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.

Shout! Factory Announces Release Date For NYPD Blue: Season Six

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory will release the sixth season of the hit crime drama NYPD Blue this Summer.

NYPD Blue Season Six will be released on June 24th, 2014. Season Six of the Emmy® and Peabody award-winning series will be released in a six-disc DVD set containing all twenty-two episodes from the series’ sixth season. The series’ sixth season sees the addition of actor Rick Schroder to the show’s cast. Schroder plays the part of detective Danny Sorenson. Sorenson is Sipowicz’s (Dennis Franz) new partner this season. But he isn’t fully trusted by everybody in the department. That is thanks to his questionable methods. His arrival is just one of a number of major events that arise in Season Six.

The arrival of a new detective on the force and the major events that flush out Season Six are just part of what makes it one of the show’s more talked about seasons. This season also sees a who’s who of guest stars throughout its episodes. Terrence Howard (Hustle & Flow, Iron Man, Crash), Daniel Benzali (General Hospital), Mos Def (The Italian Job, Dexter, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), Kevin Dillon (Entourage), and Emile Hirsch (Twice Born, Into The Wild, Milk) all make appearances.

NYPD Blue Season Six can be pre-ordered now via Shout! Factory’s online store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/product/nypd-blue-season-six. More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory is available online at http://www.shoutfactory.com and http://facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial. 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.

Anchor Bay’s In Fear Is One Of 2014′s Top Indie Flicks

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Independent movie studio Anchor Bay has crafted some of the industry’s most surprising and underrated movies since the start of the twenty-first century. Most recently, Anchor Bay was behind the moving human drama that is Unfinished Song and the more lighthearted romantic comedy Shanghai Calling. It was also behind the release of the equally under appreciated 6 Souls and Dark Skies. Now in 2014, Anchor Bay has released yet another impressive yet under appreciated movie to its ever growing stable in the form of In Fear. While it is an indie flick, In Fear proves to be yet another piece from Anchor Bay that holds its own against any of the major horror flicks and thriller features out there today. The primary reason for that is the movie’s writing. This includes its plot. Another reason for its success is the acting on the part of Iain De Caestecker (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Alice Englert (Beautiful Creatures) and Allen Leech (Downton Abbey). And last but not least, In Fear works because of its cinematography and associated editing. All three of these factors together prove In Fear a work that will leave any open minded horror and thriller fan in happiness.

In Fear is not a major, big budget horror or thriller flick, obviously. What it is though, is a movie that any open-minded fan of both genres will enjoy. The main reason for this is the movie’s writing. The general plot starts out as one that has been done so many times before. Here, audiences see a young couple off on what is supposed to be a romantic weekend at a secluded hotel. But obviously, things eventually start to turn to the negative side of the needle for lack of better wording. This is where writer/director Jeremy Lovering takes the *ahem* high road (bad pun fully intended). It would have been so easy for Lovering to simply allow In Fear to descend to the dumbed down, overly violent level of so many major horror and thriller flicks from here. Instead, he kept the overt violence to a minimum by comparison. Where far too many major horror and thriller flicks fill their run times with unnecessary violence, blood and gore, Lovering has virtually eliminated those elements, using only what was absolutely necessary to help maintain the story’s grip on viewers. And the standard exploitative sexual content thrown in to those major motion pictures is totally nonexistent here. For that reason alone, Lovering deserves a lot of credit.

The minimized use of blood, gore and general violence and the complete lack of exploitive sexual content is just one part of what makes this movie’s writing work so well. Lovering keeps viewers wondering even after Tom and Lucy let Max into their car. Audiences have to admit that had they been in Tom and Lucy’s position, they too would be uncertain as to whether or not Max was good or bad. So any viewer that might like to claim the movie was predictable is proven wrong through this avenue alone. That unpredictability is heightened through the use of certain elements that also lead to some “a-ha” moments by the story’s end, too. Those “a-ha” moments illustrate even more the depth of Lovering’s writing in his script and in turn its enjoyment.

Jeremy Lovering’s script for In Fear is the cornerstone of the movie’s success. The acting on the part of Iain De Caestecker, Alice Englert, and Allen Leech serves to strengthen the movie even more. The trio is entirely believable in its acting. Caestecker and Englert expertly exhibit the growing tension and fear felt by any normal person lost in unknown territory. Given, the odds of being lost and hunted by an unseen predator of sorts are slim to nil in reality. But the fear caused simply by being lost in unknown territory is very real as is the general fear of the unknown. And Caestecker and Englert have made that fear all the more real through their acting. Any viewer will be able to relate to them as they watch the pair try to reach the Kilairney Hotel thanks to the seriousness with which the pair took its roles. Together with the script, this aspect of In Fear makes the movie all the more gripping and enjoyable for viewers.

