Kids, Grown-Ups Alike Had Lots To Like From 2021’s New DVD/BD Box Sets

Courtesy: Arrow Video

Between families and grown-ups, plenty of positive content has been released this year on DVD and Blu-ray in the form of newly released box sets. Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon’s full series presentation of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, Arrow Video’s classic creature feature collection, Cold War Creatures, and the latest collection of classic Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood do well to support the noted statements. Between them and so many others, there is more than enough to create a list of this year’s top new DVD/BD box sets overall. Enter Phil’s Picks’ 2021 Top 10 New DVD/BD Box Sets.

As with every other list from Phil’s Picks, this list features the top 10 titles from this year as well as five honorable mention titles for a total of 15. There’s already some positive news about new releases coming in the new year about new box sets, but in the meantime, the titles on this list will help people pass the time. Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks’ 2021 Top 10 New DVD/BD Box Sets list.

PHIL’S PICKS’ 2021 TOP 10 NEW DVD/BD BOX SETS

1.Cold War Creatures

2. The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: The Complete Series

3. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: Mister Rogers Meets New Friends Collection

4. All Creatures Great & Small: Season 1

5. The Watch

6. How To Train Your Dragon: Ultimate Collection

7. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Tigertastic 50 Pack

8. Jekyll & Hyde

9. Spongebob Squarepants: Season 12

10. Rugrats: The Complete Series

11. Star Trek Discovery: Season 3

12. Doom Patrol: Season 2

13. Josie & The Pussycats In Outer Space: The Complete Series

14. Human: The World Within

15. Thundarr The Barbarian: The Complete Series

Okay that it’s for this list. There is still one more list to go for this year. It will come tomorrow in the form of the year’s top new family friendly DVDs/ Stay tuned!

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PBS, Nickelodeon, Others Offered Audiences A Wide Range Of New Family Friendly Viewing Options In 2021

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

Maybe it is just this critic, but it seems that increasingly the case that families are becoming increasingly segregated in their own homes. That is due to the advancement of technology and to the fact that there seems to be less programming than ever for families to watch together. Even if there is less for families to watch together, it does not mean that there is nothing out there. PBS and its home distribution arm proved that true this year with their new family DVD box sets alongside Nickelodeon, Universal, Warner Brothers and other companies.

This year actually saw a wide range of enjoyable new DVD and Blu-ray box sets for the whole family to enjoy together, not the least of which was another new collection of classic Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood episodes from PBS and PBS Distribution. The first time release of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius from Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory is another great new offering for the whole families that released this year. Even fans of Universal’s How To Train Your Dragon franchise got something special recently in the franchise’s “Ultimate Collection.” All three of these titles and plenty of others make up what are this year’s top new family DVD and BD box sets list from Phil’s Picks. Between these new releases, new offerings from Nickelodeon’s Loud House,Spongebob Squarepants, and The Casagrandes, another new Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood collection from PBS/PBS Kids/PBS Distribution, and so many other releases, this year showed that thankfully there is at least still some programming left for families to enjoy together.

As with every other list from Phil’s Picks, this collection features the year’s Top 10 new releases in the given category and five honorable mention titles for a total of 15. Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks’ 2021 Top 10 New Family DVD/BD Box Sets.

PHIL’S PICKS‘ 2021 TOP 10 NEW FAMILY DVD/BD BOX SETS

  1. Mister Rogers’ NeighborhoodMister Rogers Meets New Friends Collection
  2. Daniel Tiger’s NeighborhoodTigertastic 50 Pack
  3. The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy GeniusThe Complete Series
  4. Spongebob SquarepantsThe Complete 12th Season
  5. Loud HouseSeason 3 Volume 1
  6. Loud HouseSeason 3 Volume 2
  7. The CasagrandesSeason 1
  8. How To Train Your DragonThe Ultimate Collection
  9. Curious George5 Movie Collection
  10. RugratsThe Complete Series
  11. PBS Kids’ 20 Snowy Stories
  12. Garfield & FriendsThe Grumpy Cat Collection
  13. Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space
  14. Thundarr The BarbarianThe Complete Series
  15. Animaniacs Season 1

It should be added as a special note, this year marks the first time ever that Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space and Thundarr The Barbrian have ever gotten a proper, official release. There are DVD releases for those titles, but they are not official releases. They are DVD-R sets that Hannah Barbera and Amazon partnered to release, so they are not official. This year’s BD releases of the series’ are in fact the real deal. They are released through Warner Archives and are well worth the money and the watch. Speaking of the watch, that show is one of the many that made Phil’s Picks’ 2021 Top 10 New Grown-Up DVD/BD Box Sets list. That list will come Monday, so stay tuned!

