Putumayo Kids’ Australian Playground Is A Fun Musical Trip Down Under

Courtesy:  Putumayo World Music

Courtesy: Putumayo World Music

Australian Playground, the most recent release from children’s label Putumayo, is another fun collection of songs for the whole family.  The record boasts ten songs that celebrate the land down under and its rich cultural heritage.  What really makes the compilation in whole truly interesting is that while it celebrates Australia and its people’s culture on a lyrical angle, the collection’s musical side mixes some Australian musical elements with a much more varied sound from other cultures.  Case in point is the compilation’s opener ‘Marrtjina (Let’s Go).’  The song, which was written and performed by The NEO and Garrangali, is a reggae-style song that still has an ever-so-slight Men at Work influence within itself.  There is also a Dixieland piece in ‘The Road to Gundagai’ performed by The Band of the South Australian Police.  This piece will have listeners of every age up and dancing along with its fun sound.  And of course, the album closes with the famed Australian standard ‘Waltzing Matilda.’  This beloved song is performed by Lazy Harry.  Harry switches up the song ever so slightly but stays largely true to the original.  The only major difference between this take and the original is that the song’s later chorus sections are omitted in favor of the primary chorus between verses.    These songs are just small glimpses into what makes Putumayo’s Australian Playground a fun musical experience for the whole family.  The album’s remaining seven songs each offer their own enjoyment in the grand scheme.  Collectively, all ten of the songs included in this compilation will have listeners of every age singing along together with every listen, imagining the whole time that they are themselves in the gran Australian outback.

Putumayo’s new album Australian Playground is one of the more interesting compilations that the label has released so far.  The reason for that is the manner in which the songs included on this record balance the celebration of Australia and its people’s culture with the various musical genres from around the world.  One of the key examples of that balance comes right off the top in the album’s opener ‘Marrtjina (Let’s Go).’  The song mixes that celebration of Australia and its people’s culture with a sound that clearly has Jamaican roots (I.E. reggae) for a song that makes one heck of an opener.  The laid back, beachy vibe of the song’s music alongside its positive lyrics will most certainly have listeners of any age grooving along on those last family trips before fall arrives or in their own homes.  The song’s vocalist sings in classic reggae style, “Come on everybody let’s wake up/Time to get ready for a shake-up/What’s up/Get up are you ready/Come on let’s go/We get up in the morning time/We head down to the water line/ Dip your lip/To take a sip/Come on everybody let’s take a trip/Guitar strapped around her waist/Not a moment left here to waste/Standing with a smile on her face/Just for you/Sacred place/Whoah.”  He goes on in the song’s second verse to sing, “We go now/We moved in style/As we walk past someone/We’ll make them smile.”  It’s just a fun, upbeat song that will put a smile on any listener’s face as they dance and groove to the fun, hybrid tune.  It’s just the start of the enjoyment offered to audiences on this record, too as evidenced by another of the album’s highest of points, ‘The Road to Gundagai.’

‘The Road to Gundagai’ is another great example of the balance between multicultural music and the celebration of Australian culture exhibited on this record.  The song’s musical side presents a fun Dixieland sound that is just as apt to have listeners of all ages dancing along as the album’s opener.  The song’s lyrical side gives another little glimpse into life in the land down under with the band’s vocalist singing about life in the more rural regions of Australia’s vast lands.  He sings, “There’s a track winding back to an old fashioned shack/Along the road to Gundagai/Where the blue gums are growing/And the Murrumbigee’s flowin’/Beaneath that sunny sky/Where my daddy and mommy/Are waiting for me/Then no more will I roam/When I’m heading straight for home/Along the road to Gundagai.”  Even those that might not be familiar with Australia’s layout can easily see images of a duty old shack at the end of a deserted road, rusty old broken down truck inside, sun shining down on the shack as a river flows gently nearby.  That vivid imagery set alongside the song’s Dixieland sound (which is anything but Australian in root) enhances the song even more and makes it a fun tune that loses none of its charm no matter how many times it’s played.

