Lessons, Price Save PBS’ Latest ‘Pinkalicious & Peterrific’ DVD

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Kids/PBS Distribution

The 2020 holiday season has officially come and gone once again, and with the season in the rear window once again, the focus for lots of retailers and others is already turning to Valentine’s Day.  A glance around any store reveals that.  It is only fitting that with the attention already turning to Valentine’s Day that PBS Distribution released a Valentine’s Day-themed collection of Pinkalicious & Peterrific episodes this year on DVD.  Titled A Pinktastic Valentine’s Day, the single disc collection  features five episodes whose stories present lessons that will resonate with audiences of all ages.  While the lessons featured in the stories are of positive note, the stories themselves detract slightly from the DVD’s presentation.  This will be discussed a little later.  When the episodes and their connected lessons are considered together, they make the collection’s average price point its own important element.  It will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the DVD’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the DVD a positive presentation, even with the negative of its episodes in mind.

PBS Distribution’s Pinkalicious & Peterrific DVD A Pinktastic Valentine’s Day is a gift that the whole family will appreciate.  That is proven in part through the lessons presented in its featured stories.  The DVD opens with the familiar lesson that the best gifts are the ones that are made versus those that are bought in the episode “Pink Love.”  The episode, which is the disc’s only Valentine’s Day-themed episode, also teaches an important lesson about problem solving when the Valentine’s Day cards that Pinkalicious made are ruined.  She stresses at first about how to make new cards for her classmates, but eventually comes up with an answer to the problem.  Whether on Valentine’s Day or any other holiday (such as Mother’s Day, which is also addressed in one of the collection’s episodes) making a gift from the heart will always be better than just buying something.  What’s more, the matter of problem solving is important to every young person’s development, so having that lesson incorporated into the episode in such subtle fashion helps the DVD’s presentation in its own way.

Speaking of personal development, that matter is addressed again in the central lesson featured in “That Unicorn Feeling.”  The specific lesson tied to the matter is in this case, that of the importance of using one’s imagination.  When Pinkalicious, Peterrific and one of their friends are paying a game together involving their imaginations, another friend comes along who can’t see the unicorn that the others see.  Over time, that friend learns how to use her imagination and eventually sees the unicorn, too.  Learning how to use one’s imagination is important not only in a child’s formative years, but throughout life.  After all, imagination is what leads to the creation of some of the greatest stage plays, movies, and television shows of all time.  To that end, learning early on, that importance of developing imagination is a welcome lesson for every young viewer.

Another important lesson that is presented in A Pinktastic Valentine’s Day is that of pet adoption.  Peterrific points out at one point, that he and his sister’s mom told the pair at one point, people are not supposed to keep wild things.  In this case, the reference being made is to the fact that it is not wise for people to adopt any wild animal.  That includes even stray animals.  That is because there is no telling what medical or other conditions stray animals might have and the liability connected with owning them.  Again, the subtle way in which this lesson is delivered is deserving of applause.  It is completely unrelated to the other lessons featured in the DVD, showing even more, the diversity in the DVD’s featured lessons.  Together with the emotional lesson about children being a mother’s greatest gift in “Mother’s Day Surprise” and whatever lesson is delivered in “Whale of a Song” (that episode’s lesson is not made so clear, unless it is just about appreciating nature), the whole of the DVD’s featured lessons forms a solid foundation for the DVD’s presentation.  If for no reason other than the lessons, the DVD proves worth watching at least occasionally.

While the lessons featured in A Pinktastic Valentine’s Day do much for the DVD’s presentation, the stories to which the lessons are connected detract from that presentation to some point.  As has already been noted, the only Valentine’s Day-themed episode featured in this DVD is it lead episode, “Pink Love.”  The other featured stories are anything but Valentine’s Day-themed.  To that end, the stories that are featured in this collection leave the DVD’s title to be somewhat incorrect.  It’s basically false advertising to a point.  Now even with that in mind, it is not enough to completely disqualify the DVD.  The lessons tied to the stories make up for that negative at least to a point.  Hopefully this is something that those behind the DVD will take into account when and if another Pinkalicious & Peterrific DVD is released.

Keeping in mind the value of the lessons featured in A Pinktastic Valentine’s Day, they in themselves make the collection’s average price point its own positive.  The average price point for A Pinkalicious Valentine’s Day is $5.96.  That point is obtained by averaging listings at Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, and PBS’ online store.  It was not listed at Target and Books-A-Million at the time of this review’s posting.  The least expensive of the noted listings is $3.99.  It shows up twice, at Amazon and Best Buy.  The most expensive listing — $7.84 – is at Walmart while PBS’ online store and Barnes & Noble Booksellers each list the DVD at $6.99.  Considering again, that the majority of the DVD’s value rests in its lessons, that aspect makes the less than $10 average price point acceptable.  That is not to say that the stories in which the lessons are presented are bad by any means.  They are okay and are themselves worth watching occasionally.  But that only one of the stories follows the theme of the DVD’s title, it does detract the overall appeal.  To that end, the listings, which will not break any family’s bank, is worth paying even with the one noted negative.  It works with the content to make the DVD at least somewhat more appealing presentation for the whole family.