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

Shout! Factory, Nickelodeon’s ‘Jimmy Neutron’ Complete Series Set Is A Near Complete Success

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Another of Nickelodeon’s classic Nicktoons has finally received a proper home release. 

The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius was released Tuesday on DVD in a full-series set.  It marks the first time that the series has ever received a full series release, and came through a partnership between Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory.  It is just the latest to get a proper release, too.  The companies’ partnership has also garnered full releases of Aaahhh!!! Real Monsters, The Angry Beavers, CatDog, Danny Phantom, Hey Arnold!, Rocko’s Modern Life, and The Wild Thornberrys.  Nickelodeon meanwhile released Rugrats on its own last year in a full series DVD set.  So now all that is left for release are: Rocket Power, Doug, and The Fairly Oddparents. One can only hope those classic Nicktoons will finally get a proper release sooner rather than later.  Getting back on topic though, Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon’s brand new DVD presentation of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: The Complete Series is an impressive presentation.  That is due in large part to its bonus content, which will be discussed shortly.  The set’s packaging is also important to examine, and so will be a little later.  The set’s pricing rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the presentation.  All things considered, they make the collection a must have for fans of this and any classic Nicktoon.

Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon’s brand new, first-ever release of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: The Complete Series is a strong new presentation from the companies.  It is a presentation that continues the companies’ trend of success with Nickelodeon’s classic animated series releases.  That is due in large part here to the bonus content featured in the set.  The bonus content features not only the series’ original pilot episode, but also all three hour-long “Jimmy/Timmy Power Hour” crossover episodes as part of its whole.  Audiences will be quite interested to see the difference in the show’s look in its pilot episode and its actually three-season run.  The CG animation in the pilot episode is far more raw and rough.  It is more comparable in this case to that used in ABC’s short-lived Saturday morning series, Reboot (which Shout! Factory has interestingly enough also released in full on DVD and also has as a free streaming option) than to the animation used in the series that followed.  The voice talents are all the same.  The look of the show is just so starkly different.  It makes one happy that with the show having been picked up, the animation was cleaned up and more fine tuned.

On a related note, knowing that the TV series launched in 2002 and its big screen companion piece premiered a year earlier, one has to imagine that the story in the pilot episode was the influence behind the Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius movie.  In that case and in the pilot episode, Jimmy is forced to face off against a group of gooey, green aliens who are bent on taking over Earth.  Of course in the pilot episode, the parents are not kidnapped by the aliens, unlike in the movie, but regardless, the pilot episode marks the first time that Jimmy encountered the aliens, so one has to assume that, again, the pilot episode was at least in part responsible for the creation of the movie that then led into the series.  Keeping all of this in mind, it should be clear that why the pilot episode is such an important part of this collection’s bonus content.  It not only serves to help make the series’ presentation complete but helps paint a full picture of the series’ roots and its end.

Moving on to the featured “Jimmy/Timmy Power Hour episodes,” all three episodes are there, beginning with the duo’s first introduction to one another in which they meet due to Timmy’s selfishness.  Seeing the different animation styles and universes cross here and in the other episodes is so fun.  The same can be said of the stories featured in each episode.  The expanded universe builds in each hour-long episode until Jimmy and Timmy are forced to work together in the final special in order to defeat two bad guys from their respective universes.  Each special is shown in whole, so audiences get that whole story arc here, too.  Keeping that in mind, the inclusion of these specials and the pilot episode do indeed complete the series’ presentation.  The addition of some storyboard featurettes as extra bonuses just put the proverbial cherry on the top of the bonus content presentation.

