These belated thoughts on the Pixar film "Soul" streaming on Disney+ commence with sharing the joy as to this film exceeding every expectation. The starting point is the film looking visually stunning viewed on a Sony 4K television; this is compared to the meh video quality of (reviewed) "Wonder Woman 1984" on HBO Max.
A related note is that "Soul" is the COVID-19 era equivalent of appointment TV from the era before widespread VCR ownership. A personal coping mechanism as to a virtual lockdown is to anticipate a special movie and watch it while eating a favored theater-style snack. Not having to smuggle such treats in a cineplex is a bonus.
The bigger picture (no pun intended) is that the tale of frustrated middle-aged jazz pianist Joe (Jamie Foxx) facing enormous obstacles as to fulfilling his life's ambition truly appeals to kids of all ages. If anything, the existential issues are a little over the heads of toddlers and tweens.
The too-numerous to individually mention accolades for "Soul" include 45 awards.
The following "Soul" trailer provides a good sense of the concept of the film while highlighting the superb animation that shames the other exceptional Pixar titles.
The "fun-for-all-ages" concept commences with the opening scenes of middle-school band teacher Joe, who is an exception to the rule that those who can't do teach, trying to get his untalented, and/or/lazy, and/or unmotivated students to develop a "you're in the band" proficiency. The insult that is added to this injury is that Joe has never made it as a working musician.
The game-changer comes in the form of a former student getting Joe an audition as the fill-in pianist for the renowned Dorothea Williams (Angela Bassett) Quartet. Although this is music to the ears of Joe, his running to tell Mama is a letdown in that she feels that never having made it as a musician supports sticking with the security of the stability of the teaching gig.
Joy on being selected to join the Fantastic Four leads to a distracted Joe emulating '20s silent classics in the form of obliviously narrowly avoiding fatal accidents until dropping in on the workplace of Ed Norton of "The Honeymooners." This leads to an out-of-body experience on a moving stairway to Heaven.
Believing that Heaven can wait, Joe attempts a great escape. This results in his ending up in the Great Before.
This limbo has elements of the MUST-SEE 1991 Meryl Streep comedy "Defending Your Life" in which the recently departed face a hearing that determines that whether the place from which they can check out any time but can never leave will be Heaven or Hell, Pixar borrows from its literal emotion-laden tween angst film "Inside Out" by having Before be the place that adorable blob-like souls are prepared for entering the bodies of newborns.
The process begins with a blob seemingly randomly assigned to a hive that establishes a general personality. Folks who recall the pre-VCR era will find particular humor in an observation that an undue number of these future essences end up in the self-absorbed community. The final stage before sending a soul to inhabit an infant is a deceased person serving as a mentor to a soul to provide the spark that drives that future meat suit.
Fugitive Joe is assigned problem-child 22 (Tina Fey), who has defeated Mother Teresa and many other historic figures in her quest to avoid going to earth. Not-quite hilarity ensues in a manner that leads to emulating the MUST-SEE Carl Reiner 1984 comedy "All of Me" in which the soul of the character whom Lily Tomlin plays possesses the body of the character whom Steve Martin portrays.
In typical Disney fashion, both Joe and 22 receive enlightenment and figuratively if not literally live happily ever after. The "Kobayashi Maru" style cheating to thwart an anal bureaucrat greatly adds to the joy of the conclusion. The final film homage is a stinger that directly pays homage to the end-of-credits clips in "The Muppet Movie" and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."
The appeal of "Soul" extends beyond candy-coating deep thoughts in an entertaining story. This film, like "Inside Out" and the Pixar film "Coco," aptly shows that its audience is maturing to a point that it can handle (and savor) more vegetable with its fluffy confections.
A review of the theatrical release of Disney flick "Toy Story 4" aptly notes that "Toy Story 3" ends the adventures of Woody (Tom Hanks) et al on a perfect note that should have been the end of the story. This evokes strong thoughts of "Crystal Skull" being such a huge (and inconsistent) follow-up to the sublime "Last Crusade" in the Jones trilogy. Both "4" and "Skull" make one yearn for the days when big-screen tributes would consist of bigger, bolder, re-releases of the classics.
