Mr. Selfridge Is Even Better Than Before In Its Second Season

Courtesy: PBS/ITV Studios

Courtesy: PBS/ITV Studios

PBS’ British import Mr. Selfridge came as quite the surprise hit in its first season. There were those that expressed some uncertainty about the show, arguing that it was just PBS and it capitalizing on the success of Downton Abbey. The reality is that Mr. Selfridge is absolutely nothing like that program. As a matter of fact, Mr. Selfridge showed throughout its first season that it actually surpasses Downton Abbey. That’s thanks to a combination of solid writing and acting along with equally impressive production values in front of and behind the cameras. Season Two has already wrapped overseas and work on Season Three is underway. In the meantime, PBS will release Season Two of Mr. Selfridge on DVD and Blu-ray April 29th. It goes without saying that the second season of Mr. Selfridge continues that high standard established in the series’ first season. The show’s writers step things up in Season Two, incorporating more drama and even a certain amount of comedy that audiences are certain to appreciate. The acting on the part of the show’s cast is just as solid as ever, too. This includes the new additions to the cast this season. And the period attire and settings are right on par with the changed times, too. Each factor alone is important to the success of this season of Mr. Selfridge. Together though, they make the series’ second season even more impressive than the first.

The writing behind the second season of Mr. Selfridge is the most important factor in this season’s success. The series’ first season was centered primarily on establishing the series’ cast and their relationships. This season offers far more in terms of story lines. Selfridge’s and Mr. Selfridge himself have been caught up in World War I. The result is scandal that takes viewers right up to the season’s finale. The result of the scandal is a much more focused figure in Henry. Henry’s relationship with his wife Rose seems to be better. In fact, she even takes a more active role in the operations of Selfridge’s. That increased role leads to some wonderfully entertaining moments that are certain to have audiences laughing. Some of those moments are linked to the ongoing battle of the sexes. They are both still quite relevant to viewers today, just in a different way. Things in the store have changed a bit, too. One romance blooms while another takes a dramatic turn. Some employees leave while another returns. The store has a new weasel by the name of Mr. Thackery (Cal Macaninch). He looks and acts the part, too. His was an excellent addition as his almost childish behavior will lead to just as much laughter as anger. That’s because everyone knows someone or has known someone in their daily lives just like Mr. Thackery. Lord Loxley (Aidan McArdle) creates his own havoc for Harry along the way, too. And a surprise health diagnosis for Rose makes things even more interesting. These are just some of the many storylines that take place in Season Two. There are far more that viewers will enjoy when they purchase Season Two for themselves. With all of this going on, one would think it would be easy for the writing to get caught up in itself and get muddied. But somehow, the series’ writers managed to balance everything and even make each storyline play into the other to create one whole. That balance creates a whole that will keep audiences watching with as much fervor as any drama out there today British or American.

Those charged with crafting the scripts for each episode of Mr. Selfridge’s second season handled their duties quite well. Their ability to interweave this season’s various storylines with so much ease is the primary reason that this season is even better than the show’s first. Just as important as the series’ writing is the acting on the part of the cast. This is a direct link to the writing. The cast from the series’ first season is back. And only minimal additions have been made to the show’s cast lineup. Whether new or more experienced, the show’s entire cast does an outstanding job of interpreting each script. The cast together manages to pull in audiences and make them feel like they are actually part of the story unlike certain other dramas wherein audiences know they are watching a story unfold. And because Harry has to take a business trip at one point in the season, it allows the rest of the cast to shine. They do that and more. The cast doesn’t present that stereotypical image that so many people have of characters in British dramas. Rather, they actually present an image of being everyday people just trying to make it through another day. So kudos are in high order for the cast this season. Having examined the writing and acting undertaken for the second season of Mr. Selfridge, the only remaining logical point to examine in this season is the collective attire and settings.

