PBS Kids’ New Super Why Collection Is Another Magical Must Have For Teachers, Parents, And Children

Courtesy: PBS Distribution/PBS Kids/PBS

Courtesy: PBS Distribution/PBS Kids/PBS

Earlier this August PBS Kids and PBS Distribution released its latest collection of episodes from its hit vocabulary-building series Super Why: Cinderella and Other Fairytale Adventures. Just the latest in an expansive series of releases, this new collection is one more magical (terrible pun fully intended) collection for the whole family. The main reason that it is such an enjoyable collection of episodes is the writing within each of its five episodes. The episodes, on the surface, take Whyatt and the rest of the Super Readers on five more wonderful stories into the world of books in order to solve problems within the books and in turn problems in their own lives. On another level, the work of the episodes’ writers pays off as it teaches some more subtle lessons along the way that tie in to the episodes. Those more subtle lessons could easily be used as starting points for discussions between children and grown-ups on some very real and very important issues. That is another reason that this latest collection of Super Why episodes proves to be yet another enjoyable collection for the whole family. It will be discussed at more length later. Staying on the topic of lessons being taught, Super Why: Cinderella and Other Fairytale Adventures also comes with some starting points for equally important and invaluable lessons included inside the DVD’s case that are equally valuable in the classroom and the living room. All three elements together make Super Why: Cinderella and Other Fairytale Adventures yet another must have for every educator, parent, and child.

Super Why: Cinderella and Other Fairytale Adventures is hardly the first collection of episodes to be released from PBS Kids’ hit vocab building series. That aside it still is no less enjoyable for audiences. As a matter of fact, considering its title and collection of episodes, it could be said that it is in fact quite the magical collection of episodes. The main reason for that is the work of the series’ writers in crafting each of the collection’s episodes. That is exemplified through the fun adaptations of the five classic fairtytales presented in the collection. Snow White is presented as are Cinderella, The Boy Who Cried Wolf and The Prince and the Pauper and even Cinderella as told from the Prince’s vantage point. While the writers don’t necessarily stick completely to the original stories–which is the norm with any Super Why episode–but the presented adventures do stick just closely enough to the source material to make the Super Readers’ adventures enjoyable. On another level, they make the adventures enjoyable that they leave young readers wanting to read the original stories from which the adventures were lifted. What’s more, the writers clearly and efficiently manage to tie in the Super Readers’ problems with the stories’ problems. This makes both concepts easily accessible for the show’s young viewers. It is yet another way in which the writing behind each episode proves to be so important to the whole of the presentation that is Super Why: Cinderella and Other Fairytale Adventures. It is just one aspect of the whole that makes the DVD so enjoyable, too. The more subtle lessons that are tied into each of the DVD’s episodes are collectively another important part of the disc’s whole.

The primary lessons that are tied into each of the DVDs episodes in themselves gives this presentation plenty of reason to be watched. However, they make up only one part of what makes this DVD worth the watch. There are some more subtle lessons tied into each episode that makes for even more reason to watch each episode. Now not every lesson might have been intentionally inserted into the episodes. But they are there regardless. One example of those more subtle, secondary lessons comes in “Snow White.” The Super Readers jump into the episode’s title book here and meet its lead character as she encounters the evil queen in her guise of the elderly woman. Those familiar with this story know that the evil queen is in disguise as part of her attempt to kill Snow White. On the surface, this ties directly into the episode’s main topic. On a more subtle level, it could be argued that this episode serves as a starting point for a discussion on the topic of “stranger danger” as it is typically called. That is because Snow White didn’t necessarily know the old woman. She was a stranger. And she didn’t have the best intentions for Snow White. So to that extent it could easily be argued that said topic is there. On another level, the episode’s main topic in which Princess Pea has a stomach ache and has to decide whether or not to take Goldilocks’ offer for some popcorn presents a chance to talk about overeating. This could also lead to a whole other discussion on healthy eating, too. To that extent, it can be said yet again that even if the lessons in question were not intentionally placed in any of the episodes, they are there. And this episode alone is just one way in which that argument can be made. “The Prince and the Pauper” teaches a subtle lesson that the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side. This can lead to a discussion on jealousy (wanting what others have and whether or not it’s really worth it). It could even be argued that a discussion centered on appreciating what one has could be started from this episode, too. Yet again, here is another example of how the secondary, more subtle lessons featured in this disc serve to enhance the overall viewing experience of the presentation in whole. It is not the end of the positives boasted by this latest collection of episodes, either. The bonus lesson ideas included inside the DVD’s case round out the presentation, showing in whole why it is in fact yet another must have for any educator, parent, and child.