Having noted the positive of the set’s bonus content, the next point of interest to note is the set’s packaging.  The packaging is its own positive, beginning with the placement of the set’s discs.  In all, the series’ three-season run spans nine discs, with a tenth containing solely the already discussed bonus content.  The discs are each placed in their own spot on separate “plates” inside the case.  The first disc of the first season even sits on a spindle on the inside front of the case, giving it its own place in the case, too.  This is important to note in that it ensures the discs will not touch and/or scratch one another as they are moved in and out of the case.  Such an approach is nothing new for Shout! Factory.  It has taken this smart approach with every Nicktoons set that it has released to this point, so this is no surprise, but a welcome continued approach.

Adding to the interest of the set’s packaging is the presentation of a printed episode guide on the inside of the case’s wrap.  Audiences get a full episode guide aligned with each disc.  This is an aesthetic element, yes, but still important.  It is important because having that guide will allow viewers to more quickly and easily decide which episodes they want to watch and simply go right to the associated discs.  Again, this is nothing overly new to Shout! Factory’s Nicktoons presentations.  It is just as welcome here as in every other case and makes the set’s presentation that much more appealing.  It is just one more of the set’s most important elements.  Rounding out the set’s most important elements is its pricing.

The average price point for The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: The Complete Series is $56.63.  That number was reached by averaging prices listed through Amazon, Walmart, Target, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Books-A-Million, and Shout! Factory. While the set was not listed through Walmart, this critic was lucky enough to find the set in store at Walmart at a price of $39.99, the least expensive of all of the listings.  Target and Barnes & Noble each list the set at a price far exceeding the noted average at $64.99 while Books-A-Million’s price of $64.98 is right there with Target and Barnes & Noble Booksellers.  From there, the price decreases to $52.87 through Walmart and $51.98 through Shout! Factory.  Looking at all of this, Walmart’s pricing is clearly the best.  If audiences can find it in store at their local Walmart store, they will benefit greatly.  Otherwise, the noted prices for a three-season set is honestly outrageous.  Add in that only a day prior to this review’s posting, Target listed the set at $47.99, it makes one wonder what caused such a dramatic change in price at that retailer.  That aside, at least a price that barely tops $40 at Walmart is relatively affordable as long as audiences can find it in store like this critic did.  It is a price that is well worth paying for what truly is a complete series presentation for another great classic Nicktoon series.

Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory’s brand new DVD presentation of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: The Complete Series is a mostly successful presentation.  The presentation succeeds in part through its bonus content.  The bonus content is composed of the series’ pilot episode, all three of its hour-long “Jimmy/Timmy Power Hour crossover specials” and a handful of featurettes.  The pilot episode and specials complete the full episode presentation in the set’s discs.  The packaging builds on the appeal established through the set’s bonus content to make the whole all the more positive.  The set’s pricing is a little problematic to say the least, save for its pricing at Walmart (pending availability even though it was not listed online through Walmart).  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the set’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the collection a mostly successful new offering that Nicktoons fans will – again – mostly appreciate.

The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: The Complete Series is available now. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available along with the company’s latest news at:

Websitehttps://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

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

Paramount, Nickelodeon’s ‘Rugrats: Complete Series’ Presentation Is Entertaining, But Imperfect

Courtesy: Nickelodeon/Paramount

Almost fifteen years have passed since Rugrats finally ended its run on Nickelodeon.  The timeless, beloved series has remained a favorite among its viewers since that time.  The thing is that until 2009, audiences had been left waiting and wondering if this series would ever receive an official release on DVD.  The constant questions and requests were finally answered in 2017 when Paramount and Nickelodeon released the series’ debut season in a two-disc set in stores.  Seasons 2-4 followed later in 2017 and 2018 respectively.  That is where the official releases ended.  More than three years later, audiences’ pleas were finally heard again though, as Paramount and Nickelodeon released the series’ full nine season run on a 26-disc DVD set May 18, complete with the series’ hour-long specials.  Those extras are their own positive to discuss and will be addressed later.  The fact that audiences finally get the full series in an official release is itself a positive.  Now, staying on the topic of the number of discs, the packaging of those discs proves somewhat problematic.  This will be discussed a little later.  When this negative is considered along with the positives of the set’s very presentation and its bonus content, the whole still keeps the collection as one of the year’s top new family DVD/BD box sets.

