Audiences Of All Ages Had Lots Worth Watching On TV And Streaming in 2022

Courtesy: PBS Distribution

Hollywood’s major movie studios offered audiences little to enjoy this year both in regard to theatrical and streaming content.  This year’s crop of new cinematic presentations has just been more of the same prequels, sequels, reboots, and movies based on actual events and books.  The last of those categories – the movies based on actual events and books – change so much from the source material that they are really that unworthy of watching and always have been.  Anyone that wants the real stories behind those movies based on actual events would do better watching PBS’ American Experience and American Masters series.

Speaking of PBS, PBs is also known for importing shows from overseas that really are so much better than even what major American networks have to offer, as in the case of Endeavour and the surprisingly enjoyable rebooted series, All Creatures Great & Small.  Both those series saw their latest seasons released to DVD and BD this year, and those seasons are included in this year’s list of the year’s top new DVD/BD box sets for grown-ups.  Also on this year’s list is the recently released full series release of Seaquest DSV: The Complete Series.  DC also had a number of notable home releases this year from series, such as Doom Patrol, The Flash, and Lois & Superman, all of which also made it onto this year’s list.

As with each list from Phil’s Picks, this one features the year’s top 10 titles in the given category and five honorable mention titles, for a total of 15 titles.  From dramas to comedies to action and more, this year’s collection of new box sets for grown-up audiences offers so much enjoyment and engagement.  Without any further ado, here is Phil’s Picks 2022 Top 10 New DVD/BD Box Sets For Grown-Ups.

PHIL’S PICKS 2022 TOP 10 NEW DVD/BLU-RAY BOX SETS FOR GROWN-UPS

  1. All Creatures Great & Small: Season 2
  2. Endeavour: Season 8
  3. Seaquest DSV: The Complete Series
  4. Abbott Elementary: Season 1
  5. Star Trek Discovery: Season 4
  6. The Flash: Season 8
  7. Lois & Superman: Season 2
  8. Doom Patrol: Season 3
  9. The Honeymooners Specials: The Complete Collection
  10. Peacemaker: The Complete First Season
  11. Spiderman: Far From Home/Homecoming/No Way Home
  12. James Bond: Daniel Craig 5-Film Collection
  13. Star Trek Lower Decks: Season 2
  14. Halo: Season 1
  15. Titans: Season 3

Grown-ups were not the only audiences who received lots of enjoyable offerings this year in regard to home releases.  Families in general also had lots to like this year in the way of home releases.  Only 10 titles made Phil’s Picks list this year, instead of 10, just because there were not enough new family releases for families.  This year’s field of notable family releases includes the 2022 World Series Collector’s Edition set, The Batman: The Complete Series, and even the complete series run of Ed, Edd, & Eddy.  That Seaquest DSV set is technically family friendly, too, in comparison to so many action shows out there today.  Keeping all of that in mind, here is the list of this year’s top new Family Friendly DVD/BD Box Sets.

PHIL’S PICKS 2022 TOP 10 NEW FAMILY FRIENDLY DVD/BD BOX SETS

  1. The Batman: The Complete Series
  2. The Proud Family Original Series: Anniversary Edition
  3. Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood: Kindness Collection
  4. World Series 2022: Collector’s Edition
  5. Seaquest DSV: The Complete Series
  6. Ed, Edd & Eddy: The Complete Series
  7. Rugrats: Season 1, Volume 1
  8. Kamp Koral: Season 1, Volume 1
  9. The Patrick Star Show: Season 1, Volume 1
  10. Scooby Doo & Guess Who: The Complete Second Season

That is it for this year.  Work is already underway for new titles being released in 2023.  The second season of the Rugrats reboot is due out in March, for instance.  Strange New Worlds: Season 1 is due out around the same time.  Lots of new music, movie, and TV reviews are coming as 2022 gives way to 2023, so stay tuned!

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

‘Halo: Season 1’ Is Not The Best Start For The Video Game-Based Show

Courtesy: Paramount+/Showtime

Early this spring, Showtime and Paramount+ brought Microsoft’s beloved video game Halo to audiences in a brand new streaming series by the same name.  Audiences who don’t stream finally got the chance to see the brand new series for themselves last month when its debut season was released on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K UHD platforms.  The series’ debut season is an intriguing first impression that while not perfect, is worth watching at least once, regardless of audiences’ familiarity with the Halo video game franchise.  The success of the series’ debut season comes in large part through its special effects, which will be addressed shortly.  They give audiences at least some reason to give the series a chance.  While they are an impressive part of the series’ opening act (of sorts), the story at the center of Season 1 is not as strong.  This will be discussed at more length a little later.  It is not enough to doom Season 1.  To that end, there is at least one more positive to note in this season’s presentation.  It comes in the form of the bonus content that accompanies the debut season’s home release, which will also be examined later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the season’s presentation.  All things considered the first season of Halo is not perfect but is still worth watching at least once.

The debut season of Showtime and Paramount+’s Halo streaming series is an interesting first outing for the show, which was adapted from the highly popular Microsoft xBox video game franchise.  The show’s success comes in large part through its special effects.  The balance of the live action and CG elements throughout the series creates a welcome general effect for the presentation.  It is clear when those CG elements are used and when actual sets are used, such as in the asteroid field used by Soren (Bokeem Woodbine – Fargo, Queen & Slim, Spiderman: Homecoming) and the other pirates as their home.  The sets are live action, but the moments when the “cars” travel the wires between the asteroids are clearly CG.  The balance of those moments conjures thoughts (at least to this critic) to the way in which the CG and live action were balanced way back in the 90s in Babylon 5.  That is mean in the most complimentary fashion.  The battle scenes in which audiences watch Master Chief, Kai, Riz and Vannak battle the Covenant monsters were clearly lifted right from the Halo video game.  That is obvious in the heads up displays that are shown as the group shoots the alien beings, and just as much in the fight sequences themselves.  The thing of it is that even as obvious as those incorporations are, knowing they are lifted from the video game makes them bearable.

