The big summer blockbuster films have all come and gone for the year and the selection at the local megaplex is getting slimmer. The approaching colder fall/winter months provide the perfect setting for an evening inside with some good videos, so in this DVD roundup I am going to highlight some new and lesser-known home video releases for both dads and kids.
For the Dads
Get a Life: The Complete Series DVD (Shout! Factory)
Although the text on the cover of this new six-DVD set snarkily pokes fun at current DVD marketing trends by calling this an “Un-Special Non-Anniversary Edition!,” the long-awaited complete-series release of Chris Elliott’s cult comedy TV masterpiece Get A Life is actually worthy of this kind of lofty title hype.
Originally airing on the fledgling FOX Broadcasting Company from September 1990 through March 1992, this quirky and non-traditional sitcom about a 30-year-old paperboy who lives with his parents managed to become a cult classic, even though it never became a mainstream hit.
Prior to this set only eight total Get A Life episodes were made available through now-out-of-print VHS and DVD releases, leaving fans constantly longing for more. This new Shout! Factory collection answers many prayers by including all 35 episodes created during the shows run, along with a bunch of other goodies.
Every episode has its own commentary track and there are some really insightful documentary pieces that provide extra context and historical perspective, but unfortunately Chris Elliott is missing from all bonus content. I have no idea why he isn’t included here, but there is a noticeable void left by his absence.
That said, this is still a must-have collection for fans of quirky and absurdist humor. If you count Elliott’s Cabin Boy as one of the best films of all time or ever seriously considered buying a miniature submarine kit from the back of a comic book for use in your home tub, then run out immediately and get this set. You won’t be sorry!
Lancelot Link Secret Chimp: 3 Disc Complete Special Collector’s Edition DVD (Film Chest)
Just like Get A Life, the short-lived and underappreciated Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp was another series that didn’t get the mainstream attention it deserved. Airing from September 1970 through January 1971, this live-action show, featuring a cast of real chimpanzees, combined elements of humor and action to create a truly unique viewing experience for children and adults alike.
Created by Stan Burns and Mike Marmer, the titular chimpanzee worked for The Agency to Prevent Evil or A.P.E. and his primary mission was to thwart the nefarious plans of Baron von Butcher, the leader of Criminal Headquarters for the Underworld’s Master Plan or C.H.U.M.P. Each episode featured a full cast of characters from both organizations battling it out for supremacy. In between adventures, there were also brief interludes featuring videos from the band Lancelot Link and the Evolution Revolution. This was basically a bunch of chimps dressed in hippie clothes and pretending to play psychedelic rock. As you can see, some truly trippy stuff.
Thanks to the fine folks at Film Chest, all 17 episodes of this one-of-a-kind series are included on this new set. Given the fact that this footage is now more than 40 years old, the quality is actual better than you might expect. There are also a nice collection of extras that make this release a bigger homerun including interviews and a documentary.
Oh, and just in case you needed another reason to buy this set, some proceeds from the sales of this set will support the Wildlife Waystation, a non-profit animal sanctuary in Los Angeles and the current home of the real Lancelot Link. One of the extras on this set is 2011 footage of Lancelot with show producer Allan Sandler at Wildlife Waystation.
For the Kids
Angelina Ballerina: Mousical Medleys (HIT Entertainment)
Dad’s with daughters are likely already aware of the exploits of Angelina Ballerina. For those not already in the know, the little mouse, a creation of author Katharine Holabird and illustrator Helen Craig, has been dancing her way through books and televised cartoons since the early 1980s.
This new hour-long set features five episodes of the cartoon, which are almost all focused on music and the performing arts. Angelina is definitely the main character, but the stories are driven by her interactions with her friends, family and her classmates and faculty at the Camembert Academy, the arts school she attends.
Girls are definitely the target audience for this DVD and the creators hit the mark when it comes to catching and keeping their attention while also delivering a good message. Although Angelina and her friends hit speed bumps along the way, they eventually reach their goals through perseverance – a good lesson for girls and all children.
In addition to five full episodes, the DVD also includes a game to test a child’s memory and an interactive karaoke video.
Barney: Imagine with Barney (HIT Entertainment)
It may be hard to believe, but Barney, the famous purple singing dinosaur, has now been a part of American pop culture for 25 years. That means that some new dads reading this column may have watched the Barney & Friends program when they were kids!
If you fit into that category, you can now relive part of your own childhood with your kids thanks to this latest Barney video release. Barney: Imagine with Barney features four full-show episodes and clocks in at about 90 minutes. As the name suggests, this release encourages kids to use their imaginations to make playtime a real adventure.
From transforming a simple picture into an tropical island playland (“Imagine That”) to spotting an elephant in the park (“Seeing”) and making planes, cars and buses for special transportation (“Let Your Creativity Fly!” and “Let’s Go for a Ride”), this collection explores different ways that kids can use their imaginations to create their own adventures.
As with the Angelina Ballerina video, there are some nice interactive bonus features included. Barney: Imagine with Barney includes an all-new “Imagination Vacation” game and two karaoke music videos. The all-new “Imagination Vacation”