PBS Investigates Effects Of Climate Change On Arctic Ecosystem In New Episode Of Nature

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS is giving audiences another reason to stay indoors and stay warm next month with the release of another episode of its hit wildlife series Nature on DVD.

PBS will release Nature: Invasion of the Killer Whales on Tuesday, January 20th. Nature: Invasion of the Killer Whales focuses on a major change in the ecosystem of the Arctic. It is a change that has resulted from global warming and the gradual disappearance of Arctic ice. As the once massive amounts of ice that one populated the Arctic disappear, so does the number of killer whales inordinately increase. The number of killer whales increases because they are being provided with more territory in which to hunt. By contrast, it also means that there is less territory in which polar bears—the once kings of the arctic—have to hunt.

Audiences are presented interviews with native Inuit who discuss the increasing number of killer whales in the Arctic and how it has actually helped them. At the same time, the other side of the proverbial coin is presented as scientists discuss how both humans and killer whales hunting the narwhal is not necessarily a good thing as it increases competition for resources. They go on to argue that this could greatly and negatively affect the lifestyle of the Inuit people. They go on to argue how the decrease in Arctic ice could lead to drastically negative effects on the polar bear population, too.

Nature: Invasion of the Killer Whales will retail for $19.99. It can be ordered online direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=51197006&cp=1378003.2831221&sr=1&origkw=nature&parentPage=family. More information on this and other episodes of Nature is available online at:

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

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

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PBS, PBS Kids Re-Issuing Compilations From Four Family Favorite Series

PBS Kids is starting off the new year with a bang.

On Tuesday, January 13th, PBS and PBS Kids will release four new DVDs—Caillou: Caillou’s Garden Adventures, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Welcome to the Neighborhood, Dinosaur Train: Eggstravaganza, and Super Why: Jack and the Beanstalk. Each of the DVDs listed has been previously released. However, in their upcoming re-issues, each one will come with a bonus puzzle for kids to assemble.

Courtesy:  PBS Kids

Courtesy: PBS Kids

Caillou: Caillou’s Garden Adventure teaches young viewers about the importance of nature and ecological preservation. In this DVD, Caillou learns about the value of nature and the environment as he goes on a hike with his grandfather to Blueberry Point and helps his parents plant a tree in their garden. In features six episodes at a total run time of fifty minutes.

Courtesy:  PBS Kids

Courtesy: PBS Kids

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Welcome to the Neighborhood was the very first of the DVD releases from what is the first TV series inspired by Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. The DVD features three episodes—“Daniel’s Birthday,” “Daniel’s Picnic,” and “Neighbor Day.” It runs a total of fifty minutes.

Courtesy:  PBS Kids

Courtesy: PBS Kids

Dinosaur Train: Eggstravaganza features eight episodes from the family favorite hit series about a family of dinosaurs and the family’s many adventures. Among the eight episodes included on this disc are “The Egg Stealer?” and “Hatching Party.” In the first of that pair, Buddy and Don have a mystery to solve when they happen on a group of unhatched eggs on their beach. In “Hatching Party,” Buddy, Tiny and Mrs. Pteranodon ride the Dinosaur Train to an egg hatching party. These two episodes along with the disc’s remaining six bring its total run time to 100 minutes.

 

Courtesy:  PBS Kids

Courtesy: PBS Kids

Super Why: Jack and the Beanstalk sees Wyatt and his friends jump into the worlds of Jack and the Beanstalk, The Princess and the Pea, The Three Little Pigs, and Little Red Riding Hood. The total run time of the disc is 100 minutes.

More information on these and other titles from PBS Kids is available online at:

Website: http://pbskids.org

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

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.

Emperor’s Ghost Army Gives Audiences A Shocking, Surprising Look At China’s Terracotta Warriors

Courtesy: PBS

Courtesy: PBS

Ever since its original discovery in 1974, the terracotta army of emperor Qin Shi Huang Di has marveled people the world over.  From archaeologists to everyday people, the 2,200 year-old army has stood silent in the emperor’s massive underground mausoleum.   Even four decades after the army’s initial discovery, many questions have remained about the army.  Why was it built?  How was it constructed?  Was it built there in the mausoleum or moved there?  What did it look like originally?  Now thanks to PBS and its hit science-based series NOVA, at least some of those questions are finally being answered in NOVAEmperor’s Ghost Army.  Those answers in question are just a fraction of what makes NOVAEmperor’s Ghost Army such a worthwhile watch for any lover of history.  The study on the weaponry provided to the silent standing army is another piece of the program that will really surprise audiences.  Last but hardly least interesting in this program is the revelation concerning the human cost of building the army.  The information shared in regards to the human cost is shocking.  From the history behind the statues and their purpose to the story of their real weapons to the human cost, all three aspects of this episode of NOVA show once again why PBS is the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television.