The lessons–both primary and secondary–that are presented throughout each episode included in PBS Kids’ new Super Why compilation make this disc by themselves a must have for any educator, parent, and child. While both elements prove equally important to the overall viewing experience here, they are not the only reasons that educators, parents, and children alike will enjoy and appreciate this collection. Along with those lessons, there are also some extra ideas for lessons included inside the case itself that are just as valuable in their own right. One of the lessons in question centers on the story of Cinderella. It utilizes the concept of Cinderella having to keep track of time as a starting point for a lesson on telling time. And it’s not just a lecture lesson either. It encourages educators and parents to actually make a clock together and in turn learn about telling time. From The Boy Who Cried Wolf there is a lesson that not only allows children to have a party but learn at the same time by throwing a party that is centered on a specific letter of the alphabet. The catch is that all of the food, decorations, etc. must center around said letter. This has possibilities beyond just learning letters. It could lead to lessons on manners and maybe even more. There is also a vocab building game that uses musical chairs as its base, and even an invaluable lesson about appreciating and celebrating the things that make us different. This lesson brings everything full circle as it is centered on the Super Readers’ second meeting with Cinderella. Not every one of those lessons will reach every young viewer. But it can be guaranteed that every one of the noted bonus lessons will reach at least one specific group of viewers. That being the case, each one of the bonus lessons included inside the DVD’s case prove in full why they are just as important as the lessons presented within the episodes. Together with those episodes, they serve to show completely why Super Why: Cinderella and Other Fairytale Adventures is a definite must have for any educator, parent, and child.

Super Why: Cinderella and Other Fairytale Adventures is not the first collection of Super Why episodes to be released by PBS Kids and PBS Distribution. That aside, it proves in whole thanks to its enjoyable stories and equally invaluable lessons to be yet another magical must have for any educator, parent, and child. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct online via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=66322776&cp=&sr=1&kw=super+why&origkw=Super+Why&parentPage=search. More information on this and other Super Why collections is available online now along with all of the latest Super Why news and even Super Why games and activities at:

Website: http://pbskids.org/superwhy

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

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Welcome Back, Kotter Season Four Is A Fond Farewell For A Great Series

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

The end of the road is finally here for ABC’s timeless sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter.  Late last month, Shout! Factory released the final season of the classic series on DVD.  And Welcome Back, Kotter: The Complete Fourth Season is quite the interesting way for this one of-a-kind series to go out.  As viewers will note in going through each of the season’s twenty-three total episodes, the writers are to be very highly commended for handling the drastic changes to the series’ landscape.  That is the central aspect of the season’s success.  It will be discussed shortly.  In connection to the work of the writers, the work of the series’ cast is just as important to its whole.  After the near complete departure of one-time star John Travolta and series head Gabriel Kaplan, Robert Hegyes, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, and Ron Palillo carried on quite well alongside Marcia Strassman and John Sylvester White.  Last but hardly least of note is the series’ overall production values.  Audiences will appreciate that once again the show looks and sounds surprisingly good even as more than three decades have passed since the show ended its run on ABC.  All things considered, Welcome Back, Kotter goes out on a high note in its fourth and final season.  The proverbial waters were not easy to tread considering the show’s changes.  But somehow all involved managed to navigate them.  The end result is a collection of episodes that every Kotter fan will want to have in his or her own DVD library even though it really is in its final season Welcome Back, Kotter in name only.