Australian Playground closes out with one more of the country’s musical standards in the form of ‘Waltzing Matilda.’  The song, performed by Lazy Harry, is just the singer/songwriter and his guitar.  The layering of his vocals to create harmonies adds to the song’s enjoyment especially in the song’s chorus in which he sings, “Waltzing Matilda/Waltzing Matilda/You’ll come-a waltzing Matilda with me/And he sang as he watched/And waited till his billy boiled/You’ll come-a waltzing Matilda with me.”  The song itself is a fun little story for listeners as it presents quite the story.  The story in question revolves an out of work man out walking in the countryside.  He happens on a sheep and stuffs it in his bag when he just happens to be caught red-handed by local authorities.  Instead of being caught, the man jumps into the river at which point it’s assumed he drowned as the song states in a late verse, “And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong/Who’ll come-a waltzing with me?”  It’s actually a pretty dark story when one stops and thinks about it. It’s basically about a man who is out of work and down on his luck who ends up drowning in a river after trying to evade police who catch him trying to steal a sheep.  So keeping that in mind, the laid back vibe of the music creates a wholly different feeling, despite that darkness. Sort of like so many American songs and nursery rhymes, it makes one wonder how it could possibly be a children’s song. That aside, it’s still definitely interesting in its own right. It might be okay for older children. Younger listeners don’t have to know about the song’s seemingly dark story. Keeping that in mind, it still makes for one more interesting addition to the compilation in whole. Together with those other songs noted here (and those not noted), Australian Playground proves to be a collection of songs that listeners of all ages will appreciate and enjoy for one reason or another.

‘Waltzing Matilda’ is definitely not come across as the happiest of songs when one really sits down and analyzes the song’s lyrical content. Its musical content though is so infectious that one can almost overlook that seeming lyrical darkness. The playful vibe of ‘The Rod to Gundagai’ and ‘Marrtjina (Let’s Go)’ more than make up for that song. Their fun mix of music and lyrics will have listeners of all ages dancing and singing along. The same can be said of so many of the compilation’s remaining songs, too. Collectively, all ten of the songs included in this record make it a fun listen for listeners of all ages in their own special way. They make this record one that will be just as enjoyable in the classroom or the living room. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct via Putumayo’s website at http://www.putumayo.com/australian-playground. More information on this and other releases from Putumayo is available online at:

Website: http://www.putumayo.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Putumayo
Twitter: http://twitter.com/putumayomusic

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN Looks Back At Jeter’s Career With Special Programming This Week

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Derek Jeter is officially counting down his final days wearing pinstripes. In celebration of the Yankee great’s career, ESPN is offering special programming documenting his career throughout this week. ESPN’s week-long coverage of Jeter’s career begins today as the Yankees host the Orioles in the second game in a four-game series that kicked off Monday. New York won yesterday’s game, blanking the Orioles 5 – 0. Game two is expected to begin tonight at 7:05pm ET. Jon Sciambi will have the call for the game. He will be joined by analyst Rick Sutcliffe and analyst/reporter Doug Glanville for additional commentary.

Jon Sciambi will also have the call Thursday night for what will be Jeter’s last game at Yankee Stadium as the Yankees close out their four-game series against the Orioles on ESPN Radio. He will be joined by analyst Chris Singleton for additional commentary. Coverage of Thursday night’s game begins with pre-game coverage at 6pm ET. Freddie Coleman will have a full wrap-up of the game immediately following its conclusion on The Freddie Coleman Show.

SportsCenter Special: Derek Jeter will air this Friday, September 26th at 7:30pm ET. Karl Ravech will anchor the special broadcast. He will be joined by ESPN MLB analysts Curt Schilling, Aaron Boone, Mark Mulder and ESPN MLB Insiders Buster Olney, Tim Kurkjian, and Keith Law. They will look back at Jeter’s storied career and examine his place in the pantheon of both baseball history and that of the Yankees.

On Sunday, ESPN’s look back at Jeter’s career continues with two more special broadcasts. Sunday morning at 8am ET, Chris Connelly will take a look at reaction by Yankees fans on Jeter’s retirement on Outside The Lines. That’s on ESPN2. Sunday night, Jorge Sedano (ESPN’s Sedano & Stink) will host an ESPN Radio special focusing on Jeter’s career. That will be Sunday night at 7pm ET.

The special programming across the ESPN networks and ESPN Radio is accompanied by additional coverage online via ESPN.com and in print via ESPN The Magazine as well as through ESPN New York. The content will focus on Jeter’s farewell to the game and his legacy and impact on the world. The additional coverage from ESPN The Magazine and ESPN New York is listed below.