PBS’ NOVA has shown time and again throughout its time on TV why it has remained so popular among audiences.  It has covered so many different topics throughout its life all without allowing itself to fall victim to the trappings of so many other history based series on television’s commercial networks.  NOVA: Emperor’s Ghost Army is no exception to that rule.  It proves this primarily through the information provided throughout the program, starting with explanations of the terracotta army’s creation and its cultural significance.  The program answers a number of questions that have puzzled researchers and others ever since the “army” was first discovered some forty-years ago.  Audiences learn that China’s first emperor Qin Shi Huang Di (after whom China is named) had the army (and his mausoleum) constructed well before his death.  The obvious intention was for his afterlife, which is in itself interesting to consider as that sounds very much like Egyptian culture.  Audiences learn in watching the program that the army was built as a means to protect the emperor from his enemies even in the afterlife.  Just as interesting to note is that through research, it is revealed that no two warrior statues look the same.  The fact that such painstaking efforts were taken by laborers to send such a grand “force” along with the emperor into his afterlife is incredible.  Just as incredible is how the warriors were built and the revelation that they were even fully painted and designed in their original creation.  While the Pharoahs of Egypt made sure people remembered them eons after their deaths, they didn’t go to such lengths as Emperor Qin Shi Huang Di.  It’s quite the statement to his view of himself in regards to his place in history.  And that along with all of the other information shared on the “army” in whole is only the starting point of what makes NOVA: Emperor’s Ghost Army such an interesting feature.

The overall information shared in regards to the emperor’s “army” is an eye opener for anyone that has ever had any interest in its history and its legend.  The history presented about the terracotta warriors is itself an eye opener.  Even more of an eye opener is the revelation that the emperor was so serious about his “army of the afterlife” that he even made sure the warriors were armed with real weapons.  Audiences will learn in watching the program that the halberds, crossbows, and others were not just ceremonial.  They were the real deal.  They were meant to take down any enemies of the emperor even in the afterlife.  Again, even the greatest pharoahs of Egypt didn’t go to such lengths in preparing for life after they left their bodies.  That and the discussion on the warriors’ cultural significance are together the starting point for a whole other discussion-a dsicussion on the emperor himself and what would lead him to go to such lengths.  It’s yet another reason that NOVA: Emperor’s Ghost Army proves to be another wonderful addition to PBS’ hit science-based series.

The history of the famed terracotta warriors and their cultural significance prove to be more than a little bit enlightening.  The revelation concerning the warriors’ weaponry is even more eye-opening.  As if that isn’t enough, audiences will be shocked to learn of the human cost of making the emperor’s army.  It is revealed that the workers, which included both women and children, were governed with an iron fist.  Even the slightest error in the production of the warriors and their weaponry was allegedly punished harshly.  The workers were even forced to sign their names to each weapon solely for the purpose of accountability.  It made it easier to trace back who made each weapon if any weapon was imperfect.  As if the very creation of the army and its weaponry wasn’t enough to present the emperor as a figure with a god complex, then this factor most certainly drives home that thought.  It heightens even more the mystery around the emperor and makes even more worthwhile the discussion on an episode of NOVA that focuses solely on him.  It is that much of an accent to the presentation in whole.  Together with the discussions on the warriors themselves and their weaponry, it makes for a good final discussion point for another episode of NOVA that every lover of history will enjoy.

NOVA: Emperor’s Ghost Army is available now on DVD.  It can be ordered 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

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.