Welcome Back, Kotter is in its final season Welcome Back, Kotter in name only.  That is because in this the series’ final season, Mr. Kotter (Gabe Kaplan) is written almost entirely out of the show after the season’s first three episodes.  After those first three episodes, the only mentions of Mr. Kotter come in the part of his wife (played by Marcia Strassman) mentioning him being at this conference or that–as he is now the school’s Vice Principal–whenever now Principal Woodland is looking for him.  She essentially becomes the Kotter in Welcome Back, Kotter.  All of this aside, Season Four still manages to be just as entertaining as the series’ previous three seasons.  The main reason for that enjoyment is the work of the show’s writers.  The work of the series’ writers in the final season of Welcome Back, Kotter is one of the most important reasons for the show’s success.  With what can only assume was the departure of star Gabe Kaplan from the show and the all but nonexistent John Travolta (Travolta appears in this season only in a handful of episodes), the writers had a lot to handle.  That’s because it forced the writers to either adjust to the changes or completely overhaul the show.  Luckily, they did the prior and did so with the utmost professionalism.  They crafted twenty-three episodes that stylistically were familiar both to the cast and crew, and to viewers.  They also exhibited the writers’ collective ability to show that the series could still float even without two of its main stars.  Sure there were some changes here and there.  But by and large, the emphasis on education, friendship and other serious subjects were just as appreciable as the laughs that were tied into every one of the season’s episodes.  Some of the best examples of that balance and solid writing come in the form of “Washington’s Clone,” “The Gang Show,” and “Once Upon A Ledge.”  The prior of the trio takes a similar tone as that of the season’s two-part premiere in its emphasis on the importance of education.  The difference between the two is that “Washington’s Clone” tackles the subject by having Washington having to address a straight-A student named Arthur who wants to be just like him instead of the student everybody had come to know him to be.  Arthur goes so far as to steal watches from his father’s store in order to try and impress Washington.  What’s really interesting here is that for all of the “coolness” for which he is normally known, Washington is forced to show an unfamiliar, serious side in which he has to play counselor to Arthur in his attempt to get Arthur back on the right track.  It’s a surprising yet welcome change to see from Washington.  “The Gang Show” is more light-hearted but still tackles some serious issues in the process.  That light-hearted approach begins right at the episode’s title, which playfully pokes fun at the one-time hit game show The Gong Show.  Beau and Arnold become judges for the school’s annual talent show in this episode.  Fittingly Epstein and Washington team up for their own act.  This forces Arnold and Beau to balance loyalty and friendship with honesty and honor as judges.  The result is absolutely comical but still presents a good message that even today’s younger viewers will appreciate.  Those same viewers will appreciate the writers’ tackling of teen suicide as new character Mary Johnson threatens suicide because she feels unnoticed and unappreciated by anyone else at school.  Go figure, she would go on to be a key character in the season’s advancement.  These are just a few examples of how the writing that went into Season Four make it work so well even with the seeming departure of Kaplan in front of the camera at least and the near full departure of John Travolta.  Each of the season’s remaining twenty episodes could just as easily be used as examples of the writers’ talents, too.  For instance, the handling of alcohol abuse (and more specifically teen alcohol abuse) in “Come Back, Little Arnold,” the lessons of friendship and truth in media in “The Sweat Smell of Success” and the still hot button topic of sex education in “X-Rated Education.” Whether through these episodes, the ones more directly addressed, or through any of the season’s others, it can be said that the episodes in whole prove clearly the importance of the show’s writing even with the changes that came with the season. They are just part of what makes this season work as well as it does, too. The work of the show’s cast proves just as pivotal to its success and enjoyment.

The work of the writers behind Welcome Back, Kotter shows throughout each of this season’s episodes makes this season just as enjoyable as the series’ previous three seasons. That is the case even despite the changing landscape of the show in its final run. In connection to the work of the show’s writers, the work of the show’s cast is just as pivotal to its continued enjoyment. This is key to note because of the noted changes. Stars Ron Palillo, Robert Hegyes, and Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs were forced into the spotlight after [Gabe] Kaplan was essentially written out along with Travolta’s Vinnie Barberino. The trio handled their new roles with just as much professionalism as the show’s writers. There were plenty of laughs from the trio’s mix of physical comedy and almost Three-Stooges style back and forth throughout each episode. Even when it was time for the trio to step up and be more serious, such as when they get Norman to admit to his trouble with alcohol and when they had to get Arthur back on the right track, they did so with an equal level of expertise. Interestingly enough, Beau (Stephen Shortridge) was rather underutilized after his introduction as the newest member of the Sweathogs. It’s almost as if he was brought in without full forethought. Even considering this, Palillo, Hegyes, and Hilton-Jacobs hold their own and create plenty of laughs and moving moments through this season, showing time and again why their work was so important to the season’s success.

Both the work of the writers behind Welcome Back, Kotter and that of the show’s cast are of equal importance to the enjoyment and overall success of the series’ final season. As important as both elements are to the whole of the recently released box set neither would be worth the mention without mention of the set’s production values. Specifically speaking none of it would be worth mentioning without mention of the footage’s audio and video mix. In regards to its video mix, the footage looks just as impressive as that in the series’ previous standalone season sets. The season has been restored to its original condition. And once again, the grainy look of the footage has been cleaned up without losing that original look that the show presented in its original run. The sound is just as enjoyable. Considering the recording tech available at the time, that says quite a bit. When set alongside the work of the show’s cast and writers, the work of those charged with restoring Season Four’s footage makes this final installment of Welcome Back, Kotter one last must have for Kotter fans and classic TV fans alike.