PBS Distribution’s Pinkalicious & Peterrific DVD A Pinktastic Valentine’s Day is a presentation that is at least somewhat appealing.  The lessons that are tied into the disc’s five featured stories play largely into that appeal.  They are life lessons that are accessible for boys and girls alike and viewers of all ages.  The stories themselves are slightly problematic in that only one of the stories follows the theme presented in the DVD’s title.  That creates a sense of false advertising for audiences.  Keeping all of this in mind, the average price point of less than $10 is a point that audiences will agree is worth paying for the content even with its one negative.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the DVD.  All things considered, the DVD proves itself worth watching at least occasionally.  It is available now.  More information on the DVD is available along with games, activities, printables and more at:

Website: http://pbskids.org/pinkalicious

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


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ESPN To Air Annual Heisman Trophy Ceremony Tuesday

Courtesy: ESPN

The Heisman Trophy ceremony is now only days away.

This year’s ceremony will take place Tuesday live from ESPN’s Bristol, CT studios. The network is scheduled to broadcast the ceremony live at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Chris Fowler will anchor the one-hour broadcast. Reporter Maria Taylor will provide additional commentary from this year’s finalists — Alabama Quarterback Mac Jones, Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence, Alabama Wide Receiver DeVonta Smith, and Florida QB Kyle Trask. Analysts and former Heisman Trophy winners Desmond Howard (1991) and Tim Tebow (2007) will provide additional commentary remotely.

Leading up to Tuesday night’s ceremony, ESPN’s digital and social platforms will stream The Heisman Show presented by Nissan. The half-hour stream is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. ET. Christine Williamson and Harry Lyles. Jr. will co-anchor the stream.

ESPN has been the exclusive home of the Heisman Trophy ceremony since 1994.

More information on Tuesday evening’s broadcasts and all of the ESPN networks’ college football coverage is available online at:

Websitehttp://www.espn.com/college-football

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/CFBonESPN

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/espncfb

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Fore Debuts ‘Today We Rise (No Tomorrow)’ Video

Courtesy: Infecting Cells PR

Independent rock super group Fore debuted its latest video this week.

The band debuted the video for its single ‘Today We Rise (No Tomorrow)‘ Wednesday. The band debuted the single by itself early this year along with the other songs from its album Hombre, ‘Pet,’ ‘Song For A Friend,’ ‘What’s Right For You,’ ‘Diagnosis’ and ‘Open Door,’ which is a cover of the famed Pennywise song. Each song is available to stream through Fore’s official Bandcamp page.

The video for ‘Today We Rise (No Tomorrow)’ features a group of skaters taking turns trying their best tricks in an emptied swimming pool in someone’s back yard. It plays out like a scene from some 90s skate punk video. Not ironically, the musical arrangement that accompanies the video is itself very much in the style of so much 90s skate punk music.

Much the same noted of the music and its video can be said of the lyrical theme that accompanies the one minute, 14-second song. The lyrical content featured in the song is a socio-politically charged presentation, again as with so much skate punk.

More information on Fore’s new video is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttp://forepunk.bandcamp.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/FOREpunk

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

PBS, WNET’s New Titanic Documentary Stays Afloat From Beginning To End Despite Its Setup

Courtesy: PBS/WNET

More than 100 years have passed since the R.M.S. Titanic sank in the waters of the North Atlantic.  In the century-plus since that tragedy happened, leading to the deaths of approximately 1,500 people, much has been said and written of the events of April 15, 1912.  From examinations off the Titanic’s construction, to the action (and possible inaction) of its Captain, to the accuracy of the descriptions of its sinking, so much ground has been covered about what is among the worst maritime disasters in modern history.  Early this past October, PBS and WNET added another topic to that list of discussions with the new episode of Secrets of the Dead: Abandoning the Titanic.  It is unknown at this point whether the program will see a home release anytime soon, but regardless the program is streaming free in the meantime.  The nearly hour-long program is a presentation that while imperfect, will still appeal to a wide range of viewers.  That is due in part to its central discussion, that of whether the passengers and crew of the Titanic were in fact abandoned and if so, by which ship.  This will be discussed shortly.  While that discussion, which takes up the second half of the program, ensures viewers’ engagement and entertainment, the program’s first half detracts somewhat from the episode’s overall presentation.  It will be discussed a little later.  The visual effects and recordings used to help tell the story round out the doc’s most important elements.  They will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the program.  All things considered, they make Secrets of the Dead: Abandoning The Titanic a presentation that while imperfect, is still well worth watching.

PBS and WNET’s recently debuted Secrets of the Dead episode Abandoning The Titanic is a presentation that will appeal to a wide range of audiences.  Students and lovers of maritime history and those of history in general will find something to like about this program.  That is due in part to its central discussion.  The discussion in question is that of whether the Titanic’s passengers and crew were abandoned by another ship that was in range of the doomed liner, and if so, which ship abandoned them.  This discussion takes up the second half of the nearly hour-long program.  This aspect will be discussed a little more at length shortly.  While it only takes up the second half of the program, the depth of that discussion ensures viewers’ engagement and entertainment in its own right.  The exact location of the Titanic at the time of its sinking is examined in comparison to that of other ships in the area.  That examination is provided to show proximity of the closest ships, of which there were two:  the Californian and the Mount Temple.  As the examination proceeds, viewers are taken briefly into World War I history to learn that one of the two ships did indeed abandon the Titanic, and that had the ship in question responded to the emergency, every life on board the “unsinkable” giant might have actually been saved.  Even more interesting is that the examination concludes by exonerating the Captain of the other ship while also firmly pointing the ultimate blame on the Captain of the Titanic for his inaction early on that led to the fateful collision.