The acting and writing behind In Fear both are pivotal to the success of the movie. There is still one more aspect of the movie that adds to its enjoyment. That factor is the movie’s collective cinematography and editing. Some of the best shots of the entire movie come as Lucy is looking out of the car, waiting for she and Tom to reach the hotel. Audiences see trees hanging ominously overhead as the sky slowly darkens. These are such subtle shots. But they are so powerful because they are so powerful. It adds to the feeling of tension and being trapped in an enclosed environment for extended periods of time. The way that editor Jonathan Amos (A.C.E.) transitioned the two shots adds so much by doing so little. Those behind the cameras are just as worthy of applause for the solid yet short shots of the figure that seems to be hunting Tom and Lucy. Audiences get just enough of a glimpse to know that there is something outside that car that doesn’t want the pair around. And the shots are just plentiful enough to add to the movie’s fear factor, too. Again, it shows the expert work of Amos and his co-workers behind the cameras. There are far more examples of how the cinematography and editing make In Fear a horror/thriller worth seeing. Audiences will find even more examples when they purchase or rent the movie for themselves on DVD and Blu-ray.

Whether for the cinematography, the editing, the acting or for the general writing, any open-minded fan of the thriller and horror genres will find plenty of reasons to check out this latest underrated and under appreciated release from Anchor Bay Entertainment. The movie is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered direct from Anchor Bay Entertainment’s website at http://www.anchorbayent.com/detail.aspx?projectID=2545b3bd-9d4b-e311-bba7-d4ae527c3b65. More information on this and other releases from Anchor Bay Entertainment is available online at http://www.anchorbayent.com, http://www.facebook.com/AnchorBay, and http://twitter.com/Anchor_Bay. 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 Documentary Proves Truth Is Sometimes Stranger (And Better) Than Fiction

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

American Experience: The Last outlaws – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is another wonderful addition to PBS’ hit series.  The documentary on the famed outlaw cowboy and his cohort (Sundance was not his sidekick despite how he was presented in various movies and TV shows) is so impressive first and foremost in that it presents the real history of the two infamous figures.  It doesn’t try to over glamorize the lives of the two men.  Viewers will enjoy this episode of American Experience because of its minimalistic use of actors and dramatization in telling the story of Butch and his friend.  This plays directly into the episode’s general presentation and refusal to over-glamorize their history.  And last but not least, the use of cinematography and vintage pictures help to illustrate the story.  That combined with the minimalist dramatization and the straight forward history makes this episode of American Experience more proof of just how interesting history can be.  And it makes the newly released DVD one that any history buffs or teacher will want to purchase and add to their own home library.

The first and most obvious reason that audiences will appreciate American Experience: The Last Outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is that it is a straight forward history of the two infamous outlaws.  So many movies and television programs through the decades have been crafted presenting depicting the men in one fashion or another.  In many of those depictions, The Sundance Kid (a.k.a. Harry Alonzo Longabaugh) is presented as Butch Cassidy’s sidekick.  But as audiences will learn through this episode of American Experience, the relationship between the men was more an equal friendship than one of a leader and sidekick.  What’s more, audiences not so familiar with the life and times of these infamous outlaws will appreciate learning that they were far more average than the noted movies and TV dramas have made them out to be.  It’s interesting just to learn that Cassidy (a.k.a. Robert Leroy Parker) actually started out in a very strict religious family from Utah before eventually leaving and making his way to Colorado where his life of crime truly began.  There is so much more to learn throughout this program.  The best summary of what is presented is that sometimes, truth is stranger than fiction.  And in this case, that’s definitely a good thing (bad pun fully intended).

The true history of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid presented in this episode of American Experience is the central reason that audiences will enjoy the newly released DVD.  Another reason that audiences will appreciate this DVD is its minimalist use of actors and dramatization. In most cases of historical pieces, dramatizations are necessary in order to help tell the story of the subject presented. In the case of this episode of American Experience, the use of actors and dramatization actually would have been overkill. That’s because the story itself is interesting enough without those extra elements. Audiences will find themselves fully engaged as they learn how two seemingly ordinary men became the virtual Robin Hood and Little John of the old west, stealing from major organizations, yet through it all, leaving only one person dead in their wake. Those behind the program perfectly balanced the minimalist dramatization approach with just enough history to make this episode even all the more enjoyable.

The balance of story and minimalist dramatization used throughout American Experience: The Last Outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid make this program one that any history buff and any history teacher will definitely want to add to their own home library. The last piece of the program that audiences will appreciate is the combination of the use of vintage photos and stunning cinematography. As narrator Michael Murphy discusses the “Outlaw Trail”, audiences are presented with stunning views of the areas where Cassidy and other outlaws would hide in order to evade law enforcement. The aerial shots of the canyons—some split by rivers, others lined by craggy overhangs—are incredible. The vintage photos of Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid help to illustrate just how average the two legendary outlaws looked. It is a direct contradiction to how they are portrayed in movies and on television. The two elements are expertly balanced throughout the program, thus helping to pull viewers even more into the story of two of history’s most talked about figures. Those final two elements work in tandem with the aforementioned factors to make this new documentary from PBS’ American Experience so much more worth watching. It ends up proving to be one more excellent documentary that is just as useful and enjoyable in the living room as it is in the classroom.

American Experience: The Last OutlawsButch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is available now on DVD. It can be ordered direct from the PBS online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=32476546&cp=&sr=1&kw=butch+cassidy&origkw=Butch+Cassidy&parentPage=search. More information on this and other episodes of American Experience is available online now at http://www.facebook.com/AmericanExperience and http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience. 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 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.