One of a two related general notes is that the once groundbreaking but now mature Pixar technology does not hold the same thrill as it does as to "Toy Story" (1995), which is the first Pixar feature film. Although "4" looks spectacular in 4K, it seems that even folks who could not color within the boundaries or draw a straight line but now can suss out how to operate an Apple watch can learn the Pixar system and do as well as (if not better than) the "pros."
The next related note is that a combination of having 4k at home and Disney sinking to the level of merely shamelessly rehashing old ideas has led to no longer seeing Disney films in theaters; it does not take long for 4K sets to hit the $15 mark, which is not much more than the price of a matinee ticket.
One of the biggest narrative flaws of "4" is that it quickly abandons the fun (tinged with some darkness in "3") of the original trilogy. Speaking from the perspective of someone who largely shares the views of W.C, Fields regarding kids (but not animals), "4" preying on the deepest fears of children is highly disturbing. This is aside from the creepy aspect of "Story" lore that the toys play dead whenever a meat suit of any age is around.
The cold open of "4" lulls viewers into a false sense of security as to both quality and tone. It is a flashback to a simpler and kinder time nine years ago. Now college man Andy is a happy everykid, and his friends with active secret lives are a large part of his life.
Sheriff Woody leads a harrowing covert mission to rescue an RC car that is left out in the rain; the thoughts regarding "It" are moderate, Bo Peep plays a pivotal role just ahead of being boxed up and shipped out. Woody pursuing this soulmate provides foreshadowing of stranger things to come.
We then move to the present; the Freudian nightmare begins with a superficial room cleaning leading to an angsty Team Woody being locked in the closet of new owner Bonnie, The symbolism is apt as to Woody and his rival for the affection of Andy turned best buddy Buzz Lightyear. The horror continues when all but Woody, who aptly remains trapped in the closet, make a great escape.
Woody soon takes (and mostly retains) center stage when he stows away in the backpack of Molly to support her during her kindergarten orientation; the activities of that day lead to Molly making new kid on the block Forky. Forky is a spork with googly eyes, a pipe cleaner for arms, and Popsicle stick feet.
Forky being a dim-witted freak is perfectly fine, and the other toys welcoming him into the tribe sends a very positive message. The problems with this character extend well beyond his intense suicidal tendencies in the form of frequent aggressive attempts to throw himself into the trash.
Suspension of disbelief allows accepting that toys that at most are occasionally brought to school can articulately think and talk. The fact that they have ears allows accepting that they can hear. However, Forky can speak within seconds of his "birth" and does not have ears.
A more annoying issue relates to big brother figure Woody explaining to Forky that the latter is a toy (rather than trash) because Bonnie writes her name on his feet. The first flaw in this logic is that the "Story" kids and their real-life counterparts do not "mark their territory" as to all of their playthings. There is no personal memory of ever having done that.
The even more annoying aspect of this is that, per Woody, the food that I would bring to work would come alive in the refrigerator. This is not to mention the beer that I would put in the counselors' refrigerator when spending college-era summers at a camp. The "Story" logic provides that I drank my friends and ultimately subjected them to an even worse fate.
The illogical plotting fully take place when Bonnie takes her toys on a RV road-trip; Forky does not suffer any harm on jumping out of the window of a vehicle that is going at least 45 mph. The same is true as to Woody, who goes after his friend. Woody stating that he easily can catch up with the group when they stop 5.3 miles down the road builds on this frustration as to the lack of logic.
A less annoying aspect of this is the bigger plot point that the "good" toys repeatedly go to great lengths to prevent Molly from losing current favorite toy Forky. Once more returning to real life, I do not recall any soul-scarring trauma on getting separated from favorite toys. The angst of Molly relates to Millennials and the next generation always getting participation ribbons and having every whim indulged.