ACL Celebrates 40 Years Is A Wonderful Celebration Of A Show And Of Music Itself

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS and its hit concert series Austin City Limits celebrated two major landmarks for the series this fall. This past October Austin City Limits celebrated forty years on the air. That landmark makes the concert series the longest-running concert series on television to date. Making the anniversary even more special is the fact that this October, the show’s original studio was added to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s tenth Rock and Roll landmark. Both of these marks are big honors for ACL and for PBS. In honor of these honors, PBS released on DVD today the brand new concert recording Austin City Limits 40 Years. There is a lot to like about this concert recording starting with the show’s all-star lineup. Featured in the concert is a who’s who of the music industry. It features legendary names such as: Willie Nelson, Buddy guy, Bonnie Raitt, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Foo Fighters, and even the original members of Double Trouble among so many others. There are even performances from up-and-coming blues/rock band Alabama Shakes. It’s a display in its own way of how many generations this series has reached over the course of its four decades on the air. Making the set even better is the concert’s set list. Emmylou Harris covers Willie Nelson’s hit ‘Crazy.’ There’s also an all-star tribute to Sam & Dave with a performance of ‘Wrap It Up.’ And just as enjoyable is the multi-song, all-star tribute to blues legend and Austin native, the late great Stevie Ray Vaughan. These are just some of the examples of what makes the show’s set list so important to the presentation in whole. Last but hardly least noteworthy regarding the recording’s success is its bonus material. Included as bonus material, is forty-five minutes of bonus performances. There is also a bonus behind-the-scenes look at the work that went in to making Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years a reality. It’s all set against a great performance of SRV’s hit song ‘Texas Flood.’ These bonuses, partnered with the show’s all-star list of performers and its equally wonderful set list, serve to help make Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years one of this year’s surprise best new live recordings of 2014. It also serves to show yet again why PBS is the last bastion of worthwhile programming on television today.

Austin City Limits has been on television for forty years this year. That is a huge landmark for PBS’ concert series. It has outlived MTV’s Unplugged Series. It has also outlived VH1’s Storytellers and CMT’s Crossroads. In the four decades since it made its debut, ACL has gone from focusing on just one or two genres of music to being one of the preeminent destinations for some of the music industry’s biggest names. Elvis Costello has been on the show. Kings of Leon appeared just last year. And even none other than Nine Inch Nails appeared this year. It just goes to show how much this show has grown since its earliest days as has its importance in the music industry. That is shown just as much in the list of performers tapped to appear on Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years. The list of performers tapped to appear on this recording is a who’s who of the music industry from past, present, and even the future. It includes the likes of Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, Foo Fighters, Sheryl Crow, Guy Clarke, Jr., Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Emmylou Harris, and up-and-coming blues/rock band Alabama Shakes and so many others. With such a wide swatch of performers, that list becomes for all intents and purposes a music history lesson live on stage. It shows not only where ACL has been and where it is going but where music itself started and to where it has come today. And every act tapped to perform is an excellent example of both histories. It’s just one of plenty of reasons that audiences will enjoy this DVD.

The list of performers tapped to perform on Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years is itself plenty of reason for audiences to pick up this brand new release from PBS. That list is itself a music history lesson and a lesson on the history of ACL. The performers themselves serve as plenty of reason for any music lover to check out this DVD. The songs that they perform make the recording just as enjoyable if not more so. Audiences will love Willie Nelson’s performance of the classic song ‘On The Road Again,’ and Emmylou Harris’ cover of Willie Nelson’s ‘Crazy.’ If that’s not enough, there is a star-studded, multi-song tribute to Austin, Texas’ own Stevie Ray Vaughan. That tribute features performances from Buddy Guy, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and almost every member of the a-list cast of performers. There is also a special tribute to Sam & Dave in the performance of ‘Wrap It Up.’ That song is handled by Bonnie Raitt, Jimmie Vaughan, Gary Clark, Jr. and Brittany Howard from Alabama Shakes. As if all of that wasn’t enough, the star-studded tribute to SRV is complemented with an equally gran tribute to Buddy Holly. These are just some of the performances included in the concert that audiences will enjoy in watching this recording. There are plenty of other great performances along the way that audiences will enjoy just as much. Collectively, all of those performances make for yet another wonderful reason for every music lover to see this concert.

