full series set is something that most definitely should not be taken for granted.  There are those that get Nickelodeon’s Nicktoons network and actually get to see this modern classic cartoon, given.  But there are also those that don’t get the network for one reason or another.  Whether it be because of the cost of subscribing to extra digital tiers on their carriers or their carrier not even carrying the network (as with Suddenlink’s dispute with Viacom), there are in fact those that don’t get to see these episodes.  That makes the release of this set quite the welcome addition to those individuals’ home libraries.  The set’s overall packaging makes it all the more welcome an addition to audiences regardless of whether or not they already own any of the series’ previously released stand-alone box sets.  All sixty-eight episodes that made up the series are spread across twelve discs inside two boxes.  Compared to those aforementioned stand-alone box sets, the packaging of the discs in this format takes up much less space on DVD racks than those sets by themselves.  So not only do audiences get the complete series in this set, but they also get the complete series in yet another ergonomic package.  Once again, the employees of Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon are deserving of their own share of applause for these efforts.  It still is not the last of the factors worth noting that makes this latest full series set from Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon a win for fans.  The final factor that makes this set a welcome addition to any classic Nicktoons fan’s home library is the series’ animation.  It separates the series not only from other Nicktoons of its time but from every other children’s program on television today.

The last piece of the puzzle that makes CatDog: The Complete Series such a welcome addition to the library of any classic Nicktoons fan is the series’ animation.  There are still a few children’s shows out there today on cable the feature at least some amount of hand drawn animation.  But by and large, most of today’s children’s programs are more based in computer generated “animation” than actual hand-drawn art.  Unlike those shows CatDog was created largely by hand.  If there was any computer usage in this series, it was minimal at best.  Other than that, it gives the show its own identity much like its fellow Nicktoons and those series that came before it in the golden era of the “Big 4.”  Taking this into account and the fact that true cartoons have officially gone by the wayside—weekday and weekend—such actual art work becomes increasingly valuable.  It serves as one more example of what once made children’s programming so great and still could again one day given the opportunity.  And together with both the overall packaging of this set and the inclusion of its full sixty-eight episode run, it makes this set a must have for any Nicktoons Nostalgic and for any fan of real cartoons.

The partnership between Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon has produced a number of wonderful releases up to this point.  CatDog: The Complete Series is just one more addition to that long line of proper classic Nicktoons released thanks to that partnership.  The set’s packaging and the inclusion of the series’ full sixty-eight episode run works alongside its original animation to make it a joy for any lover of classic cartoons.  It may or may not be the last of the complete series releases from Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory.  At this time, there is no deal in place for releases of Rugrats, Doug, or even Rocket Power.  And there’s no word on when or if Hey Dude! and The Wild Thornberrys will see full series releases.  Whether or not any of these series ever get proper releases from Shout! Factory, at least audiences will have CatDog: The Complete Series.  It will be available next Tuesday, October 14th.  It can be ordered online direct from Shout! Factory’s online store at http://www.shoutfactory.com.  More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory is available online at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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Nicktoons Nostalgics Will “Scream” With Joy for Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: The Complete Series

 

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Halloween is right around the corner once again.  That means that lots of people are looking for entertainment for their annual parties.  This includes parents looking for entertainment for their children’s parties.  Next Tuesday, Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory will release one more new fun release for the whole family that is a perfect fit for those parties in the form of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: The Complete Series.

Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: The Complete Series is great fun for both new young audiences and for those that grew up with the series.  It is one of Nickelodeon’s famed Nicktoons that brought Arlene Klasky and Klasky Csupo to fame during the 1990s and early 2000s.  And just as the pair set itself apart from the crowd with its groundbreaking series, Rugrats and the equally innovative Wild Thornberrys, it did so just as much with this series, too.  Klasky Csupo showed just how far ahead of its time it was with this series.  To an extent, one could argue that it might well have been the influence behind Disney/Pixar’s 2001 movie, Monsters, Inc.  That’s because the movie in question didn’t come into being until at least three years after Aaahh!!! Real Monsters had ended in 1998.  This is just one part of what makes the series so important for any fan of Nickelodeon’s golden era.  In direct connection, audiences will appreciate the show’s writing.  Again, a comparison to both Klasky Csupo’s other cartoons and to Monsters, Inc. is necessary to show how far ahead of the times and quick the writing was in this series.  A third factor to consider in deciding whether or not to buy or order this new set is its packaging.  Yet again, Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon have set the bar with another box set’s packaging in this collection.  What can be said that hasn’t already been said about that?  But that’s a good thing.  And it seals the deal on what is another great trip back in time for any purist Nicktoons Nostalgic.