  • Contributions from ESPN MLB Insiders Buster Olney, Jayson Stark and Jim Caple;
  • An examination of the marketing and merchandizing of Jeter from reporter Darren Rovell;
  • A Numbers column from Peter Keating exploring Jeter’s ‘marquee value’ rating from the Fansourced issue of ESPN The Magazine, currently on newsstands;
  • An exploration of Jeter’s role in American life from J.R. Moehringer for the Cleveland issue of ESPN The Magazine, which hits newsstands on Friday, Oct. 3;
  • ESPN New York content from Andrew Marchand and Ian O’Connor exploring Jeter’s relationship with umpires and his future after baseball;
  • Social media integration across platforms utilizing the hashtag #FarewellJeter

ESPN.com will offer photo galleries of some of the biggest moments in Jeter’s career as well as his various Topps baseball cards. There will also be an interactive SportsNation ranking of Jeter’s top 10 plays and a quiz asking which retirement gifts were given to Jeter by the league’s teams.

More information on ESPN’s coverage of Derek Jeter’s retirement and the network’s Major League Baseball coverage is available online at http://espn.go.com/mlb. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

PBS Announces Release Date For Seventh Season Of Cook’s Country

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS will release the seventh season of its hit cooking series Cook’s Country on DVD next month.

Cook’s Country Season 7 will be released on DVD Tuesday, October 28th. Season Seven delves into some of the nation’s best blue-ribbon recipes and classic fare including: Memphis-style wet ribs, Oklahoma fried onion burgers, Texas potato salad, creamy cheese grits, cinnamon buns, strawberry pretzel salad and a bunch more.  There are also short segments focusing on the history of American food. Among the different foods featured in the segments are pork pernil, summer berry pudding, Nachitoches meat pies and Italian cream cake. And the reviews of the latest cooking tools and equipment are there, too.

Cooks Country Season 7 features thirteen episodes on two discs and twenty-six printable recipes along with all of the cooking segments and equipment reviews by Jack Bishop. It will retail for MSRP of $29.99. It can be ordered online via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=46781986&device=c&gclid=CPiRo-j59MACFSdk7Aod90MAxw&adpos=1o1&creative=57629487063&network=g&matchtype=&pla=pla_46781986&camp=PLA:46781986.

More information on Cook’s Country is available online at:

Website: http://www.cookscountry.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CooksCountry
Twitter: http://twitter.com/testkitchen

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Jets, Bears Close Out Week 3 On ESPN’s Monday Night Football

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Week 3 of the 2014 NFL season wraps tonight as Geno Smith and the New York Jets host Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears.

The Jets and Bears will face off at MetLife Stadium tonight on ESPN’s Monday Night Football. Both teams have plenty to play for tonight as they both currently sit at 1 – 1 so far on the season. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:15pm ET. Mike Tirico will have the call from the booth tonight. Analyst Jon Gruden and sideline reporter Lisa Salters will also be on hand for additional commentary. ESPN and ESPN Deportes will work together throughout the evening’s broadcast to recognize the NFL’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, which continues through October 15th.

Monday night’s matchup between the Bears and Jets will be preceded by ESPN’s weekly pre-game broadcast of Monday Night Countdown live at 6pm ET. Monday’s broadcast will come live from MetLife Stadium. Host Suzy Kolber will be joined by analysts Trent Dilfer, Ray Lewis, Steve Young for a recap of the week’s games and a look ahead at the week’s closer between New York and Chicago. Kolber and company will be joined from ESPN’s headquarters by studio host Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, and Keyshawn Johnson alongside ESPN NFL Insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter.

Those that can’t be close to a TV tonight can catch tonight’s game online via WatchESPN. The game will also be available to Spanish-speaking audiences on TV on ESPN Deportes. More information on tonight’s matchup is available online at:

Website: http://espn.go.com/nfl/mnf
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MNF

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Texas Native Slater Joins Longhorn Network’s On-Air Staff

ESPN has made another addition to the roster for the Longhorn Network.

Courtesy:  ESPN/Longhorn Network

Courtesy: ESPN/Longhorn Network

Officials with ESPN and the Longhorn Network announced over the weekend that Texas native Jane Slater has signed on with the Longhorn Network to serve as a studio host and reporter. Her reporting duties include reporting for reporting for Longhorn Network games and for Texas Game Day. Along with those duties, Slater will also host Longhorn Extra and will work on various stories for a number of LHN shows.