If the who’s who list of performers tapped for this concert and their performances aren’t enough for audiences, the bonus material included on the DVD will convince audiences. PBS has included forty-five minutes of performance footage as bonus material on this DVD. That forty-five minutes includes a performance of ‘Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die’ from Willie Nelson and ‘Freight Train’ from Gary Clark, Jr. and Sheryl Crow among the bonus performances. Robert Earl Keen handles ‘I Gotta Go’ and Joe Ely covers ‘All Just To Get To You’ as part of the bonus performances, too. Partnered with that is a special behind-the-scenes look at the concert set against a performance of SRV’s hit song ‘Texas Flood’ by Buddy Guy, Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Robert Randolph, and others. It’s a double whammy for audiences. Not only does it give audiences a behind-the-scenes look at the concert from pre-pro to show but it also offers audiences a bonus performance. Audiences are given another bonus performance by Bonnie Raitt and company in their rehearsal for their performance of ‘Wrap it Up.’ It’s a nice finisher to a concert recording has already more than proven itself one of this year’s best. Together with the aforementioned list of performers and set list, it pushes this recording over the top, once again proving why ACL has run so successfully for forty years and why its original studio is now part of music history thanks to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It shows once more why PBS is the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming.

So much can be said of what makes Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years a success and a total enjoyment. And so much has been said, obviously. It goes without saying that the show’s production values are just as impressive as everything else already noted here. Whether one is taking in the concert on a regular TV or one with a high-priced surround sound home theater system, every viewer will agree that all of the other positives noted here would be nothing without those top notch production values. The concert looks and sounds just as good as other performances recorded over the years. It is that proverbial cherry on top of the musical sundae that is this recording. It is that last part that makes this recording well worth the listen by music lovers of every age.

Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years is available now on DVD. It can be ordered direct online via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=50214636&cp=&sr=1&kw=austin+city+limits&origkw=Austin+City+Limits&parentPage=search. More information on this and other recordings from Austin City Limits over the years is available online at:

Website: http://acltv.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/acltv

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.

Audiences Will Discover A Lot To Like About “Bing Crosby Rediscovered”

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

This past October, Paramount Pictures re-issued the 1942 holiday classic Holiday Inn on Blu-ray.  It marked the first time ever that the movie, which starred legendary actor Bing Crosby, had seen the light of day on Blu-ray.  Fittingly, PBS will release a new episode of its hit biography series American Masters featuring Crosby next Tuesday, December 2nd.  While not necessarily a companion to Paramount’s recent BD re-issue of Holiday Inn, the timing of the two releases makes them a perfect pair.  Whether before taking in Holiday Inn or after, audiences will find plenty to like about American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered.  The most enjoyable aspect of this new DVD is the fact that it isn’t just another typical video documentary of a celebrity.  It doesn’t follow that standard formula of life to death that so many bios use in their presentations.   Rather it focuses on Crosby the man, the myth, and the legend.  This includes the good, the bad, and the downright ugly.  The fact that American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered isn’t another standard bio is just part of what audiences will enjoy about this new documentary.  The use of actual vintage footage and pictures from Crosby’s career and personal life as part of the discussion on both parts of his life makes the presentation even more enjoyable.  And last but hardly least worth noting is the inclusion of interviews with those that knew him best including his own wife as well as famed biographer Gary Giddens and fellow jazz legend Tony Bennett among others.  Each aspect by itself makes this episode of American Masters well worth the watch.  Collectively, they show once again why PBS remains the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming today.

PBS will release another new episode of its hit bio series American Masters next Tuesday, December 2nd.  The upcoming release focuses on legendary entertainer Bing Crosby.  Just as with all of PBS’ other series (both domestic and imported), it is more proof of why PBS stands as the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming.  Audiences that are not so familiar with the life and times of Bing Crosby will appreciate first and foremost in this DVD the depth of information shared throughout the course of its roughly ninety-minute run time.  The bio presented here isn’t the standard formulaic bio presented so often by other networks and filmmakers.  It’s a fully unbiased bio that presents Bing Crosby the man, the myth, and the legend.  It presents his good side and his bad.  From his superstardom to his alcoholism and womanizing to his working relationship with fellow entertainer Bob Hope in the famed “Road To…” movies (apparently the duo spent nearly no time together off-screen), audiences see every angle of Crosby’s life. Audiences learn that he was hardly the easiest person to work with when it came to recording songs. And sometimes, he was just as tough to work with in live settings.  Also included is the downright ugly part of his family’s life in which two of his sons took their own lives. There is much more information shared throughout the course of the program that many might never have known. For those that have always known one thing or another about Bing Crosby the entertainer or Bing Crosby the man, the information contained within this program completes the picture of the legendary figure’s history. It proves to be the fullest picture that audiences can get in regards to Crosby’s life. And in turn it proves once more why American Masters is such an important part of the whole that is PBS.