The attire and settings are right on par with the times in Season Two. Season Two takes place at the start of World War I. The women’s attire especially shows the coordination with the times. There are some flappers starting to show up among some women. Even the British military uniform matches the times. And there is even a discussion between certain characters regarding the boots used by the British troops. Audiences see one of those boots, rather than hear about them. It’s nice to see the painstaking efforts of those behind the scenes to make even such minutia work in conjunction with the changing times in the story. It’s one more element that makes this season so enjoyable. On the side of the settings, audiences will appreciate how the writers incorporated Selfridge’s and the war into each other. Audiences see the British union jack throughout the store as Britain enters the war. And while audiences never really see any of it, the writers include the removal of all German goods from the store shelves. Indirectly speaking, this is part of the setting, too. It’s just an indirect part of the setting. But it still counts. And because of that, it makes this aspect of Season Two even richer.

Whether one admires mostly the settings and attire, the acting, the writing, or all three together, every bit of what went into the second season of Mr. Selfridge made this season work. It all came together to make this season even better than the first. Even more so, it all went a long way toward making Mr. Selfridge even better than Downtown Abbey. And that is saying something. Anyone that has seen the series’ first season but not yet this season will agree that this season is an important turning point for this series and a must see for anyone wanting to see how a drama is done right. It will be available in stores and online on DVD and Blu-ray Tuesday, April 29th. It can be ordered direct via the PBS online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=32224976&cp=3529703.20384186&ab=Aspot_Selfridge2&parentPage=family.

More information on Mr. Selfridge is available online at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mr-Selfridge/303888089680606. To keep up with the latest 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.

PBS To Release Latest Episode of Craft In America On DVD Next Month

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS will release the latest episode of its series Craft in America next month.

Craft in America: Industry will be released alongside PBS’ other May 27th offering Nature: Touching The Wild. The season premiere episode of the Peabody Award-winning series, it examines the business of handmade crafts and the role the craftsmen and woman play in the much larger picture of local and national economies. It does so by examining the connection between consumer and craft maker, and the value of handmade objects in today’s economy.

This episode of Craft in America takes viewers from Alabama to North Carolina and from New York to Massachusetts. It examines a variety of different places and ways in which the handmade plays a role in each area’s economy.

Craft in America: Industry was directed and executive produced by Carol Sauvion. Patricia Bischetti and Rosey Guthrie co-produced the program. Laura Karpman handled the episode’s music and Beth Spiegel A.C.E. handled editing duties. Sidney Lubitsch served as Director of Photography.

Craft in America: Industry will be available Tuesday, May 27th and will retail for SRP of $19.99. It can be pre-ordered now online via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=34465746&cp=2809871.3854896&sr=1&origkw=Craft+in+America&parentPage=family. More information on this and other episodes of Craft in America is available online at http://www.pbs.org/craftinamerica. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online 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 To Release Touching The Wild On DVD Next Month

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS will release Nature: Touching The Wild on DVD this Spring.

Nature: Touching The Wild will be released on DVD Tuesday, May 27th. In this episode of PBS’ wildlife-centered series, writer/artist/naturalist Joe Hutto documents the seven years that he spent living among a group of mule deer and attempting to become accepted by them. This is not the first extreme undertaking on the part of Hutto. He has spent months at a time living among a herd of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and having wild turkey chicks imprint on him. So when asked why he would spend seven years with the deer, it comes as no surprise that his response was simply, “How could you not?”

The new presentation is based on his book Touching The Wild, Living With The Mule Deer of Deadman Gulch (Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.). Hutto presents and narrates the story himself over the course of the episode’s roughly hour-long run time.

Nature: Touching The Wild will be available Tuesday, May 27th. It will retail for an SRP of $19.99 and can be pre-ordered via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=34129646&cp=1413205&ab=Aspot_15offFS69&parentPage=family. More information on this and other episodes of Nature is available online at http://www.facebook.com/PBSNature and http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature. 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.

Ireland’s Wild River Is An Example Of A Wildlife Documentary Done Right

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

Ireland’s Wild River is one of the most enjoyable episodes of PBS’ beloved wildlife series Nature to come along in quite a while. This episode of Nature is such a joy first and foremost because of its approach. There is quite a bit to note on that matter alone. Another reason that audiences will enjoy this episode of Nature thanks to the beautiful cinematography. That plays directly into the episode’s approach. One more reason that viewers will enjoy this episode of Nature is its editing. Much like the cinematography, the editing plays directly in to the episode’s overall approach. All three factors together make this episode of Nature one that any viewer should see at least once.