Slater is a graduate of the University of Texas. She holds a degree in both journalism and government. Her professional broadcast career started in news. She spent seven years as an anchor and reporter. Before coming on board with the Longhorn Network, she worked at her local CBS affiliate, where she covered the Dallas’ major sports teams. She also covered sports from SMU, TCU, and North Texas. Adding to her experience, Slater even hosted a one-hour pre and post-game show and pre and post-game shows for Dallas’ professional teams. Slater discussed the appointment, noting her happiness at returning home. “This really is a dream come true,” she said. “The idea of returning to Austin and working for Longhorn Network and ESPN—it doesn’t get any better than that. I have really enjoyed watching Sam (Ponder) and Kaylee (Hartung) excel in this position and hope I can keep that tradition going.”

Longhorn Network coordinating producer Tom McCollum was upbeat when discussing Slater’s addition to the LHN staff, citing her experience in broadcasting and in covering Texas sports as one reason for her appointment. “Jane’s sports and television expertise really stood out as we went through the interview and audition process,” he said. “We are excited to have her on the LHN team and expect she will make an immediate impact to our coverage.”

Jane Slater begins her duties with the Longhorn Network today.

More information on Slater and other members of the Longhorn Network staff is available online at:

Website: http://www.LonghornNetwork.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/longhornnetwork

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Yankees Fans And Baseball Fans Alike Will Enjoy MLB Productions’ Latest Release

Courtesy:  Lionsgate/MLB Productions/A&E/A&E Home Video

Courtesy: Lionsgate/MLB Productions/A&E/A&E Home Video

The New York Yankees are in the waning days of the team’s 2014 season.  And along with the end of that season is the end of an era as Yankees great Derek Jeter is set to close out his Major League Baseball career, too.  While this season has not exactly proven to be everything that Yankees loyalists had hoped for MLB Productions has given Yankees nation reason to look back after this season’s end and still have plenty to smile about thanks to the recent release of Baseball’s Greatest Games: New York Yankees® Postseason Heroics.  This latest release continues a long-held tradition of excellence from Major League Baseball Productions as is evidenced throughout all four games contained in this set.  The inclusion of four full games is central to the enjoyment of the presentation.  That each game celebrates Jeter’s various accomplishments makes things even sweeter for fans.  As with previous MLB Productions releases, audiences are given the option to start at the top or bottom of any of the games’ innings.  They are not forced to sit through the whole game or even fast forward through to their key moments.  It adds even more enjoyment to the overall presentation.  And last but not least of all worth noting in this set is the collective video and audio mix in each episode.  MLB productions includes a disclaimer before the game, noting that there may be some discrepancies at given points.  But those discrepancies are few and far between.  If anything, seeing the games as they were originally broadcast adds to a certain sense of nostalgia among viewers, whether or not they be Yankees loyalists.  Each factor noted by itself is important to the whole in its own right.  All three together make Baseball’s Greatest Games: New York Yankees® Postseason Heroics another welcome addition to the library of any Yankees loyalist and any true-blooded MLB fan Yankees loyalist or not.

Baseball’s Greatest Games: Yankees® Postseason Heroics is a welcome addition to the library of any Yankees loyalist and any true-blooded MLB fan Yankees loyalist or not.  It is especially welcome being that New York’s season hasn’t exactly lived up to the hopes and expectations of the team or its fans.  Luckily for fans, this four-disc set features four past Yankees games on which fans can look back and smile after the season’s end.  The first of the games is Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS in which the Yankees faced off against the Baltimore Orioles.  The second game takes fans forward four years to Game 4 of the 2000 World Series.  The Yankees faced off against the Mets that year.  The key moment of this game was Jeter’s leadoff home run against the Mets.  The third game takes audiences another year forward to Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS.  That year, the Yankees faced off against Oakland.  After taking down Oakland, the Yankees moved on in 2001 to the World Series, in which the team took on Arizona for the championship. MLB Productions features Game 4 of that year’s World Series as the set’s closing game.  As with the set’s other games, Jeter’s accomplishments are highlighted here, too.  Of course it doesn’t focus solely on his achievements.  Rather, the entire game is presented from the first pitch to the last.  The commercials have been cleanly cut, again displaying that commitment to quality from MLB Productions.  Simply put, with each game, audiences get the full game experience sans the commercial limitations.  They can pause the game at any point that they choose so as to use the bathroom, get a couple cold ones, or anything else.  All things considered here, it all proves just why the inclusion of the games and their inclusion in full at that is the central point of the set’s success.