Things turn truly dark on Woody and Forky taking a detour on almost reaching their destination; Woody finding evidence of Bo Peep prompts him to drag Forky into a dark antique shop. This leads to a fateful (and potential fatal) encounter with evil queen of the shop Gaby Gaby and her even more creepy ventriloquist dummy minions.
The plot thickening agent at this point is that Gaby essentially wants to harvest a kidney of Woody in the form of replacing her defective voice box with his functional one. The rest of the story is that this plaything that makes Annabelle look like Raggedy Ann thinks that an ability to speak when her string is pulled will prompt someone to want to take her home.
Woody gets away at the cost of Forky becoming a hostage; this leads to a standard "Story" development of the toys embarking on a perilous mission.
The most disturbing event as to the ensuing lack of hilarity would be a major spoiler that evokes thoughts of a #MeToo villain. The toys subsequently putting themselves at great risk solely to help psychopath Gabby is slightly less upsetting but makes absolutely no sense.
Another bothersome aspect of trying to find Gabby a good home reflects the same nth degree of corporate greed of Disney under Czar Robert Iger as does the film itself.
Team Pixar clearly is trying to guilt parents into buying their little darlings every toy that they want; the idea is that the Forky (or the Sven the reindeer, etc.) on the shelf at the Disney store will be miserable until a child brings it home to love. Again, I still like toys and collectibles (and have shopped at Disney World stores) but have not blinked an eye as to leaving lion cub Simba collecting dust under harsh fluorescent bulbs.
The bottom line regarding all this is that the cult of Disney is so pervasive that the above observations will not influence many people; however, these musings reflect that this childhood favorite studio is loosing its grip on those of us smart and insightful enough to see through the mouses**t.
The Disney March 26, 2019 DVD release of the February 2019 Disney Channel live-action "Kim Possible" movie does the 2002-2007 Disney Channel series of the same name proud. This includes excellent jobs recreating the unique exteriors of primary locations Chez Possible, Middleton High that the titular teen titan and goofy sidekick Ron Stoppable attend, and home of the naco Bueno Nacho. The homage continues with an awesome live-action remake (complete with Ron getting pantsed) of the series opening credits.
Although this tribute centers around scientist-turned-evil-genius Dr. "Drew" Drakken (Todd Stashwick) with a long history with the Possible family, other "Batman" '66 style villains also receive shout outs. Denying Lord Monkey Fist and Senor Senor Junior this honor is a travesty that the anticipated sequel hopefully will remedy.
The following YouTube clip of the "Possible" trailer includes a look at the Bond-style old open that also provides the origin story. This promo. additionally highlights the girl power vibe of the film.
Saying much more than that "Possible" is similar to the 2005 Disney Channel animated feature "Kim Possible: So the Drama" runs the risk of major spoilers. Suffice it to say that Draken (coiced by John DiMaggio in the series) again subjects Kim (Sadie Stanley of "Coop and Cami Ask the World") to specialized insidious psychological warfare.
The larger plot of Draken and henchwoman Shego (Taylor Ortega) is to swipe experimental government tech. with literally mind-altering potential,
The "B" story that truly is so the drama is straight out of "The Brady Bunch." Middle-school star/national hero Kim and Ron (Sean Giambrone of "The Goldbergs") are now lowly high-school freshman. Kim frienemy sophmore Bonnie does all that she can to add insult to that injury.
The "Brady" vibe continues with Kim and Ron befriending damaged new kid in town Athena; efforts to help this outcast fit in when she soon surpasses Kim on the soccer field, the classroom, and even on missions. This leads to the film moral that there is more to life than being the best.
Worlds collide when a mission to rescue Athena leads to a girls' night out on which Ron and a CGI Rufus the naked mole rat tag along. The ensuing highly Disneyfied Bond-style climax brings the main portion of the film to a satisfying end; the epilogue (including stingers) sets the stage for the aforementioned "Kim Possible II." We sadly have been waiting years for the PROMISED "Teen Beach Movie IV."
