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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Action > Comedy > Shorts > TV > Fantasy > Superhero > Mermaids > Australia > Action > Adventure > We > Betty Boop, Volume 1 + 2 (1930s/Legend DVDs)/The High Fructose Adventures Of Annoying Orange Vol. 1: Escape From The Kitchen (2013/Gaiam Vivendi DVD)/H20: Just Add Water – The Complete Season 1, 2 & 3

Betty Boop, Volume 1 + 2 (1930s/Legend DVDs)/The High Fructose Adventures Of Annoying Orange Vol. 1: Escape From The Kitchen (2013/Gaiam Vivendi DVD)/H20: Just Add Water – The Complete Season 1, 2 & 3 (Flatiron DVD Sets)/The Lone Ranger: The Lost Episodes (Legend DVD)/Oliver Twist (1982/E1 DVD)/Original Adventures: Gumby’s Best Episodes (Legend DVD)/Secret Millionaires Club, Vol. 1 (2012/Gaiam Vivendi DVD)


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



Now for a cycle of children’s titles that are reissues or revistings of old favorites for the most part…



Betty Boop, Volume 1 and 2 are two sets of 1930s black and white shorts of the classic character we have seen before and covered before on DVD.  Legend Films has issued these two volumes and the transfers are fairly good, if not great as has been the case with all the DVDs of this material we have seen.  Too bad Legend could not beat everyone to the punch and get these shots out on Blu-ray, but each set has 22 shorts from the later Boop period when she was being “domesticated” (read sexuality being downplayed) with a dog and relatives.  As a result, the first set is a better collection and the best release on this list.  As good as any set of these shorts we have seen to date, each has two bonus animated shorts as extras, with Vol. 1 featuring the silent classic Finding My Voice and sing-along classic In My Merry Oldsmobile which is an ad for the famous car company, their hit song and includes both live-action footage and the bouncing ball following the lyrics on screen.  Vol. 2 adds the silent Now Your Talking and News Sketches by Max Fleischer.


Another gimmick we would see from Fleischer was talking horses, which would really be animated mouths drawn over each horse’s mouth.  With the advent of videotape, this would be cheesier with actual human mouths superimposed on animals, other people and even inanimate objects.  The High Fructose Adventures Of Annoying Orange Vol. 1: Escape From The Kitchen is a mild hit show doing this with fruit!  From its wacky theme song to bizarre exploits, doing every wacky joke the talking orange situation (with every pun) they could think of).


There is also a human friend (Toby Turner) and this can be amusing, but a little goes a long way.  There are no extras, but see it only if you can handle it.



H20: Just Add Water – The Complete Season 1, 2 & 3 are separate season sets of the Complete Series set issued a few months ago (see the cover above) of three teen who discover they have superpowers, but this is much more of a female-tween driven comedy than anything superhero genre.  The show is at least consistent and safe enough for its intended audience, but they also become mermaids when they get their powers.


Each set includes the 90-minutes long telefilms for each season and Season Three adds a Behind The Scenes special.  After my by-line below, I have included a press-released interview with two of the cast members to give you a better idea of the show.  I think it is good, but just too repetitious and unmemorable for me.



The Lone Ranger: The Lost Episodes is a compilation by Legend DVD of Ranger bits you might have missed, including episodes with their original ads, a silent 1930s Ranger cartoon worth seeing, trailer of a lost 1930s serial, trailers for the two feature films and various commercials with the leads of the series, Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels.  A bonus program Wide Wide World: The Western is also included, but this is being issued because of the upcoming Disney revival.  Not bad.



Tony Britten’s Oliver Twist (1982) is the George C. Scott/Tim Curry version that has its moments, but is a mixed bag that I did not think always worked.  Those unfamiliar with the tale can see my coverage of the later TV movie form 1999 I really enjoyed at this link:




There are no extras here, but this is obviously a curio and worth a look, but at 99 minutes, sometimes seems to drag.



Original Adventures: Gumby’s Best Episodes is Legend’s mixed collection of stop-motion animation Gumby shorts that is not bad, but the quality is mixed and there are no extras.  The show is charming and I like the Claymation, but this is for children only and is a set you can get as a stop-gap until these come out on Blu-ray and in DVDs from those kinds of masters.



Finally we have Warren Buffet as the occasional star of Secret Millionaires Club, Vol. 1 (2012) with six episodes that try to teach children the values of hard work, the marketplace, ideas t5hat you can apply to your daily life and better living.  This has been done in animation before (like a few Looney Tunes with the likes of Sylvester and Elmer Fudd) and is not bad overall for young children, being smart, child safe and really giving good advice.  I wonder why this is not being shown on TV more, because any good advice would help at this time.  Five Webisodes are the only extras.



The 1.33 X 1 are all on the Legend DVDs and are a bit on the average side, especially since they are compilation releases for the most part, while the same frame on Twist fares a little better being shot on 35mm film and only having some softness in parts.  The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on the rest of the releases (Orange, H20 and Secret) are at least as good, but nothing is a visual standout.  Orange, H20 and Secret have the best audio here among the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo releases, leaving the rest with monophonic sound that shows their respective age.



