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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Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

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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

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial

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The Rescue Bots Are Back On The Job With Another Fun DVD For The Whole Family

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Shout! Kids

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Shout! Kids

The latest compilation of episodes from Hasbro Studios’ Transformers Rescue Bots is another great collection for any fan of this kid friendly series.  The compilation, which was released last Tuesday, September 2nd, is especially well-timed considering the proximity of its release to Halloween.  That is primarily because of the five episodes featured in the disc.  The episodes presented on this disc offer their own not so scary stories that are still a good fit for any child’s Halloween party.  For those that might be new to this series (like this critic), said audiences will also appreciate the series’ animation.  Being another product of Hasbro studios, it should come as no surprise that the series’ animation plays a role in its enjoyment, too.  And last but not least of all worth noting in the overall presentation is the series’ list of voice talents.  The actors charged with putting a voice to the series’ characters are largely well-known figures.  They are figures that have quite the resume when it comes to animated programs, children’s programs, and sci-fi shows, too.  Some have experience in all three realms, making their acting all the more believable and in turn enjoyable.  The combination of those experienced voice talents and the series’ animation and writing makes Transformers Rescue Bots: Mystery Rescue just as enjoyable for those that are new to this series as those that are more familiar with the show.

Transformers Rescue Bots: Mystery Rescue is the fifth compilation of episodes from the Hub network’s hit children’s series.  The compilation was released just last week in stores.  Its timing could not have been better taking into account its episodes and the fact that Halloween is a little more than a month away.  The episodes collected for this compilation each present their own not so scary but still entertaining story for kids at their Halloween parties this year.  The DVD opens with a mystery that sees everyone in Griffin Rock suddenly disappearing after a horde of robotic bugs infests the town.  It’s up to Cody, his friends, and the Rescue Bots to solve the mystery.  The second episode sees some “ghosts” suddenly appearing.  It turns out though, that things aren’t always what they appear to be when Cody and the Rescue Bots investigate the “hauntings.”  There’s even a little twist that parents and kids alike will like, regardless of whether or not they are believers.  “Spellbound” is the third episode chosen for the DVD.  One could argue that this episode lifts lightly from Stephen King’s novel Cell as cell phones are being used to take over the minds of the Griffin Rock’s citizens.  This is an especially enjoyable episode not only for this reason, but for its emphasis on caring for the environment.  “Blame The Gremlins” is another great addition that parents and children will appreciate as it offers its own frightful fun.  When Cody’s big brother Kade (voiced by Jason Marsden) starts having nightmares about gremlins, those nightmares become reality and invade Griffin Rock.  Parents that are familiar with Rod Serling’s original Twilight Zone series will appreciate the subtle homage to the episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” in this episode.  One could even argue that there’s a subtle reference to a certain gremlin from Warner Brothers’ beloved Looney Tunes franchise.  “Feed The Beast” closes out the DVD with a little tale of Griffin Rock’s own version of the legendary Sasquatch.  As with the discs other episodes, it offers its own frightful fun for younger viewers.  All of the episodes together will keep young viewers fully engaged from start to finish.

Of the stories included on this disc are not enough enjoyment by themselves, audiences that might be new to Transformers Rescue Bots will appreciate the fact that the episodes are kid friendly.  They don’t have the level of violence and deep, thought provoking material that makes up the original Transformers franchise or any of its offshoots over the years.  It makes for a fun and safe way to ease younger viewers into the Transformers universe.  It could be argued that to that extent, it actually takes a page from the likes of Tiny Toon Adventures, The Flintstone Kids, Taz-Mania and others that came from that era.  That’s because while many critics came down hard on the series, the reality was that they were in fact a way to slowly and gently bring younger viewers into the likes of Looney Tunes, The Flintstones, ScoobyDoo and other classic franchises.  To that extent, the very concept of this franchise makes the writing all the more valuable and enjoyable to the overall presentation that is this latest compilation.

The writing that went into the episodes on this DVD makes them (and the franchise in whole) a joy for both children and adults.  Its mix of family friendly stories and its more grown-up pop culture references will make watching them as a family a fun time.  And especially today, families need as much time as possible together.  It’s not all that makes this collection enjoyable, either.  The series’ animation also makes the episodes presented here fun, too.  Audiences that are familiar with Hasbro Studios’ properties will find it no surprise that this series’ animation bears a somewhat similar animation style to that of both Pound Puppies and Littlest Pet Shop.  It is safe to suffice that the same individuals charged with crafting the artwork for those series were also behind Transformers Rescue Bots, too simply by watching these episodes.  Even with its similarities to those series, it does bear its own identity apart from them.  The differences lie mainly in little things like the contours of the characters and the backgrounds and even the coloring. Other than that, this series’ animation lies in the same category as those others from Hasbro Studios already noted. Even as similar as its animation is to those series, it still is nice to see animation today that can look so much like it was hand drawn instead of all of the cookie cutter CGI shows out there for younger audiences today. It’s just one more part of what makes this new DVD so welcome in any family’s DVD library.

