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Category:    Home > Reviews > Fantasy > Comedy > Animation > Science Fiction > Action > Adventure > Time Travel > British TV > Computer > Adventure Time: Fionna & Cake, Volume Four (Cartoon Network/Warner DVD)/Doctor Who: The Reign Of Terror (1964/BBC DVD)/The Red Hen …and more cooking stories (Scholastic/New Video DVD)/Regular Show: Pa

Adventure Time: Fionna & Cake, Volume Four (Cartoon Network/Warner DVD)/Doctor Who: The Reign Of Terror (1964/BBC DVD)/The Red Hen …and more cooking stories (Scholastic/New Video DVD)/Regular Show: Party Pack (Cartoon Network/Warner DVD)/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Rise Of The Turtles (2012/Nickelodeon DVD)


Picture: C+/C/C+/C+/C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C-/C+/C-/C-/C     Episodes: B-/B-/C+/C+/C



Now for a set of children’s titles a little more diverse than usual…



Adventure Time: Fionna & Cake, Volume Four and Regular Show: Party Pack are the latest Cartoon Network DVD singles from Warner Bros. and are part of a cycle of hip programming that addresses and slyly spoofs the cultures of Video Games, Role Playing Games and The Internet as both offer funny, surreal characters that are funny, spoofs of archetypes and have their silly adventures as always comical.


I like the approach not to take thinks seriously and feel it is a healthy one that has assured Cartoon Network has cornered the market on such entertainment in a distinguished, unique fashion down to their Adult Swim programming.  Adventure Time is the better of the two shows having fun with the Fantasy genre to as much of an extent as possible and this 16-episode set was better to me than one of the previous volumes I covered a while ago.  Regular Show spoofs characters that are archetypal caricatures and is more of younger viewers.  Also offering 16 episodes, it has its moments, but it is simply not as consistently funny to me as Adventure Time, but I can see its appeal and these are good volumes for you to see to understand why the whole cycle of such shows are so appealing.


Text character descriptions are the only extras on both discs.



Though it is not thought of as just a children’s show now, Doctor Who began that way, but it quickly started to become something more and the 6-episode The Reign Of Terror arc from 1964 was one of the landmark shows.  It is a little more serious, a little darker and featured a teleplay by the late, great Dennis Spooner early in his career.  Set during the French Revolution, The Doctor (William Hartnell) and company have to fit in and survive in the countryside trying to hide from the battle in full swing.


Episodes 4 & 5 had to be redone with animation because the image is gone due to the BBC’s awful habit of not archiving and worse.  This worked out so well that Spooner eventually became story editor, worked on other hit shows like The Avengers and then became a creator and producer of hits like Department S, Jason King and other action classics at Lord Lew Grade’s ITC.


The show was on a roll too with the next adventure being the even more impressive Planet Of Giants episode arc I covered at this link:





Extras on this release include a preview for a Tom Baker Who classic coming to DVD, audio commentary tracks on four episodes with five of the actors and Production Assistant Tim Combe, Photo Gallery, Design Gallery, printable DVD-ROM PDF materials, Set Tour in CG 3D and Making Of featurette Don’t Lose Your Head.



The latest Scholastic installment is a DVD single called The Red Hen …and more cooking stories which offers four shorts all built around food including the title short, Bread Comes To Life, How Do The Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? and the hilarious Arnie The Doughnut.  His theme is so effective that I wish a few more shorts could have been added, but it is also as good a single as Scholastic has issued to date and a good starter disc for young children as well.


A featurette on how to bake a cake and sing-along function are the only extras.



Finally we have the continuation of the computer animated series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Rise Of The Turtles (2012) with six episodes (the title adventure is a two-part episode story) that offers more of the same child-safe version of the much darker comic book that the network is betting will be a big hit for them as they shocked the industry by paying for exclusive rights to the franchise.


It seems to be working out for them, but it has not produced a new Turtles-Mania or anything like that because there is nothing new offered here save cleaner animation (for once, the older, sloppier animation has not aged well or become charming in any way) and the different voices for the characters gives them a different feel that is no true improvement.  For fans only, at least it is consistent for what it is.


Six Animatics and a Karaoke version of the theme song are the only extras on the disc, while our edition includes a free poster inside the DVD case.



In a real rarity, all three DVDs are presented in 1.33 X 1 framing and except for Who looking old from its nearly 50-year-old PAL videotaping, are all on par with each other.  Of course, the black & white animation on the lost Who episodes are going to look a bit better, but the rest are in color and all have a few moments of aliasing errors (even the Cartoon Network and Turtles titles cannot completely avoid this) and are as good as they will get in this format.


The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Turtles should be the best-sounding of the five DVDs here, but it is limited in range and more towards the front speakers than it ought to be.  That leaves the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on the animated shows and even lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Who (which sounds good despite its age) more than able to compete.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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