The copious short-and-sweet DVD extras begin with cute audition footage of our stars and goes on to a Q & A in which Stanley and Giambrone answer allegedly random questions from fans. We also get a music video of Stanley singing the infectious "Possible" theme. Be prepared to repeeately sing "call me, beep me, if you really want to reach me."
Speaking as someone who has not pooped his pants for at least a year allows assuring fellow grown-ups that the Disney Junior January 22, 2019 DVD release "Playtime With Puppy Dog Pals" will delight you as much as any toddler in your life. The warning this time is that the insidiously infectious theme song with the the lyrics "Pu pu pu puppy dog paaals; arf, arf, arf arf" is highly addictive. The tune that features "we're goin' on a mission; goin' on a mission" that virtually every episode features comes a close second.
This release follows the reviewed "Puppy Dog Pals: Going On A Mission" that includes the first several episodes of this current Disney Junior network series for kids 2 AND UP.
The simple but brilliant concept of this cousin of "The Secret Life of Pets" is that the titular animated (in both senses of the word) canines are adorable grey pug Bingo and his equally cute tan pug brother Rolly, so named for his addiction to puddles of both the water and mud variety. They live with sweet-and-kind inventor Bob (creator Harland Williams), indulgent but not-so-sweet cat Hissy, and hyper-active robot dog A.R.F.
The two cartoons in each episode typically begin in the morning as Bob is heading off to work. Something minor usually goes awry; this prompts the boys to discuss how to put right what once went wrong and then execute their plan. An example from "Playtime" is Bob having a string of bad luck leads to Bingo and Rolly researching good luck charms. This results in the pups going to Ireland in search of a four-leaf clover. The fun of this outing and all others is that our heroes accomplish the mission that often brings them abroad and make it home before an oblivious Bob returns from toiling at the cubicle farm.
Our scuba doggies go down under in both senses of the word to dive around the Great Barrier Reef after a package for Bob gets lost in transit; an especially cute fresh-water mission has the boys trying to recover the favorite fishing pole of Bob from a scavenger/hoarder snapping turtle. The pugs take to the water one more time to rescue new family addition Olivia the fish after her bowl accidentally becomes air-borne.
The good folks at Disney Junior enhance the fun of the above escapades and a few more (including a visit from the fang fairy and an adventure puppysitting a large dopey mutt) with bonus episodes that feature the new girl-next-door Keia. The fun begins with Bingo and Rolly looking for their new gal pal after she goes off the leash and wanders off. This is not to mention helping Keia find a unicorn, and our new trio dealing with a party gone out-of-bounds that brings down the dog house,
The fun continues with a series of "Playtime" shorts that revolve around the recreational activities of our pugnacious leads and their party animal friends. A raucous pool party is the best, closely followed by an effort to build a play set.
The appeal of all this relates to the joyful silly fun to which all dog lovers can relate. The elan of Bingo and Rolly is incredibly infectious.
'Once Upon a Time' S7 DVD & Blu-ray: New Realms in Final Season for Fairy Tale Heroes, Villains, and Those In-Between
The ABC Studios separate August 28, 2018 DVD and Blu-ray releases of the 2017-18 seventh and final season of the ABC prime time serial fantasydram "Once Upon a Time" provides a good chance to escape into multiple fantasy worlds before fully facing the cruel cruel end of summer.
The first good news for folks (such as your not-so- humble reviewer) who have not watched "Time" for a few years is that the new directions for the final season of this series about Disneyfied fairy tale folks living in our reality and a few others make it easy to follow even if you have never watched the show. Other good news is that a Pacific Northwest retailer that shall remain shameless is selling an S1-S6 Blu-ray set for a tempting price.
Speaking of Blu-ray, spending a few extra dollars to get sets in that enhanced format is well worth it, The elaborate fantasy worlds and copious effects are only part of the story. Like any Disney-oriented project, the behind-the-scene folks are Disneyiacs (if not collectors) with moderate to high obsession levels regarding accurately depicting these versions of favorite childhood characters. Further, seeing the cast make us believe that Snow White lives down the street and that Jiminy Cricket is a psychologist is great fun that deserves the full Monty.