Paramount and Nickelodeon’s brand new release of Rugrats: The Complete Series is a presentation that longtime Rugrats fans will find mostly positive.  The appeal begins with the presentation of the series in full, just as advertised.  This is important to note because some of the on-demand standalone season sets that Nickelodeon released in partnership with Amazon allegedly were not full seasons.  Rather they were allegedly portions of seasons assembled on-demand on DVD in many cases.  In the case of this set though, audiences get the whole of all nine seasons of the show in precise chronological order within the precise confines of their seasons.  What’s more, the most commonly occurring price listing for the set is $49.95 through Amazon and Walmart while Best Buy barely tops that number at $49.99.  Barnes & Noble Booksellers far exceeds each of those prices, listing the set at $79.99.  So even with tax and (thankfully) no added shipping & handling, audiences pay just over $50 for the set at its more economic prices.  Considering audiences are getting the series’ full run here, and in quite good quality, that price is well worth it.

While the series’ full run and relatively affordable price are clearly positives that audiences will appreciate, the set is not perfect.  That is evidenced through the set’s packaging.  The clamshell case that is used to house the set saves space on audiences’ DVD/BD racks.  At the same time though, that he discs are stacked as much as three high from one season to the next is anything but positive.  What’s more, that the stacks overlap one another throughout the case makes the packaging even less appealing.  That is because this packaging method greatly increases the odds that the discs will damage one another at some point by scratching one another.  Again, yes, it is ergonomic in its design.  At the same time though, true, longtime audiences will agree that a long box format with each standalone season would have made more sense and been more acceptable despite the less ergonomic packaging.  That is because it would have better protected the discs.  Maybe somewhere down the line, Paramount and Nickelodeon will take this into account and re-issue the set in such packaging.  In the meantime though, audiences are left to be so gentle with the discs in hopes that they do not inadvertently damage them as they have to constantly move them.  Keeping this in mind, anyone who owns the series’ first four seasons in their standalone sets (like this critic) are recommended to keep those sets just so they can avoid having to constantly move the discs around in this bigger set, and instead just worry about Seasons Five through Nine.

This is just one of the problems posed by the packaging.  Along with the concerns raised about the discs’ packaging, there is no note as to which discs contain the aforementioned bonus specials.  As a result, audiences will be left having to go through each season to find them.  This goes right back to the discussion on the discs being stacked and risking damage as a result.  So this is in itself another insult to longtime Rugrats fans.  To save audiences that trouble, here is a guide to follow:  “Runaway Reptar” is located on the third disc of Season 6.  The All Grown Up pilot, “All Growed Up” is located on the third disc of Season Eight.  The ‘Tales from the Crib” specials are located on the fourth disc of Season Nine along with the holiday special, “Babies in Toyland.”  Now, keeping the bonus content in mind, it rounds out the most important of the set’s elements.


As noted, all of the Rugrats specials are featured here.  The “Tales from the Crib” specials are available on a standalone DVD at a relatively low price while “Runaway Reptar” is available as part of another standalone Rugrats DVD.  “Babies in Toyland” is also featured in the Rugrats holiday DVD box set.  Until now, those DVDs were the only way to own those stories.  So in essence, audiences get for the first time here, the entirety of the Rugrats series from beginning to end.  While the musical numbers in the “Tales from the Crib” specials are forgettable, the stories themselves are entertaining.  Audiences will love the breaking down of the fourth wall in “Snow White” as Queen Angelica tries to figure out how to get rid of Snow White (played in this case by Susie Carmichael).  The reminder from the announcer that what was done in the original story cannot be done in this story because it is family friendly will have plenty of audiences laughing.  The jokes about three jacks in the Rugrats take on Jack and the Beanstalk makes for its own laughs, too.  In the case of “Runaway Reptar,” Tommy and company’s use of their imaginations as they try to figure out why Reptar has gone bad in a movie is itself moving.  Classic sci-fi fans will love the spoof of the original Godzilla vs. Kong and Godzilla vs. Mecha Godzilla here, too. The babies’ wonderings about what the future will be like for them in the All Grown Up pilot is entertaining in its own right, considering that the series had shown them as babies for so many years up to the point at which it originally aired.  All things considered here, the bonus specials add their own enjoyment to the presentation of the series here.  They and the full run of episodes make for plenty of reason to own this set.  That is even considering the highly problematic issue of the set’s packaging.  Even with that in mind, the set still proves itself among the best of this year’s new family DVD and BD box sets.