On yet another note, the prosthetics used to create the Covenant Prophets is another great special effects element used here.  Audiences learn through the bonus content (which will be discussed later), the Prophets are real…or rather, they are real in the fact that they were created through the use of prosthetics by a company called 343 Industries.  The work that went into bringing them to life on screen is so wonderfully comparable to the work of the Jim Henson Creature Shop, which has crafted creates for another well-known sci-fi series, Farscape.  The similarity in style will appeal to fans of both series.  This is just one more of so many ways in which the special effects used here prove to be the most notable positive of the series’ debut season.

While the special effects used in the lead season of Halo are unquestionably impressive, the show’s story is sadly somewhat less impressive.  The story follows as such: John — Master Chief – (Pablo Schreiber — Orange is the New Black, Skyscraper, 13 Hours)  is the ultimate military soldier.  However, after a mission to a colony that comes under attack by the Covenant aliens, something starts to change in him when he touches an artifact found on the planet where the colony is established.  The more John touches the artifact, the more he comes to learn a dark secret about his past that involves the military organization known as UNSC and the not so honorable scientist, Dr. Catherine Halsey (Natascha McElhone – The Truman Show, Solaris, Ronin) who works with the military organization. Eventually, John learns the full truth of who he is and what happened that led him to fight for the UNSC.  Some audiences may think this whole setup is original, but the reality is that it is anything but.  Those familiar with the history of cinema (and television) will immediately find a very close similarity to the setup for Orion Pictures’ 1987 action flick Robocop here.  That is because Officer Murphy (Peter Weller – Robocop 2, The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across The 8th Dimension, Naked Lunch) saw something very similar happen to him in that movie.  When Murphy is gunned down by a group of evil drug runners, he is “brought back to life” by OCP when he is turned into a cyborg cop.  When he starts to remember his past, things start to change for him just like things changed for John as both figures start their own journey of rediscovery and growth.  As John learns the truth of what Halsey and the UNSC did to him, he still has to face down the beings from The Covenant and prevent them from using a device that could potentially wipe out all life in the universe.  How many times in science fiction history has a story’s protagonist had to stop evil beings from using some all powerful device to wipe out all life in the universe?  Again, this is nothing new.  To that end, the story becomes even less engaging.  That is because it is really the same story put against a different (albeit very familiar style) backdrop.

The secondary story involving Kwan Ha is just as much of a problem.  That is because her story really ultimately does not entwine with John’s central story, as much as the writers tried to make the two stories work together.  Ha (Yerin Ha – Reef Break, Sissy, Troppo) wants to avenge the death of her father, Jin Ha (Jeong-hwan Kong – Rampant, Designated Survivor: 60 Days, Jeon Woochi). The thing is that even though Jin Ha died at the hands on the Covenant, her attention is more on a separate figure named Vinsher Grath (Burn Gorman – The Expanse, Pacific Rim: Uprising, The Dark Knight Rises).  Grath is an evil overlord of sorts who runs things on the planet where Kwan Ha and her people’s colony was established.  In other words, her story is fully secondary.  There really is no connection whatsoever to John’s story.  What’s more, she never even plays a part in the final outcome of Season 1’s primary story.  It just leaves one wondering why her story was there, other than just to help set up the primary story and nothing more.  Again, keeping this in mind, the overall story in this season of Halo simply proves anything but positive.  Yes, it is worth watching at least once, but really offers nothing outstanding or extraordinary.

Add in the story of yet another sub-story, that of Makee (Charlie Murphy – Happy Valley, Peaky Blinders, The Last Kingdom) and the story becomes even more problematic.  That is because her anti-hero style story is so formulaic in itself.  She starts out as a member of the Covenant, who ends up making “the ultimate sacrifice” by the season’s end because of an eventual revelation about herself and The Covenant.  It is yet another element that has been used and re-used way to often throughout the history of television and movies.  To that end its use here is anything but original.  When this additional story line is added to Kwan Ha’s secondary story and the primary story involving John’s own self-revelation, the whole proves just the same as ever.  So again, the story does little to add anything spectacular to this season.  It does not doom the season but doesn’t add much of anything to the season either.

Knowing Season 1’s overall story does not doom the season’s presentation, there is at least one more positive to note.  That is the season’s bonus content.  The bonus content is contained largely on the season’s fifth disc.  It consists of extras, such as examinations of the show’s costumes, sets, weapons, etc. The feature that examines the Covenant, as noted before, is one of the most notable.  It would have been so easy for the show’s creative forces to just have the Prophets be CG creations, but they didn’t go that route. Rather, they actually took the time to make the Prophets real characters.  It makes for so much appreciation for the work that went into bringing them to life.  The examination of the sets, weapons and costumes are just as enjoyable because audiences see the amount of time and work that went into making everything as believable as possible on screen.  It shows that a lot of effort and time went into paying tribute to fans of the original video game, even if only in terms of the general effect.  To that end, the bonus content that is presentation in Halo Season 1 makes for plenty of engagement and entertainment, as do the special effects. When the two elements are joined, they make up at least to a point for the failing of the season’s collective writing.  Keeping that in mind, it makes this premiere season worth watching at least once.