There is no denying that the investigation of which ship abandoned the passengers and crew of the Titanic is in itself engaging.  It alone makes this recently debuted episode of Secrets of the Dead worth watching.  For all that this element does for the overall episode’s presentation, the episode’s first half counters that success.  The first half of Abandoning The Titanic is spent telling the same story that audiences have heard countless times.  It is just the story of how the Titanic made its way into the North Atlantic ice field that ultimately led to the collision that sank the ship.  The already known matters of how warnings about the ice field from other ships were ignored and the alleged inaction of the ship’s Captain are raised once more.  For the most part, the first half of the program does little more than set the stage once again.  So while maybe it does play some kind of part to the bigger story, it is a part of the program that audiences can largely skip past while streaming the episode.  Perhaps the most interesting part of the story that is even noteworthy is that of the examination of the bilge pumps.  It is revealed in the initial set up that the Titanic’s bilge pumps were not set up to handle the widespread flooding that the Titanic took on following its collision.  Rather they were set up for “localized” flooding, as one of the interviewed “experts” explains.  That is a topic that has rarely if ever been addressed in previous docs from other sources about the Titanic.  It adds yet another layer to that story.  Other than that aspect though, there is little else to really interest audiences.  The mention of the ship on the horizon is brief at best and is not even really re-visited in depth until approximately 32 minutes into the 55-minute program.  To that end, audiences will be encouraged to watch the one noted brief discussion about the bilge pumps in the first half, but skip through everything else featured in that portion of the program.  The real engaging portion of the program comes, again, approximately 32 minutes into its run time.  That portion of the program, along with the visuals used to help tell the story, make the whole worth watching at least occasionally.

The visualizations that are used to help tell the story of the Titanic’s abandonment are obviously aesthetic elements, but they do help ensure viewers’ engagement and entertainment, even through the first half of the program.  There is a lot of footage used from vintage movies focused on the Titanic to help show how people reacted as the ship sank.  The morse code messages sent between ships leading up to Titanic’s sinking help are superimposed on screen.  It drives home the lack of action taken on the part of Titanic’s crew.  Also used are photos of the crews from the ships and even photos of the hearings that were held following Titanic’s sinking to help illustrate the story.  There are even CG depictions of how the Titanic collided with the noted iceberg and slowly fell beneath the cold waters of the North Atlantic.  The one thing that these depictions get wrong is how high the ship’s back end rose as the bow went below the water line.  It has already been proven in past documentaries that the Titanic’s back end never rose as high as so many depictions show.  Rather, it only rose a few feet above the water than the hugely inverted angle so often shown.  That aside, the CG depictions in general work with all of the other noted visualizations to help tell the story of the ship’s sinking and abandonment, stressing what could have been.  It all collectively works with the story (including the first half) to add even more appeal to the overall presentation and make it worth watching at least occasionally.

Secrets of the Dead: Abandoning The Titanic is an interesting addition to the long-running series that will appeal to a wide range of audiences.  That is proven in part through the program’s examination of whether in fact the passengers and crew of the ship were abandoned by another ship’s crew, and if so, which ship and its crew.  That examination comes in the second half of the nearly hour-long presentation.  The first half of the program is largely able to be ignored, since it sets up the second half, telling a story that most everyone knows.  The one positive to the first half of the program comes in the brief discussion about the failings of the ship’s bilge pumps.  Other than that one aspect, audiences can largely just avoid the program’s first half.  The visualizations that are used to help tell the story are aesthetic, but they do their own share to keep viewers engaged and entertained.  They make sure that audiences will be able to see the words spoken and written rather than just hear them.  They also personalize the story by showing the pictures of the figures involved in the story.  What’s more, they also give glimpses into the events that followed the Titanic’s sinking, as well as much more.  Between this aspect, the in-depth examination of the Titanic’s abandonment, and even the one detail added to the first half of the program, the overall presentation of Secrets of the Dead: Abandoning the Titanic makes itself a show that stays well afloat from start to end.  The documentary is streaming now.

More information on this and other episodes of Secrets of the Dead is available online now at:

Websitehttp://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/SecretsofTheDead

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/SecretsPBS

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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Mercari Texas Bowl Cancelled

Courtesy: ESPN

Less than a week after getting a new title sponsor, the Texas Bowl is now a no-go

The Mercari Texas Bowl will not happen this year. ESPN made the announcement Tuesday through a press release. According to information provided by ESPN, the cancellation — now the 16th on the year — is due to “an increased number of positive COVID-19 tests and other circumstances within the TCU football team.”

This year’s Texas Bowl was scheduled to take place at 8 p.m. ET on Dec. 31 on ESPN from NRG stadium. It was going to feature a matchup of TCU and Arkansas.

Texas Bowl Executive Director David Fletcher addressed the cancellation in a prepared statement.

“While we are disappointed in canceling this year’s game, we look forward to hosting both the Texas Kickoff and Texas Bowl next season,” said Fletcher. “We appreciate everyone’s support, including our new title sponsor, Mercari.”

Refunds are available for all ticketholders through the outlets through which they purchased tickets.

Tuesday’s announcement is now the fifth this month as well as being the 16th this season. The Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl was cancelled Dec. 23.

The list of bowl games cancelled is noted below.