The animation in Transformers Rescue Bots: Mystery Rescue and the writing in its episodes together make this latest collection of episodes welcome in any family’s DVD library. The last factor to note that makes it such a welcome addition to any family’s library is the series’ list of voice actors. Those behind the characters in this series are no strangers to voicing animated characters. The cast includes Jason Marsden, Kath Soucie, Levar Burton, Mauriche LaMarche, Tim Curry, Diamond White and so many others. While their episodes are not included in this DVD, Mark Hamill (Star Wars, Batman The Animated Series) and Danica McKellar (The Wonder Years) even offer their talents in a couple of episodes, too. Having such a who’s who of actors lending their talents to this series is a tribute to its popularity and the popularity of the Transformers franchise in whole. Jason Marsden is known for his work on Nickelodeon’s The Fairly Odd Parents and as the voice of Nermal in Cartoon Network’s The Garfield Show. He has worked on a number of other series and movies, too. These are just a couple examples of his body of work. Kath Soucie and Levar Burton both worked together on Captain Planet and the Planeteers early in the 1990s. Soucie is also known as the voice of Phil and Lil DeVille in Nickelodeon’s beloved Nicktoon Rugrats. Not to omit Mauriche LeMarche or Tim Curry, the resume of these two actors could fill pages and pages. Needless to say they are quite the well trained and well-respected actors. And having them on this series’ cast is quite the statement. Newcomer Diamond White has already started building up her own resume with voice acting credits including work on Disney’s Phineas and Ferb, and Sophia the First. She also plays the role of Sophie in Nickelodeon’s teen-centric series The Haunted Hathaways. Needless to say, the cast that was tapped for the roles in Transformers Rescue Bots more than did its job with this latest collection of episodes. Their years of training and experience helped them to interpret each episode’s script and in turn make it each story all the more enjoyable. The end result is a collection of episodes that the whole family will enjoy again and again while they wait for the next collection of episodes from this surprisingly entertaining show.

The A-list voice cast tapped to voice the characters in this latest collection of episodes from Hub’s Transformers Rescue Bots goes a long way toward validating it and the series in whole. Parents will note the celebrities’ names and want to check out the actors’ work for themselves. They will also appreciate some of the subtle pop culture references thrown in for good measure in some of the episodes included on the DVD. Kids will enjoy the animation and stories in general. All things considered, there is a lot that makes Transformers Rescue Bots: Mystery Rescue a hit for the whole family. So much in fact that it could potentially end up on this critic’s list of the year’s best new DVDs for children and families. It is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered direct from Shout! Factory’s website at https://www.shoutfactory.com/kids/kids-animation/transformers-rescue-bots-mystery-rescue. More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory is available online now at http://www.shoutfactory.com and 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.

Shout! Kids’ Latest Pound Puppies Compilation Is Another Great Watch For The Whole Family

Courtesy;  Shout! Factory/Shout! Kids/Hub/Hasbro Studios

Courtesy; Shout! Factory/Shout! Kids/Hub/Hasbro Studios

Shout! Kids released the latest collection of episodes from Hub’s award-winning series Pound Puppies this week.  The latest collection of episodes from this update on the original 1980s series is just as much a jewel as the series’ previous compilation DVDs.  The episodes included in this compilation make it so enjoyable first and foremost because of the episodes’ writing.  By connection, audiences will appreciate the subtle lessons taught through some of the episodes.  Intentional or not, there are some subtle lessons taught through some of this set’s episodes.  It makes the set all the richer.  And last but not least, viewers (especially parents) will appreciate this latest compilation is the list of guest appearances.  Some very big names lend their talents to Pound Puppies in this collection.  Whether it be the guest talent, the lessons, the writing or all three factors together, Pound Puppies: A Perfect Match proves to be another wonderful set of episodes for the whole family.

The writing behind this collection of episodes is the central point of impact for this DVD.  Those that are familiar with this incarnation of Pound Puppies and with the original series from the 1980s know that both series emulate the classic WWII-themed sitcom Hogan’s Heroes in their theme songs.  The new Pound Puppies has taken things to a higher level, actually giving Ace and his canine friends an underground base just like Col. Hogan and his Allied forces friends in Hogan’s Heroes.  As viewers will see in this set’s opening episode, the writers even emulate Hogan’s Heroes in terms of the writing, too.  In “The Yipper Caper”, viewers see McLeash bring in a giant dog feeding machine just to impress his superiors much like Col. Klink would do in Hogan’s Heroes.  Klink was always taking on some wild, hair-brained scheme to impress his higher-ups.  On the other side of things, audiences hear Ace tell Yipper that the Pound Puppies have homes outside the shelter, but they stay there to help others.  Audiences familiar with Hogan’s Heroes will again recognize quite the similarity there.  This writing is a wonderful homage to the golden era of television and takes things one step farther than the original Pound Puppies series.  That homage is just the tip of the iceberg in what makes the writing so fun in these episodes.  Just as impressive to note is the fact that the show’s writers are able to time and again find ways for the Pound Puppies to complete their missions without McLeash ever knowing.  This is the case throughout all five episodes, not just the opener.  Again, this is an homage to Hogan’s Heroes.  It’s one more way to potentially get young viewers started on the road to an appreciation for television’s Golden Era.  And for that, the show’s writers are more than deserving of their applause.

