‘Moana’ Makes For An Enjoyable Occasional Watch

Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios

Walt Disney Studios has gone to great lengths in recent years to attract young female audiences looking for something other than the standard damsel in distress stories.  New strong female leads such as Princess Elena (Elena of Avalor), Merida (Brave) and Elsa and Anna (Frozen) have proven those efforts have paid off.  The company’s take on Rapunzel (Tangled) could be argued either way.  Late last year, the House of Mouse brought its young female audiences another strong female role model in the form of Moana.  The Polynesian teen’s coming-of-age story proved to be a rousing success for Disney in terms of sales.  Now available on DVD and Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, the movie has proven to be just as much of a financial boon for the company.  As successful as it has performed, this latest teen-centric tale of self-realization and friendship is, in reality, not Disney’s best.  It is not a total loss, though.  That should be emphasized here.  That is due in part to its dual-pronged story.  That will be discussed shortly.  The story’s pacing does take away from the story, bogging it down more than once.  The movie’s bonus material should also be noted in examining its overall presentation.  That will be discussed at more length later, too.  Each element plays its own part in Moana’s overall presentation.  They show that while it is anything but Disney’s best, it is also not the studio’s worst effort either.  It is worth at least an occasional watch.

Walt Disney Studios’ latest animated adventure Moana is hardly the famed studio’s finest work.  To be fair, it is also not the company’s worst effort.  It is worth at least an occasional watch.  That is due in part to the movie’s dual-pronged story.  The most obvious of those two prongs is Moana’s own coming-of-age story.  After being told by her father not to go beyond the reef, she decides (on the advice of her grandmother) that she should make her own decision.  This leads her to strike out on her own adventure in an effort to save her island and its surrounding islands.  This story of self-actualization generates, in itself secondary messages about finding one’s own way in life, not being afraid to take chances, and so many other messages.  The movie’s writing staff is to be commended for the way in which they incorporated those messages into the central story without allowing them to overpower the script’s central story.  They are to be commended just as much for the balance of that central story with the secondary story of Maui’s turn from villain to hero.

The secondary story of Maui’s turn from villain to hero is just as commonplace in the cinematic realm as Moana’s coming-of-age tale.  As the pair journeys to return the heart of Taffiti Moana eventually leads Maui to realize the error of his ways, leading him to make a tough decision about himself and about personal sacrifice, leading him to atone for his past wrongs and become a hero.  It is, in its own right, its own coming-of-age story, just more in the avenue of self-actualization.  This story of personal growth is just as commonplace in the cinematic realm as Moana’s coming-of-age tale.  Yet somehow the script’s writing team was able to make both stories work.  That ability to make both stories so entertaining makes the movie’s writing team deserving of its share of applause.  At the same time though, that applause cannot be too loud.  That is due to the problem raised through the story’s pacing.

Moana’s writers are to be commended for joining two common-place cinematic stories and somehow balancing them.  They are to be commended, too for somehow taking at least a somewhat original approach to the all-too-familiar stories.  While the writers are to be commended for the efforts taken to make those stories work collectively and alone, they cannot be applauded too loudly.  That is because their efforts also led to a pacing problem that clearly bogs down the movie.  That pacing issue is evident early on as Moana is given the heart, only to lose it when she is caught by her father.  The problem here is that it meant the story had to take a lot of unnecessary time building up to Moana getting the heart back from a somewhat expected source all while she is growing up and finding her way all before she even embarks on her epic journey.  Once Moana finally gets her voyage, things pick back up a little, only to get bogged down again as she and Maui get randomly attacked by a bunch of mutant-type living coconut pirates.  Yes, mutant-type, living coconut pirates.  Sounds like the premise for a really bad 1950s B-sci-fi flick, right?  Once they escape the creatures’ (which conjure thoughts of the goombas from the Mario Brothers video game franchise) clutches, the story does pick up again, only to be bogged down yet again later as Maui (at least temporarily) deserts Moana—not to give away too much—before things pick up again in the story’s final act.  Considering the constant back and forth of the story’s pacing, keeping audiences engaged in the nearly two-hour movie is not easy.  That could potentially chalked up to the fact that it seems like the writers just threw together elements of past Disney offerings such as Aladdin, Hercules, and so many others and hoped they would make this story work.  They made the story’s dual-pronged approach work.  But they clearly caused problems in the story’s pacing.