The other big picture is that perceived similarities between "Time" and the equally lore-laden, reality and time-shifting 2004-10 ABC drama "Lost" is not your imagination. Both series are from the same production company, and the credits of "Time" showrunners Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis include writing for "Lost." Further many "Lost" stars go on to do "Time." The only disappointing absence is not having Josh Holloway being a "Time" character with a habit of assigning nicknames ala calling a clad-in-green Peter Pan Kermit.
This shared epic aspect of "Lost" and "Time" results in more creativity and payoff regarding the well-crafted lore of each series in in one episode than in a handful of most 60-minute dramas. "Time" does especially well making delightfully surprising connections.
The basic lore of "Time" is that the evil queen of "Snow White" fame imposes a curse that transports virtually every character from well-known Disneyfied fairy tales from the old country to the small town of Storybrooke, Maine. Part of the curse is that these princesses, princes, dwarves, etc. lack any knowledge of their true selves and live the same as the rest of us.
Ten year-old everykid/non-fairy-tale character Henry Mills is virtually the only one who knows the truth; the efforts of this boy who cries Big Bad Wolf to get the adults to take him seriously is a common theme of literature that is very relatable to current and past children.
Ala "Lost," the "Time" story greatly expands beyond the series of "operations" that Henry undertakes to put things right in manners that include getting the real-life versions of fairy-tale characters to wake up and smell the porridge. It ultimately seems that any fur or face that one can see at a Disney Park (or on the stage in "Wicked") shows up.
S7 starts with exposition that sets the stage for the aforementioned retooling. Recent Storybrooke High graduate Henry is setting out to literally and figuratively find his own story after writing the one of those of his fabled family, friends, and "others." His stating that every fairy tale has numerous variations sets the stage for things to come. Our boy then rides into the sunset via a portal to another realm.
A series of events that clearly establish both that we are not in Storybrooke anymore and that the events in the lives of the fairy-tale characters are not your daddy's bedtime stories. This is not to mention that some old friends who join Henry in his new reality have evil twins with various origins.
A particularly Upside Down aspect of S7 is that we get a late-20s author/Seattle resident Henry, who is a one-book wonder and a young widower, being under a curse that prevents remembering any aspect of his past. The annoyingly persistent child this time is Lucy, who claims that she is the daughter of Cinderella and that Henry is her baby daddy.
The numerous notable aspects of adult Henry are his separately bringing a pen to a knife fight and showing that he really does not know Jack.
Wonderfully dark themes that run through the S7 realms include sacrificing a "virgin" to save a loved one, the use of a curse to get revenge, an evil stepmother, revenge-driven blood lust, etc,
Horowitz and company go full-on "Lost" for roughly the final 3/4th of this 22-episode season, We get a big surprise regarding the central curse, learn that being woke is not desirable for evryone, and see prime examples of someone being his or her worst enemy. All this leads to a build up to a climax and an epilogue that is worthy of such an epic series.
The highlight of the numerous special features is "And They Lived Happily Ever After." This 22-minute Valentine has cast and crew reliving memories accompanied by clips from every season and express their appreciation to the fans. We also get bloopers, deleted scenes, and a look at cast member directing an episode.
The August 14, 2018 DVD release "Muppet Babies: Time to Play" provides a good chance to check out the adorable Disney Junior reboot of a genuine pop-culture phenomenon. The original 1984 8-season series is the first of many shows, which include "A Pup Named Scooby-Doo" and "Flintstone Kids," that shave years off of popular characters. The hilarious "Community" parody of this concept is one of many examples of the success of this theme,
The bigger picture is that "Play" is further proof that Disney cable channels offer fare for all ages. This release comes on the heels of a reviewed DVD of the very bright series with a literal strong Latin beat "Elena of Avalor." Other recent Disney releases include the latest (also reviewed) set of episodes of the Disney XD reboot of "DuckTales" and the first set of the personal fave Junior series "Puppy Dog Pals" that centers around incredibly cute pug siblings going on missions. A "Pals" "Babies" crossover would be beyond awesome.