PBS’ Nature has been a hit with viewers for years. That is because of its general approach. It has typically stayed as far as possible from all of the wildlife shows that are based more on personalities (whether on camera or off) than on the animals. Because they focus more on personalities, those same shows take more of an intrusive approach than Nature for lack of better wording. While this episode of Nature actually does have a host of sorts in Colin Stafford-Johnson, he is not the center of attention. Nor does he show any interest in taking center stage. The only time that he is shown is occasionally as he paddles (yes, paddles) along the Shannon. Even his own narration is apart from that of hosts of other wildlife program. That makes this episode even more enjoyable for true nature lovers. His narration isn’t the same high energy approach of so many nature show hosts. Much like the cinematography and companion editing of this episode, Stafford-Johnson’s own narration is low-key and non-intrusive. He takes the angle more of a full-on observer than the standard host that goes in and grabs everything in sight, trying to stay in the camera. It’s one part of the episode’s approach that makes the episode such a joy.

Host Colin Stafford-Johnson’s hands off, observer style approach to Ireland’s Wild River is just one part of what makes this episode of Nature so enjoyable for lovers of any wildlife programming on television. Another, more subtle aspect of the episode’s approach that makes it so enjoyable is in how Stafford-Johnson made his way along the Shannon River. Whereas shows like River Monsters and others are so quick to use motorized boats because they make the show more “sexy” for viewers, Stafford-Johnson gently paddles along in a canoe. It’s a nice change of pace. It shows that Stafford-Johnson isn’t trying to present that same spit-shined, “sexy” appearance of those other shows. And it shows a true reverence for the wildlife along the river, too. He is showing that he doesn’t want to do anything to disturb the wildlife. This is such a welcome alternative to what audiences are accustomed to seeing from nature shows. It makes the episode’s overall approach all the more entertaining for audiences.

The approach taken by Stafford-Johnson and those responsible for the final product here resulted in what is one of the series’ best episodes so far in 2014. That work is not all that makes this episode so enjoyable. Just as important to the overall enjoyment factor is the combined cinematography and editing used for the final product. The shots of Stafford-Johnson paddling gently along the river, and sitting in his canoe among the reeds create such a sense of serenity. There are no overdone pans setting him against the backdrop of the river or other unnecessary flourishes. It’s just straight forward camera work. In terms of flourishes, audiences will like the high speed photography capturing in flight, the many birds that populate the Shannon. Even here, it isn’t overdone. This effect is used just enough to add a little extra “oomph” to the program. And the editing used to transition from one bird to the next adds even more of that feeling.   Just as worth noting is one specific moment in which a shot of a bird on a reed fades to a show of Stafford-Johnson’s silhouette against the setting sun in the sky. Given, it’s a standard edit effect. But it’s the only time that audiences see this effect used, too. Simply put the editing and cinematography are minimized just as much as Stafford-Johnson’s time on camera. There’s no over the top anything here. Everything is balanced just right throughout the course of the program. In the end it’s that balance makes Ireland’s Wild River one of the best episodes of PBS’ Nature yet.

Ireland’s Wild River is available now on DVD. It can be ordered direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=31134566&cp=&sr=1&kw=irelands+wild+river&origkw=Ireland%27s+Wild+River&parentPage=search. More information on this and other episodes of Nature is available online at http://www.facebook.com/PBSNature and http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature. 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.

PBS Marks 50th Anniversary Of Freedom Summer With New Episode Of American Experience

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS announced this week, the upcoming home release of another episode of its series American Experience.

PBS will release American Experience: Freedom Summer June 24th on DVD. The documentary takes viewers back to the Summer of 1964, recalling the events that would change America forever over a mere ten weeks. It was over those ten weeks that the civil rights movement took a big turn. Over seven hundred student volunteers joined forces with organizers and local members of the African American community in Mississippi to establish the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and Freedom Schools throughout the state. The goal of the movement was to challenge the state’s already established Democratic Party at the DNC in Atlantic City that year.