The debut season of Showtime and Paramount+’s Halo streaming series is a presentation that does not fully live up to expectations.  That is regardless of audiences’ familiarity with the video game franchise on which the show is based.  It is not a total loss, though.  The show’s special effects give audiences reason enough to take in the show and watch at least once.  That is due to the balance of the live action and CG elements.  The overall story, what with its three story lines (technically four if one count’s Soren’s own story), is anything but original.  The interweaving arcs are examples of writing that has been used time and again in dramas and action presentations alike.  They are stories that have been done time and again, just against a new backdrop.  While the overall writing is anything but original, it is not enough to doom the season’s presentation.  That leaves at least one more positive to be noted in the form of the bonus content that comes with Season 1.  The bonus content overall shows the amount of time and work that went into making Season 1’s general effect positive and believable.  The extensive episode discussions that accompany each of the season’s nine total episodes add even more to that appreciation.  When the overall bonus content is joined with the positive of the special effects, the whole makes this season worth watching at least once.

Halo: Season 1 is available now.  More information on this and other series streaming on Paramount+ is available at:

Website: https://paramountplus.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/paramountplus

Twitter: https://twitter.com/paramountplus

More information on this and other series on Showtime is available at:

Website: https://showtime.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/showtime

Twitter: https://twitter.com/showtime

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

mpi Media Group’s New ‘The Munsters’ Compilation DVD Is A Welcome Alternative To Rob Zombie’s New ‘The Munsters’ Prequel Movie

Courtesy: mpi Media Group

Rob Zombie’s new prequel to the beloved 1960s sitcom The Munsters officially debuted on Netflix and released on DVD and Blu-ray this week.  In the short time that the movie, which tells the story of how Herman and Lily met, has been met with starkly sharp responses from audiences and critics alike.  According to the numbers from Rotten Tomatoes, the movie has received a score of 49% from critics so far, and even worse among audiences, at 35%.  The criticisms have run the gamut, from the makeup and costumes to the general look to the very story itself.  It further shows that it is impossible to improve on perfection, even when perfection only lasted two seasons.  Thankfully for fans of the much better source material that has remained so beloved to this day, mpi Media Group released a much better alternative to the new Munsters movie in the form of the new classic Munsters compilation DVD, Marineland Carnival with The Munsters TV Show Cast Members & More Lost Treasures.  The single-disc presentation offers plenty for audiences to enjoy over the course of its roughly two hour run time.  That is due in large part to its featured content, which will be discussed shortly.  The quality of the footage presented adds to the appeal in its own way and will be addressed a little later.  Considering the content presented here, the DVD’s average price point rounds out its most important elements and will also be examined later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the DVD’s presentation.  All things considered they make the DVD a welcome watch not only during the Halloween season this year but any time during the year.

mpi Media Group’s brand-new collection of rare The Munsters TV appearances is a presentation that so many of the classic sitcom’s fans will appreciate.  That is due in no small part to its featured content.  The content that makes up the DVD’s body comes in the form of the rare hour-long TV special, Marineland Carnival.  This is a presentation that is not included in the standalone DVD sets for either of the series’ two seasons released in 2013.  Season 1 does include the series’ original unaired pilot episode, but again, neither season set features this collection which finds Herman, Lily, Grandpa, Eddie and Marilyn at the Marineland Oceanarium (likely in Florida) taking in a show at the facility.  The family thinks it is at a fish market, leading to its own share of laughs along the way.  Grandpa makes his way up a flag pole and does a few stunts in the process (or rather his stunt double more likely) at one point.  Eddie and Marilyn see a pair of “mermaids” feeding some dolphins at another, as well as enjoying trainers work with seals and dolphins.  Meanwhile Herman, Lily and Grandpa also meet a rather confident walrus who wants to get his feet…er…flippers in the TV door as they make their own way through the park.  The hour-long story is funny in its own right, though it is clear why it was never included as part of the original series at any point.

Star Fred Gwynne gets his own moment in the sun in another funny appearance in The Red Skelton Show in the three-part story, “To-Ra-Ra-Bum Today.”  Herman joins up with Red Skelton’s famous character Freddie The Freeloader in the story and learns how to live like Freddy.  Freddy uses Herman as much as possible, though the story has its own hilarious ending that no one saw coming.

In yet another engaging and entertaining presentation, Gwynne’s co-star Yvonne De Carlo (who plays the part of Lily) appears on The Joey Bishop Show not in her Munsters costume and makeup but as herself.  Her discussion with Bishop about her time on the show, and with the audience about other topics is truly enlightening in its own right.

Much the same can be said of fellow star Butch Patrick’s retrospective on his time on the show.  Many audiences might be surprised to learn from Patrick himself that he got the part because Billy Mumy (Lost in Space, Babylon 5, The Twilight Zone) turned down the role of Eddie originally.  He also notes the enjoyment that he had working with his fellow cast mates throughout the show’s short run while surprisingly speaking highly of Zombie’s new Munsters prequel.  The brief discussion on these and so many other topics makes for even more enjoyment.  This and the other features included in this disc really are the most notable of the disc’s overall presentation.  There is an appearance by Gwynne as Herman on The Danny Kaye Show that is enjoyable.  It finds Herman and Kaye’s Dracula-esque character acting like they are news figures in Transylvania.  It is funny but not overly memorable.  The commercials for other shows that mpi Media Group has released make up the rest of the DVD’s body.  They really are anything but notable, so keeping all of this in mind, the primary content featured in this disc does give audiences plenty to enjoy regardless of the lesser material.

While the primary content featured in the disc makes for its own share of appeal, the quality of the footage therein makes for its own appeal.  The majority of the classic clips shown here are from 1965.  There is one from 1966, and Patrick’s comments were recorded this year.  Those classic clips (including the hour-long special) still sound and look very impressive even considering the features’ ages.  It is clear that no effort was taken to spit shine any of the footage, but it also did not need that added work, as audiences will see and hear for themselves.  The result is such a wonderful and welcome sense of nostalgia for viewers.  Again, this shows the clear importance of the footage presented here.