The following YouTube video of the opening credits of "Babies" illustrates (pun intended) the updated CGI look of the series. It also introduces the emphasis on using your imagination that is a central theme.
The core group that returns consists of Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo the Great, and Animal. Summer the penguin literally and figuratively joins the band. Group caregiver Nanny is now Miss Nanny; she still only is seen from the baby perspective of the waist down.
Each half-hour episode consists of two or three adventures. Things typically start out with either Nanny initiating an activity that triggers a fantastic voyage of the mind or a mishap among the kids prompting the adventure du jour. Either way, viewers can count on a clever escapade and a rockin' music video. A song that be considered Muppet Beach Party is particularly fun.
The first outing in "Play" has Miss Nanny actually going into the closet triggering the muppets going in after her. The issue related to this quest is being afraid of the dark. The dual messages are that that phobia is valid and that the dark is nothing to fear.
A rather bizarre element in another outing has Miss Nanny planning to show her charges what clearly is the Olympics; she refers to the event as the Sport-a-thon for an apparent but unknown legal reason. The modern problem of the Internet going out leads to the gang staging their own games. The lesson this time is the importance of being a good loser. One spoiler that is refreshing in 2018 is that Miss Nanny does not issue participant awards.
A cute outing from the perspective of one with a childhood friend named Peter Potato has Gonzo bonding with an inanimate root vegetable. This one begins with hilarious sequences that show that the potato is not very good at games. This leads to Gonzo getting upset when his new buddy is ostracized. The lesson this time is of inclusion.
The copious special features begin with 10 Show=and-Tell shorts that likely are filler on Junior. The theme is one or two of our friends discussing show-and-tell presentations. We also get six music videos from the episodes in the set.
One of the best overall things about the new "Babies" is the same as the Disney approach to the "Star Wars" franchise. The new productions staying true to the source material helps make watching with the kids fun for the adults.
The most awesome thing about the August 7, 2018 DVD release "Elena of Avalor: Realm of the Jaquins" is that it follows the grand tradition of introducing those of us without babies and toddlers to the joys of the fare on the Disney Junior cable network. A prime example is LOVING "Puppy Dog Pals" after reviewing a DVD set of that series. The warnings regarding "Pals" is that you often will find yourself singing "pu pu pu puppy dog paaaals" and will have even trips to the grocery store prompt singing "we're goin' on a mission, goin' on a mission; arf, arf, arf, arf."
The literally and figuratively fantastic worlds of Avalor and titular neighboring dimension Vallestrella alone are amazing. The surprisingly exceptional quality of the DVD images will almost make you want to wear shades while watching the adventures in this vivid universe.
The accolades for "Elena" includes a well-deserved Daytime Emmy for "Outstanding Casting for an Animated Series or Special." It also has an Imagen Foundation Awards win for Best Children's Programming.
The titular princess rules in the titular fictional Latin American country; she is subject to a legislative branch in the form of The Grand Council that largely is there to curb her enthusiasm. The rockin' Latin songs that every episode features and the adoration for this future queen both within and outside the palace walls evoke strong feelings of "Evita."
"Elena" saves the strongest star power for the villains. Former Monster-In-Law Jane Fonda voices evil sorceress Shuriki, who is still around after a lore-establishing major beat down at the beginning of the series. Lou Diamond Phillips gives perfect voice to scoundrel/thief Victor Delgado.
"Realm" begins with a special one-hour episode of the same name. The titular creatures who are jaguar/eagle hybrids are native to a dimension that can be considered the realm of Dr. Moreau in that the creatures who inhabit it are natural hybrids of two species. The peabunnies who look like rabbits but have elaborate fanned tails are one of the cutest examples.
The very cute toddler-friendly action begins with the trio of jaquins who hang with Elena and her cute harmless boy sidekick Mateo the wizard taking a rite of passage test. Success means getting to stay in Avalor to help maintain the peace; failure requires returning to the land of the butterfrogs.
