PBS Reveals New Secrets Of China’s Terracotta Army In New Episode Of NOVA

Emperor's Ghost Army Box ArtPBS will release the latest episode of its hit science-based series NOVA to the masses this fall.

NOVA: Emperor’s Ghost Army will be released Tuesday, December 16th on DVD.  The program follows researchers as they embark on a new archaeological expedition to the mausoleum that houses the famed Terracotta Army of China’s first emperor Quin Shi Huang Di.  The discoveries made in the course of the campaign reveal shocking and eye-opening secrets about the warriors.  The discoveres are made through the use of revolutionary new 3D computer modeling techniques.  Audiences will also learn how the emperor directed the creation of thousands of actual bronze weapons for the warriors and why he intended to use actual weapons for them instead of mere ceremonial weapons.  It’s just one of the many surprising discoveries revealed throughout the course of the episode’s hour-long run time.

NOVA: Emperor’s Ghost Army will retail for MSRP of $24.99.  It can be ordered online direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=50703636&cp=&kw=emperors+ghost+army&origkw=Emperor%27s+Ghost+ARmy&sr=1.  More information on this and other episodes of NOVA is available online at:

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/NOVAonline

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PBS Will Resurrect Royalty This Fall

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS is will resurrect King Richard III this fall.

PBS will release Secrets of the Dead: Resurrecting Richard III on Tuesday, December 2nd. The hour-long program focuses on efforts by researchers to identify bones recently found buried under a parking lot in England. The skeleton was of a hunchbacked individual. An arrow was also found in the person’s remains. The million-dollar question was ultimately answered with researchers from The University of Leicester proving that the remains were in fact those of Richard III.

Having positively ID’d the remains as those of the infamous king, researchers looked even deeper into who Richard III was. They asked what the bones show about Richard’s physical condition. They also researched the impact his condition would have actually had on him both as a military leader and combatant. Those questions and research lead to a discussion on the legends surrounding Richard III’s real role in the War of the Roses. A re-enactor is used to help researchers answer their questions. But before any full conclusions can be made, he must be trained to the point that he would be able to actually fight in battle in full armor despite having scoliosis. The findings reached through the training, research, and re-enactments will leave audiences talking long after the program has ended.

Secrets of the Dead: Resurrecting Richard III will be available Tuesday, December 2nd on DVD. It can be ordered online direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=46534286&cp=&sr=1&kw=secrets+of+the+dead&origkw=Secrets+of+the+dead&parentPage=search. More information on this and other episodes of Secrets of the Dead is available online at:

Website: http://pbs.org/secrets

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SecretsofTheDead

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’ NOVA Goes Prehistoric In New Episode

Courtesy:  PBS/National Geographic

Courtesy: PBS/National Geographic

PBS’ hit science series NOVA is going prehistoric.

PBS will release NOVA: Bigger Than T. Rex on DVD next month. The DVD will be released Tuesday, December 9th. The program focuses on paleontologists’ discovery almost a century ago of a dinosaur that was even bigger than the king of the dinosaurs, the T. Rex. The dinosaur, dubbed the Spinosaurus, was almost lost to the ages due to a bombing raid by allied forces in WWII. The near complete destruction of the dinosaur’s bones left only drawings of the beast , leaving researchers with more questions than answers.

Many of those questions left by the partially destroyed skeleton are now being answered thanks to the recent discovery of a new skeleton in a Moroccan cliff face. In this new episode of NOVA, audiences will see the processes undertaken by paleontologists as they dig out the skeleton of the 53-foot-long creature and answer those questions previously left unanswered. The episode is presented in partnership with National Geographic.

NOVA: Bigger Than T. Rex will be available on DVD Tuesday, December 9th. It will retail for MSRP of $24.99. It can be ordered online direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=50703646&cp=&sr=1&kw=bigger+than+t.+rex&origkw=Bigger+Than+T.+Rex&parentPage=search. It will also be available via digital download. More information on this and other episodes of NOVA is available online at:

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/NOVAonline

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 “Finding Your Roots Season 2″

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS will release the second season of its hit celebrity-based historical series Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. this fall.

Officials with PBS announced this week that Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Season 2 will be released on Tuesday, December 16th.  Gates meets some of the country’s biggest names in the series and examines their ancestry in each hour-long episode.  In the series’ second season, Gates studies the ancestry of big names such as: Derek Jeter, Ben Affleck, Jessica Alba, Sting, Tina Fey, Sally Field, Stephen King, Nas, and many others.  In all, twenty-nine celebrities are featured throughout the course of Season Two.