-   Nicholas Sheffo



Q&A with Phoebe Tonkin & Cariba Heine

Stars of “H20: Just Add Water”


Phoebe Tonkin (“The Vampire Diaries,” “The Secret Circle”) and Cariba Heine (“Dance Academy,” “The Pacific”) both began their careers with starring roles in the Australian TV series “H20: Just Add Water,” which has become the #1 series airing on Teen Nick TV.  The pair plays teens Cleo (Tonkin) and Rikki (Heine), who, along with their friend Emma (Claire Holt) spend their time on the beautiful beaches of the Gold Coast.  However, when they stumble upon an ancient cavern, they’re transformed into mermaids with magical powers. This worldwide phenomenon is set to make a splash this March when Flatiron Film Company releases each fan-favorite season of H20 in three individual, specially-priced releases. Each collectible 4-disc set includes 13 episodes from each season, plus bonus cast photos. Phoebe and Cariba took time from their busy schedules to answer some questions about the series that launched their careers.


1. How were you cast for H20 - can you tell us a little about what the producers were looking for? Any funny stories about the casting call?

Phoebe:  I had barely been on any auditions before my H20 audition, so I was very giggly and awkward, which turned out perfectly because that’s exactly who Cleo is. I also told the director, Colin Budds, that I was a good swimmer, which I was far from. But I jumped straight into training to prepare after I was cast. 


Cariba:  It was a fairly normal casting process, we all read for roles then came back for call backs and then we eventually went up to Queensland (where we shot H2o) and did more chemistry reads and finally swim tests to see if our Stunt Coordinator Mitch would be able to train us up to a level where we could swim with the tails. I think the funniest casting story looking back would have been Mitch’s reaction to Phoebs and I swimming. He said he saw us flailing around in the water and secretly thought 'there's no way I'm ever going to be able to get these two to swim believably like mermaids in 8 weeks'. But he did a brilliant job of training us and in the end, we showed him.

2. Do you enjoy swimming or other water sports?

Phoebe:   I used to hate swimming, now I love it. Sometimes I’ll catch myself doing my mermaid kicks underwater in the ocean!

Cariba:  I now love swimming, too, as way to keep fit.  I also find doing laps really therapeutic.

3. What are you special talents, outside of acting?

Phoebe:   I like to bake, I like to dance.

Cariba:  I've been dancing since the age of 3.  I'm also a pretty good cook if I do say so myself!

4. In the show, you each have super powers that can sometimes solve problems and sometimes cause things to go astray.  How is that like real life? 

Phoebe:  Especially when you are growing up, you learn from your mistakes. Which is exactly what the three girls do throughout the series. 

5. The series offers a fun "girl power" message for its audience. Have you heard from fans that have been inspired by particular episodes in the show?

Phoebe:  I think how close these girls are as friends is something that really resonates with fans of the show. It’s nice to see female characters rely and support each other. 

Cariba:  I haven't heard about any specific episodes inspiring young girls, but I have spoken to fans that say the series as a whole has been inspiring in terms of the power of friendships. And also feeling different to everyone else, but seeing it as a gift rather than being something negative.

6. How has H20 changed your own life?

Phoebe:  H20 has opened so many doors for me, I am so grateful for everything that it has done for me. I doubt I would be where I am now without that show!

: H20 was a really amazing training ground for my acting career, in terms of learning the ropes and etiquette of being on a set and also just the sheer amount of time we spent acting and practicing what we love to do. I’ve also gained lifelong friends from the crew and cast. And now I can swim properly!

7.  How long did it take to put the mermaid costume on? Any problems peeling off the tail?

Cariba: The tails were designed so well that it really only took about five minutes maximum to get us in. There was a system of straps and weights (to get us to a neutral buoyancy in the water) then basically a big zip at the back. Hey presto, you're a mermaid.


Phoebe:  And then we got rolled into the water from the side of the pool!

8. The beach scenes on H20 are amazing. Did you just get to hang out at the beach all day during filming?

Phoebe:  Yes, it was amazing!  To this day I will probably never have such an amazing experience on a job. After we filmed sometimes we would jump into the water and hang out on the beach, and sometimes play basketball during our lunch hour!

Cariba:  I agree -- the beaches in Australia are pretty special.  

9. The show is a huge hit in Australia and many other countries, including the United States. How many countries have you visited since the show debuted?

Phoebe:  H20 has brought me to Italy, London, Paris….  It’s been incredible. I remember all these French schoolgirls yelling “Un Petit Siren!!!,” which is “Little Mermaid” in French. It was pretty cool!

Cariba: We had a publicity tour which coincided with the Nickelodeon Awards in London one year. Then Phoebs and I attended a TV & Film Festival in Italy as well which was so much fun. I think we walked basically every main street in Rome over 4 days, and ate exceptionally good food!

10. What projects are you currently working on?

Phoebe:  I’m working with my fellow mermaid Claire Holt on another supernatural show “The Originals”!


Cariba:  I just came off a recurring guest role on “Dance Academy 3” which is always a lot of fun.


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