  1. Bahamas Bowl (C-USA vs. MAC)
  2. Celebration Bowl (MEAC vs. SWAC)
  3. Fenway Bowl (AAC vs. ACC)
  4. Hawaii Bowl (AAC vs. Mountain West)
  5. Holiday Bowl (ACC vs. Pac-12)
  6. Las Vegas Bowl (Pac-12 vs. SEC)
  7. Los Angeles Bowl (Pac-12 vs. Mountain West)
  8. Pinstripe Bowl (ACC vs. Big Ten)
  9. Quick Lane Bowl (ACC, Big Ten, MAC)
  10. Redbox Bowl (Big Ten vs. Pac-12)
  11. Sun Bowl (ACC vs. Pac-12)
  12. Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl (AAC vs. WAC)
  13. Ticketmaster Birmingham Bowl (SEC vs. AAC)
  14. Perspecta Military Bowl (AAC vs. ACC)
  15. Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl (SEC vs. C-USA)
  16. Mercari Texas Bowl (Big 12 vs. SEC)

The remaining schedule for Capital One Bowl Mania is noted below.

DateTime (ET)Event/CommentatorsNetwork
Tue, Dec. 295:30 p.m.Cheez-It Bowl
Oklahoma State vs. Miami
Camping World Stadium – Orlando, Fla.
Dave O’Brien, Tim Hasselbeck, Katie George
Radio: Sean Kelley, Barrett Jones
ESPN and ESPN Radio / ESPN Deportes
 9 p.m.Valero Alamo Bowl
Texas vs. Colorado
Alamodome – San Antonio, Texas
Dave Pasch, Mike Golic Sr., Kris Budden
Radio: Marc Kestecher, Trevor Matich
ESPN and ESPN Radio / ESPN Deportes
Wed, Dec. 30NoonDuke’s Mayo Bowl
Wake Forest vs. Wisconsin
Bank of America Stadium Charlotte, N.C.
Taylor Zarzour, Matt Stinchcomb, Marty Smith
ESPN / ESPN Deportes
 4 p.m.TransPerfect Music City Bowl
Iowa vs. Missouri
Nissan Stadium – Nashville, Tenn.
Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers, Cole Cubelic
Radio: Sean Kelley, Barrett Jones
ESPN and ESPN Radio / ESPN Deportes
Thu, Dec. 31NoonLockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl*
Tulsa vs. Mississippi State
Amon G. Carter Stadium – Fort Worth, Texas
Chris Cotter, Mark Herzlich, Ian Fitzsimmons
ESPN / ESPN Deportes
 4 p.m.AutoZone Liberty Bowl
West Virginia vs. Tennessee
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium – Memphis, Tenn.
Wes Durham, Roddy Jones, Eric Wood
Radio: Jay Alter, Brad Edwards
ESPN and ESPN Radio / ESPN Deportes
 1 p.m.Vrbo Citrus Bowl
Auburn vs. Northwestern
Camping World Stadium – Orlando, Fla.
Dave Flemming, Rod Gilmore, Paul Carcaterra
ABC
Fri, Jan. 1NoonTaxSlayer Gator Bowl
N.C. State vs. Kentucky
TIAA Bank Field – Jacksonville, Fla.
Anish Shroff, Tom Luginbill, Lericia Harris
ESPN
Sat, Jan. 212:30 p.m.Outback Bowl
Ole Miss vs. Indiana
Raymond James Stadium – Tampa, Fla.
Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers, Cole Cubelic
ABC
    

* — ESPN owned and operated event

More information on the ESPN networks’ college football coverage is available online along with all of the latest college football news at:

Websitehttp://www.espn.com/college-football

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/CFBonESPN

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/espncfb

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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Locked In Debuts New EP, ‘Not Dead Yet,’ Plans New EP For 2021

Courtesy: Epidemic Records

Hardcore rock band Locked In is back after a seven-year hiatus.

The band debuted its first new music in that time Monday in the form of its new EP Not Dead Yet. The EP’s release comes through Epidemic Records.

Locked In recorded and performed together from 2007-2013 before parting ways. After much time apart, the band ended up reuniting, but with a new lineup.

That new lineup played into the sound in the new EP, according to a statement from the band.

“We owe the sound of “Not Dead Yet” to the new lineup,” the statement reads. “We put a lot of each of us into it. We remained firm on our references, but we also let ourselves explore new territories.”

“This EP transcends everything we’ve done before and it denotes our fierce desire to come back,” the statement adds. “In fact, we were surprised by what we were able to come up with right off the bat, because if we think about our lives now, it might not be easy to feel inspired, to put in the necessary anger and to make sometimes bold choices, but once we got into the practice room together, everything seemed to work effortlessly. In some ways this EP (as well as the next one) is our lifeline. In such a dramatic year we were looking for answers and tried to give vent to our negativity as well.”

More information on Locked In’s new EP is available online along with all of the band’s latest news at https://www.facebook.com/locked.in.hc.

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Chaser Debuts ‘2020’ Video; Single Pre-Saves Open Now

Courtesy: Thousand Islands Records

Surf punk rock band Chaser debuted the video for its latest single this week.

The band debuted the video for its new single ‘2020‘ Monday. The band will make the song available to download Friday. Audiences can pre-save the single now here.

‘2020’ is the third new song that Chaser has released this year following the release of the band’s two-song EP Look Alive. Released Sept. 4, the record features the songs ‘Look Alive‘ and ‘Found Myself Again.’

‘2020’ features a musical arrangement that stays in line with the stylistic approach and sound featured in ‘Look Alive’ and ‘Found Myself Again.’ It will appeal to fans of Pennywise, like the aforementioned songs.

The lyrical theme featured in ‘2020’ is a commentary about everything that has happened this year, according to a statement from bassist Jesse Stopnitsky.

“2020 has been a year unlike anything we’ve experienced in our lifetimes,” said Stopnitsky. ‘2020’ references both the status quo of the socio-political climate, and also our 20/20 vision. Despite the progress made, it feels like we’re regressing as a society. While this song was actually written and recorded before the COVID pandemic, its meaning and relevance definitely intensified as the year progressed.”

