‘NOVA: Last B-24’ Succeeds In Its Mission To Entertain, Engage Audiences

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

American audiences love drama.  A single run through any TV carrier’s lineup provides solid proof of that statement.  From Scandal to New Amsterdam to Criminal Minds to Empire to Black Mirror and more, drama is big business.  The thing is that none of the dramas noted here nor their unmentioned counterparts are real.  They are fiction.  The drama that has come from World War II however, is real, and none of the scripted garbage that is churned out by the TV (including streaming TV) companies can or ever will compare to the very real drama in the stories of World War II.  Early next month, PBS Distribution will present a trio of WWII-era stories full of drama on DVD in another new episode of its hit science-based series NOVA in the form of NOVA: Last B-24.  Set for release on Feb. 5, the episode follows the efforts of the U.S. Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency to locate and return the remains of servicemen lost during the Earth’s most horrible conflict.  That story creates more than enough drama to keep any viewer engaged and entertained, and will be discussed shortly.  Keeping in mind the bigger picture of the DVD’s story, its title is its only downside.  This will be discussed a little later.  The DVD’s average price point is another positive worth noting, and rounds out its most important elements.  It will be addressed later, too.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of NOVA: Last B-24.  All things considered, they make the DVD a presentation that will appeal to history and military history buffs just as much as students and lovers of forensic science and even anthropology and marine archaeology.  Simply put, it is a program that will appeal to a wide range of audiences.

PBS Distribution’s forthcoming home release of NOVA: Last B-24 is a strong new offering from the long-running series that is certain to appeal to a wide range of audiences.  That statement is supported in no small part through the story at the center of the episode.  The story itself follows that U.S. Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency as it efforts to find, identify and return the remains of American airmen lost during the WWII from points around the globe.  The main search is for the remains of three airmen killed in the crash of a B-24 in the Adriatic Sea.  The plane, which was the last to roll off the line at a plant in Alabama – and was owned by the factory’s workers – crashed just shy of a runway for which its 10-man crew was aiming.  Seven of the crew survived, but those three died in the crash.  The story ties in the search for remains of one of the famed “Red Tail” pilots and for the remains of another airman believed to be entombed in a B-17 that crashed near the site of the Tulsamerican in order to present the bigger story of the DOD POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s efforts to honor the military’s mantra of “no man left behind.”  That is really the bigger story here, not just that of the search for the remains of the lost Tulsamerican crew members, but of the military’s unending efforts to find every American service member, and return said service members home.  To that end, that overarching story of the military’s attempts to not leave even one person behind makes for a story that will appeal to plenty of viewers.  Staying on that train of thought that leads to the realization that the episode’s title is its only real negative.

The episode’s title is a con because considering the episode’s overarching story, the story is not necessarily about the research at the Tulsamerica’s crash site.  Rather, the story is – again – about the unending efforts by the U.S. government and military to bring home the remains of every single possible service member who has been lost overseas in America’s many military conflicts.  Maybe it could have been titled after the military’s mantra, No One Left Behind or something along those lines, but a close watch of the episode shows that Last B-24 is somewhat misleading and not necessarily accurate in relation to the episode’s overall content.  No one is perfect and mistakes happen.  What’s more, it is rare for PBS’ programs to be improperly titled.  That is not to say that it does not happen, but such an instance is not common enough to justify any major criticism.  To that end, the program’s title is a con, but it is hardly enough to ruin the presentation.  Now, keeping this in mind, there is at least one more positive to note in the overall presentation of NOVA: Last B-24, its average price point.

The average price point of NOVA: Last B-24 is $18.94.  That price point is reached by averaging prices from PBS’ store, Target, Best Buy, Walmart, Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Amazon.  The most expensive listing is at Books-A-Million, which lists the DVD at $24.99.  Given, PBS also lists it at normal price of $24.99, but currently, it can be pre-ordered from PBS’ online store at a reduced price of $19.99.  To that end, that still makes Books-A-Million’s price the most expensive listing.  An average price of less than $20 set against a standard price listing of $24.99 is a price that audiences will agree is relatively affordable.   What’s more, the in-depth explanations of how scientists determine the identity of those lost through research of the discovered remains makes that price even more worth paying.  The same can be said of the very exhibited efforts of the military to bring home its service members.  Between that and the efforts to undeniably identify each set of remains, audiences get a presentation here that is more engaging and entertaining than any of the forensic crime dramas that currently pollute America’s airwaves.  In turn, it once again makes that average price point of less than $20 money well-spent.

NOVA: Last B-24 is just one of a handful of new episodes of NOVA to be scheduled for release early next month.  It is also one of this year’s first great new documentaries, even despite being slightly mis-titled.  The story at the center of this episode shows the U.S. military’s unending efforts to make sure no one is left behind, while also showing the extensive processes that are undertaken to ensure that no one is ever left behind.  The DVD’s average price point is hardly a bank-breaker, and considering the depth and breadth of the program’s story, that price is such that audiences will agree it is money well-spent.  Keeping all of this in mind, NOVA: Last B-24 proves to be a presentation that a wide variety of viewers will welcome in their home DVD libraries.  It will be available on DVD on Feb. 5.  More information on this and other episodes of NOVA is available online now at:




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

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/novapbs




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