The fourth and final season of Welcome Back, Kotter is one last must have both for fans of the classic series and for classic television fans alike. That is proven through the work of the series’ writers and cast, and through the work of those charged with restoring the footage for its presentation here. Season Four is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tv/comedy/welcome-back-kotter-the-final-season. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory 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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WHV Finally Gets One Right With Its New Peanuts Collection

Courtesy: Warner Home Video

Courtesy: Warner Home Video

This Thanksgiving, Blue Sky Studios and 20th Century Fox will team up to bring audiences the first-ever big screen Peanuts adventure that (go figure) is simply titled The Peanuts Movie. Personal opinions aside, it is interesting to note that as the movie’s debut nears, so is Warner Brothers’ home entertainment division–Warner Home Video (WHV)–stepping up its re-issues of the classic Peanuts TV specials. Already released this year WHV has re-issued Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown. Officials with WHV have also announced that the organization will also release Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don’t Come Back) and He’s a Bully, Charlie Brown along with the company’s new compilation set Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection. The latter of the trio is currently planne for a nationwide release on Tuesday, September 15th. Though, interestingly enough it has already been released through Target likely via a special deal between the retailer and the people at WHV. For those that were not lucky enough to pick up the dual-disc collection in its original release via Target will be pleased to add it to their personal collections. The main reason that audiences will be pleased to add it to their collections is its featured specials. It features eleven classic Peanuts TV specials that while previously released on one platform or another are now collected into this much more ergonomic collection. This will be discussed at more length shortly. Another reason that the collection proves so interesting and worth the purchase is the material presented within each special. Audiences actually get to hear an adult talk for the first time ever in one special (She’s A Good Skate, Charlie Brown). And while most audiences are familiar with the classic Peanuts holiday specials, some will be surprised that there is another holiday special of sorts that is just as deserving of attention in the form of What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown? This special is a deeply moving Memorial Day special that will impact viewers of all ages. Last of note in regards to this collection’s positives is that classic hand-drawn animation style. The old school style of artwork is yet another example of what once made animated features truly animated and in turn truly entertaining. Each noted element shows in its own way that Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection is a surprising new release from WHV. It would be nice to think that maybe it marks the beginning of WHV finally moving in the right direction after having slid in the wrong direction for the past couple of years or so. One can only hope. Even if it is just a random diamond in the rough from the once powerhouse studio, it proves through all three noted elements together, to be one that any Peanuts fan will happily welcome into his or her home DVD library.

Warner Home Video has been noticeably declining over the course of the past two years or more. That is evident through every one of its releases both for families and for select audiences. Said releases have shown that someone(s) at WHV apparently did not and does not care about providing audiences with quality home releases. For all of the problematic releases that WHV has put out in stores over the past couple of years or so, finally a random diamond in the rough from WHV will be released very soon in the form of the new Peanuts collection Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection. This collection of TV specials includes eleven classic Peanuts TV specials that some of which were nominated for Emmy Awards while certain others actually received the coveted trophy. It should be noted that all eleven of the specials featured in this new double-disc collection have each previously been released via one platform or another. Some have been released on VHS while others have previously been released on DVD. Others have even been issued and re-issued on one platform then another. Despite this, some viewers out there might not have been lucky enough to add one, another or more of the featured specials up until this point. That being the case, all eleven specials show collectively to be of the utmost importance for all viewers. That is because more than likely among the legions of Peanuts fans around the world few to any likely have all of the included specials.

The inclusion of each of its specials in one collection is good for Peanuts fans everywhere in large part because having them all in one place means just that. It means that for the first time ever each one of the specials has been finally released on one platform on which all audiences can watch them. No one is left behind. On another level, for those that had one or more of the specials in question from their previous releases can finally eliminate those platforms (or at least most of them if they own the original VHS copies of said specials). That will ultimately lead to saved space for many fans on their respective DVD racks. Again, this might not apply for every Peanuts fan. But it will definitely apply to many fans. And that being the case, it makes the collection’s ergonomic factor that much more important to the whole of its success and enjoyment.

The episodes presented in Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection show clearly why they are within themselves quite important to the whole of the collection. Examining the episodes on a closer level, ther writing shows to be just as important to the collection as the episodes themselves. In examining the specials’ writing it becomes clear why they were either nominated or in some cases even won an Emmy. That is most evident through the surprisingly moving special What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown. This sequel of sorts to Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don’t Come Back) follows Charlie Brown and company on their departure from France. Along the way, the Peanuts gang happens to arrive at Normandy and the site of the Allied landing on D-Day. The history lesson provided by Linus upon their arrival is unbiased and moving all at the same time. The writers don’t pull any punches here, revealing that the Allied attack on Normandy was in fact anything but perfect. Linus notes in his lesson that weather conditions had ruined the mission so much that Allied commanders even considered pulling back. That is a lesson that sadly very few history teachers and professors alike will teach in the classroom. So it is nice to have that historical truth noted in a special that is aimed at younger viewers.