More information on Chaser’s new single and video is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttp://chaserpunkrock.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/chaserband

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/chaserband

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Bonus Content Is The Saving Grace For Arrow Video’s ‘Silent Running’ Blu-ray Re-Issue

Courtesy: Arrow Video/Universal Pictures

When Disney and Pixar released their movie WallE back in 2008, it was lauded by audiences and critics alike, even receiving a score of 95 from Rotten Tomatoes.  All of the accolades that the movie received are prime examples of how easily audiences really do forget the past.  The movie is a clear lifting of MGM’s 2001: A Space Odyssey as well as ruminations by the late great scientist Isaac Asimov.  On another level, it is also a lifting from another well-known sci-fi flick by the name of Silent Running.  As a matter of fact, one could argue that WallE pulls more from that movie than from 2001: A Space Odyssey with its overly preachy content.  That would go to show the influence of the latter, decidedly nihilistic flick, which in fact received the Blu-ray re-issue treatment last month thanks to Arrow Video.  Re-issued Nov. 17, the 1972 cult favorite sci-fi flick will appeal equally to its longtime fans and sci-fi fans who might be less familiar with the movie.  That is due in part to the movie’s central story, which will be discussed shortly.  While the story is certain to keep viewers engaged throughout the movie’s roughly 90-minute run time, the re-issue’s presentation does suffer from at least one concern, its production.  Most notably, the audio production proves somewhat problematic and will be addressed a little later.  The bonus content that accompanies the re-issue adds to the presentation’s appeal and together with the story, makes for even more appeal.  The two items together make up for the concerns raised by the audio production and make the movie’s re-issue worth watching at least occasionally by the most devoted science fiction fans and of Silent Running.

Arrow Video’s recent Blu-ray re-issue of Universal Pictures’ 1972 sci-fi statement flick Silent Running is a presentation that will appeal to the most devoted of the movie’s fans.  It will also appeal to the most devoted science fiction fans.  That is due in part to the movie’s story.  The story in question centers on Freeman Lowell (Bruce Dern – The Burbs, Nebraska, The Hateful Eight) as he makes his way into space to (he thinks) protect a forest that he oversees in a bio-dome structure attached to his ship, the Valley Forge.  The flight happens after an order from Earth for all ships orbiting Earth to destroy their biodomes, which contain the last plant and animal life from Earth.  While no reason is ever given for the order, the script does manage to explain that by having one of Freeman’s soon-to-be deceased crewmates note that he did not understand the order either.  In a way, that lack of explanation is a sort of commentary about the oftentimes mind boggling actions of any government body.  Lowell’s development as the story progresses is really what makes the story engaging.  His focus on protecting the forest gradually declines as he increasingly falls victim to the psychological effect of isolation.  He eventually comes to the realization that being alone, there is no reason to keep trying to save the forest, leading to the story’s disturbing finale.  This critic will not reveal that finale here for those who have yet to see the story.  What can be said is that it will leave audiences unsettled, to say the very least.

On another note, there is one notable plot hole to this story that almost completely negates the whole thing.  That plot hole comes early on as one of Lowell’s crewmates makes mention that the Earth at the time was 75-degrees.  The companion booklet that comes with the movie’s recent re-issue points out that the degrees measure in question is Celsius, not Fahrenheit.  That Celsius measure equals to 167-degrees in Fahrenheit.  So it leaves one scratching one’s head that Lowell’s crew mates talk about returning to Earth when no human, let alone plant and animal, could survive such temperatures.  Humans even now struggle when summer temperatures in the real world get to the 100s, so there is no way humans could even begin to survive at a temperature of nearly 200-degrees year-round.  Audiences who can overlook this massive Earth-size plot hole will find themselves able to stay engaged.  However in hindsight, that noted realization detracts from the story’s enjoyment quite a bit.  The plot hole pointed out in the re-issue’s companion booklet is just one aspect of the bonus content that will be pointed out later.  It is also just one of the problems from which the movie itself suffers. The audio production presented in the movie is another concern.

Throughout the course of Silent Running’s 90-minute run time, its audio levels are problematic.  The dialogue plays out at a low volume while the music, crafted and performed by folk singer Joan Baez and composer Peter Schickele, is far too loud whenever it is used.  Whether that was the result of work done on the movie’s re-mastering or if it was originally like that is anyone’s guess.  It was not discussed in any of the movie’s bonus content.  Again, the bonus content will be discussed later.  Regardless, the constant volume adjustments that audiences will find themselves having to make as they take in the movie will become bothersome to say the least.  At least the video quality is worth its share of applause.  It makes up at least to a point for the problems posed by the problematic audio production.