The efforts of Freedom Summer organizers and student volunteers were met with a lot of resistance. Three civil rights workers were killed that year. There were also numerous beatings. And some thirty-five churches were burned. A total of seventy homes and community centers were bombed in the process, too. Acclaimed filmmaker Stanley Nelson (Freedom Riders, the Murder of Emmitt Till) directed this documentary. Till takes viewers through the dramatic events of the Freedom Summer, from the violence to the efforts to get African Americans registered to vote and everything in between. It shows the sheer complexity of the movement to end segregation in America.

American Experience: Freedom Summer retails for $24.99. It can be pre-ordered via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=34894696&cp=&sr=1&kw=american+experience+freedom+summer&origkw=American+Experience+Freedom+Summer&parentPage=search. More information on this and other episodes of American Experience is available online at http://www.facebook.com/AmericanExperience, http://www.pbs.org/americanexperience, and http://twitter.com/AmExperiencePBS. 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 in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

PBS Kids Announces Release Date, Info For Latest Arthur DVD

Courtesy:  PBS Kids/PBS

Courtesy: PBS Kids/PBS

PBS Kids will release the latest Arthur DVD next month.

Arthur Makes A Movie will be released on DVD Tuesday, May 13th. The DVD includes four more episodes of the family favorite series based on author Marc Brown’s beloved literary series. Those four episodes are: “Arthur Makes a Movie”, “Go To Your Room, D.W.”, “Agent of Change”, and “D.W. Unties The Knot.” The DVD will retail for an SRP of $9.99.

In the title episode of the new DVD, Arthur and his friends decide to make their very own movie since they’re not old enough to see a real “James Hound” movie. Muffy Crosswire takes the helm and taps Arthur to play the lead role in the kids’ movie. However, things don’t go exactly as planned when the kids try to put their plan in action.

“Go To Your Room D.W.” tackles a very familiar subject for audiences of all ages when four-year old D.W. is sent to her room by her parents. D.W. has to stay in her room for ten whole minutes! That’s a lot for a four-year old. And it’s just enough time for a four-year old to ruminate on his (or in this case her) difficult childhood, and plan a life away from home. D.W. finds out the reality of trying to run away when she tries to put her plan in action and the folly of her decision in this episode sure to entertain audiences of all ages.

“Agents of Change” is another episode that audiences of all ages will enjoy. It tackles the subject of gender inequality in the movie industry. After Francine and Muffy go to see a movie about a boy and his truck, they are left rather disenfranchised. So they set out to make their own movie that focuses on a strong female lead. They are joined by Molly, who helps to handle the movie’s artwork. With Molly on board, the trio set out to make their very own movie with interesting results.

Wedding season is just around the corner. So what better way to close out Arthur Makes A Movie than with an episode titled, “D.W. Unties The Knot?” In this episode, D.W. decides to get married after watching “The Wedding Channel.” There’s just one problem. D.W. being a child, she doesn’t fully graspt everything that goes into a wedding and what exactly a wedding is or what it represents. She ends up realizing she’s gotten herself in much deeper than she ever imagined. So she’s left to figure out how to get everything back to how it was.

Arthur Makes A Movie will be available Tuesday, May 13th. It can be pre-ordered now via the PBS online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=34129306&cp=&sr=1&kw=arthur+makes+a+movie&origkw=Arthur+Makes+A+Movie&parentPage=search. More information on this and other Arthur DVDs is available online at http://www.facebook.com/PBSArthur and http://www.pbskids.org/arthur. 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 Kids Announces Release Date, Info For New Martha Speaks Compilation DVD

Courtesy;  PBS/PBS Kids

Courtesy; PBS/PBS Kids

PBS Kids has announced that it will release a brand new DVD from its family favorite series Martha Speaks next month.

Martha Speaks: Martha’s Superhero Adventures will be available May 13th. The new single-disc compilation features six episodes from the series. It will retail for an SRP of $9.99. The six episodes include with this compilation are: “Martha The Hero Maker”, “Starstruck Martha”, “Return of the Bookbots: The Case of the Missing Words Part One”, “Return of the Bookbots: The Case of the Missing Words Part Two”, “Verb Dog: When Action Calls”, and “Martha’s Adverb Adventure.” It will also feature coloring pages and activities for children, and resources for parents.