The expression two out of three ain't bad applies to the text results; the desire of Elena for a second attempt at a trifecta leads to her traveling to the Jaquin home turf of Vallestrella to plead her case to the ruler of that kingdom. The obstacles include the mere presence of Elena violating an isolationist policy that has a valid basis.
The inadvertently triggered threat regarding this sort of a homecoming further justifies maintaining a strong border. The cooperative effort that puts right what once went wrong shows the value of international cooperation.
"Three Jaquins and A Princess" pays honage to the '80s Disney film "Three Men and a Little Lady." A variety of circumstances lead to Elena younger sister Isabel watching over a trio of Jaquin eggs, The triplets being preemies leads to comic chaos as Isabel tries to prove that she can handle these adorable flying infants. The lesson this time is that there is no shame in requesting help.
The third but not least full-length episode is equally cute. Elena defies The Grand Council and goes center-of-the-earth deep undercover to fulfill what she considers her royal duty. Mateo comes along in a manner that fully makes him sidekick Ron Stoppable to Elena in full Kim Possible mode.
Disney supplements the above offerings with 10 bonus shorts that presumably are filler on Disney Junior. The two main categories of these mini-episodes are "Adventures in Vallestrella" and "Scepter Training with Zuzo." Paws down the best in the group is the fairly self-explanatory "Peabunny Boogie."
'Duck Tales Destination: Adventure!' DVD David Tennant Lends Voice and Spirit to Greatest Recent Reboot
Being able to state that the Disney June 5, 2018 DVD release "DuckTales Destination: Adventure!" is all that it is quacked up to be is awesome. These six episodes of the Disney XD reboot (and two bonus episodes of the 1987-90 syndicated OS) follows the December 2017 DVD release of episodes from the XD series in "DuckTales: Woo-oo."
The following YouTube clip of the XD "First Look" promo. for "DuckTales" includes a perfect "25 words or less" summary of the show and highlights the strong animation and humor of the series.
The underlying premise of the OS and the reboot is the effective Disney strategy of getting the most bang for its buck regarding licensed characters, The format this time is that Donald Duck nephews Huey (Red), Dewey (Blue), and Louie (Green) go to live with their great-uncle Scrooge McDuck in search of adventures that often have a profit motive.
The lively and hilarious voice-over performance of Tenth Doctor David Tennant as Scrooge alone makes the XD series well worth watching. Other household names in the cast include Danny Pudi of "Community" as Huey and Bobby Moynihan of "SNL" as Louie.
The very special guest star is "Hamilton" man Lin-Manuel Miranda as fan favorite GizmoDuck in "Beware the B.U.D.D.Y. System." That one is an exceptional cautionary tale on the hazards of self-driving cars and the related issue of not having machines replace humans.
The aptly titled "The Beagle Birthday Massacre!" kicks things off with an escapade that mostly focuses on tag-a-long chick (pun intended) Webbigail "Webby" Vanderquack, who is the granddaughter of the cook/housekeeper for Scrooge. Webby literally missing the boat regarding the latest outing of the boys leads her to meeting bad influence Lena.
This new friend manipulates Webby into crashing the birthday party for Ma Beagle, who is the matriarch of The Beagle Boys trio of criminals who are the nemeses of the McDuck clan. A particularly amusing aspect of this is seeing the multiple variations of Boys bands.
This one is a very special episode in that Webby develops a bond that compensates for not being a full-fledged member of the band of brothers with whom she hangs. Other fun comes regarding Huey and Dewey mercilessly teasing their chill sibling about a past failure.
Disney saves the best for second in having "The Living Mummies of Toth-Ra!" follow "Boys." This one has Scrooge and the gang discover an obliviously exploited lost civilization while exploring an Egyptian tomb. A reference to a pyramid scheme is the best line of any of the six episodes in "Adventure." Additional fun comes in the form of a "Wizard of Oz" element that one of the boys exploits to his own end.