Keeping in mind the engagement and entertainment that this DVD’s content will bring through itself and through the quality of its video and audio, there is that much more for audiences to appreciate.  That means there is one more item to note, that being the DVD’s average price point.  The DVD’s average price point is $16.82.  That price was obtained by averaging prices listed through Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Books-A-Million.  The most common listing is $14.99, through Amazon, Walmart, and Best Buy.  Target lists the DVD at $15.99, which is still below the noted average price point.  Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Books-A-Million list the DVD at $19.99 and $19.98 respectively, which is well above the average.  In other words, for the most part, the DVD will not break any viewer’s bank account, coming in at less than $20.  That will appeal in itself to the original series’ fans all the more.  To that end, this price point proves to be just as important as the DVD’s content and its quality.  Keeping all of this in mind, Marineland Carnival with The Munsters TV Cast & More Lost Treasures proves itself so worth owning and watching whether this Halloween season or any other time of the year.

Marineland Carnival with The Munsters TV Cast & More Lost Treasures, the new compilation of rare The Munsters TV appearances, is a presentation that so many fans of the original series will enjoy.  The DVD proves so appealing in large part through its featured content.  It is all content that is not featured as bonus content with the most recent – 2013 – release of the series’ two seasons on DVD.  It is also so entertaining.  The quality of the footage makes for its own appeal because it proves no touch ups were needed to any of said material.  The average price point for the DVD makes for its own appeal, too, keeping in mind the overall appeal of the content.  Keeping all of this in mind, the DVD in whole is a welcome addition to the home library of any fan of The Munsters.

Marineland Carnival with The Munsters TV Cast & More Lost Treasures is available now through mpi Media Group.  More information on this and other titles from mpi Media Group is available at:

Websitehttps://mpihomevideo

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/mpimediagrp

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.

‘Star Trek Picard: Season 2’ Struggles To Survive

Courtesy: Paramount/CBS DVD

Hardcore fans of the seemingly ever-expanding Star Trek universe got some good news this year when it was announced that Star Trek Picard, which focuses on legendary Federation Captain turned Admiral Jean Luc Picard, would get a third season run.  The wait for the series’ third and final season will not be too long for said audiences, either, as it is currently planned to stream on Paramount+ from Feb. 16 to April 20, 2023 over 10 episodes.  While audiences wait for the series’ final season, they can take in the series’ second season on DVD and Blu-ray now in a new three-disc set released through CBS DVD.  Of course, this latest installment in the series sadly has little to applaud, save for a couple of high points.  The most notable of the high points is the fact that it relies far less on the foul language and blood and gore of the first season.  This will be discussed shortly.  On the other hand, though, there is a lot to dislike about the season’s story and the packaging for the season’s home release.  This will be examined a little later. The only other positive to this season is the surprise season finale, which will be discussed but not given away here.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the season’s presentation.  All things considered they make the second season of Picard an intriguing presentation that is worth watching at least once regardless of audiences’ devotion to the Star Trek universe.

Star Trek Picard: Season 2 is an intriguing continuation of the series, which focuses on the one and only Jean Luc Picard.  That is because of its overall mixed presentation.  One of the few positives to this season is that it relies so much less on the violence and foul language that was incorporated into the series’ debut season.  The writers relied far too much on that content in Season One, almost as if they knew that otherwise Season One would not work.  Yes, there are some moments of foul language peppered throughout the season, but its presence is so much less in this case than in Season One.  The worst of the bloodshed comes late in the season’s run this time as Seven is run through by the Queen Borg/Agnes (not to give away too much for those who have yet to see this season).  Rios gets injured by one of the borg drones that Dr. Soong uses, but even in that case, the writers kept the bloodshed to a minimum.  It is a nice change of stylistic approach that while still could have been minimalized even more, was still a welcome change in comparison to the level of violence in Season 1.

While the clearly decreased level of violence and foul language incorporated into the second season of Picard makes it more worth watching, this season still fails in so many ways, not the least of which is its story.  The story in question finds Q (John De Lancie) sending Jean Luc and his friends back in time to the 21st century, apparently out of his own bizarre sense of something.  He admits in the end that he just wanted Jean Luc to learn a lesson about forgiving himself (once again, not to give away too much), but he does this at the risk of history being changed forever.  Yes, there is even an alternate timeline bit tied into the season.  What’s more, there is even an indirect reference to none other than Quantum Leap as part of the story.  That really is what audiences get here.  Picard and company go back in time and have to ensure history’s safety, this time all because Q has some quirky fascination with Jean Luc even as he (Q) is dying. 

Complicating matters even more is that Picard and his rogue’s gallery of friends have to ensure that the borg queen, who essentially possesses Agnes, does not manage to take over 21st century Earth and turn it into a borg planet.  Adding even more to the complication is Dr. Soong and his role in everything.  He lets his selfish desire for fame and immortality (literal and figurative) blind him and makes things even more difficult for Jean Luc and company.  Considering that Jean Luc already had to battle the Borg in Star Trek First Contact in order to preserve history, this whole story arc becomes all the less original.  The only difference is that instead of making sure that first contact is made, he has to ensure that his ancestor precedes that moment and joins the flight to Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons.

As if all of this was not problematic enough, the writers incorporate a completely cheesy and unnecessary romance subplot between Rios and a young, single mother who runs her own clinic in Los Angeles.  Obviously, Rios’ own future is set early on and audiences know what will happen here.