American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered offers to audiences what is one of the most complete portraits of the legendary entertainer that audiences will find to date. As with the series’ previous portraits, it far outperforms any celebrity profile presented by any other major network past or present. The amount of information provided throughout the course of the documentary is just one reason that the program in whole is so impressive. The vintage video and photographs that are included with the breadth of information on Crosby and his life enhances the viewing experience even more. Audiences get to see pictures of Crosby with his family away from the bright lights of Hollywood. They get to also see snippets of his famed “Road To…” movies and much more. The combination of these elements and the story of Crosby’s life in and out of the limelight makes the overall content of this program all the more important to its enjoyment. It collectively shows once again why American Masters outperforms any celebrity-based series on any major broadcast and cable network today.

The combination of vintage footage and photos and in-depth story of Crosby’s life used in American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered make this feature more than worth the watch. The bonus videos and interviews that come as companion material make the overall presentation even more enjoyable for audiences. Viewers learn from director Robert Trachtenberg that he worked directly with the estate of Bing Crosby to bring the documentary to life. Trachtenberg and others note Crosby’s hard work ethic and his humility among so much more. There is also a full clip of Crosby performing with his sons later in his life. The clip in question is presented only in part during the primary presentation. So audiences actually get to see the full performance in this clip in question. It’s a truly moving moment taking into consideration the story of what happened to two of his sons later in their lives. And along with the bonus interviews, it becomes one more welcome addition to American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered that makes the presentation in whole a piece that any Crosby aficionado will enjoy.

American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered is a wonderful piece for anyone that has ever had any interest in the life and legacy of the famed entertainer. It reveals that Crosby is more than just that guy known for having sung ‘White Christmas.’ It also debunks some of the biggest myths surrounding his life. It is a fully unbiased look at the life of one of the greatest entertainers of the 20th century showing Crosby in his glory and even more tarnished side. The bonus interviews that were added as companion material adds even more depth to the overall presentation. All things considered, American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered proves in the end to be one more welcome addition to another wonderful piece of PBS’ overall programming schedule. It will be available next Tuesday, December 2nd. It can be ordered online direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=50703406&cp=&sr=1&kw=american+masters&origkw=American+Masters&parentPage=search. 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

 

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 Celebrates Four Decades Of ACL With Special Anniversary Concert

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS’ Austin City Limits hit a major milestone this year.  The network’s hit music series celebrated forty-years with PBS.  In celebration, PBS is releasing a special DVD celebrating the long-running series next month.

PBS will release Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years on Tuesday, December 2nd.  Austin City Limits’ four-decade long run on PBS is especially important to both the network and to music lovers alike.  In the four decades that Austin City Limits has been on PBS, it remains the only TV series to be awarded the Medal of Arts.  Also in that time, MTV’s Unplugged and VH1’s Storytellers have gone by the wayside.  And even CMT’s on Crossroads series has failed to maintain the stability and reputation of ACL.  Throughout its now forty-years on television, ACL has seen and continues to see some of the industry’s biggest names take to the stage.  Those names include the likes of Elvis Costello, Foo Fighters, Nine Inch Nails, and so many others.  Many more names are sure to be added to that list as there appears to be no end to this landmark series.

In honor of the series’ fortieth anniversary, many of those same big names have come on board for this celebratory concert.  Bonnie Raitt joins Jimmie Vaughan, Gary Clark, Jr and Brittany Howard from Alabama Shakes for a performance of the Sam & Dave classic ‘Wrap It Up’ to open the concert.  Howard returns later in the show alongside Gary Clark, Jr. for a special performance.  Willie Nelson, the red-headed stranger himself, joins Emmylou Harris for a performance of Nelson’s ‘Crazy.’  Singer/actor Kris Kristofferson and Sheryl Crow team up for a performance of Kristofferson’s ‘Me and Bobby McGee.  Foo Fighters even make an appearance to perform Roky Erickson’s ‘Two-Headed Dog.’  That performance was recorded at the original ACL television studio especially for the concert.  Actor Jeff Bridges hosts the night’s festivities.  He also performs a special rendition of ‘What A Little Bit Of Love Can Do’ from the late singer-songwriter Stephen Bruton.  Bruton was a big influence on Bridges’ Oscar-winning role in the movie ‘Crazy Heart.’  As if all of this isn’t enough, Joe Ely and fellow local legend Robert Earl Keen make an appearance.  Blues legend Buddy Guy rounds out the show with a performance of ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb.’  And finishing off the whole thing is a star-studded tribute to Buddy Holly and the one and only Stevie Ray Vaughan.  A who’s who of guitarists performs Holly’s ‘Not Fade Away’ and SRV’s ‘Texas Flood’ for the night’s biggest finish.

Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years was taped live at the ACL Live at the Moody Theater and the show’s original studio, Austin PBS affiliate KLRU’s Studio 6A.  The complete list of performers is: Alabama Shakes, Doyle Bramhall II, Jeff Bridges, Gary Clark Jr., Sheryl Crow, Double Trouble, Joe Ely, Mike Farris, Foo Fighters, Grupo Fantasma, Buddy Guy, Emmylou Harris, Robert Earl Keen, Kris Kristofferson, Lyle Lovett, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Robert Randolph, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Jimmie Vaughan.

Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years will be available Tuesday, December 2nd.  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=50214636&cp=&sr=1&kw=austin+city+limits&origkw=Austin+City+Limits&parentPage=search.  More information on Austin City Limits is available online at

Website: http://acltv.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/acltv

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.

Endeavour Remains Television’s Top Crime Drama In Its Second Season

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

Late this summer PBS released the complete second series of itv’s hit crime drama Endeavour to the masses.  The four-episode season from the British television network proved to be such a hit among audiences that only a couple months after its release on DVD and Blu-ray, itv awarded the series with a full-season renewal for a third series.  There is currently no word on when Series Three will be broadcast.  But speculation is that fans won’t see new episodes until sometime in 2015.  That being the case, this summer’s release of Endeavour Series 2 will most definitely tide over audiences.  Series creator/writer/executive producer Russell Lewis has taken the success of the show’s first series /season and built quite solidly upon it in this collection of episodes making it one of this year’s best new box sets for grown-ups.  Lewis has built on the success of Endeavour’s first season first and foremost through his solid writing.  The stand-alone stories that make up each of the four episodes will keep audiences just as much on the edge of their seats as in the show’s first series/season.  Audiences that haven’t yet seen this series/season will note that Lewis has also incorporated a serial element of sorts to the show; a serial element that hopefully will not overshadow the show’s stand-alone element when it returns in 2015.  Luckily in the case of this series the two elements are actually quite well-balanced.  It’s one more reason that audiences will enjoy this series.  The acting on the part of Shaun Evans and his cast mates throughout each of this season’s episodes completes the whole experience.  Evans and company expertly interpret the episodes’ scripts and help to completely immerse audiences in the stories.  Together with the gripping primary story lines and the newly added secondary, the acting proves without a shadow of a doubt once more why Endeavour remains better than any of the crime dramas currently polluting the “Big 4” and the major American cable networks now in its second series/season.

British television network itv’s crime drama Endeavour proved to be a surprise hit in its debut season last year.  Its second series has proven to be even more of a hit both on television and on DVD and Blu-ray.  The central reason for that success is the writing.  The stories crafted by Russell Lewis for this outing are just as gripping as those developed for the show’s first season.  Season opener “Trove” picks up right where the series left off in its first season with Morse having returned from his brush with death in “Home.”  Audiences don’t know it at this point, but the happy working relationship that Morse has with Police Chief Superintendent Reginald Bright (Anton Lesser) is on the verge of a downturn beginning with this episode.  It’s part of the season’s secondary writing that makes this season even more enjoyable and engaging.  It will be discussed later.  Getting back to the primary writing, this season’s second episode proves just as much why the primary writing keeps the show so enjoyable.  “Nocturne” sees Morse investigating a series of murders that are linked to an old ghost story.  And in “Sway” audiences are presented with a story that seems to have been influenced at least to some degree by the stories of Jack The Ripper.  The comparisons are subtle.  But they are there.  “Neverland,” the season finale is perhaps the most gripping of the season’s episodes.  That is because it highlights the secondary writing that comes into play this season.  As Morse investigates a trio of murders, he uncovers corruption within the highest levels of Oxford’s society and even within the very police force for which he works.  It leads to not just one but two cliffhangers that are sure to leave viewers waiting anxiously for Endeavour’s third season.  There are those that have argued and who will, that the use of such a story element as these cliffhangers are far too below the standard set by Lewis in the series’ first season.  Those that are open-minded enough though, will see the value in these elements.  They keep anticipation high for the show’s third season.  It’s also only the first time that Lewis has used a cliffhanger at all.  So it goes without saying that Lewis has been tasteful in using it.  Lewis can easily be forgiven and even applauded for that.  Now the key is for itv to not leave audiences waiting too long for the show’s third season.  If network execs sit on their hands too long, the use of the dual cliffhangers will work against them and Lewis.  That’s because if itv waits too long to premiere Season Three, anticipation might have waned too much and such solid writing would have proven to be all for naught.