Klasky Csupo was the Pixar of the television world from the early 1990s to the early 2000s.  That is thanks to its long strain of original hit cartoons that would be the backbone of Nickelodeon’s Nicktoons programming.  Those hits included the likes of Rugrats, The Wild Thornberrys, and what would end up being the studio’s last Nicktoon, All Grown Up.  Throughout all of the cartoons created by the studio, each one was entirely different from the last.  And Aahhh!!! Real Monsters was one that definitely stood out.  It stood out among both other Nicktoons and other cartoons in general.  The only other studio doing anything remotely similar at the time was DiC Enterprises with its claymation based Bump in the Night.  Between the two, Klasky Csupo’s cartoon still stood out and in a good way, as it lasted well past the latter of the two toons.  No one at the time had thought of the concept of a trio of young monsters living in a dump, learning how to scare humans.  Even the characters themselves were original.  One look at David Eccles’ Krumm makes one wonder if he in fact wasn’t an influence behind Mike Wazowski.  Both of these factors (and others) show just how far ahead of its time this series was.

Aahhh!!! Real Monsters was well ahead of its time in so many ways.  From the general story and characters to other smaller aspects, its cast and writers proved that in so many ways.  In direct connection, it is just as impressive thanks to its writing.  From learning how to scare and avoiding the wrath of their teacher, The Gromble (Gregg Berger—Garfield & Friends, The Angry Beavers, The Garfield Show) to trying to escape capture by Simon the Monster Hunter (Jim Belushi—Life According to Jim, Hey Arnold!, the Adventures of Jimmy Neutron), the writers found so many ways to keep the show fresh through all four of its seasons.  There was even a hunt for a pail that sends Ickis on a wild chase that will leave audiences laughing.  It’s one more of so many wonderfully entertaining moments that make this new set so fun for anyone that grew up with the series and for their kids, too.

The writing and general ingenuity of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters went a long way toward making it one more of Klasky Csupo’s most beloved cartoons.  The same can be said of what made it one of the best Nicktoons of Nickelodeon’s golden era.  There is one last factor in this new set that fans of the show will appreciate in its upcoming release.  That factor is the set’s packaging.  Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory have already released both Rocko’s Modern Life and The Angry Beavers in complete series sets.  Those sets both managed somehow to contain eight discs in a box that only takes up the space of two standard DVD cases on any DVD rack.  The same can be said of this set’s box, too.  Each of the set’s discs are placed on either side of their own “plate” within the case.  As large as it may make the box seem, it actually manages to conserve space in the long run.  For that, both companies are more than deserving of even more credit.  What’s more, this form of packaging also protects the discs from being scratched up.  So it serves as a double whammy in the best possible manner.  Keeping this in mind along with the original writing and the generally original concept behind the show, audiences are presented with another welcome shining release from Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory.  One can only hope that from here, the two companies will eventually strike a deal to release Klasky Csupo’s other classic Nicktoons next.  Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: The Complete Series will be available online and in stores Tuesday, October 8th.  It can be ordered direct online from Shout! Factory’s store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/node/218263.  More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon is available on the official Shout! Factory website, http://www.shoutfactory.com and Shout! Factory Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Nicktoon’s Latest DVD Release More “Wild” Fun For The Whole Family

Courtesy:  Nickelodeon/Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Nickelodeon/Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon have kicked off the New Year in fine fashion.  The two companies already have a somewhat busy slate of releases set in this still very young year.  Next month sees the release of Rocko’s Modern Life: The Complete Series.  Before that though, audiences of the fellow classic Nicktoon, The Wild Thornberrys finally get to see the final piece to the show’s second season.  The Wild Thornberrys: Season 2 Part 3 is available in stores and online now.  The Thornberrys’ “wild” globe hopping, adventures have only just begun with this last portion of Season 2, as there are still three more seasons left to be released.  This time out, viewers finally get to see Eliza’s “origin” story so to speak, as it is finally revealed how she got her secret powers.  Also Debbie inadvertently becomes mother to a baby Panda, only to find herself having become emotionally attached to it just like a real mother.  And also Nigel’s life is in Eliza’s hands after he is stung by a poisonous fish during a search for an Angler Fish. 