"The Spear of Selene!" is another especially funny outing. Much of the humor in this one relates to mythology and Indiana Jones-style quests. The substance in the journey comes in the form of providing the boys a chance to learn more about their absent mother Della Duck. The special guest star this time is Uncle Donald. Veteran Donald Duck voice actor Tony Anselmo does his thing in this one.
The aforementioned vintage "Ducktales" (which have never been previously released on DVD) provide great fun in allowing comparison of the two series, including the very catchy theme. These episodes also are great nostalgic fun for OS fans.
The very '80s titled "New Gizmo-Kids on the Block" finds our fowl heroes donning the garb of the titular superhero. "Ducky Mountain High" centers around Scrooge competing with a fellow Master of the Universe for ownership of property where money essentially does grow on trees.
The awesomeness of the new "Ducktales" includes staying true to the OS spirit but providing the necessary updates to avoid the youth of today from declaring the reboot lame. This includes giving Huey and his bros modern 'tude.
The challenge regarding reviewing the April 10, 2018 Disney DVD release of the Disney Junior series "Puppy Dog Pals" is conveying the extent to which this show about the titular young pugs is adorable and amusing. You really must see it to get a proper sense of this program that is almost is certain to create a legion of dedicated adult fans that rivals the obsession of the Bronies who go way overboard regarding "My Little Pony."
The following YouTube clip of the "Puppy" theme perfectly conveys the fun spirit of the series and will leave you wanting oh so much more.
Much of this praise relates to comedian/series creator Harland Williams, who also voices human father/inventor Bob, getting into the mind of a puppy. His stars talk and act exactly in the manner that globally endears baby dogs to people. Grey pug Bingo and his brother (perhaps from another mother) tan pug Rolly display perpetual elan.
The ridiculously cute scamps live with Bob and their older cat sister Hissy, who tolerates her younger siblings. Their family dynamic is fully established in the opening scenes of the first of the two adventures in the pilot.
The puppies are riding their skateboards and pretending to be surfing; they soon successfully beg Hissy to play along by pretending to be a shark. Candor requires confessing to regularly playing games such as "Space Cat" and "Abominable Snow Kitty" with a household pet.
The fun continues with so-cute puppies going nuts on saying good morning to Bob; their body language is clear, but Bob hears their words as adorable barks of extreme joy.
The typical charm continues with morning events prompting Bob to comment on the joy of walking on Hawaiian sand. He then leaves for work completely oblivious of the plans of the dogs to make their dad happy by traveling to our 50th state and be back before he returns home.
The boys then race to their mad tricked out dog house to the accompaniment of their "goin' on a mission" theme. Their prep. includes having a dome outfit them with utility collars that puts the belt of Batman (and Ace the Batdog) to shame. The enhanced cuteness continues with Rolly gleefully announcing that he is bringing an old sock because chewing on it makes him feel good. Bingo equally happily responds that everyone loves chewing on an old sock.
Similar outings include a day trip to Antarctica to remedy of dearth of ice at Chez Bob and an equally short trip to France to get bread for French toast. The Paris adventure is particularly true to the spirit of the recent film "The Secret Life of Pets," which depicts a particularly eventful day in the life of four-legged New Yorkers. The guest stars in this "Puppy" adventure include rats and pigeons.
An episode that hits closer to home in the Disneyverse is a variation of "Toy Story" starts with Bingo and Rolly damaging a favorite stuffed animal of Bob during "ruff" play. Their remedial efforts this time land them in a variation of Build-a-Bear.
Hissy fully gets into the action when her well-meaning bros take her along for a grand local day out. One spoiler is that a dog park is not as much fun for a cat as it is for man's best friend.
All of this amounts to a show that parental figures may beg their pre-schoolers to watch again and again and again. It is very relatable to pet lovers of all ages and lacks EVERY annoying aspect of most toddler fare. There are no shrill voices, encouraging children to shriek, or sickening morals. "Puppy" simply is pure entertainment that delights all from 3 to 100.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Puppy" is strongly encouraged to email me. You also can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.