For all of the problems posed by Silent Running’s story and its audio production, its re-issue does come with at least one undeniable positive, its bonus content.  As has already been noted, the movie’s bonus content makes for plenty of engagement and entertainment.  The companion booklet that comes with the re-issue is just one of the noted extras worth addressing.  Journalist Peter Tonguette points out on page 21 of the booklet, “In the screenplay by Deric Washburn, Michael Cimino, and Steven Bocho, the temperature of the Earth has  eached 75-degrees Celsius, apparently rendering it inhospitable to a wide assortment of plants and animals.”  A check of those credits on IMDB.com certifies they crafted the movie’s script.  Again referencing this, 75-degrees Celsius is equal to 165-degrees Fahrenheit.  How that would even be hospitable to any life is confusing.  Humans in reality can barely handle temperatures in excess of 100-degrees.  So for Lowell’s crew mate to be excited that the planet’s year-round temperature is 75-degrees leaves one wondering how humans have adapted to such high temperature.  It creates a massive plot hole about the size of the ships that orbit Earth.  It is just one of the interesting aspects pointed out in the movie’s companion booklet.  Audiences also learn from journalist Barry Forshaw, that director Douglas Trumbull’s turn helming Silent Running was not his first jaunt into space so to speak.  Forshaw points out in his essay, that Trumbull worked on 2001: A Space Odyssey prior to taking on Silent Running, and that it was his stint on the prior that led to the latter.  On an equally interesting note, WallE – as already noted – lifts liberally from both movies for its story.  Additionally, Forshaw points out in page 11 of the booklet, that famed Star Wars director George Lucas was so impressed by Trumbull’s use of sound in the open space scenes, that he was moved to incorporate the use of sound for space scenes, rather than just leave the outer space scenes outside the ships quiet.  That is quite the statement for Trumbull to have had such impact.  Between all of this and so much more noted in the booklet, it alone more than proves the importance of the movie’s bonus content.  It is just one part of the bonus content that is worth addressing.

The bonus content that is presented on disc ensures viewers’ engagement and entertainment in that it does not just rehash the bonus content featured in the movie’s 2015 re-issue, its then most recent re-issue.  That content is featured here, but is joined by even more new content, such as a discussion on the movie’s soundtrack.  As is revealed in that discussion, Schickele’s turn on Silent Running was in fact his first time scoring a big screen feature.  Music historian Jeff Bond, who narrates the feature, points out that Schickele’s work with Baez stemmed oddly enough from Baez’s intent to work on a holiday music compilation of all things.  Additionally, Bond discusses the attention that Schickele paid to each scene, to ensure every note of every scene made for the utmost emotional impact on audiences.

“First Run,” another of the new bonuses featured in this re-issue, takes audiences through a look at the initial first scenes of Silent Running.  The comparison of those early scenes to the final product makes for more appreciation for that final product.

The archived “Making of” featurette joins with the newer content to make for even more engagement and entertainment.  Audiences learn firsthand from Dern in the vintage extra, that he ran “200 miles” on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Valley Forge (which was used for most of the movie’s principal shooting) during down time as a means to stay healthy.  That is a lot of running.  Audiences also learn in this extra that Trumbull did not even initially want to direct the movie, but do other things on the film.  Audiences will be left to learn that whole story for themselves.  Between this story, the other items noted here and the rest of the features extensive information, it and the rest of the equally extensive list of bonus content does much to entertain and engage audiences.  If for no other reason than the bonus content, audiences will find the movie worth watching at least once.  Audiences who can overlook the aforementioned plot hole involving the planet’s temperature in the story will find the rest of the movie’s ecologically-minded story worth watching, too.  The two items together give audiences reason to watch this movie at least occasionally. 

Arrow Video’s recent Blu-ray re-issue of Universal Pictures’ 1972 sci-fi eco/space drama Silent Running is a presentation that will find enjoyment among the most devoted sci-fi fans and those of the movie.  That is due in part to the movie’s story.  The story, which does suffer from one massive plot hole, follows a botanist – Lowell — who goes rogue after being told that the forest for which he cared was going to be destroyed.  As a result of his actions, Lowell falls into a slow spiral of depression and despair, leading to the movie’s rather depressing finale.  That the movie’s script never addresses its one major plot hole greatly detracts from its presentation.  Audiences who can overlook that problem will find the movie engaging at least to a point.  The video quality of the movie’s re-issue is a positive in its own right, but the audio production proves problematic in its own right, as audiences will find themselves having to raise and lower the volume throughout the movie.  The extensive bonus content featured with the movie’s re-issue is its primary saving grace.  If for no other reason than that content, audiences will find the re-issue worth watching.  Even with that in mind, that content is more worth watching than the movie itself.  To that end, the movie in whole is going to find the most appeal among the movie’s most devoted audiences and sci-fi fans than general sci-fi fans and other audiences.  Silent Running is available now.

More information on Arrow Video’s Silent Runnning re-issue is available along with all of the company’s latest news at:

Websitehttp://www.arrowfilms.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/ArrowVideo

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/ArrowFilmsVideo

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/phispicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

The Soviet Machines’ Self-Titled Debut Is A Positive Start For The Band And The New Year

Courtesy: DC-Jam Records

Independent rock band The Soviet Machines is getting 2021 off to a powerful start with its debut self-titled album.  Set for release Friday, the eight-song record is a positive start for the band and the year what with the album’s musical and lyrical content.  The album’s lead single (and album opener) ‘Get Your Kicks’ is just one of the songs that shows the impact of the album’s overall content.  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘All We Are,’ which comes later in the record’s 23-minute run, also helps to make the album shine.  It will be discussed a little later.  ‘Bittersweet Angel’ is one more notable addition to the album.  It will also be discussed later.  Each song noted here does its own share to show why The Soviet Machines’ forthcoming self-titled album is worth hearing.  Together with the rest of the LP’s songs, the album in whole proves itself a record that will find wide appeal.

The Soviet Machines’ self-titled debut album is a presentation that will find itself a widely appealing work.  That is proven equally throughout the record’s run through its musical and lyrical content.  The album’s lead single/opener ‘Get Your Kicks is just one of the songs that helps to support the noted statements.  The song’s musical arrangement features a sort of garage/stoner hybrid sound that will appeal to fans of bands, such as Royal Blood, Queens of the Stone Age, and Clutch (to a lesser degree).  Its stable, up-tempo presentation keeps the energy high from beginning to end of its nearly three-minute run time.  That energy serves well to help translate the seeming message of seizing the day that is presented in the song’s lyrical theme. 