The pacing of Moana’s dual-pronged story is a problem that cannot be ignored in examining the movie’s overall presentation.  The constant back and forth of the movie’s pacing makes maintaining audiences’ engagement (especially younger audiences) problematic.  Luckily, the efforts of the movie’s writing team to balance the stories and somehow make them at least somewhat original makes enduring the pacing problems easier.  Another element that makes up (at least somewhat) for the movie’s pacing is the bonus material included in the movie’s home release.  The movie’s key bonus feature is the documentary “Voices of the Islands.”  The roughly half-hour program takes viewers along with the movie’s heads to the South Pacific as they studied the Polynesian people and their culture ahead of the movie’s creation.  Audiences will be surprised to see how much of the region’s culture—from the importance of family and community to the importance of the coconut to even something as minor as the people’s hair style—plays directly into the movie in this program.  All of these discussions exhibit just how much time and work went into making the movie believable and that it properly paid tribute to the people on which it is centered.  It creates a new respect for the work put in to bring the story to life and is yet another example of how bonus features can make an otherwise forgettable flick more memorable and not the last.  The bonus ‘Gone Fishin’’ short that features Moana and Maui adds its own enjoyment to the movie’s overall presentation.  When the movie’s bonus material and its story are coupled together, they make the one negative of the movie’s pacing bearable.  The end result is a viewing experience that audiences of all ages will enjoy even with just the occasional watch.

Walt Disney Studios’ new animated movie Moana is not the studio’s best effort, nor is it the company’s worst offering.  It is a movie that is worth at least an occasional watch.  That is due in part to the balance in the movie’s dual-pronged story.  The story’s pacing is problematic.  There is no denying that, but luckily it is not so problematic that it makes the movie unwatchable.  The bonus material that is included in the movie’s home release gives audiences even more reason to give it a chance; especially the movie’s companion 30-minute “Voices of the Islands” documentary.  That bonus documentary, when coupled with the movie’s balanced two-part story, the two elements do plenty to make up for the movie’s pacing problems.  That combination makes the movie worth watching at least once in a while.  More information on Moana is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://movies.disney.com/moana

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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Shout! Factory Kids’ New ‘LPS’ DVD Is A “Star” In Itself

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Shout! Factory Kids

Shout! Factory Kids’ latest entry in its ongoing series of Littlest Pet Shop DVD, Littlest Pet Shop: Pet Stars is a star in itself among the bigger picture of the series’ current collections.  The DVD, released Feb. 14, is yet another enjoyable collection of episodes for the whole family.  That is due in part to the collection’s featured episodes and their sequencing.  That will be discussed shortly.  The episodes’ writing is just as important to note in examining this collection if not more than the episodes themselves. While it is a minute detail here, the series’ animation can actually be noted in the case of at least one of the collection’s episodes.  Each element plays its own important part to the collection’s overall presentation.  All things considered, this collection proves in the end to indeed be another enjoyable addition to the series’ current list of entries and another one of this year’s top new children’s DVDs.

Shout! Factory Kids’ latest Littlest Pet Shop DVD Littlest Pet Shop: Pet Stars is yet another enjoyable addition to the series’ current list of home releases.  It is also an easy, early pick for any critic’s list of the year’s top new children’s DVDs.  That is due in part to the episodes that are featured on the DVD.  As with the series’ previous DVD releases, this collection features five more episodes from the family friendly animated series.  The episodes featured in this collection take families through the series’ second and third season.  What truly stands out here is that the episodes are presented in relative chronological order from start to finish.  This includes both overall and within the seasons themselves.  ‘Heart of Parkness’ and ‘Standup Stinker’ are both lifted from Season Two while ‘The Secret Recipe,’ ‘A Night at the Pawza’ and ‘Sue Syndrome’ are all lifted from Season Three.  On the surface, this seems like an unimportant element to examine.  In the bigger picture though, presenting the episodes in almost the same order as they aired in their original television broadcast shows a dedication to properly transferring the episodes from television to DVD.  Simply put, it’s an aesthetic element, but an important one nonetheless.  To that end, it is still a highly important piece of the DVD’s overall presentation, and not the only important piece either.  The writing behind each episode is just as important to examine as the episodes themselves.