In another of the collection’s episodes, She’s A Good Skate, Charlie Brown, audiences actually get to hear an adult speak for the first (and probably only)time in the history of the Peanuts TV specials. The adult in question is Peppermint Patty’s teacher. She continuously calls on Patty as Patty continues falling asleep in class thanks to her early morning skating practice. Yes, skating. That is another reason that the writing in this special proves so notable. Anyone that knows their Peanuts history knows that Peppermint Patty is more of a tomboy than a girly girl. Heck, she was even voiced by males in a number of the specials. So having Patty taking part in a sport that is traditionally more aimed at females than males shows a completely opposite side of Patty and to the Peanuts universe in whole.  It is a change that all audiences will agree now in the 21st century is a welcome change.  It shows that it’s okay for a girl to be girly and one of the boys.  Simply put, it really serves to defy those strict, standard gender roles established by society.  Whether or not that is the reason that it at least received an Emmy nomination, it is one more reason that the writing behind this special stands out so strongly as one more part of the whole of the collection’s writing.

Why, Charlie Brown, Why? is perhaps the strongest evidence of the importance of the writing behind the collection’s featured episodes. This episode tackles the issue of cancer. On a more specific level, it tackles the issue of childhood cancer and the impact of cancer on both the victim and his or her friends and family. Its story centers on a young girl named Janet who is diagnosed with leukemia. It just so happens that she is friends with Linus and the rest of the Peanuts gang. Though, Linus is the main character of this story. That side element of the story’s writing will be discussed shortly. Sticking on the main topic, the manner in which the writers tackled the subject is hugely worthy of applause. It was handled with the utmost gentility and in a fashion that also made the topic accessible even for much younger viewers. That in itself makes this special more than just a special. It is special in every sense of the word. It’s just one aspect of the special’s writing that makes it so notable among the others included in this set. The fact that Linus was made the story’s central character makes it even more worth the watch. It’s not the first time that Charlie Brown took a back seat to his Peanuts pals. But it is one of the most successful episodes that featured someone other than Charlie Brown at the center of the story. That is especially the case as audiences see Linus actually lose his cool in a very rare instance. He loses it when another child makes fun of Janet for having lost her hair right in front of him. Audiences will find themselves cheering Linus on and even doing so with the slightest tear in their eyes. That rare moment really exemplifies the pent-up feelings that not only children feel in a situation such as that presented here, but grown-ups, too. So for that reason too, the writing behind Why, Charlie Brown, Why? shows even more the importance of the episodes’ writing in whole in examining the set in whole. It is just one more example of the importance of the writing within each of the set’s episodes. The writing within each of the remaining eight specials shows in its own way why the writing in whole is so important to the episodes’ enjoyment and the success of the set in whole. And together with the episodes themselves, both elements together make a strong argument why every Peanuts fan should have this new collection in his or her own home DVD library. They still are just part of the whole of the collection’s positives. Last of note is the animation style within each episode.

Both the episodes featured throughout the body of Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection and the writing within each special makes for plenty of reason for Peanuts fans to appreciate this latest collection of Peanuts classics. Of course what examination of such a classic collection would be complete without mention of the specials’ animation style. Every one of the specials featured as part of Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection was drawn by hand. That means that endless hours were spent bringing to leave each and every second of each special. Now being that each special runs roughly in the range of about twenty minutes (or just a little more in some cases), the math adds up to quite a bit of time spent on bringing each special to life for broadcast. That says a lot when these specials are compared to the largely CG presentations out there today that try to claim themselves as being animated. They are animated in name only. These specials show everything that was once great about true, animated features. Each one of the specials boasts a similar look. But there are also minute details within each special that set them apart. Audiences that have eagle eyes will catch that minutia. The same can’t be said of today’s CG creations. It really gives these classic specials a real soul and heart. Together with the episodes’ impressive writing and the episodes themselves all three elements come together to make Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection a clear must have for any real devoted Peanuts fan.

Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection is a must have for any real Peanuts fan. That is the case whether or not said fan already owns any of the specials presented here on their original release platforms. The collective writing presented within each of the collection’s makes the episodes and the collection in whole even more enjoyable. The standout animation style presented across each of the collection’s specials rounds out the presentation. It reminds audiences by comparison of what once made animation so great. The animation is original. Even the upcoming Peanuts Movie that is due out this Thanksgiving doesn’t entirely hold up to that style of animation despite the efforts of those behind the movie to make it look like the classics on which it is based. Each element in itself proves to be an important part of the collections’ whole. Altogether they make Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection a collection that any true-blooded Peanuts fan would himself or herself be honored to have in his or her home DVD library. Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection is available now exclusively in Target stores nationwide. It will allegedly be available nationwide in other stores beginning Tuesday, September 15th. More information on this and other upcoming Peanuts releases is available online now along with the latest Peanuts news at:

Website: http://www.peanuts.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/snoopy

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

Shout! Factory To Resurrect Another Hidden Classic This Fall

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Fabulous Films

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Fabulous Films

This fall, Shout! Factory will resurrect another piece of hidden television history that was long thought forgotten when it releases the short-lived ABC action-comedy Automan.