“Martha The Hero Maker” sees Martha come up with an idea for a new adventure story.  She shares her story with Truman, T.D., and Helen. The trio starts drawing the story for Martha. There’s just one problem. When they work on the story for Martha, they each start to add their own element to Martha’s original story. Those extra elements include: butter, a ground squirrel, and the Incredible Exo-Skeleton-of-Wow. Things only get more wild from there as art starts to mirror reality in more ways than one.

In “Starstruck Martha”, Martha gets stars in her eyes when a famous Collie named Courageous Collie Carlo comes to town. In her attempts to meet Carlos, Martha inadvertently reveals that Carlo isn’t as courageous as he seems. So it’s up to Martha to save Carlo’s reputation. Otherwise, Carlo’s TV career could be history.

The Announcer takes center stage in the two part Episode, “Return of the Bookbots.” Martha and her friends have to stop The Announcer in this episode after he goes on a rampage through Wagstaff City, bringing nouns to life from books. It’s up to Martha to lead the charge against the Announcer once and for all in this episode.

The last of this compilation’s episodes, “Martha’s Adverb Adventure”, brings back the villainous Weaselgraft and Pablum. The pair develop a new invention called The Adverbalizer in this episode that is sure to make them rich. That is because The Adverbalizer can actually activate adverbs. It allows the holder of the Adverbalizer to make things happen completely, sloppily, and instantly. Not realizing its true potential, T.D. orders an Adverbalizer, causing all kinds of problems immediately.

Martha Speaks: Martha’s Superhero Adventures can be pre-ordered online via the PBS online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=34129636&cp=&sr=1&kw=martha+speaks&origkw=Martha+Speaks&parentPage=search. More information on this and other Martha Speaks DVDs is available online at http://pbskids.org/martha. 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.

Downton Abbey Even “Richer” In Its Fourth Season

Courtesy: PBS/itv

Courtesy: PBS/itv

The fourth season of Downton Abbey is another success for the hit imported drama.  Yes, it is one more serial.  But unlike so many of the serials that dominate American television, this serial has actually stepped it up once again.  The show’s writers have made the series’ progression feel natural. Just as important in the success of Season Four is the work of those in the show’s costume department.  Just as the writing has helped the show progress, the costume design department has progressed with the writing.  The acting on the part of the cast continues to shine, too.  There is far more to consider than just the work of the actors, writers, and costume department in the success of Downton Abbey Season Four.  That would take far too much time and space than is available.  Needless to say, the three factors noted here collectively are more than enough reason to purchase or order this latest season of PBS’ hit imported drama.

Serials are all the rage on American television.  So it leaves one wondering why the “Big 4” have ignored Downton Abbey leaving it instead to PBS for four seasons now.  It’s the loss of the “Big 4” and the gain of PBS, proving once again the need and importance of public broadcasting.  Now in its fourth season, Downton Abbey is still just as enjoyable as it was in its first season.  The primary reason for that is the series’ writing.  The show’s writers have continued to make the show’s progression feel entirely natural now in its fourth season.  Put simply, the writers don’t make viewers feel like they absolutely must watch from week to week to keep up with everything going on even now in the show’s fourth season.  That’s what separates this drama from all of the serials that dominate American television.  Viewers can tune in and miss a week here or there and still be able to have a relatively good idea of what is going on.  By direct connection, those charged with keeping the series believable in terms of its look have helped the show‘s progression, too.

Audiences that have watched Downton Abbey since its very first season will recall the time and place in which the series began.  Those audiences will notice that those charged with maintaining the cast’s attire have gone to great lengths to keep the cast’s attire proper for the times.  From the women’s flapper attire to the men’s dresswear, it’s obvious that the costume department’s heads wanted to maintain viewers’ suspension of disbelief.  And considering just how few studio execs and moviemakers today care about maintaining the accuracy of their period pieces, it’s wonderful to see that at least someone cares.  It serves so well to help pull viewers into the series and make them feel like they are actually there and not just watching it on television.  It’s just one more part of why DA’s fans will appreciate this latest season.