The episodes featured in Shout! Factory Kids’ latest LPS DVD collection are in themselves important to the DVD’s overall presentation.  That is because they are presented in relatively the same order as they were in their original broadcast.  This is not the first time that Shout! Factory Kids has taken such painstaking efforts to properly transfer the series’ episodes from television to DVD.  That being the case, it makes this element well worth noting.  Just as important to note in examining the collection’s overall presentation is the work of the show’s writers within each episode.  The writing is notable first because of the stories that are at the center of each episode.  The writing in the set’s opening episode “Heart of Parkness” shows that the episodes can and do entertain even when only one of the cast is a story’s focus.  In this case, Sunil is the focus as he is separated from his fellow pet pals and is forced to defend a group of “native” raccoons in the park from a King Cobra.  The setup for the story comes from the Biskit twins’ release of the exotic snake from their father’s pet store because of their own selfishness.  Considering the very real issue of people having (many times illegally) exotic pets and the dangers posed therein, suspension of disbelief here becomes relatively easy.

“Standup Stinker” is another key example of why the episodes’ writing is so important to note. The dual-pronged story line presented in “Standup Stinker” sees both Pepper and Minka following their own dreams, connecting both with plenty of humor along the way.  This touches on another element of the writing that is so important to note–its pop culture references.  True lovers of classic sci-fi flicks will enjoy the manner in which the writers spoofed so many classic sci-fi/alien flicks here as the pets try to make Minka believe she has become the first monkey on Mars right down to the poorly designed alien costumes.  On another note, there is also a joke made through a reference to eBay at the episode’s end that only parents will appreciate.  Speaking of jokes that only grown-ups will appreciate, the story at the center of “The Secret Recipe” is one that adults will enjoy just as much as their children if not more so.

The story at the center of “The Secret Recipe” sees Blythe’s friend Youngmee Song pitching her not so tasty pet treats on a show called Bear Cave, which is very similar to ABC’s hit series Shark Tank.  In the case of Bear Cave, the “hosts” are dressed in bear suits (yes, bear suits).  The full-on spoof of Shark Tank highlights the often times silliness despite attempts by its heads to make it come across as something serious.  That is shown through the “hosts’” reactions and their general personas as well as Youngmee’s pitch.  The scenario is set up through a class project in which Blythe, Youngmee and their classmates have to develop their own businesses.  Again, such a setup is believable as there are some schools (and teachers) who do use this teaching method in their classrooms in real life.  It’s just one more way in which the writing proves so important to the DVD’s overall presentation.  Together with so many other examples, it becomes clear why the writing is so important to the collection’s presentation.  It still is not the last element worth noting here.  The animation is, surprisingly, worth noting here, too.

The episodes that make up the body of LPS: Pet Stars and the writing within each episode is important alone and collectively to this collection’s presentation, as has been pointed out already.  While both elements are clearly important in their own right to the DVD’s presentation, they are only two of its most important elements.  The show’s animation is a minute detail to note here, but is in fact worth noting in this case.  That statement is supported partially in the design of the King Cobra in “Heart of Parkness.”  Rather than make the snake a full-on scary character, the show’s animators maintained a King Cobra’s look but also made the snake not look too scary or menacing.  By making sure the snake didn’t look too scary, the animators helped ensure even more engagement by the show’s younger audiences.  The work of the series’ animators also proves important in “Standup Stinker” as they designed a famous comedian as the host of a comedy competition show.  The animators took David Letterman’s tooth gap for the comedian’s design, crossed it with Conan O’Brien’s face and hair, and Jay Leno’s chin for quite the interesting hybrid figure.  Just as with so much of the writing, this design is something that only adults will appreciate.  On another note, the “hosts” of Bear Cave are an impressive likeness of the “sharks” on ABC’s Shark Tank; so much so that the “sharks,” if they see these designs, would be moved to laugh at the similarities between themselves and the “bears.”  It’s just one more ways in which the animation proves so important to this collection of episodes.  When it is set alongside the episodes, their sequencing and the equally impressive writing within each episode, the whole of these elements shows fully why this collection is a star among this year’s current field of new children’s DVDs.