Gates goes into even more depth with his guests in Season Two than was possible in the show’s premiere season. He studies his guests’ specific ethnic roots, cultural traditions, and the inner works of his guests’ families. New advancements in DNA testing even allows for study of genetic genealogy. The advancements allowed for revelations linked to questions of paternity, geographic origins of his guests’ ancestors, and even tribal Native America ancestry in other cases. It is all revealed over ten episodes spread across three discs.

Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Season Two will be available only on DVD Tuesday, December 16th. It will retail for MSRP of $39.99 and can be ordered online direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=46207086&cp=&sr=1&kw=finding+your+roots&origkw=Finding+your+roots&parentPage=search#Details. Audiences can access more information on the series, and watch videos from the show online now at:

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/finding-your-roots

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/FindingYourRootsPBS

Twitter: http://twitter.com/henrylouisgates

 

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PBS To Release New Bing Crosby Documentary This Fall

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS announced Wednesday that it will release a new documentary centered on legendary entertainer Bing Crosby this fall.

American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered will be released on DVD Tuesday, December 2nd. The documentary focuses on Crosby’s role in the entertainment industry during his career. It also takes a look at the man behind the legend. Veteran actor Stanley Tucci (Transformers: Age of Extinction, The Hunger Games, The Terminal) narrates the program. All of the surviving members of Crosby’s family—his wife Kathryn, daughter Mary, and sons Harry and Nathaniel–are featured in interviews included throughout the program. Fellow entertainers Tony Bennett and Michael Feinstein also share their reflections on Crosby and his legacy along with producer Ken Barnes, biographer Gary Giddins, and writers Buz Kohan and Larry Grossman. Emmy Award-winning director Robert Trachtenberg helms the documentary. It will not be the first time that Trachtenberg has helmed an episode of American Masters. He also helmed episodes that focused on the likes of Cary Grant, Mel Brooks, and fellow acclaimed director George Cukor.

Trachtenberg discussed his thoughts on this latest episode of American Masters. He noted that it was not just Crosby’s achievements as an entertainer that lured him to the project, but who Crosby was out of the limelight that interested him in. “Bing’s remarkable appeal, which continues to this day, was in his seemingly effortless ability to pull an audience in to his intimate, laid-back voice,” he said. He added to that thought, saying, “With the new material I’ve found, I think the breadth, depth and candor of his story will hopefully allow people to see him in a new light.” American Masters Executive Producer Michael Kantor echoed Trachtenberg’s thoughts, noting, “Much like his talent, Bing Crosby is a natural for the series. With more No. 1 recordings than anyone, it is easy to overlook all of his other achievements. Thankfully, this film delves deeply into all of his remarkable work, and will surprise many viewers with a unique perspective on his private life.”

American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered will be available Tuesday, December 2nd on DVD and on DVD/CD combo pack. It can be ordered online direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/search/index.jsp?kwCatId=&kw=bing%20crosby%20rediscovered&origkw=bing+crosby+rediscovered&sr=1. More information on this and other episodes of American Masters is available online at:

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AmericanMasters

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ATK Still Television’s Top Cooking Show In Its Fourteenth Season

Courtesy: PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS released the fourteenth season of its hit cooking series America’s Test Kitchen to DVD this summer.  For those that might not be familiar with the long-running series, it is the on-air companion to Cook’s Illustrated Magazine.  It is also the only series on television today worth watching by anyone that has a love of food and the culinary arts.  In comparison to all of the celebrity-based cooking shows that pollute today’s television spectrum, America’s Test Kitchen has always focused on the food and not the familiar faces.  This latest release continues that long-held tradition from the hit series.  It’s just one reason that makes this season just as enjoyable as its previous thirteen seasons.  Another reason that audiences will enjoy this season is its list of dishes presented throughout the season’s episodes.  From fine dining to even the simplest dishes, host Christopher Kimball and company bring audiences lots and delectable dishes.  And instead of just saying do this or that, they actually discuss how each dish is made.  They even add educational content, explaining the significance of the processes and ingredients in each dish.  For those wanting to try the dishes out for themselves, a number of printable recipes have been included as PDF files complete with fully outlined directions, ingredients and a picture of the finished product.  That bonus rounds out the box set, completing what is even more proof of why PBS truly is the last bastion of worthwhile programming on television.