The fact that the writers drag out this season’s story as much as they do over 10 episodes, ensuring that Jean Luc keeps getting into so many tough spots, using so much exposition as he recalls his childhood that led him to become the stoic person her became known as during his life, makes for even more problem.  It makes the season feel so much longer than it really is.  To that end, if Season One failed to live up to expectations, then all of this together makes this season fail to live up to expectations even more so because of its overall

The writing is just one of the very problematic issues that Season Two faces.  The season’s packaging proves problematic in its own way.  The three discs over which the season’s 10 episodes are spread are poorly packaged for starters.  Disc One sits on its own spot inside the Blu-ray case while Disc two sits atop Disc three with nothing to protect Disc two from getting marred by Disc 3.  This greatly decreases the potential longevity of at least one of the discs if not both, depending on which one ends up sitting atop the other from one point to another.

Adding to the problems of the packaging is the fact that there is no hint of an episode guide anywhere in the packaging.  The episode titles are printed on the discs, but that is the extent of what audiences get here.  The result is that audiences who have not yet seen Season Two will just have to sit and wait to find out what happens from one episode to the next.  What’s more, even those who are familiar with the series might forget each episode specifically, so even they might end up having to go through just to remember which episode has what aspect of the story.  This greatly diminishes the general effect of Season Two along with the massive writing problems that plague this season.

Keeping all of this in mind, there is at least one aspect of the story that does work.  That aspect is the season’s surprising finale, which actually ties (at least indirectly) back to the story element from Season One involving the Borg.  Audiences who have seen Season One will recall that Jean Luc made the revelation that the Borg were more victims than the monsters that they were made out to be for so much time.  That realization likely led to Picard to ultimately make the decision to give talks with the Borg the chance to talk in the first place in the season premiere (and finale).  The revelation that is made at season’s end is sure to play into the coming third and final season.  It makes all of the slow boil buildup to that point at least somewhat bearable.  Keeping that in mind, this final aspect of the season works with the lessened violence and foul language to make the season worth watching at least once.

The second season of Star Trek Picard is hardly the presentation that it clearly could have been.  It could have done so much right, but sadly did so much else.  That is not to say that it is a total failure.  It succeeds in that it uses far less foul language and overt violence (including bloodshed) than was used in Season One.  The surprise finale to Season Two makes for its own interest, too.  It is certain to shock plenty of longtime Star Trek fans.  These two elements make up at least somewhat for all of the failures that are so prevalent throughout Season Two’s writing and packaging, which are so problematic in themselves and collectively.  Each item examined is important in its own way to the second season of Picard.  All things considered they make Star Trek Picard: Season 2 come up even shorter than the series’ first season.

Star Trek Picard: Season 2 is available now on DVD and Blu-ray. More information on Star TrekPicard is available along with all of CBS All Access’ latest news at:

Websitehttp://www.cbs.com/allaccess

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/CBSAllAccess

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/cbs

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

MPI Media Group Announces Release Date For New Munsters Collection

Courtesy: mpi Media Group

Rocker/director Rob Zombie’s “prequel” origin story of The Munsters is scheduled for release this week on digital and Blu-ray, but for those looking for something more along the lines of the original show, mpi Media Group has something on the way next month.

mpi Media Group announced Monday, it is scheduled to release Marineland Carnival with The Munsters TV Show Cast & More Lost Treasures Oct. 4. The classic presentation is scheduled for release exclusively on DVD. The forthcoming special marks the first time ever that the 1965 TV special will have seen the light of day on DVD.

Along with the title special, the collection also includes a 1966 full-color The Munsters themed “episode” featuring star Fred Gwynne in costume and character as the beloved bumbling head of the Munster household, Herman on The Danny Kaye Show. There are also some rare and vintage segments from other talk shows and a new featurette titled “Munster Memories.” The special presentation features Butch Patrick (who played Eddie Munster in the original series).

In addition, guest appearances by Edie Adams and Joey Bishop, as well as music from New Christy Minstrels.

Marineland Carnival with The Munsters TV Show Cast & More Lost Treasures will retail for MSRP of $19.98. Its run time is listed as two hours.

More information on this and other titles from mpi Media Group is available along with all of the company’s latest news at:

Website: https://mpihomevideo

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mpimediagrp

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.

Season 2 of ‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’ Sees Noted Improvement From The Series’ Debut Season

Courtesy: Paramount/Paramount+/CBSDVD

Paramount+’s animated Star Trek series, Lower Decks is set to make its streaming debut Aug. 25.  That means that fans of the series will not have to wait but so long to find out what happened to Capt. Freeman after her arrest by the Federation.  While audiences wait, they can take in the series’ second season now on DVD and Blu-ray, after it was released July 12 on both platforms.  The show’s second season is an improvement on its debut season in terms of its writing.  This will be discussed shortly.  The bonus content that accompanies Season 2 in its home release is engaging in its own way and will be examined a little later.  The packaging for the standalone presentation rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the presentation.  All things considered they make the second season of Star Trek: Lower Decks an overall success.

The second season of Paramount+’s Star Trek: Lower Decks is an impressive new addition to the animated series.  The season’s success comes in large part through its writing.  That is because the writing seems to have more heart in each of its 10 total episodes.  Right from the season premiere, “Strange Energies,” the writing improves on what was offered in Season 1.  The episode finds a…well…strange energy impacting everyone on board the Cerritos after Mariner “cleans off” a structure on a planet that the Cerritos visits.  Commander Ransom becomes an all-powerful interstellar being, leading Capt. Freeman to have to learn to be much nicer to her second-in-command.  Along the way, the bridge crew and the lower decks crew alike learn some valuable lessons about friendship and respect for others.  Whether that secondary theme was put there intentionally is anyone’s guess, but it is there, and it adds even more to the story.

On another note, the ship’s crew overall learns a valuable lesson about understanding and respecting what the other does in ‘I Excretus.’  A Starfleet trainer is sent to the Cerritos to make the crew take part in some holodeck style training to determine if the ship and its crew should even be in commission.  Boimler is the only member of the crew who succeeds in the training, and his neurotic desire for perfection along the way ends up being the saving grace for the ship and its crew, unexpectedly.  It is another surprisingly enjoyable story and further exhibits what makes this season’s writing so enjoyable.