Shout! Factory, in partnership with Fabulous Films, will release Automan: The Complete Series on Tuesday, November 10th. The 13-episode series originally ran on ABC from December 15th, 1983 to April 2nd, 1984. It starred Desi Arnaz, Jr. (The Lucy Show, Here’s Lucy) in the series’ lead role of Walter Nebicher. Nebicher was an IT professional with dreams of being more than just a tech man for his local police department. Though, his superiors have other ideas. So he creates the artificial intelligence program Automan (Chuck Wagner—General Hospital, All My Children) to help fight crime in his city. Automan is accompanied by a small, floating droid named Cursor much as Clu did in Disney’s surprise hit 1982 movie Tron. Speaking of the similarities between Automan and Tron they are not coincidental. Automan was co-produced by Donald Kushner (Tron, Tron: Legacy).

Automan: The Complete Series will be accompanied by a handful of extras for even more enjoyment including a forty-two-minute documentary titled: “Calling Automan – The Auto Feature,” which includes interviews with series stars Chuck Wagner, Glen A. Larson, Desi Arnaz, Jr., and heather McNair. There will also be a feature focusing on “The Story of Automan,” a trailer for Manimal: The Complete Series, which will be released alongside Automan: The Complete Series by Shout! Factory and Fabulous Films, a number of picture galleries and more. The complete list of bonus features included in Automan: The Complete Series is noted below.

Special Features:

  • “Calling Automan” – The Auto Feature – 42 minutes

An all-new documentary featuring interviews with Chuck Wagner, Glen A. Larson, Desi Arnaz Jr. and Heather McNair

  • The Story of Automan
  • Feature Story
  • Original Cast and Crew Biographies
  • Collectables Gallery
  • Stills Gallery
  • Manimal Trailer

Automan: The Complete Series will be available on DVD in stores and online on Tuesday, November 10th. It will retail for MSRP of $26.99 but can be pre-ordered for a discounted price of $21.99 via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tv/tv-sci-fi/automan-the-complete-series. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

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

Starz To Hoist The Flag Again This Fall

Courtesy: Starz/Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: Starz/Anchor Bay Entertainment

Starz network will hoist the flag once again this fall.

Officials with Starz network announced this week that it will release the second season of its hit high seas action/drama Black Sails on Tuesday, November 3rd. It will be released on both DVD and Blu-ray + Digital HD combo pack. The second season of the Emmy Award-winning series picks up right where Season One left off. The crew of the Walrus is in a standoff with an army of Spanish soldier who stand in the way of a large trove of Urca gold. The events of Season One now see Flint and Silver being forced to team up in order to survive their ordeal. While the pair is away, a new group of pirates led by Ned Low has descended on Nassau. This leaves Eleanor Guthrie fighting to keep her hold on the region.

As Season Two progresses and tensions heighten, Charles Vane is faced with some difficult decisions. He must decide if he values Eleanor more or the respect of his crew. These distractions allow for a priceless treasure to be smuggled into Nassau. It is a treasure that is so invaluable that its discovery will have an immeasurable impact on everything and everyone that everybody knows.

Along with its full compliment of episodes, Black Sails: The Complete Second Season will also have more than an hour of exclusive bonus features, that also includes expanded commentaries from the show’s cast and creators, behind-the-scenes featurettes that center on the show’s stunt work and special effects, and more. The complete list of bonus material to be included in Black Sails: The Complete Second Season is listed below.

New Bonus Features:

Inside The World Of “Black Sails”
The Man O’ War
Expanding Worlds
High Seas Action
History’s Influence

Black Sails: The Complete Second Season will be available in stores and online on Tuesday, November 3rd. It will be available on DVD and Blu-ray + Digital HD combo pack. The DVD set will retail for MSRP of $49.98 and the Blu-ray + Digital HD combo pack for MSRP of $59.99. More information on Black Sails, including all of the latest news from the set, is available online now at:

Website: http://www.starz.com/blacksails

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/blacksails.starz

Twitter: http://twitter.com/blksails_Starz

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PBS Takes Wing Next Month With Its New Avian-Centered Documentary

Courtesy:  PBS/New Hampshire Public Television

Courtesy: PBS/New Hampshire Public Television

PBS takes flight next month when it releases the new box set Counting on Birds: Tales of Migration.