Paramount and Nickelodeon’s recently released official full series presentation of Rugrats is an entertaining but imperfect presentation.  That audiences finally get the full series in one, official set will appeal to any of the series’ longtime fans.  That is because up until its release May 18, audiences only had the series’ first four seasons available in official box sets.  It shows that someone(s) at Paramount and Nickelodeon finally listened to audiences’ pleas.  While the presentation of the series in full is positive, the packaging thereof detracts considerably from its appeal.  The packaging presents all nine seasons in a clamshell package with each season’s discs stacked as many as three high.  This greatly increases the chances of damage to the discs, especially considering each stack overlaps another in each season.  This means the discs have to be moved far more than necessary.  That increased movement of the discs increases, again, the odds of the discs getting invariably scratched.  A long box presentation with each standalone season therein would have been far more proper here.  Time will tell if the people at Paramount and Nickelodeon heed that advice and eventually re-issue the collection in that more proper setting.

The lack of a guide for the bonus content makes the set’s packaging even more problematic.  That is because it will lead audiences to have to otherwise search through the discs, moving them just as much, just to find the extras.  That they are so spread out across the set’s seasons makes things even more problematic.

On the opposite hand, the fact that the bonus content is collected here together for the first time ever adds to the appeal again.  That is because the specials have only been available separate of one another up until now.  So to have them culled here along with the series’ run puts the finishing touch to this presentation.  The collective content’s presentation makes the set at least one of the year’s top new family DVD and BD box sets, but not its best.  It is available now.  More information on all things Rugrats is available online at https://www.facebook.com/Rugrats.  

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://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.  

PBS’ ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’ Set Is The Most Beautiful Of 2018’s Family DVD & BD Box Sets

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

Time is quickly ticking away for 2018.  As the hours tick by, Phil’s Picks is trying to get everything done before the old year is out and the new year is in.  Next up as this finally day of 2018 winds down is the year’s top new DVD/BD box sets for families.

Just as grown-ups has plenty of options this year in regards to DVD and BD box sets, so did families in whole.  Some of this year’s top family box sets also made their way to the grown-ups box sets list, as (E.G. Milk StreetSeason One and Finding Your RootsSeason 4).  That is because they really can be just as entertaining for the whole family as for grown-ups.

The top spot in this year’s list goes to PBS’ Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood collection, It’s A Beautiful Day.  The multi-disc set offers hours of entertainment from a variety of classic Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood series.  Considering how hard it is to find the series even on PBS stations nationwide, and the lessons that the episodes teach, this new collection hopefully will not be the only one from the series to be released.

Second Place in this year’s list belongs to Gravity FallsThe Complete Series.  While its creator openly said it was intentionally short-lived, it has made one heck of an impact on audiences, and rightfully so.  Whether one owns the collector’s edition or the standard set, which features episode-length commentaries with each episode, the series stands out.  With any luck there will be a third season one day.  One can only hope.

The third spot in this year’s list goes to RugratsSeason Three, and it is followed up by the series’ fourth season.  The land mark series’ writing was absolutely outstanding in both seasons.  One can only hope that Nickelodeon will continue giving proper releases for the rest of the series’ seasons every year as it has done up to this point.

Also featured in this year’s list are the fifth season of CBS’ timeless fish out of water sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies, which was released on DVD this fall, alongside the full release of Fraggle RockThe Animated Series and the ninth season of Spongebob Squarepants.

Whereas this critic’s previous lists all featured 15 total titles, this list will only feature 10 titles.  Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks 2018 Top 10 New Family DVD/BD Box Sets.