The noted seeming lyrical message is inferred as front man Rich Salsbury sings in the song’s chorus, “Get your kicks/While you can, baby.” The message gains more traction as Salsbury shares anecdotes about various situations.  Right from the song’s outset, he sings about just walking out the door and down to the river, noting, “I went down to the river with a bottle of gin/I put my boots on/Snakeskin/I came down/And I walked right out the door/I walked out on the count of 1, 2/1,2,3,4.”  From there the song launches into the noted chorus, which itself ends with Salsbury stating, “get your kicks/They won’t last.”  Again, this pairing would seem to hint at the message of just living life, not letting things hold one back.  The message is strengthened even more in the song’s second verse, which finds Salsbury singing, “I walked out with my head one low/I knew then, this would be my dying day/And I was dead/before my head hit the floor/I was dead on the count of 1, 2/1,2,3,4”  From there, the song returns to its chorus, emphasizing the importance of getting one’s kicks because “They won’t last” once again.  This whole presents even more, that noted statement of just making the most of life.  Together with the high energy in the song’s musical arrangement, the two sides make for a powerful start to The Soviet Machines’ new album and an equally strong example of what makes the album as strong as it is.  It is just one of the songs that serves to show what makes the album work as well as it does.  ‘All We Are’ is another notable addition to the record.

‘All We Are’ stands out in The Soviet Machines’ self-titled debut album in part because of its musical arrangement.  The arrangement boasts more of a throwback 90s grunge influence than the garage/stoner approach and sound exhibited in ‘Get Your Kicks.’  It is a distinct change of pace and style, needless to say with its stable 4/4 time and controlled guitars and vocals.  The use of the added effect to the guitar adds to the song’s impact in its own right.  All things considered, this change of sound and stylistic approach here keeps things interesting and will ensure listeners engagement and entertainment in itself.  When the arrangement is considered with its companion lyrical content, the song in whole gains even more footing.

The lyrical theme presented in ‘All We Are’ seems to be a statement of pride against thoe critics and naysayers who just want to bring people down.  This is inferred right from the song’s lead verse, which finds Salsbury singing, “We are all you could have been, now/We are ugly/We are dirt/And we don’t give a damn about you/’Cause we are all you wish you were/This is all we are.”  The seeming message continues in the song’s second verse, in which Salsbury sings, “We are broken/We are naked/We are stoned and we are fake/And you must choose in this moment/Are we sinners/Are we saints/This is all we are.”  This verse points in the direction of the song’s subject(s) pointing the finger back at society, essentially calling it out for their labeling and negative comments.  This is full-on grunge in terms of lyrical content.  That together with the equally pure grunge sound and stylistic approach in the song’s musical arrangement makes the song in whole yet another welcome addition to The Soviet Machines’ new album.  It is just one more of the songs that serves to show the album’s strength, too.  ‘Bittersweet Angel’ is one more example of why listeners will find The Soviet Machines an appealing record.

‘Bittersweet Angel’ changes things up yet again musically.  Where ‘All We Are’ was an echo of the vintage grunge sound of the 90s and ‘Get Your Kicks’ is an equally enjoyable garage/stoner work, the sound and style of ‘Bittersweet Angel’ is a decidedly reserved composition.  Yes, the grunge influence is present here, too, but in a different way than that of ‘All We Are.’  Rather than following the Seattle grunge sound, this arrangement is more of a general grunge/punk hybrid style composition.  What’s more, the arrangement maintains its unique identity from other neo-grunge acts and even works from past grunge acts.  To that end, it proves that much more enjoyable for listeners.  The song’s musical arrangement is just one aspect of what makes the song notable.  The lyrical content that accompanies the musical arrangement adds its own share of engagement and entertainment to the song.

The lyrical theme featured in ‘Bittersweet Angel’ seems to take on the familiar topic of a broken relationship.  This is inferred early on as Salsbury sings, “I don’t care if I remind you/Of someone I used to know/Though, I can’t deny it/It begins to show/And of all the things I’ve said/This is the worst so far/I don’t know how to deal/A bittersweet angel.”  Salsbury continues in the song’s second verse, “Is it safe/To say/That I like you/But make no mistake/From the moment/That I saw you/I knew that we would break/And as I stared back at you/You smiled back at me/I could see right through you/Bittersweet angel.”  Yet again, here is that scenario of someone looking back on a relationship, realizing perhaps in hindsight that the relationship was doomed to fail from the beginning.  The statement in the song’s lead verse is that statement of the present as the relationship is ending.  The accessibility of such story will certainly help it connect with listeners.  The emotion exuded through the words and the musical content together will help it connect even more.  The elements collectively make the song in whole just one more example of what makes The Soviet Machines’ eponymous debut album a success. Together with the other songs examined here and the rest of the album’s entries, the whole proves to be a positive debut for The Soviet Machines and an equally positive way for any rock fan to kick off the new year.

The Soviet Machines’ self-titled debut album is a positive start for the independent rock band.  Its musical arrangements present a wide range of influences.  That diversity, as noted here, is in itself, sure to entertain and engage plenty of listeners.  Its lyrical content accompanies the musical arrangement to make for even more engagement and entertainment.  The two sides together make the album in whole a strong start for The Soviet Machines that will appeal to any rock fan.  It is scheduled for release Friday through DC-Jam Records. 