The adventures included in the final portion of The Wild Thornberrys Season 2 Part 3 continue to show just how strong the writing was for this classic Nicktoon in its infancy.  As with so many other Nicktoons of its era, the episodes included in this double disc set continue to show just how much heart the show had (and still has today by comparison to other shows out there).  Each episode in its own way continued to highlight the importance of family while balancing that with the show’s educational and even ecological aspects.  Every episode included in this new set emphasizes educational aspects without even trying, by teaching about different animals of different regions of the world.  That’s even the case in the set’s “origin” episode, “Gift of Gab.”  It teaches not only geography but also biology. That lesson on biology is also echoed in the episode, “Black and White and Mom All Over.”  Eliza’s sister Debbie learns a lesson of how wild animals connect to the first thing they see when they’re young after a baby panda mistakes her for its mother.  That biology lesson is directly tied in to the show’s emphasis on another aspect that still makes it so enjoyable to this day.  That aspect is its emphasis on family.

The educational role of The Wild Thornberrys is only part of what continues to make this such a fan favorite to this day.  The show’s emphasis on family plays a role in its heart, too.  As already noted, one of the episodes that shows that emphasis is “Black and White and Mom All Over.”  That theme is also evident in “Bogged Down” in which it’s up to Eliza to save Nigel’s life.  As excited as she is to be out with her father, one little error on her part nearly costs him his life.  So Eliza has to put her squabbles with Debbie on the backburner in order to save her dad’s life.    And in “Gift of Gab”, the family aspect is offered when Eliza tells the story of how she and Darwin first met and he essentially became part of the Thornberry family. 

As much enjoyment as The Wild Thornberrys brings from its writing and its educational emphasis, the show’s animation also plays a role in its enjoyment.  In a time when it would seem that the very art of creating hand drawn art is dying, this latest installment of the classic Nicktoon serves as yet another reminder of how much better hand drawn art is in comparison to the CG crafted material that currently permeates television stations across the spectrum.  Just as with even older cartoons (on both television and in theaters), the animation of The Wild Thornberrys boasts a very specific style.  While the show itself was one more creation from Arlene Klasky and Gabor Csupo (who also created the ultimate Nicktoon, Rugrats), the animation of this show was entirely different from that of Rugrats and the other cartoons which were created by the pair.  The animation style really served as the most basic identifier of the cartoon.  There was a certain roughness and definition all at once about it.  Set against the likes of Rugrats, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, and Rocket Power, perhaps the closest that any of these comes to The Wild Thornberrys in terms of its animation style would be Aaahh!!! Real Monsters.  Though, even that similarity is slight at best.  That defining mark, added in to the equally impressive writing and work by a star cast of voice actors has made The Wild Thornberrys one of Nickelodeon’s elite Nicktoons.  And thanks to the latest of the show’s DVD releases, it still holds that title to this day.  The Wild Thornberrys Season 2 Part 3 is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct online via the Shout! Factory store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/?q=node/216648.

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Shout! Factory, Nickelodeon “scare” up more fun with Aaahh!!! Real Monsters Season 2

Nickelodeon was one of the best networks on television during the 1990’s.  The very mention of the network’s name instantly led to discussions of its famed “Nicktoons” programming.  And if ever there was a leading company among the 90’s Nicktoons, it was Klasky Csupo.  The team of Arlene Klasky and Gabor Csupo were responsible for what was arguably the most legendary of the Nicktoons in Rugrats.  That beloved cartoon ran from 1991 – 2004.  But it was just one of many shows created by the pair.  they were also responsible for fellow Nicktoons, The Wild Thornberrys, Rocket Power, As Told By Ginger, and Aaahh!!! Real Monsters.

While Rocket Power, As Told By Ginger, and The Wild Thornberrys were relatively well received, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters received mixed reviews.  Chances are that’s because it wasn’t the happy, bright colored style cartoon that Klasky Csupo was known for in its other shows.  It could be argued that it appealed mainly to younger audiences in their goth phases.  But even this cartoon had its positives.  And its second season continued to prove that.  In Season Two, Krumm, Ickis, and Oblina learn about the dangers of spreading rumors and telling the truth.  There’s also a wonderful episode that argues how important monsters have been throughout human history.  Add in the classic animation style for which Klasky Csupo became known with its cartoons, and audiences get a great piece of nostalgia in Aaahh!!! Real Monsters Season 2.