The inclusion of four important recent Yankees games is central to the success of Baseball’s Greatest Games: Yankees® Postseason Heroics is central to the success of the set.  Their inclusion in full and the fact that they are meant to highlight the accomplishments of the soon-to-be-retired Yankee great Derek Jeter makes it even more of a solid center to the set.  Adding to the set’s success is the fact that once again, audiences are able to choose the inning at which they start each game.  To be even more precise, audiences can choose whether they start at the top of an inning within a given game or at the top of said inning.  So rather than be forced to sit through the whole game or fast forward through so much baseball, audiences can pick precisely where the game starts.  So if viewers have to stop for any reason, they can just pop in the DVD, pick the inning (and its top or bottom) and go from there.  If fast forwarding is still necessary, it won’t have to be but so much as a result of this inclusion.  This is a standard that those at MLB Productions have maintained for years.  So it is wonderful to see this standard maintained even here.  It serves to make the set’s overall presentation even more enjoyable and a success.

MLB fans and Yankees fans alike will appreciate that those with MLB Productions took painstaking efforts to maintain the tradition of excellence established by the company with every one of its releases up to this point including this set.  The games included in this set are presented in full. Audiences can once again choose the point at which they start giving games, whether the top or bottom of said inning(s).  All of this taken into consideration, Baseball’s Greatest Games: Yankees® Postseason Heroics proves to offer plenty of enjoyment for MLB fans regardless of their team loyalty.  There is still one more aspect of this set that makes it a joy for audiences.  That last aspect is the fact that the games in this set are presented exactly as they were seen in their original broadcast(s).  Game 1 of the team’s 1996 ALCS matchup against the Orioles was originally broadcast on NBC while the other three games were each broadcast on FOX.  MLB Productions’ people covered their bases, including a disclaimer noting the potential issues with the games’ video.  But the reality is the video looks just fine.  As a matter of fact, seeing the games as they looked in their original airings brings back a wonderful sense of nostalgia for fans. Considering that this season hasn’t lived to the hopes and expectations of the team and its fans, that sense of nostalgia is especially welcome for the members of the Yankees nation.  Together with the aforementioned aspects of the set, the presentation of each game from its original broadcast rounds out Baseball’s Greatest Games: Yankees® Postseason Heroics and makes it complete.  It is one more reason that audiences, regardless of allegiance, will welcome this latest collection of games from MLB Productions and A&E Home Video.

MLB Productions and A&E Home Video have a long history together, releasing wonderful pieces of baseball’s history every year.  Baseball’s Greatest Games: Yankees® Postseason Heroics is one more wonderful piece of that history.  The inclusion of four games in their entirety proves that right off the top.  That audiences can once more choose where they start viewing each game makes it even more of an enjoyable experience.  And the still quality video and audio mix of all four games rounds out the entire set.  All things considered, Baseball’s Greatest Games: Yankees® Postseason Heroics proves to be its own home run for any Yankees loyalist and any true-blooded baseball fan in general.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct from The Lionsgate online store at http://www.lionsgateshop.com/product.asp?Id=31220&TitleParentId=9945.  More information on this and other releases from Lionsgate and A&E Home Video is available online at:

 

Lionsgate

Website: http://www.lionsgate.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lionsgate
Twitter: http://twitter.com/linosgatemovies

A&E Home Video

Website: http://www.aetv.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AETV
Twitter: http://twitter.com/AEHomeEnt

MLB Productions

Website: http://mlbproductions.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mlbprod

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Al Capone: Icon Is A Welcome Watch For Any Lover Of Crime History

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

Al Capone is one of the most revered and reviled figures in American history.  He has been the inspiration behind countless biographies and crime histories and some of the most well-known gangsters and mobsters throughout Hollywood’s rich history.  And that is just the tip of the massive iceberg that is Capone’s life.  There is much more to his life that many people might not know going all the way back to his childhood.  Now thanks to PBS, the world will finally get a much deeper look at Capone, his meteoric rise to the top of the crime world, and his equally surprising end in the new documentary Al Capone: Icon.  The amount of information shared through the course of this documentary is the central point of its success.  It doesn’t just focus on his legend.  Rather it goes behind that legend and shows how the man became the myth.  Al Capone: Icon boasts quite a bit of background on Capone, his life, and legacy.  Another reason that audiences will take to Al Capone: Icon is the program’s pacing.  The program’s pacing does move at a somewhat fast pace.  But it isn’t so fast as to lose audiences along the way.  And last to note is the inclusion of actual photos and footage to help illustrate the story.  All three aspects noted here are important in their own way to the success of the overall presentation that is Al Capone: Icon.  Collectively, they make the documentary in whole one that any lover of crime history will enjoy.