‘First First Contact,’ Season 2’s finale, is yet another example of the strength of this season’s writing.  That is because it has all of the heart and action of a classic TSO and even TNG episode.  This as the Cerritos is forced to save another ship after an asteroid is destroyed by a solar flare.  The ship’s crew has to remove all of the Cerritos’ outer hull in order to navigate through the debris field left by the destruction, and to save its fellow Federation ship.  What happens following the brave rescue makes for an even bigger surprise.  Viewers will find out what happens as a result of the surprise when Season 3 debuts later in August.  Between this episode’s story, the stories in the other episodes examined here, and those in the rest of the season’s offerings, the whole makes clear why the writing this season proves so strong this time out.  It is just one part of what makes Season 2 so engaging and entertaining.  The bonus content that accompanies this season’s home release adds to that engagement.

The bonus content that accompanies Season 2’s home release is notable because of the background that it offers.  The “Lower Decktionary” special feature for instance is an in-depth near episode-by-episode examination of this season.  The show’s creative heads talk about many of the season’s episodes, explaining the time and thought that went into making each episode warmer and more accessible to audiences.  Some of the cast also talk about recording their lines for certain episodes remotely because of the pandemic.  In listening to them talk about each story, it is clear that much more time and thought went into bringing this season to life than the stories in the series’ debut season.  The discussion on the attempt to tell the stories of the bridge crew just as much as the lower decks crew while also paying homage to fans of Star Trek: TOS and Star Trek: TNG (as well as even those of Voyager, Deep Space Nine, and Enterprise) with certain elements shows that the show’s creative heads better understood the need to connect with as many viewers as possible.

The secondary bonus feature, “A Sound Foundation” is interesting in its own way, too.  In this equally in-depth presentation, audiences are presented discussions on the work that went into all of the sound throughout the series’ second season.  This seems something minor on the surface, but when audiences listen to the discussion, it is clear that just as much time and work went into making the series’ sounds just as connecting to other Star Trek series as the stories.  Taking that into account along with the background offered through this season’s “Lower Decktionary” featurette and even with some of the episode-length audio commentaries, the overall bonus content adds plenty of appeal for the season and enhances the viewing experience even more.  That overall bonus content is just one more part of what makes the season’s presentation appealing.  Its packaging rounds out its most important content.

This season’s packaging is important to address for a pair of reasons.  First and foremost, it ergonomic.  The two discs on which the season’s 10 episodes are contained are each placed on their own plate inside the case.  This protects the discs from one another, thus increasing their longevity.  At the same time, the case itself is the size of a case holding a single disc, so it will save space on any viewer’s DVD/BD rack. 

On another note, the episode listing is printed inside the case.  Some of the brief but concise episode summaries are a little difficult to read because of their placement, but otherwise are not too problematic.  Those brief but concise introductions make it easier for audiences to decide which episode(s) they want to watch.  The result is even more positive general effect for the viewing experience since audience do not have to otherwise search through the episodes one by one on the discs.  That positive impact of the episode summaries being listed in the case and the season’s space-saving presentation makes fully clear, the positive impact of the packaging overall.  When this is considered along with the impact of the season’s writing and its bonus content, the whole makes this season of Star Trek: Lower Decks quite the improvement from the series’ debut season and gives hope for the show’s third season.

The second season of Paramount+’s Star Trek: Lower Decks is a step up from the series’ debut season.  That is proven in large part through the writing in its episodes.  The writing gives each episode so much more heart and depth than that of the episodes in the series’ debut season.  The bonus content that accompanies that writing makes for even more engagement.  That is because it allows the series’ creative heads to talk about the work and thought that went into the writing (and the sound engineering and editing).  The season’s packaging rounds out its most important elements and puts the finishing touch to the set’s presentation.  That is because of the space-saving nature of the packaging and the presentation of the brief but concise episode summaries presented inside the case.  Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of this season’s set.  All things considered they make the presentation a welcome improvement overall from the debut season of Star Trek: Lower Decks.

Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 is available now on DVD and Blu-ray.  More information on this and other titles from CBS DVD and Paramount+ is available at:

Website: https://paramountplus.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ParamountPlus

Twitter: https://twitter.com/paramountplus

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 Kids Prime Video Channel Adds Episodes Of ‘Alma’s Way,’ ‘Let’s Go Luna,’ ‘Pinkalicious & Peterrific’

Courtesy: PBS Distribution

More episodes of the PBS Kids series Alma’s Way, Let’s Go Luna, and Pinkalicious & Peterrific are now streaming through the PBS Kids Prime Video channel through Amazon.

Alma’s Way
‘Do The Waltzango,’ one of the newly added episodes of Alma’s Way features Alma and Becka teaching young viewers about compromise and working together at one point when the friends can’t agree on what kind of dance to do. In another episode, ‘Checkers Champ,’ Andre has to overcome his nerves as he takes part in a Checkers tournament. Luckily Alma is there to help Andre. ‘Chaco’s Day Out,’ yet another of the new episodes, sees Alma and Junior taking Chaco to the playground. In one more of the new episodes, ‘Steggie Rescue,’ Alma, Eddie, and Junior play a light-night game with Steggie.

Let’s Go Luna
Four episodes of Let’s Go Luna are now streaming. ‘Give Me A Sign’ is one of those episodes. Andy finds a new friend and helps the boy bring out his creative side by helping him paint a new barber shop sign for his father. ‘What A T-Wreck!’ is another of the series’ newly added episodes. In the case of this story, Andy helps a paleontologist assemble a dinosaur skeleton in Argentina, but things get rocky along the way. ‘Beetlemania,’ yet another of the newly added episodes, finds Andy helping a lost pet find its owner in Tokyo, Japan. In ‘Fabuloso’s New Clothes,’ Andy accidentally destroys Senor Fabuloso’s suit and has to set thing’s right.