Endeavour’s second season proves in the long run to be quite a step up from the series’ first season.  That is not meant in any way to discount its first season.  Its first season was enjoyable in its own right.  But this season has taken the success of that season and built on it in a big way.  That is thanks in large part to Russell Lewis’ writing.  The stories presented in this season each keep audiences engaged from start to finish.  It is in itself a tribute to Lewis’ attention to detail.  The secondary writing that went into these episodes is just as much of a positive worth noting this season.  Lewis has incorporated a romantic interest for Morse this season.  Most interesting to note here is that his love interest is black.  Being that the series is supposed to take place in the 1960s–the civil rights era.  It is interesting to see the cultural acceptance of such a relationship in the U.K. verses the lack thereof in the United States.  It’s just one of the secondary story elements that Lewis incorporates into this season’s episodes that makes them so enjoyable.  The other equally important story element incorporated into Season Two is the gradually degrading relationship between Morse and certain individuals inside the police force.  Right from the season premiere to its finale, audiences see things really start to change especially between Morse and Police Chief Superintendent Reginald Bright.  The ultimate revelation as to Bright’s role in this season’s events makes him a perfectly despicable character in the long run.  It lets audiences know that something big is going to happen to him in the show’s third season.  It basically lets audiences know that Bright will likely get what’s coming to him in Season Three.  Here’s to hoping that in fact does happen.  The inclusion of a new underlying romance subplot and that of corruption within the police force is nothing new to the worlds of television and movies.  It’s been done.  But what makes it work so well here is the fact that [Russell] Lewis had not used these elements in the show’s first season.  With any luck, he will keep them to a minimum in the show’s third season.  Hopefully things will be wrapped up nicely early in Season Three so as to allow the show’s stand-alone elements to once again shine.  Regardless, their inclusion this season has done a lot to help advance the show and make it even more interesting and enjoyable.

The primary and secondary writing that went into Endeavour’s second season are both key aspects of the episodes that make them collectively so enjoyable.  As important as they are to the overall enjoyment and success of Season Two, the acting on the part of the cast is just as important.  Shaun Evans (Morse) and Roger Allam (DI Fred Thursday) are just as talented this season as in Season One.  The duo takes its roles with the full seriousness they deserve even with the show still in its infancy.  The care with which they present their characters makes audiences believe that Evans and Allam have been playing their roles for decades.  At no point in any of this season’s episodes does the duo falter in its high quality acting, either.  It makes suspension of disbelief that much easier and enjoyment of these episodes that much more in the long run.  Together with the season’s stories overall, the pair’s acting makes Endeavour: Series/Season 2 a must for any true lover of the crime drama genre.

Endeavour has proven once again in its second series to be just as enjoyable as any major American crime drama on television today.  It has proven that thanks both to the primary and secondary aspects of the show’s writing.  The expert acting on the part of Shaun Evans and Roger Allam helps prove this argument, too.  By themselves, each factor makes its own case why audiences will enjoy this latest installment of Endeavour.  Altogether, they make it stand head and shoulders above its American counterparts once again.  Endeavour: Series 2 is available no on DVD and Blu-ray.  It can be ordered direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=35620626&cp=&sr=1&kw=endeavour&origkw=Endeavour&parentPage=search.  Audiences can get more information on Endeavour online at:

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/programs/endeavour/

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Twitter: http://twitter.com/masterpiecepbs

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