The work of the costume department and the writers behind Downton Abbey work in tandem to make the series just as enjoyable in its fourth season as it was in its debut season.  As impressive as the writing and costuming are in Season Four, one would be remiss to ignore the acting on the part of the cast.  The cast has once again expertly interpreted the writers’ scripts.  Michelle Dockery instantly pulls at viewers’ heartstrings as the now widowed Lady Mary.  Lady Mary is now faced in Season Four, with raising a child alone as her husband has been killed.  And Maggie Smith’s return as Dowager Countess of Grantham is one of the season’s highest points.  She continues to prove why she is one of the leading actresses in the industry today.  Even the servants show their acting prowess.  From romance plot lines to a maid that has a serious attitude problem, they pull in viewers just as much as the rest of the cast that fills Highclere Castle.  Viewers will each find their favorite moments from the cast throughout Season Four when they order and purchase this box set for themselves.  Audiences will also see for themselves just why the costume department and the series’ staff of writers deserve their share of credit, too this season.  It can be ordered online direct from the PBS online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=22850886&cp=2809871.19926776&ab=Aspot_20offMostLiked_FS35&parentPage=family.  Fans can follow Downton Abbey online at http://www.facebook.com/DowntonAbbey and http://itv.com/downtonabbey.  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.

PBS Still The Science Standard INew Episode Of NOVA

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

Asteroids have been objects of fascination for mankind for ages.  They have been the focus of any number of disaster movies.  And they have been the center of discussion for just as many scientists throughout the years.  Now thanks to PBS’ NOVA, audiences have been presented with what is the most straight forward and honest look at the good and bad of asteroids in NOVA: AsteroidDoomsday or Payday?  This episode of NOVA is well worth the watch first and foremost because as the episode’s title infers, it is balanced in its examination of asteroids.  By direct relation, the organization of the near hour-long program makes it just as enjoyable for audiences.  Making everything complete in this episode of NOVA are the visual aids used to help illustrate the discussion.  All three of these factors each play their own role in the success of the program.  Together, they continue to prove why NOVA continues to stand tall as television’s best science-based program to this day.

The first and most important aspect of NOVA: Asteroid Doomsday or Payday? that plays into its success is the fact that it is balanced in its examination of the good and bad of asteroids.  It doesn’t try to be like all of the over-the-top documentaries churned out by History Channel and Discovery Channel or even any of the excessively over the top movies and made-for-TV movies about asteroids that have ever been created.  It specifically examines the dangers of asteroids as well as their potential benefits to humans.  It even takes time near the program’s end to explain how the potential benefits of asteroids could even play a role in being able to deflect them from Earth’s orbital path.  It does all of this without any overly sensationalized writing to try and make it “sexy” for viewers for lack of better wording.  Even better about the writing is that not only does it not try to be “sexy”, it is also not above the heads of average viewers. That ease of accessibility for viewers is just the starting point to the success of this episode of NOVA.

The balanced writing in NOVA: AsteroidDoomsday or Payday? is central to the success of this episode of PBS’ hit science series.  By direct relation, the program’s organization makes it just as enjoyable.  The program starts off by explaining the history of the relationship of sorts between Earth and the asteroids that have both hit and come close to hitting the planet.  From there, it goes on to explain the modern methods used to track asteroids and even the possible future of tracking and stopping them; especially the ones that have previously eluded detection by Earth’s many satellites and observatories. The general progression takes viewers into the most discussed theories as to how to keep asteroids from potentially hitting Earth.  It all winds up with a discussion on how mankind could potentially mine asteroids for their water and mineral wealth all while diverting them from a path that would otherwise intersect with Earth.  Each segment clearly progresses from the last. This keeps audiences fully engaged throughout the course of the episode’s near hour-long run time.  That maintained engagement also leads viewers to note one more positive to this presentation.  That positive is the collective visual aids used throughout the feature.