Pinkalicious & Peterrific
While episodes of Alma’s Way and Let’s Go Luna are streaming now, the new episodes of Pinkalicious & Peterrific are scheduled to start streaming May 20. In one episode, ‘Fishtastic,’ Pinkalicious and Peter go on a fishing trip and learn a valuable lesson about being good at what they do. ‘Photographer Peter’ finds Peter becoming a bit of a shutterbug after borrowing his dad’s camera. ‘Robotta’s Singing Delivery Service’ tells a story of Pinkalicious and Peter creating their own unique delivery service when Robotta responds to a command involving singing. Captain Toothy McSquint returns in ‘Pirate Dreamboat’ as Pinkalicious and Peter find the captain’s long lost ship.

More information on all of this new content is available along with all of the latest PBS Kids news at:

Website: https://www.pbskids.org

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PBSKIDS

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.

MPI Home Video’s New ‘Honeymooners’ Collection Is Loaded With Laughs, Insight

Courtesy: mpi home video

The Honeymooners is one of the most iconic and important series in the history of television. Given, it only lasted for 39 episodes over the course of less than a year (October 1955-September 1956), but in the course of that time and in the years since it ended, the impact that it has had remains fully evident. It is well-known that it is the source material for The Flintstones, and there is no denying it had to have had at least some influence in the creation of All In The Family. It has also been spoofed by countless other TV series since its end, and even remained so popular that it apparently has a new reboot in the works, with famed actor Damon Wayans Jr. executive producing.

As if all of that is not enough to show its place in America’s (and the world’s) television pantheon, the show remained so popular following its short run in the late 50s that the cast was brought back in the late 70s for four live specials recorded at a studio in Miami Beach, Florida. Those specials — Second Honeymoon, Valentine Special, Christmas Special, and A Christmas Carol — have each seen their own standalone releases over the years, but have not been collected into one set. That is until last month. MPI Home Video, which also has released the original series in full on DVD, released those four specials on DVD March 22 in a two-disc collection. The set is another win for any devotee of The Honeymooners. That is due in no small part to the stories featured in each special. This will be discussed shortly. The bonus content that accompanies the collection makes for its own positive and will be discussed a little later. The set’s packaging rounds out its most important elements and will also be addressed later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of The Honeymooners Specials: The Complete Collection. All things considered, they make the collection a must for any fully devoted fan of The Honeymooners and even any casual fan of the iconic series.

MPI Home Video’s recently released DVD collection, The Honeymooners Specials: The Complete Collection is an impressive presentation that will appeal just as much to the most devoted fan of The Honeymooners as it will to the series’ more casual fans. The set’s success comes in part through its featured stories. Second Honeymoon is funny in its own right as Ralph (played then by a much older Jackie Gleason) thinks Alice (played by a much older Audrey Meadows) is pregnant when he finds a knitted warmer for his bowling ball and a pair of knitted mitts that Alice had made. Ralph is not smart enough to realize that the holes in the ball warmer are for the holes in his bowling ball. The rest of the time, Ralph leans how to put a diaper on a baby, even thinking a list titled “Mother’s Diet” is a list of what Alice is eating for herself and the baby that does not exist. Gleason’s acting chops are just as sharp throughout the episode as are those of his longtime partner, Art Carney, and their female counterparts. Watching this hilarious story unfold and climax at a meeting of Ralph and Ed’s lodge meeting makes for so many laughs from beginning to end. It is a story that itself has been spoofed so many times by so many other shows, including The Flintstones and other sitcoms.

Another great example of the importance of the stories is that featured in Valentine Special. Ralph gets suspicious of Alice when he finds a list of phone calls that she has taken during her time as an operator. Seeing the names, he thinks Alice is cheating on him. The discovery of a life insurance policy, and Ed mentioning how everything was playing out like an episode of Kojack (which was nearing the end of its run when this special was recorded — it ended in 1978) does not ease Ralph’s nerves any more, especially when Alice has Ralph lay on the floor face down in order to measure him for his new surprise Valentine’s Day gift. The whole thing is yet another fully engaging and entertaining comedy of errors that thrives in its physical and verbal comedy. It shows even to this day that it is possible for comedy to be enjoyable without going full blue. When these two episodes are considered with the two Christmas specials that are also featured in the set (the Christmas Carol story, by the way, is clearly the inspiration for the story at the center of A Flintstones Christmas Carol), the whole of the stories makes for plenty of engagement and entertainment.

Going back to the matter of how the stories manage to show that it is possible for comedy to work without going full blue, one of the bonus features included in the collection proves that even more. The bonus in question is an episode of the series’ reboot from 1967 in which Alice is played by Sheila MacRae. The episode’s story centers on women’s liberation. The writing was clearly an attempt by those behind the cameras to try to make the show relevant to the times, but it sadly fell flat. All of the humor was so opposite of the topics and writing on which the original series rested. It is a clear example of the importance of the collection’s bonus content. That is because it allows viewers to see the contrast of the original series to at least one of its reboots.

On a similar note, Jane Keane, who plays Trixie in the featured specials, is featured in a behind the scenes featurette in which she speaks of Gleason’s apparent dislike of working with MacRae because she was so starkly different than Audrey Meadows. Keane mentions specifically as an example, that Gleason did not like that MacRae wanted to make Alice softer than the portrayal made so famous by Meadows throughout her own career. In comparing the two women, Meadows really is better than MacRae. That is just this critic’s own take on that discussion. This bonus is yet another example of the collection’s overall bonus content.