As one should be able to tell by now, the writing behind the episodes included in the latest Pound Puppies compilation DVD is key to the collection’s overall enjoyment.  Even older viewers will appreciate the writing thanks to its throwback to what is one of television’s greatest ever sitcoms.  Just as important to these episodes are the lessons taught through the episodes.  “Hello Kitten” teaches a not so subtle lesson about the ability of people to get along and be friends despite opposing backgrounds.  It does this by having the youngest of the pound puppies help a kitten find his perfect person.  There’s just one problem.  The Pound Puppies’ feline counterparts, led by a feline mirror image of Ace is set out to keep the young kitten from becoming friends with dogs and finding a person for the kitten themselves.  In the end, the cats learn that it’s okay to be friends with dogs.  The secondary lesson taught here is that one must let go of things from the past.  All holding onto the past does is make a person bitter.  “Beauty is only Fur Deep” teaches a lesson about being one’s self when a much talked about dog comes to Kennel 17.  The Pound Puppies have their hands…*ahem*…paws full when the seemingly humble dog turns quite self-centered on getting a new coat of fur.  It creates lots of problems for the Pound Puppies especially when he shoots down the little girl they said was his perfect person. He of course learns a rather valuable lesson from this experience that viewers of all ages will appreciate.

The lessons taught through the episodes culled for Pound Puppies: A Perfect Match and the general writing that pays homage to Hogan’s Heroes both make this latest compilation of episodes just as enjoyable as previous Pound Puppies DVDs. There is one more factor to consider in this DVD that makes its episodes so fun. That final factor is the list of guest stars that lent its talents to each episode. J.K. Simmons (Spiderman 1 3) and Tress MacNeille both share their talents in the episodes included in this DVD. Go figure, Simmons voices a character in “Working K-9 To 5” that is a newspaper man. Hmmmmm, now where have we seen that before? His character is even presented much in the same vein as J. Jonah Jameson from director Sam Raimi’s Spiderman Trilogy. MacNeille (The Simpsons, Futurama) voices a fellow canine in another episode. It’s only a bit part. But parents that know McNeille’s voice will love hearing her voice here, too. And of course, the true queen of comedy herself, Betty White, returns once more as the voice of McLeash’s not so nice mother. These are just some of the guests that appear in the episodes collected for this DVD. Also on board on these episodes are: Tara Strong (Rugrats, The Powerpuff Girls, The Fairly Odd Parents), E.G. Daily (Rugrats, The Powerpuff Girls, Chalk Zone), Diedrich Bader (Batman: The Brave & The Bold, Napoleon Dynamite, The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy), Danny Cooksey (Salute Your Shorts, Diff’rent Strokes, Tiny Toon Adventures) and so many others. The fact that so many well-known actors and actresses would lend their talents to these episodes shows just how respected a series it proves to be. Parents will recognize most (if not all) of the names mentioned here. And that alone is enough to give the DVD just one watch if not more. And it is most definitely deserving of far more than just one watch.

Pound Puppies: A Perfect Match is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered online direct from Shout! Factory’s online store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/product/pound-puppies-perfect-match. More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory and Shout! Kids is available online at http://www.shoutfactory.com and 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.

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.

Shout! Factory, Nickelodeon To Release Classic Nicktoon’s Full Series Set This Fall

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Fans of Nickelodeon’s classic 90s Nicktoons are getting a special treat just in time for Halloween courtesy of Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon.  Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon will release Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: The Complete Series on Tuesday, October 8th, just in time to plan those Halloween get-togethers.  The entire series’ four-season run is contained on eight discs in the upcoming release.  The first two hundred people to order the set will receive a free 12” x 18” collectible lithograph.  It can be ordered direct from the Shout! Factory store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/?q=node/218263.     

Aaahh!!! Real Monsters follows the adventures of monster friends Ickis, Oblina, and Crumb as they attend scare school and learn how to properly and effectively scare humans.  The classic Nicktoon ran for a total of four seasons from 1994 – 2000.  During its run on Nickelodeon, it received a nomination for a Daytime Emmy in the category of “Outstanding Achievement in Animation.”  The show boasted an all-star voice cast, too.  Charlie Adler (Rocko’s Modern Life, Tiny Toon Adventures, Aladdin), Christine Cavanaugh (Rugrats, Dexter’s Laboratory, Recess), Gregg Berger (Garfield & Friends, The Garfield Show, The Transformers), Tim Curry (Clue, Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties, The Rocky Horror Picture Show), and James Belushi (Life According to Jim, Hey Arnold!, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius) round out the cast. 