Littlest Pet Shop: Pet Stars is a star in itself among this year’s current crop of new children’s DVDs.  That is, as already has been explained, due to the episodes featured in this collection and their sequencing, the writing within the episodes and even the animation featured in the series.  Each element shows in its own way to be an important piece of the presentation’s whole.  All things considered, they make Littlest Pet Shop: Pet Stars another enjoyable experience for audiences of all ages and—once again—one of this year’s top new children’s DVDs.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered online direct via Shout! Factory’s online store.

More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory and Shout! Factory Kids is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

 

 

 

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Shout! Factory Kids Announces Release Date For First ‘Kuu Kuu Harajuku’ Collection

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Shout! Factory Kids

The first collection of Nickelodeon’s animated series Kuu Kuu Harajuku is set to be released in stores and online this summer.

The series, which features the voice talent of Gwen Stefani (No Doubt, The Voice), will see its first volume of episodes, Kuu Kuu Harajuku : Music, Baby!, released in stores and online on Tuesday, June 13, 2017.  It will feature 14 episodes from the series’ debut season.  The collection’s episodes are noted below.

Episodes Include:

Totally Teen Genie / Angel’s Flight

Music, Baby / Wanted Audience

Game Over / Phony Ponies

Hello Puppy / G, This Is Awfully Deep

Baby’s Birthday / Labor Of Love

Bad Boy and Little Girl / Yummy Bear Nado

Drums of Doom / Adventures In Housesitting

*Special Features TBD

Early shipments of the DVD will include a bonus code to download the series’ theme song while supplies last.  It can be pre-ordered online now via Amazon and ShoutFactory.com.

Kuu Kuu Harajuku follows the all-girl band HJ5 through its world of music, fashion and style.  It is Stefani’s brainchild and aimed directly at young female audiences, encouraging them to express themselves, celebrate their individuality and use their imaginations.

The series is co-created and produced by Moody Street Kids (Australia), Vision Animation (Malaysia) and Gwen Stefani.  It is commissioned by Network Ten with investment funding from Film Victoria (Australia) and MyCreative Ventures (Malaysia).

DHX Media distributes the series internationally and licensed the series to Shout! Factory.

More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now along with all of the company’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

 

 

 

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New WWII Doc Presents Stories From The War Below The Waves

Courtesy: Smithsonian Channel/Public Media Distribution

Public Media Distribution and Smithsonian Channel are partnering to bring audiences some rarely told tales from World War II this spring.

Hell Below will be released on DVD on Tuesday, April 8. The six-part series presents stories of the war below the waves throughout World War II. It starts in 1940 as Hitler’s U-Boats start attacking allied convoys in the Atlantic and the Allies’ response to the attacks.

The series’ second segment, “Hitler’s Revenge,” begins in December 1941.  Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Karl Donitz, German Commander of U-Boats, looks to capitalize on the chaos that ensued with what was dubbed Operation Drumbeat.  He orders five German subs to sail to New York Harbor and launch an attack there, which they did with some success.

The impact of the attacks on Pearl Harbor and New York are presented in the series’ next segment, “America Fights Back.”  This segment shows America’s efforts to transform its sub fleet from patrol vehicles to predators.  The effort is fraught with danger, too, as is evidenced in this episode.

The segments listed here are just part of the story presented in Hell Below.  The series has three more episodes for audiences to take in, including a gripping story about a June 1944 effort by an Allied sub crew to save Allied commandos in Japanese-held Borneo and an equally powerful story about the USS Tang that will keep audiences just as engaged.

The six segments that make up the body of Hell Below span almost five hours on two discs.  The double-disc set will retail for MSRP of $29.99.  It can be pre-ordered online now via PBS’ online store at a reduced price of $24.99.