PBS Distribution will release its new box set Counting on Birds: Tales of Migration on Tuesday, September 8th. The new two-disc set features five episodes that follow the migratory patterns of some of New England’s migratory birds. Hosted by Willem Lange, the program was produced by New Hampshire Public Television. Lange makes his way through both North and South America as he follows the birds. He meets a number of bird enthusiasts and experts along the way who work to track and protect the birds throughout their trips. Lange is an author and Emmy Award-winning host of New Hampshire Public Television’s Windows to the Wild series.

The set’s title episode opens the presentation. It is in this episode that Lange brings viewers along to meet members of the National Audubon Society at the organization’s annual Christmas Bird Count. The count takes members of the organization (and Lange) from New England all the way to the mountains of Ecuador and even to Cuba.

“Bird Tales” follows Lange as he meets people from all walks of life and finds out what it is about birds that makes them so devoted to birds.

The set’s third episode “Saving Songbirds” takes viewers along with Lange as he delves even deeper into his encounters with people of all ages working to protect migratory birds. This includes scientists that track the birds’ migratory patterns, coffee farmers that have instated bird friendly practices that protect the birds and their homes, and even school children in Vermont doing their part to bring trees back to the deforested regions of Costa Rica.

“Journey of the Broad-Winged Hawk” is the fourth program featured in Counting on Birds: Tales of Migration.” This program focuses centrally on the 4,500 mile migration of the Broad-Winged Hawk from New Hampshire to South America. Lange traces the hawks’ migration and meets those that follow their migration along the way.

Closing out this set is “Plight of the Grassland Birds. This program focuses on a variety of birds that call North America home and the danger facing their existence as their habitats are gradually disappearing more and more each year. It serves as a warning to audiences that something must be done to protect the birds in question.

Counting on Birds: Tales of Migration will be available on DVD on Tuesday, September 8th on DVD. It will retail for MSRP of $29.99 and can be ordered online now at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=67509596&cp=&sr=1&kw=counting+on+birds&origkw=Counting+on+Birds&parentPage=search. More information on this and other titles from PBS is available online now at:

Website: http://www.pbs.org

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

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

Out Of The Vault: Halloween Is A Frightfully Fun Treat For Every Nicktoons Nostalgic

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Shout! Factory Kids/Nickelodeon

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Shout! Factory Kids/Nickelodeon

August is almost over and September is about to begin. That can only mean one thing: Halloween is right around the corner. With the unofficial start of the annual holiday season nearing once again audiences are going to start seeing any number of seasonally-themed DVDs and Blu-rays hitting store shelves if they haven’t already. While many of the DVDs and Blu-rays are the same ones that are seen every year, there are some new additions each year. One of the most notable of this year’s crop of new holiday-themed DVDs is Nickelodeon’s new Out Of The Vault: Halloween collection. This new collection of Halloween-themed classic Nicktoons episodes is one that audiences of all ages. The main reason for this is the collection’s episodes. The collection features sixteen classic Nicktoons episodes pulled from five classic Nicktoons series. Their presentation is relatively well-balanced over the course of the disc’s roughly three and a half hour run time. The writing behind each of the featured episodes is just as important to the collection’s enjoyment as the episodes and their distribution. The writing incorporated into each of the episodes equal amounts and frights and fun. Rounding out the reasons that this brand new compilation is so much fun is the various animation styles of each series. It is a subtle factor. But it really shows in the bigger picture one of the most important parts of what once made cartoons great. That will be discussed at more length later. But it is just as important as any of the other reasons noted here. All things considered, Out Of The Vault: Halloween shows in the end to be one of the best of this year’s crop of new holiday DVDs and Blu-rays and one more collection that any “Nicktoons Nostalgic” will want to have in his or her own home collection.

Nickelodeon’s new holiday DVD Out Of The Vault: Halloween is one of the best of this year’s new crop of holiday DVDs and Blu-rays. Holidays aside, it is also another collection that any “Nicktoons Nostalgic” will want to have in his or her own home collection. The main reason that it is such an enjoyable watch is its featured episodes. The episodes are not limited to just a small handful from one classic Nicktoon. Rather they are pulled from a healthy spread of the network’s classic animated series. Those series include: Hey Arnold!, Angry Beavers, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, Rocko’s Modern Life, and CatDog. Each series is well-represented, too with four of the series being represented by three episode each and the fifth—Rocko’s Modern Life—being represented by four episodes. That brings the episode total to sixteen episodes and roughly three and a half hours of programming. In an even larger sense, what such a balanced representation does is give those that might otherwise not have any of the series’ previously released box sets the chance to finally own at least a part of the featured series and kick-start their collections. Keeping this in mind, the episodes presented in Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory’s new Nicktoons Halloween collection show that on their own, they collectively make a solid reason for this collection to be part of any Nicktoons Nostalgic’s home library.