PHIL’S PICKS 2018 TOP 10 NEW FAMILY DVD/BD BOX SETS

  1. Mister Rogers’ NeighborhoodIt’s A Beautiful Day Collection
  2. Gravity FallsThe Complete Series
  3. RugratsSeason 3
  4. RugratsSeason 4
  5. The Beverly HillbilliesThe Complete Fifth Season
  6. Courage The Cowardly DogThe Complete Series
  7. Fraggle RockThe Complete Animated Series
  8. Milk StreetSeason One
  9. Finding Your RootsSeason Four
  10. Big Box Of Kids Favorites (Mill Creek Entertainment set)

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Here’s To Hoping We’ll See More Rugrats Sooner Rather Than Later

Courtesy: Nickelodeon/Paramount

Courtesy: Nickelodeon/Paramount

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Re-issues.  Most people in this day and age don’t give them the attention or credit that they deserve.  Yet in an age in which prequels, sequels and reboots dominate theaters and in which reboots are beginning to develop a noticeable presence on television, re-issues are becoming critical entertainment outlets.  Whether on DVD or Blu-ray, re-issues are playing increasingly vital for those looking for an alternatives to all of the unoriginal prequels, sequels, reboots (and even overly embellished bioflicks) that are churned out on the big screen and small screen.

Because re-issues are so important for audiences looking for an alternative to the general lack of substantial new or creative material on television and in theaters, it is just as fitting that they receive their own year-ender list.  That being the case, that is exactly what is being presented here, the top new DVD and Blu-ray re-issues of 2017.  Included in this year’s list are re-issues of United Artists’ 1960 romantic dramedy The Apartment courtesy of Arrow Films, MGM’s 1951 sci-fi/horror classic The Man From Planet X, and even re-issues of some classic TV series including the first two seasons of Nickelodeon’s timeless animated series  Rugrats.  Those two sets, previously released via Amazon (along with the series’ other eight seasons) take the top two spots on this list.

As with every previous list, this list features this critic’s Top 10 titles as well as five additional titles for a total of 15 titles.  Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks’ 2017 Top 10 New DVD/BD Re-Issues.

PHIL’S PICKS 2017 TOP 10 NEW DVD/BD RE-ISSUES

  1. RugratsSeason 1
  2. RugratsSeason 2
  3. The Old Dark House
  4. The Man From Planet X
  5. Terror In A Texas Town
  6. Misery
  7. The Apartment
  8. Yes Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus
  9. The Yogi Bear ShowThe Complete Series
  10. Spongebob SquarepantsThe First 100 Episodes
  11. Where On Earth Is Carmen San Diego? — The Complete Series
  12. The Love Of A Woman
  13. The Big Knife
  14. Car Wash
  15. Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie

That’s it for this list, but not for the DVD and Blu-ray titles.  There are still lists for the year’s top new family DVDs/BDs, grown-up DVDs/BDs, Children’s DVDs/BDs and maybe even the year’s top new independent movies and theatrical releases.  Time will tell if I have time to get to them.  Either way, there’s still more to come, so stay tuned!

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.

Paramount, Nickeldeon’s ‘Rugrats’ Season Sets Honor The Series And Its Fans

Courtesy: Nickelodeon/Paramount

The long wait is finally over…well…sort of.  More than a decade after it ended its run on Nickleodeon, Rugrats finally started getting a proper in-store release courtesy of Paramount and Nickelodeon.  The companies partnered to release the series’ first two seasons in store this week. This week is not the first time the series has been released.  All nine seasons have previously been released via Amazon on Made-On-Demand DVD-R discs.  Even with this in mind, this first true official release for the series’ first two seasons proves to be an impressive start for fans waiting years for the series to get any proper release.  The seasons’ episodes largely support that statement despite one lingering problem.  This will be discussed shortly.  The sets’ packaging is another important element to discuss in examining these new releases.  It will be discussed later.  The sets’ average price point may seem insignificant to discuss, but in reality, it plays its own important part in their overall presentation, too.  Each element noted here is important in its own right to the sets’ presentations.  All things considered, these sets prove to be collections for which every Rugrats fan has waited and hoped.

Paramount and Nickelodeon’s newly released full season sets of Rugrats: Season 1 and Rugrats: Season 2 are everything that the series’ fans have hoped for in a long-awaited proper release.  That is proven first and foremost through the seasons’ episodes.  Audiences will be happy to know that both seasons are presented here in the same chronological order in which they were presented in their original broadcasts.  The only episode that is not included here is the series’ original pilot episode “Tommy Pickles and the Great White Thing.”  Why this episode was omitted from Season 1 is anyone’s guess.  In defense of Paramount and Nickelodeon, the Season 1 set released by Amazon and Nickelodeon back in 2009 faced the same issue.  Considering this, one has to think the omission is linked to someone at Nickelodeon more so than Paramount or even Amazon.  Keeping that in mind, the episodes presented in the first and second season of Rugrats in their new home release builds a solid foundation for these sets’ presentations.