More information on this and other programs from Smithsonian Channel is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.smithsonianchannel.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/SmothsonianChan

 

 

 

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.

Schenker Shines Again In His Latest Live Recording

Courtesy: Inakustik

Courtesy: Inakustik

Later this month, Inakustik will release veteran guitarist Michael Schenker’s latest live recording in the form of Michael Schenker Fest.  The nearly two-hour concert, filmed August 24, 2016 at the Tokyo International Forum Hall, is a welcome addition to the music library of any Michael Schenker fan, from casual fans to the most devout fans.  That is due in no small part to the concert’s 18-song set list.  This will be discussed shortly.  Schenker’s performance and that of his fellow musicians is just as important to note as the show’s set list in examining the concert’s presentation.  The concert’s collective production values (I.E. its cinematography and audio mix) round out its most important elements.  Each element is clearly important in its own right to the recording’s presentation.  All things considered, they make Michael Schenker Fest a must see for any Michael Schenker fan.

Inakustik’s new Michael Schenker live recording Michael Schenker Fest is a must see for any of the veteran guitarist’s fans.  From the casual fan to the true devotee, this concert offers audiences plenty to appreciate, beginning with the concert’s extensive 18-song set list.  Audiences will be pleased to learn that the concert’s set list is anything but specific in its song choices.  It pulls songs from Schenker’s time with UFO, Scorpions, Michael Schenker Group, Temple of Rock and McAuley Schenker Group.  While the set list pulls from pretty much every era of Schenker’s career to date, Schenker’s early work with the Michael Schenker Group is most prevalent.  More specifically speaking, the group’s self-titled 1980 debut record receives the most representation with four songs pulled from that record.  The band’s 1981 album MSG and its 2009 re-issue are just as heavily represented with four more songs.  From there, the songs vary from one part of Schenker’s career to another.  The end result is a vivid picture of Schenker’s career so far.  To that end, the concert’s extensive set list shows why it is so important to the concert’s overall presentation.  It is just one key piece of the concert’s presentation, too.  Schenker’s performance, and that of his fellow musicians, is just as important to note as the concert’s set list in examining the concert’s overall presentation.

The extensive 18-song set list that makes up the body of Michael Schenker Fest is in its own right an important piece of the concert’s presentation.  That is because it lifts from every era of the veteran guitarist’s career so far.  Schenker and company keep audiences’ adrenaline flowing from open to end of the 118-minute concert thanks to their collective performance.  From Schenker’s powerhouse guitar work to the equally energetic performances of vocalists Graham Bonnett, Gary Barden and Robin McAuley to Ted McKenna’s solid time keeping, bassist Chris Glenn and guitarist Steve Mann’s work on guitar and keyboards, the whole of this group of performers keeps audiences entertained.  Audiences at home will find themselves on their feet just as easily as those who were in attendance at the concert’s recording.  While it’s something minor and subtle, audiences will be just as interested to learn that there’s not a single bit of foul language to be heard anywhere throughout the course of the concert.  Some might be surprised to think about this.  But the reality is that a lack of foul language in a live recording is rare.  So for such language to be wholly absent here is a huge positive.  It means that the concert is not only entertaining but also family friendly.  Keeping all of this in mind, it becomes clear why the performance presented here is just as important as the concert’s set list.  Even as important as it proves to be, it is just one more of a number of positives that can be examined, including the concert’s collective production values.