The episodes featured in Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory’s new Nicktoons Halloween collection by themselves why this collection is one of the best of this year’s new crop of holiday DVDs and Blu-rays. Of course the episodes themselves are just one part of the reason that the collection proves to be so impressive. The writing that went into the episodes is another reason that this collection proves to be such a solid new release. “Arnold’s Halloween” is just one example of how the writing behind the collection’s episodes makes the collection in whole so much fun. This episode playfully pays homage to both to Orson Welles’ classic radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds. It just adds a little bit of a spin that will have audiences of all ages laughing throughout the episode and will ultimately leave them wanting to watch it again not just during Halloween but during any time of the year. The Angry Beavers episode “The Day The World Got Really Screwed Up” shows doubly just how important the writing behind the collections episode is to the presentation in whole. The first way in which it does so with this episode is the very title of the episode. The title is a playful poke at the classic 1951 sci-fi flick The Day The Earth Stood Still. the episode itself pays tribute to all of the classic sci-fi/horror flicks that were churned out throughout the 1950s. Having Dag and Norbert actually become part of one of those classic films puts its own spin on those classics that will have older audiences and younger viewers alike laughing together at the inanity of it all. “This Is Your Brain on Ickis” is yet another example of how the episodes’ writing makes this collection so enjoyable. As with the noted Angry Beavers episode, the title of this episode of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters in itself an example of how its writing makes it so fun. The title is a playful homage to the 80s anti-drug campaign that told viewers “This is your brain on drugs” as it showed an egg frying in a pan. The episode itself shows the strength of its writing as Ickis shrinks down and takes over monster hunter Simon’s brain. The end result will have viewers laughing tears of joy. It is just one more example of how the writing behind the episodes featured in this collection makes the presentation in whole so enjoyable. There are plenty of other episodes featured throughout this collection that could be used as examples of the strength of the episodes’ writing. Those episodes and the ones noted here together show in whole why the writing behind each episode together with the episodes themselves makes Out of the Vault: Halloween a must have this Halloween for any Nicktoons Nostalgic.

The episodes featured as part of Out of the Vault: Halloween and the writing behind each episode both make for plenty of reason for any Nicktoons Nostalgic to add this DVD to their personal home DVD library. While both of the noted elements are clear reasons that this collection shines so brightly, the animation presented in each series proves to be just as important to the set in whole. Most people probably won’t pay that much attention to the animation style of each series presented in this DVD. But the reality is that the animation style of each series is just as important to the enjoyment of this collection as anything else. That is because it serves as a reminder of the artistic originality that once made cartoons so great. By comparison there is a troubling lack of that artistic creativity and originality in today’s cartoons. The series on television today by and large don’t even deserve to be called animated series being that they are cookie cutter creations made by computers rather than the human hand. Looking at the animation style of each presented series, it reminds audiences of the importance of putting one’s heart and soul into a cartoon rather than just moving a mouse and using a bunch of desktop tools. From the somewhat grainy look of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters to the softer design style of Hey Arnold! and CatDog to the rigidity of the animation in The Angry Beavers and even the almost free-flowing style of Rocko’s Modern Life the different animation styles within each series serves to give each series just as much of its own identity as the writing behind each series’ episodes. Both of those elements come together with the episodes themselves and their balance from one series to the next to make fully clear why Out of the Vault: Halloween is a must have for any Nicktoons Nostalgic and one of the best of this year’s crop of new holiday DVDs and Blu-rays.

Out of the Vault: Halloween is not the first Nicktoons compilation to be released this year by Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory. It is however, just as enjoyable as the companies’ previous compilation disc. The episodes featured in this collection and their balance from one series to the next are collectively one reason that it is so enjoyable. The largely laugh-inciting writing behind each series’ episodes is another reason that the collection proves so enjoyable. And the original, hand-drawn animation at the base of each episode rounds out the presentation. Each series’ animation reminds audiences of what once made cartoons so great. All three reasons considered together, they make Out of the Vault: Halloween one of the best of this year’s crop of new holiday DVDs and Blu-rays and a frightfully fun treat for every Nicktoons Nostalgic. It will be available next Tuesday, September 1st in stores and online. 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

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.