The balanced writing and equally balanced segmentation of this episode of NOVA work in unison to show once more why NOVA continues to stand tall as the best pure science-based program on television today.  There is one more aspect of this episode that should be taken into account in the overall success of this episode of course.  That aspect is the collective visual aids used to help illustrate each discussion.  Whereas certain other commercial-based shows that try to call themselves science-based programming use over the top slow motion graphics and computer generated simulations, NOVA has a long-standing tradition of being as minimalist as possible in the use of such elements.  This episode of NOVA is no different.  Audiences are presented with CG based video of possible devices that could be used to potentially mine asteroids.  It also shows through unadorned high speed footage, a demonstration by a NASA scientist of the effect of both trying to destroy asteroids and nudge an asteroid.  There were no extra bows and whistles. The gentleman in question, aided by an assistant, recorded two different scale models of an asteroid being hit by two different size objects.  Simply put, the visual aids used in this episode were used sparingly like a fine spice.  They were tossed in just enough to keep viewers engaged, just as with the episode’s writing and organization.  Each of the factors noted here are integral pieces of the whole that make this episode of NOVA well worth the watch.  There are even more factors that audiences will themselves enjoy when they order this DVD for themselves.  It can be ordered online now direct from the PBS online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=24977516&cp=&kw=asteroid+doomsday+or+payday&origkw=Asteroid+Doomsday+or+Payday&sr=1.

Audiences can find out more about NOVA: AsteroidDoomsday or Payday? and other episodes of NOVA online at http://www.facebook.com/NOVAonline and http://www.pbs.org.nova.  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 news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Meet The Coywolf Takes A Different Look At Human, Animal Interactions

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS’ Meet The Coywolf is an interesting addition to the network’s wildlife series Nature.  It is an interesting addition to the beloved series first and foremost because of its writing.  Just as important to keeping audiences engaged throughout the course of the program’s near hour-long run time is its editing.  The visuals used in conjunction with the program’s writing make it all the more interesting to watch.  The visual aids used in certain segments round out the presentation, making it complete and completely worth watching.  It is available now on DVD.

The first aspect of Meet The Coywolf that makes it so interesting is its writing.  This episode of Nature, which is based on a book by the same name, introduces the hybrid animal to many audiences for the very first time.  At the same time, it explains how humans within the territories of the coywolf are meeting them at an increasing rate, too.  Most interesting of all is that by and large, this episode of Nature takes the high road.  Instead of being preachy, it is presented from a primarily objective standpoint.  It shows how citizens of two totally separate regions hundreds of miles apart are living in closer and closer proximity to coywolves.  Despite that proximity to one another, the two sides seem to live peacefully alongside the other.  There’s no sense of preaching to audiences for the most part.  The closest that this episode comes to preaching is a point at which it is noted a male coywolf was killed by a police officer because the unnamed officer thought the coywolf was acting aggressively toward him.  As was pointed out, the reality is that the coywolf was merely protecting his mate and child because he felt the officer was too close to them.  That is the extent of the episode’s subjective commentary.  Other than that, this episode is objective.  That objectivity is the key to the program’s ability to reach the level which it reaches.

The writing behind Meet The Coywolf is key to its ability to reach viewers.  By direct connection, the program’s editing is just as important to the episode’s overall presentation.  Editor Janet Hess did a wonderful job of presenting footage in their natural habitats and even within the confines of the human world.  It’s interesting to see just how close the two worlds come to one another on a daily basis.  She also clearly presents the avenues taken to track the wolves in hopes of gathering information that could be used to help protect them.  Simply put, she has worked with writer Siobhan Flanagan to present a fully unbiased and informed episode that serves as the basis for what could be a much deeper future episode.

The writing and editing that make up Meet the Coywolf are both equally important to making this episode of Nature engaging for viewers.  There is one more aspect to this episode that makes it engaging for viewers.  That aspect is the visual aids.  More specifically, the CG maps outlining the coywolves’ territories make the program more engaging.  The maps tie right in to the episode’s editing because they are used to help illustrate the extent of the coywolves’ territories even within the confines of a city.  It’s incredible to see the expanse of those territories as they are tracked by the individuals watching them.  It shows the wolves’ ability to adapt to their surroundings and thrive.  That is the ultimate statement to this episode of Nature.  Even though humans and coywolves are living in increasingly close proximity to one another, the coywolves have shown their ability to adapt and survive.  And as long as there is understanding of them, they will continue to survive and thrive.  Audiences will understand this and more themselves when they order this program on DVD now.  It can be ordered direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=30499036&cp=&kw=meet+the+coywolf&origkw=Meet+The+Coywolf&sr=1.  More information on this and other episodes of Nature is available online at http://www.facebook.com/PBSNature and http://www.pbs.org/wnet.nature.  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.