The set list and performance presented in Michael Schenker Fest are both key portions of the concert’s overall presentation.  That is because of how much they do to entertain audiences and keep them engaged from beginning to end.  While both elements are clearly important to the concert’s whole, they are only part of what makes the concert so enjoyable for Schenker’s fans.  The concert’s collective production values (I.E. its cinematography and audio engineering) are just as important to examine as the show’s set list and performance.  The cinematography is so impressive thanks to its ability to so expertly capture the concert’s energy.  From head-on shots from the crowd to footage of the show from the stage and so many angles in-between, the concert’s camera crew is to be commended for its work capturing this concert.  Of course, those behind the concert’s editing should be commended just as much as the concert’s camera crew for capturing and presenting that energy.  The same applies in the teamwork of the concert’s audio engineers and those who mixed the concert’s audio in post production.  The Tokyo Forum Hall is clearly a large, open venue.  Yet the concert’s audio engineers and mixers just as expertly balanced the audio.  The end result of their work is that no one musician’s part ever overpowers the others or gets lost in the crowd noise and the depth of the venue.  Thanks to the combined efforts of the concert’s production crew and those that handled those elements in post production, the end result is a concert experience that is just as enjoyable on screen as it must have been in person if not more so.  When this is taken into consideration along with the concert’s set list and the musicians’ performances, the whole of these elements makes the concert an experience that, once more, the most casual to the most devout Michael Schenker fans will enjoy equally.

Michael Schenker Fest is a work that any Michael Schenker fan will appreciate.  From casual fans to the true devotees, there is plenty for every fan to enjoy.  That includes an extensive set list that spans the breadth of Schenker’s career, a performance that the whole family can enjoy together, production values that make the concert just as enjoyable on screen as in person and so much more.  The concert recording will be available in stores and online on Friday, March 24 via Inakustik.  It will be released on standalone 2CD, DVD, LP, Blu-ray and 2CD/DVD combo pack as well as digital platforms.  Audiences can see a trailer for this new recording online now at http://bit.ly/2j8vwL0.  More information on Michael Schenker Fest is available online now along with all of Michael Schenker’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.michaelschenkerhimself.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/MW_Schenker

 

 

 

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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

PBS Has “Dug Up” A Brilliant New Work In ‘AmEx: The Race Underground’

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

Mass transportation is one of the most important pieces of any metropolitan region’s infrastructure.  From the wheels on the bus to the wheels on the trolley to the wheels on the subway cars, moving the masses from place to place is just as important to any metro region and its neighbors as anything else.  So it only makes sense that eventually PBS would present a documentary on the history of one major mass transit method.  The last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television, it did just that earlier this week when it released to DVD American Experience: The Race Underground.  This lesson on the history of America’s subway systems will appeal to everyday audiences just as much as it will people who run America’s major metro regions.  That is due in no small part to its story.  This will be discussed shortly.  The information presented within the story is just as important to discuss as the story itself.  The transitions used to keep the program moving rounds out its most important elements.  Each element plays its own important piece in the program’s overall presentation.  All things considered, they make American Experience: The Race Underground another welcome episode of PBS’ hit history-based series and one more of this year’s top new documentaries.

American Experience: The Race Underground is a program that will appeal just as much to everyday audiences as it will the people who run America’s major metropolitan regions.  It is a presentation that those audiences will want to *ahem* race to see.  Yes, that awful pun was intended.  The story at the center of the program is just one of the elements that makes it such an interesting presentation.  A close, analytical viewing of this episode of American Experience reveals to be a two-part tale.  The primary story presented in this program shows, of course, the birth and evolution of America’s subway systems.  On another level, it presents a story of one man’s dream realized and denied.

The primary story presented in this episode follows the evolution of America’s subway system from a mere dream in Frank Sprague’s mind to one of the most revolutionary means of transportation (if not the single most revolutionary) at the time.  That in itself is its own intriguing history lesson.  The secondary story shows how Sprague’s dream has obviously become realized through the growing evolution of subway transportation across the country (and even across the world) yet denied because he never got the full credit he deserved for his invention thanks to one Thomas Edison.  That story, when coupled with the program’s main story, becomes the stuff of major Hollywood blockbusters.  The combination of those two stories into one whole is just one part of what makes this episode of American Experience such an interesting documentary.  The information that is presented within those stories is just as important to note in examining the program’s presentation as the stories themselves.