Courtesy: Nickelodeon/Paramount

The episodes presented in the first true official home release of Rugrats: Season 1 and Rugrats: Season 2 are in themselves more than enough reason for audiences to own these collections.  The episodes’ actual presentations are just as important to note in examining the sets’ overall presentations.  Audiences (and especially true fans) will appreciate the fact that the episodes are presented exactly the same way as they were in their original broadcasts.  The opening sequence is presented before every episode in both seasons along with each episode’s title sequence.  The end credits are there, too along with the post credits sequence, too.  Simply put, between the full episode listing in each season and the full presentation of each episode, these episodic elements build a strong, solid foundation for the first official home release of Rugrats’ first two seasons.  They are not the only elements to consider.  The sets’ packaging is important to discuss in examining their presentations, too.

The episodic elements incorporated into the first official home release of Rugrats’ first two seasons form a strong, solid foundation for the sets’ presentations.  They are not, however, the sets’ only key elements to discuss.  The sets’ packaging is important to discuss, too.  That is because of the obvious attention to detail here, too.  The sets’ packaging once again places each set’s discs on their own plates inside the ergonomic cases, which in turn protects the discs from scratching damage and saves space on DVD racks.  Even more interesting to note is that this time out, Season 1 is spread across only two discs instead of the apparent three that were used in its Amazon release.  Season Four is still spread across four discs, just as in its Amazon release.  So overall what audiences get in the sets’ packaging is the same attention to disc safety and space saving as was used in their Amazon releases.  Considering this, the sets’ packaging proves to be just as critical to their presentations in their new home releases as their episodes.  It still is not the last of the sets’ most important elements.  The sets’ average price point rounds out its most important elements.

The episodes presented in Nickelodeon and Paramount’s new home release of Rugrats: Season 1 and Rugrats: Season 2 and their very presentations are unquestionably critical to the sets’ presentations.  Collectively, they form a solid foundation for the sets’ presentations.  The sets’ packaging builds on that foundation, strengthening it even more.  While both elements are clearly critical both solely and collectively, they are not the sets’ only important elements.  Their average price point rounds out their most important elements.  The average price point of the series’ first season between Target, Wal-Mart, Amazon and Best Buy is $9.21.  Season 2’s average price point is $13.65 when averaged between those same retailers.  Considering that Season 2 is longer than Season 1, it is expected that its price would be a little bit higher than that of Season 1.  Regardless, the fact that Season 1 averages below the $20 mark and Season 2 averages under the same price with four discs, it goes without saying that both sets are relatively affordable.  For this critic in particular, buying both sets through Wal-Mart online proved the most economical.  Luckily, having ordered them on a free-shipping weekend, their total price together was just over $20.  Keeping in mind this relative affordability of Rugrats’ first two seasons in their first proper home release, the sets’ packaging, their episodes and related items, the whole of these sets’ presentations proves each season to be a must have for any longtime Rugrats fan.  It leaves one hoping that the wait for the series’ remaining seven seasons won’t be as long as it was for these two seasons.

Paramount and Nickelodeon’s first-ever proper home release of Rugrats: Season 1 and Rugrats: Season 2 are collections that are musts for any longtime fans of the beloved series.  Each season’s full episodic run is presented in its respective season save for the series’ pilot episode.  That episode was missing from Amazon’s Season 1 release in 2009, too.  The episodes are presented in these sets exactly as they were in the series’ original run on Nickelodeon, too, complete with opening and title sequences, end credits and even end slate sequence.  It all collectively gives audiences the full experience that they got in the series’ original run.  The sets’ packaging and average price point round out its most important elements, proving even more why every longtime Rugrats fan should own these sets whether they consider them re-issues or new releases.  They are available now in stores and online.  More information on these sets is available online.

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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

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

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.