For more information on previous and future releases from Shout! Factory, audiences can go to the official Shout! Factory website, http://www.shoutfactory.com or the official Shout! Factory Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial.

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

Taz-Mania Season One Volume One Another Welcome Unearthing From Warner Home Video

Courtesy:  Warner Home Video

Courtesy: Warner Home Video

Warner Brothers has largely started off 2013 in successful fashion.  Its only major missteps so far this year have been its DVD and Blu-ray release of Hats Off to Dr. Seuss and Tiny Toon Adventures Volume 4.  Save for those two problematic releases, Warner Home Video has largely seen more success through the first two quarters of the year.  Now Warner Home Video has started off its new quarter by catching its footing in the first half of Taz-Mania Season One. Taz-Mania Season One Volume One is one of many candidates for the best children’s DVDs and Blu-rays of 2013.  That’s because unlike the company’s previous missteps, this release gets almost everything right.  The only downside to this set is something that has plagued many of its releases so far this year.  And that will be discussed later.

Taz-Mania Season One Volume One is a welcome release from Warner Home Video.  This relic of a bygone era is one more example of everything that made not only children’s programming great, but also television in general.  As audiences will see in Season 1.0, Taz-Mania made both children’s programming and television in general so great because unlike the cartoons that pollute television’s channel lineups today, it’s a cartoon that even today families can watch together.  That’s thanks first and foremost to the show’s writing.  The show’s writing is witty and clever.  It’s taut enough that adults won’t feel like they’re being dumbed down.  At the same time, it offers just enough comedy for even today’s younger viewers to find themselves laughing.  The constant fights between Taz and Molly are something to which both adults and kids alike can relate, and thus at which adults and kids alike can laugh.  And Taz’s constant adventures with his fellow characters are just as enjoyable.  Viewers of every age will love watching Taz go diving for undersea treasure with Digeri Dingo, facing off against Francis X. Bushlad, and even taking on a part-time job in hopes of getting his own motorcycle.  There’s even a heartfelt story telling how Taz first got his pet, Dog the turtle.  If it doesn’t pull at a viewer’s heartstrings, nothing will.  There is so much more that audiences will enjoy from this first half of Season One.  This is just a taste of what kids and kids at heart can expect from this set.

The witty, clever writing of Taz-Mania makes it a great addition to any Looney Tunes fan’s library regardless of whether one is seeing it for the first time or for the first time again.  It’s just one part of the show’s success.  The animation style is another plus to this modern classic cartoon.  So many of today’s “cartoons” are cartoons in the loosest sense possible; those that are at all.  For the most part, most of today’s kids programming is dominated by CGI created shows and live action fodder for tweens and teens.  Those rare hand-drawn cartoons that are left have been spit-shined.  Taz-Mania is the exact opposite.  Its more “rough” animation style is a throwback to the classic days of animation.  It doesn’t have the finely defined borders and background designs of so many of today’s cartoons.  It really serves to help Taz-Mania develop its own identity, even among other cartoons from its era.  In its own right, one could even argue that Taz-Mania’s animation style is a direct throwback to the golden era of Looney Tunes.  That makes this double-disc set even more worth watching regardless of one’s age.

The writing and animation in the first half of Taz-Mania’s debut season are both big factors in the show’s success.  There is at least one more factor to consider in determining whether Warner Home Video’s people have succeeded with this latest release.  That factor is the double-disc set’s packaging.  The packaging is by and large, a success.  It follows the same formula that has become the norm for multi-disc box sets.  Both of the set’s discs are placed on their own spot inside the standard size DVD case.  As with any other set packaged in this fashion, it protects the discs from scratching and in turn, increases their longevity.  The discs themselves are the only real downside to the entire set.  Anyone that has picked up any previously released sets from WHV this year will notice that the people at WHV have not put a whole lot of thought into appeal on the discs.  Sure, there are designs on both discs.  But both discs are splashed in a single, flat tone.  It would have been nice to see a full color design rather than something that looks like someone took a paint brush and ran it right over a bunch of clear designs.  This is a minor issue.  But it still plays a part in the overall picture.  This might be as simple as a cost-cutting measure.  If so, it’s understandable.  Otherwise, this is something that the people at WHV will hopefully fix with any of its upcoming release. The double-disc set is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct online from the WB shop at http://www.wbshop.com/product/tazmania+taz+on+the+loose+season+1+part+1+1000303587.do?sortby=bestSellers&from=Search.

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.