The stories that form the foundation of American Experience: The Race Underground are in themselves key to this program’s overall presentation.  That is because they make the program just as interesting as any major historically-based blockbuster ever churned out by Hollywood’s “Big Six” studios.  While they are critical to the program’s presentation, they are not its only key elements.  The information provided within the stories is what makes the stories so interesting.  One of the most intriguing pieces of information that audiences learn over the course of the episode’s nearly hour-long run time is that even after Sprague’s idea was finally taken on by the city of Boston, it didn’t just fly right through.  Instead, there was a lot of opposition from the city’s residents.  That created quite a rift between the city’s residents and its government.  Just as interesting to learn is that for many people, their opposition was based on puritanical religious beliefs.  For others, the opposition rose from concerns about where the city wanted to run the subway.  Even more interesting to learn is that if not for Sprague’s success with his experiment in Richmond, there’s no telling how long it would have taken for America’s first subway station to be developed or where.  So really, while Boston had the first subway system, Richmond should really take credit for being the true birthplace of American’s first subway system.  It’s like the battle between North Carolina and Ohio over which is the true birthplace of aviation.  This is all just the tip of the proverbial iceberg with this story’s information.  Audiences will be shocked to learn that despite the eventual success of the new subway system, Sprague’s dream ultimately was denied thanks to his company being bought out by none other than Thomas Edison.  That ultimately denied Srpague the fame and wealth that he could have had, and shows yet again how Edison profited off of someone else’s success rather than his own.  Between this revelation, the others already noted and so many others, it becomes clear why the information shared throughout this program is so important to its presentation.  When all of that information is coupled with the program’s two-part story, the end result is one that will most definitely keep audiences enthralled right to the end.  Interestingly enough, it still is not the last element to note in examining the program’s overall presentation.  The program’s transitions are just as important to note as its stories and its breadth of information.

The stories shared throughout the course of American Experience: The Race Underground and their companion information are both key pieces of the program’s overall presentation.  Both by themselves and together, they are certain to keep audience engaged from beginning to end.  While they are both clearly important in their own right to the program’s presentation, one cannot ignore the importance of the program’s transitions in keeping audiences’ attention, too.  The transitions used to advance the story are clear and concise from one segment to the next.  They are basic fade-ins and fade-outs. Their placement comes at all of the proper spots, too, never leaving audiences hanging at the end of any segment.  They aren’t hard fades, either.  Rather, they are smooth fades, and in turn make stopping and starting between segments so easy.  The thought put into those transitions adds one more layer of enjoyment to the program’s presentation.  When set against the program’s equally interesting stories and companion information, the whole of the elements makes this program one to which audiences will “race” themselves to watch.  They combine to make it a work that will “race” up any critic’s list of the year’s top new documentaries.

American Experience: The Race Underground is just the latest episode of PBS’ hit history-based series to be released so far in this still young year.  Even being so new to home release, it can be said that it is certain to “race” up any critic’s list of the year’s top new documentaries.  It is available now and can be ordered online direct via PBS’ online store.  More information on this and other episodes of American Experience is available online now at:

 

 

 

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

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/AmExperiencePBS

 

 

 

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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

PBS Announces Home Release Date For Upcoming ‘AmEx’ Mini-Series

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

Public Media Distribution will release a special American Experience mini-series on DVD this Spring.

American Experience: The Great War will be released on Tuesday, May 16th.  The six-hour event will be spread across three discs and will retail for MSRP of $34.99.  It can be pre-ordered online now via PBS’ online store at a reduced price of $29.99.

The mini-series follow’s America’s neutrality to its eventual entry into what was then known as “The Great War.”  It tells the story of the nation’s involvement from a variety of angles.  Those angles include the experiences of African-Americans, Native American Code Talkers, Latino soldiers, suffragists and others.

The program also examines the leadership of then President Woodrow Wilson as he led America during the world’s first major global conflict.  This angle also examines how the nation’s entry in to the war led to one of the biggest crackdowns on Americans’ civil liberties in the nation’s history along with other items.

American Experience: The Great War premieres on PBS stations nationwide on Monday, April 10 and runs through Wednesday April 12.  Each of the mini-series’ two-hour episodes will run from 9 p.m. ET to 11 p.m. ET.  Audiences should check their local listings for variations in those times.

A trailer for the upcoming event is streaming online now here.  More information on this extended episode of American Experience is available online now along with all of the series’ latest news and more at:

 

 

 

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

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/AmExperiencePBS

 

 

 

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