More information on The Soviet Machines’ new album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttp://thesovietmachines.bandcamp.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/thesovietmachines

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Devin Townsend Offers Audiences Another Of 2020’s Top New Live Recordings With ‘Order Of Magnitude: Empath Live Volume 1’

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Late this past October, famed prog-metal star Devin Townsend released his latest live recording Order of Magnitude: Empath Live Volume 1.  In an age when live music has been all but extinct save for a bunch of livestream  shows (which are still happening until real live music can finally return), this latest live offering from one of metal’s most respected names proves to be a welcome new option for audiences.  His first new live recording since the release of his 2018 recording Ocean Machine: Live at the Ancient Theater, this 16-song concert offers audiences plenty to appreciate, beginning with its set list.  This item will be discussed shortly.  Townsend’s performance (and that of all involved) of the set list adds to the recording’s appeal.  The recording’s production rounds out its most important aspects and will be discussed later, too.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of this recording.  All things considered, they make Order of Magnitude: Empath Live Volume 1 a work that Devin Townsend’s fans will all welcome in their home libraries.

Devin Townsend’s latest live recording Order of Magnitude: Empath Live Volume 1 is an enjoyable new offering from one of prog metal’s most respected figures.  That is due in part to the recording’s set list.  The 16-song set list lifts heavily from Townsend’s 2019 album Empath, featuring six of the album’s 10 songs along with songs from his 1998 album Infinity, his 2012 record Physicist, 2013’s The Retinal Circus, and 2009’s Ki.  Next to Empath, Ki gets the second most nods at four.  What is really interesting here is that what the set list offers audiences, is a look at his solo work and some of his work under the Devin Townsend Band and Devin Townsend Project banners.  While maybe not necessarily a career-defining set list, the set list does give audiences at least a good starting point for audiences in an examination of his wider body of work.  To that end, the set list featured in this concert, which in fact was part of Townsend’s tour in support of Empath, gives audiences plenty to appreciate in its own right.  The performance of that set list by Townsend and all involved adds even more to the recording’s appeal.

The performance put on by Townsend and his fellow performers is a statement in itself as to what makes this recording so enjoyable.  The group’s performance of ‘Genesis’ is a prime example of the importance of the performances.  The intensity of the group’s performance in the song’s heavier moments contrasts so well with the gentile nature of the performances in the song’s lighter moments.  The backing vocalists, with all of their harmonies, add their own positive touch to the performance, too.  Townsend’s focus, and that of drummer Morgan Agren, throughout the performance creates a solid base for the performance.  The whole makes the performance just one example of what makes the overall performance aspect here such a positive.

On another note, the group’s performance of ‘War’ proves to be its own example of what makes its performances so important to the overall aspect of the recording.  The song starts off light and easy, but gradually gets more intense as it progresses.  The energy exuded by the group as the song evolves and grows translates that energy change even more.  The fire that grows in Townsend and company as the song progresses is intense and will certainly keep audiences engaged.

Much the same that has been said of the performances noted here can also be said of the group’s performance of ‘Deadhead.  The intensity and focus is just as prevalent here as it is in any other performance of the song that Townsend has presented in concerts past.  Keeping that in mind along with the other noted performances and those that make up the remainder of the recording, the performance of the overall set list makes for even more entertainment and engagement for audiences.  It is everything that audiences have come to expect from Townsend and company.  It is just one more element of the recording that audiences will appreciate.  The recording’s overall production rounds out its most important elements.

The production presented in Order of Magnitude: Empath Live Volume 1 is its own positive in that it brings together all of the video and audio so well.  Noting the rather intimate setting for the concert featured in this recording, it was obviously easy for the sound and video to be anything but what it was.  Luckily though, the result was surprisingly impressive, despite that aspect.  The audio was well-handed, taking into account the low ceiling and relatively tight setting.  Rather than let any performance become one giant wall of sound, every performer’s part is expertly-balanced with that of his/her counterparts.  At the same time, those behind the lenses made the most of the situation, showing audiences how tightly packed the audience was and even how little space Townsend and company had to work with even on stage.  The camera transitions and their pacing plays right into the songs’ energy, making for even more engagement and entertainment.  The whole gives audiences at home a fully enjoyable experience right from the warmth and safety of their own homes.  When this aspect is considered along with the concert’s overall set list and the group’s performance thereof, the whole becomes yet another impressive live offering from Devin Townsend that any of his fans will enjoy.

Devin Townsend’s latest live recording Order of Magnitude: Empath Live Volume 1 is another positive, engaging, and entertaining presentation from one of prog metal’s most respected and talented figures.  That is proven in part through its set list.  The set list does well to help promote Townsend’s latest album Empath.  It additionally does well to help serve as a starting point for audiences who are perhaps les familiar with Townsend’s extensive body of work.  That is because it also pulls from his Devin Townsend Project and Devin Townsend Band catalogs.  The performance of that set list by Townsend and company adds its own share of entertainment and engagement for audiences.  That is because they are everything that audiences have come to expect from Townsend (and his fellow performers).  The recording’s production puts the final touch to its presentation.  Between the audio and video, audiences have the best seat in the house.  What’s more, considering the confines of the concert hall, the production proves that much more appealing and puts the finishing touch to the recording’s presentation.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the recording.  All things considered, the recording in whole proves itself to be one of 2020’s top new live recordings.  It is available now.

More information on Devin Townsend’s upcoming streaming concert and his new live recording is available online along with all of his latest news at:

Websitehttp://www.hevydevy.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/dvntownsend

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/dvntownsend

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.