The two skits that spoof The Honeymooners further show the bonus content’s importance because they show how far the show’s impact reached even long after its original end. One of the skits features Ralph and Alice as an interracial couple, Ralph being black and Alice being white. It shows that the show’s influence even reached into the social climate of the time yet was not preachy in that fashion. The other skit, featured in an episode of The Hollywood Palace, features Ray Bolger alongside Meadows as Ralph and Meadows once again as Alice, except in this case, Alice is the bus driver and Ralph as the stay-at-home spouse. It is a subtle social statement even here, but not overly preachy, thankfully. If anything, it makes for its own share of laughs. When this and the other skit are considered along with the other noted bonus content, the whole of the set’s bonus features makes its overall importance clear. It adds its own share of engagement and entertainment to the overall presentation, making the viewing experience that much more enjoyable.

Moving from the bonus content, there is one more item to note in examining this collection’s overall presentation. That item is the set’s packaging. The collection’s two discs each sit inside the standard size DVD case on their own “plates.” This protects the discs from marring one another, and in turn ensures their longevity. Those responsible for this packaging item are to be commended for going that route. In similar fashion, the smart packaging also means the collection will take up the same amount of space on any rack as any DVD case containing just one disc, making for even more aesthetic appeal. When all of this is considered along with the positives of the stories featured in each of the set’s specials, and with the bonus content that accompanies them, the whole makes this collection a fully engaging and entertaining presentation.

MPI Home Video’s newly released The Honeymooners Specials: The Complete Collection is a thoroughly enjoyable presentation. Whether one is an established fan of the series or more casual, there is plenty for viewers on both sides to appreciate, beginning with the specials’s stories (and the cast’s work presenting them live on stage). The stories and the cast’s work presenting them make for so much engagement and entertainment, showing that the show still had some gas left in the proverbial tank, even nearly two decades after it had ended its initial run. The bonus content that accompanies the collection adds to the engagement and entertainment because of the secondary level of content that it brings. It really leads to so much discussion through everything presented. The set’s packaging rounds out its most important items. It is ergonomic, which is appealing for any physical media fan. Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of this collection. All things considered, they make the set one of the best of this year’s new DVD/BD box sets for grown-up audiences.

The Honeymooners Specials: The Complete Collection is available now. More information on this and other titles from mpi home video is available at:

Websitehttps://www.mpihomevideo.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/mpimediagrp

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.

MPI Media Group Announces ‘The Honeymooners Specials: The Complete Collection” Release Date, Specs

Courtesy: mpi media group

Fans of the classic sitcom The Honeymooners will get a special treat Tuesday courtesy of mpi media group.

The company is scheduled to release The Honeymooners Specials: The Complete Collection on DVD Tuesday. The collection features all four of The Honeymooners specials: Second Honeymoon, Valentine Special, Christmas Special and Christmas Carol.

Second Honeymoon finds Ralph wanting to celebrate his and Alice’s 25th wedding anniversary by renewing the couple’s vows. When Ralph thinks Alice is pregnant though, Ralph’s old pal, Ed Norton teaches Ralph how to care for a baby.

Valentine Special features Alice secretly trying to buy Ralph a suit for Valentines Day. The thing is that when Ralph finds evidence of Alice’s plans, he thinks she is cheating on him and wants to kill him. Ralph enlists Ed to help him go undercover and find out what Alice is up to.

Christmas Special involves Ralph’s love of gambling as he risks his and Alice’s life savings on the lottery, as well as Ed’s holiday bonus. To make things even more interesting, Ralph’s gamble also puts in jeopardy, the social security check of Alice’s mother.

Christmas Carol finds Ralph leading and starring in his company’s annual holiday fundraiser play. In this case the play happens to be none other than Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Ed ends up directing the play and his inexperience helming such a project leads to plenty of comedy.

More information on this and other titles from mpi media group is available at:

Website: https://www.mpihomevideo.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mpimediagrp

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.

Families Have Lots Of Viewing Options As They Spend The Holidays Together

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution/PBS Kids

It’s hard to believe, but there is officially a little more than a week left in the almost old year. For most of the country, it means winter break is here and kids are out of school, getting excited over Christmas and relaxing. That means lots of parents out there are struggling to find ways to entertain their kids and maybe also keep their brains growing at the same time. Phil’s Picks’ final “best of” list for this year will hopefully help with those efforts.

The last of this year’s “best of” lists focuses on the year’s top new single-disc family friendly DVDs and Blu-rays. It features new releases for families from PBS, Shout! Factory, and Nickelodeon, as well as Turner Broadcasting/Cartoon Network, and even 20th Century Studios. It runs the gamut from the educational to the entertaining, too.

Without any further ado, here is the last of Phil’s Picks’ “best of” lists for 2021, this year’s Top 10 New Family DVDs/BDs.

PHIL’S PICKS’ 2021 TOP 10 NEW FAMILY DVDs/BDs

  1. Hero Elementary: Sparks’ Crew Animal Rescue
  2. Wild Kratts: Cats and Dogs
  3. Dinosaur Train: Adventure Island
  4. Molly of Denali: Molly & The Great One
  5. Are You Afraid of the Dark?: Curse of the Shadows
  6. Victor & Valentino: Folk Art Foes
  7. Ron’s Gone Wrong
  8. Jungle Cruise
  9. Paw Patrol: The Movie
  10. PBS Kids Christmas Collection
  11. Thomas & Friends All Engines Go!: Time For Teamwork
  12. Sesame Street: Things Elmo Likes
  13. Sesame Street: Wonderful World of Friends
  14. Baby Shark’s Big Show!
  15. PBS Kids 15 Girl Power Adventures

That’s it for this year, folks. Again though, there are lots of new titles already announced and scheduled for 2022, so Phil’s Picks is already looking forward to next year for all the new family DVDs and BDs and so much other content. 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.