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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Fantasy > Comedy > Games > Creatures > Supernatural > Ghosts > Holiday > Adventure Time: My Two Favorite People (Warner/Cartoon Network DVD)/Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: Season One (1999/Shout! Factory DVD)/Casper The Friendly Ghost: The Complete Collection 1945 – 1963 (Shout!

Adventure Time: My Two Favorite People (Warner/Cartoon Network DVD)/Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: Season One (1999/Shout! Factory DVD)/Casper The Friendly Ghost: The Complete Collection 1945 – 1963 (Shout! Factory DVD)/Merry Christmas (Nickelodeon DVD)/The Pee-Wee Herman Show On Broadway (2011/Image Blu-ray)/Chrysanthemum … and more whimsical stories + My First Collection V.2 featuring Spoon (Scholastic DVD Sets)


Picture: C+/C+/C/C+/B/C+/C+     Sound: C+ (Herman: B-)     Extras: C-/D/B-/D/B-/C/C     Main Programs: C/C+/B/C/B-/B/B



Our next round of children-geared titles include material of interest for adults as well.


I had never seen the Cartoon Network series Adventure Time: My Two Favorite People which combines the world of role-playing game, some video game elements and its culture in a way that is supposed to be comical, but is sometimes more predictable than it should be.  Finn, Jake and Lady Raincoat are among the regulars over the 12 animated shorts here and the purposely oversimplified animation is supposed to be retro and alternative, but that was not an issue.  I just did not think the show did enough with what it had, though now you can see for yourself.  There are no extras.


Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: Season One is just in time for Halloween and it is a somewhat stronger, more consistent show, yet it never stuck with me.  Ickis, Krumm and Oblina are the main characters and I can understand the popularity of the show, but it too only goes so far but has a following.  There are no extras here either over the two DVDs.


Casper The Friendly Ghost: The Complete Collection 1945 – 1963 also comes from Shout! Factory and is an expanded version of the Best Of Casper Volumes 1 & 2 set we cove red at this link:




That also has a link to a Terrytoons DVD Set with Casper and other shorts, but this three-DVD set collects all of his theatrically released animated shorts, while the third and final disc has the shorts made for TV.  It is interesting and entertaining to see the legendary character’s original run and it makes it more apparent (even as he changed from less formed and larger to refined as we know him to day) why he has had so much appeal and has endured all these decades.  The TV animation is almost as good as the theatrical shorts, but you can see where some budget was cut and all the ghosts suddenly have thick blue outlines.  This is the best set content wise yet, though some better copies of the shorts need to be found.


Extras include an illustrated 20-page booklet with guide to the shorts and informative essay on the character’s history by Mark Arnold who hosts ten select audio commentary tracks with guests (including voice actor Bradley Bolke, Edmee Reit and Alison Arngrim) on ten of the shorts over all three DVDs, a featurette (15:24) on the creation & success of the character and a nice gallery of Casper comic book covers worth looking through.  Some might inspire you to pick up back issues.


Merry Christmas is a single Nickelodeon DVD that offers holiday season episodes form the respective series of Dora, Diego, Blue’s Clues, Team UmiZoomi, Ni Hao, Kai-lan and Wonder Pets!  It is basic and save a slight Music Video has no extras, but is convenient.  It just did not do much for me either.


The big surprise here is The Pee-Wee Herman Show On Broadway, a brand new 2011 stage show that both revives and continues the Paul Ruebens hit series that was more or less banished after a scandal ruined his career and credibility, but the audience is willing to forgive and fans will be happy to see the show revived and in High Definition.  The format is very similar despite the length and some new touches, though a working knowledge of the original hit will help you get more out of it.  This runs about 90 minutes and I was surprised how on the money it was in bringing the show back to life as if it was never pulled or never ended.  Fans will be thrilled and others will be pleasantly surprised.  Time to let Mr. Rubens get back to what he does best as this character.  A feature length audio commentary track by Reubens and the cast is the only extra, but an interesting one.


Finally we have two more smart, literate, educational box sets from the great people at Scholastic: Chrysanthemum … and more whimsical stories and My First Collection V.2 featuring Spoon.  You can see the growing list of releases form the company by entering the “Scholastic” name in our search engine, but will find these as rich and entertaining as we have come to expect from the company.  At 3 DVDs each, Chrysanthemum includes Meryl Streep narrating the title short, Mary Beth Hurt narrating both A Weekend With Wendell and Noisy Nora, Patrick Stewart narrating The Elves & The Shoemaker, Danny Glover adding voice to The Talking Eggs, B.D. Wong narrating the bonus short Lon Po Po, and Amy Madigan narrating the short with the unbeatable title: Is You Mama A Llama?, while My First Collection V.2 includes Diana Canova narrating Otto Runs For President and a title we covered before, Mia Farrow with I Love You Like Crazy Cakes.

Almost every single claims bonus shorts, having at least four each.  The Chrysanthemum set also adds Spanish versions of some shorts and A Visit With Rosemary Wells featurette, while My First Collection V.2 also has Interview with Bugs! Bugs! Bugs! Author/Illustrator Bob Barner and documentary on making the music for Spoon.



The 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Herman has exceptional color and even when detail can be slightly problematic, is one of the best non-musical concert HD recordings we have seen to date.  1.33 X 1 is the aspect ratio of all the DVDs, which usually have some aliasing errors and flaws, but look decent for the format, though the image on Casper has some problems due to the quality of the animated shorts needing restoration.  There is a disclaimer on the TV shorts that says they transferred the existing materials to HD and cleaned them up the best they could, but left the flaws alone.  Purists might like this, but I would like to see all the shorts restored to their original glory and since at least the theatrical shorts were three-strip, dye-transfer Technicolor, I know these can look better.


The PCM 2.0 Stereo on Herman has Pro Logic-like surrounds and sounds the best of all these releases as a result, while the Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound on the DVD releases are about even with each other, with only the Casper shorts (which are monophonic) showing their age but sounding fuller than you might expect.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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