The central point of success in Al Capone: Icon is the amount of information shared throughout the program.  To say that there is a lot of content here would be an understatement.  The program starts at Capone’s childhood, growing up in one of New York’s poorer areas and proceeds to follow his life all the way to his adult life and his eventual, surprising end.  Needless to say, Capone didn’t go out in a blaze of glory unlike perhaps John Dillinger.  Rather his end came with a proverbial whimper.  But during his life, he was seen both as a man of the people and as one of America’s most reviled figures at another point.  That image was all thanks to the work of law enforcement and government officials alike.  And audiences will learn all about that, too.  From the image of Capone himself to the glorification of mobsters in the movies, the government played a big role in how America viewed Capone then and even today.  Speaking of movies, the “experts” brought in to discuss Capone also break the myth of Elliot Ness and the famed “Untouchables.”   Again, there is a lot of information shared throughout the course of this program.   There is in fact, so much information, that those behind the documentary’s creation are forced to move at a somewhat quick pace.  The pace isn’t too fast for viewers to keep up.  But it is fast nonetheless.  And that is the second aspect of this documentary that makes it work.

Al Capone: Icon is a very deep presentation in terms of the amount of information provided throughout the program’s roughly hour-long run time.  It doesn’t just focus on Capone as an individual.  It focuses on his impact on the nation’s culture, and on how that impact led to the government’s focus on him.  It goes without saying that with all of that information, there is a lot to go through.  That forces the program to move at a relatively brisk pace.  As fast as it moves, it doesn’t move so fast as to lose audiences along the way.  Though, audiences shouldn’t go into the presentation thinking that they can just sit back and watch it.  They will have to invest themselves at least to some level.  Keeping everything noted in mind, it might actually have better in hindsight for all involved to spread the program across two discs rather than try to get it all into a single disc.  But it is what it is.  And for what it is, the end product still works well enough to be worth the watch.

The amount of information included over the course of Al Capone: Icon and the pace at which that information is discussed are both important to the overall success of the program.  Somehow, those behind the program managed to balance the two elements.  One element that didn’t require such attention but still helped the overall presentation was the inclusion of actual prohibition-era footage along with photos of Capone throughout the stages of his life.  The use of these elements enhanced the overall presentation to make the story all the richer for those that might not know but so much of Al Capone’s life and how he and the country influenced one another.  Gritty pictures from the now infamous St Valentines Day Massacre are included as are pictures of Capone throughout his life from childhood to adulthood. There is also footage of the speakeasies that Capone helped run and even a soup kitchen that it was said Capone helped open and operate with his ill-gotten gains.  Interestingly enough, audiences will learn as part of the documentary’s included mass of information, that the soup kitchen in question was used solely as a prop of sorts to help his public image.  That goes right back to the rather impressive amount of information shared throughout the program.  And that information along with the program’s pacing and the included footage and pictures collectively make the program worth a watch by any lover of crime history.

The amount of information that spans this program’s roughly hour-long run time is impressive to say the least.  Those that are less familiar with the life and times of Al Capone will appreciate just how much information fills that run-time.  In watching the program, those same audiences will appreciate the brisk but not too fast pace at which the program advances.  And last but not least, the inclusion of actual prohibition-era footage and photos enhances the overall viewing experience.  Each aspect by itself is important to the whole that is Al Capone: Icon.  Collectively, they make this documentary a welcome watch for any lover of crime history.  Al Capone: Icon will be available Tuesday, September 30th on DVD. It can be ordered direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=43506236&cp=&kw=icon+al+capone&origkw=Icon%3A+Al+Capone&sr=1.  More information on this and other releases from PBS is available online at http://www.pbs.org and http://www.facebook.com/pbs.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.