America’s Test Kitchen has proven for years to be in this critic’s view the single greatest cooking series on television.  The only real contender to that title is its “sister series” Cook’s Country.  It just so happens that Cook’s Country is hosted by Christopher Kimball, who also hosts America’s Test Kitchen.  And go figure, both series are run by PBS, which is really the last true bastion of worthwhile programming on television.  Anyone that might not be familiar with America’s Test Kitchen will see instantly in the DVD release of the series’ fourteenth season why it has remained a hit for such a long time.  The central reason for its continued success fourteen seasons in is the fact that it is not celebrity driven.  That goes completely against the standard used on the shows that make up most of Food Network’s programming and that of the cooking shows on Fox, NBC, and ABC.  It actually makes the food the star, not the people.  It’s such a welcome change in comparison to those other shows.

The downplaying of the host as the star of the show is the cornerstone of what has made America’s Test Kitchen a hit among true foodies and lovers of the culinary arts for fourteen seasons now.  Audiences will appreciate that unlike all those commercially-based cooking shows, the food and cooking equipment are the stars, not the hosts.  Just as worth noting is the variety of dishes that are presented and the manner in which they are presented.  Unlike all of the commercially-based cooking shows, Kimball and company don’t just say “this is what you do”, flying through each dish along the way.  Rather, they take their time.  They explain the significance of the ingredients and the processes that the dishes undergo as each ingredient is added to the various dishes.  That extra educational content shows the importance of cooking not just as some random activity but a science of sorts.  There are so many chemical reactions that go on in preparing and cooking different dishes.  It is really something interesting to consider.  Speaking of the dishes in question, the dishes featured this season range from something one might see on the menu at a four-star restaurant to an update on something as classic and simple as a grilled cheese sandwich.  There is even an easy meals made with pasta, seafood, and corn (yes, corn).  And what’s more audiences can pick and choose which dishes to check out.  They don’t have to sit through episode after episode to get to their dish of interest.  That makes the whole experience even better for any foodie and lover of the culinary arts when watching Season 14 of America’s Test Kitchen.  The positives don’t end here, either.  PBS has once again included a number of printable recipes to complement the dishes presented in Season 14. That inclusion rounds out the set, proving once more why this is the only cooking show worth watching on television today and why PBS is the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television today, too.

America’s Test Kitchen: Season 14 brings with it every one of the traditions that have made it a hit with viewers ever since its premiere season.  It includes once again explanations of each dish’s ingredients and the processes that occur in prep and cooking.  This proves that cooking isn’t just cooking.  It proves cooking is a science of sorts.  This is something that no commercially-based cooking show does.  It also makes the food and the cooking equipment the star, not the show’s hosts.  This has been a tradition since the show’s beginning so many years ago, too.  One more tradition that is carried into this season is the inclusion of printable recipes lifted right from the season’s episodes.  Obviously not every dish could receive its own printable recipe.  Sure it would nice to have the recipe for every single dish presented throughout each season.  But that just isn’t possible.  However, the dishes presented in this season’s selection of printable recipes  is delectable in its own right.  There’s a recipe for grilled corn with basil and lemon butter complete with recipe for the basil and lemon butter baste.  For those looking for something *ahem* meatier, there are recipes for grilled chicken, baby back ribs, and even grilled glazed pork loin.  Those viewers with a bit of a sweet tooth will enjoy the recipes for peach pie, lemon chiffon pie, and marbled blueberry bundt cake among other dishes.  There are plenty of other recipes included on the set that audiences will find their own favorite from the extensive selection offered.  That diverse selection perfectly rounds out the set and is sure to leave any viewer’s mouth watering in anticipation of trying these dishes themselves.  It proves once more why even now in its fourteenth season, America’s Test Kitchen remains the only cooking show worth watching on television and why PBS in whole is the last bastion of true worthwhile programming on television.

There is so much that can be noted of America’s Test Kitchen that makes it so enjoyable even now in its fourteenth season.  From the printable recipes to its in-depth episodes to the very fact that it continues to focus on the food and not the hosts, it continues to do so much right.  Any lover of the culinary arts and any foodie that has yet to see why this show continues to be so successful should order this four-disc box set now.  After watching through it, those viewers will join the ranks of those (like this critic) that already know why it is indeed the best cooking show on television today.  It is available now and can be ordered direct online via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=35446656&cp=&sr=1&kw=americas+test+kitchen&origkw=America%27s+Test+Kitchen&parentPage=search.  More information on America’s Test Kitchen is available online at:

Website: http://americastestkitchen.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/americastestkitchen

Twitter: http://twitter.com/testkitchen

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.