Season Two opens with the episode, “Spontaneously Combustible.”  Young Ickis is having some stomach troubles.  He keeps breathing fire, and he doesn’t know why.  He goes to see the monster academy’s doctor to find out what’s wrong.  It turns out that other monsters have had the same problem, and that he simply has to give it about a week to let it pass.  Unbeknownst to him, Zimbo, the Gromble’s assistant (voiced by Tim Curry) is snooping around and hears the doctor tell Ickis about his problem.  Zimbo flies off and tells someone else, leading to rumors throughout the monster academy.  The Gromble catches wind of the rumors being spread around about Ickis.  So he uses class to reassure everyone that the rumors about Ickis are not true.  He tells the class that there have been some very important monsters who had Ickis’ problem.  After Ickis leaves, everybody feels bad and goes to look for him.  They do finally find him, and apologize for all the rumors, and ask him to forgive them.  He does, and all end up happy.  This one episode continues the tradition of Klasky Csupo’s Nicktoons having heart.  Sure, the show’s about monsters.  But it teaches young audiences about the dangers of spreading rumors, and the impact that spreading them can have.  It’s a wonderful way to kick off this two-disc set.

“Spontaneously Combustible” is a great way to start off Aaahh!!! Real Monsters Season Two.  It’s just one of a handful of enjoyable episodes in this season.  Another of that handful of enjoyable episodes is in “Rosh ‘O Monster.”  Krumm, Oblina, and Ickis learn the importance of not telling tall tales in this episode.  The P.O.V. storyline is nothing new to television.  But there’s something about this style of episode that regardless of which show, always makes for great television.  And this episode is no exception to that rule.  When the trio scare an entire opera house of humans, they all want to tell the story.  They all try at the same time, leading the viewfinder to break.  So each one tells the story of what happened from their own vantage point, making themselves out to be the leader.  However, when the viewfinder is fixed, the reality of their scare is much different from what any of the trio has told.  The reality is that the scare was completely by accident.  While they had set out to scare the humans, the original plan was obviously quite different than how everything turned out.  As a result of this relevation, the Gromble punishes all three for their dishonesty.  It’s a lesson that viewers both young and old should take to heart.

Aaahh!!! Real Monsters shows that it has heart in Season Two.  And it teaches life lessons.  But that isn’t all it shows.  It shows that it can also entertain while it teaches.  One of the episodes that best epitomizes that ability to entertain and teach is “History of The Monster World.”  Adults and kids alike will love this episode.  Much like Rosh O’ Monster, this episode isn’t the first of its kind.  But it’s always so funny to see history from a totally random and silly vantage point.  In this episode, the Gromble decides to teach his students a lesson on the history of the monster world.  The students all grumble at this.  It’s the same kind of reaction that human students get when they’re told they have to learn history.  And the Gromble’s reaction is similar to that of human teachers.  That’s only part of the joy of this episode.  The real meat and potatoes comes as the Gromble teaches the young monsters about the many contributions of monsters to the human world.  According to monster history, if not for monsters scaring early neanderthal man, the wheel would have never been invented.  Monsters, according to the lesson, were also responsible for the very first message ever transmitted by phone.  And allegedly, if not for monsters, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt would never have developed one of the most famed quotes of all time.  The quote in question was, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”  Who would have thought that a monster would really be to credit for the famed line?  It’s a great joke.  The entire episode offers such outlandish history that it’s one of the season’s best episodes.

The second season of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters boasts so much enjoyment from each episode.  But the episodes aren’t all that make the show such a joy.  The show’s animation is similar to other Klasky Csupo Nicktoons.  But it still stood on its own two feet stylistically speaking.  The animation style is closer to earlier Rugrats episodes than any other KC cartoon.  But it still manages to somehow establish its own identity, even with the similarity in style.  In an era when the majority of “cartoons” are cartoons in name only, seeing this classic hand drawn animation adds a whole extra level of enjoyment to what is already a classic cartoon in itself.  That enjoyment mixed with the enjoyment of the stories makes Aaahh!!! Real Monsters Season Two one more wonderful piece of television nostalgia for fans of Nickelodeon’s classic 90’s Nicktoons.

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