BBC One, PBS Distribution’s Presentation Of ‘The Long Song’ Is A Deeply Moving Historical Fiction

Courtesy: BBC One/PBS Distribution/NBC Universal International

It’s better to be late than never.  Everyone knows that old adage.  It is an adage that applies well for PBS Distribution’s DVD release of BBC One’s 2018 adaptation of author Andrea Levy’s novel, The Long Song.  PBS Distribution brought the drama to American audiences in February as part of PBS’ celebration of the 50th anniversary of its program, Masterpiece.  The nearly three-hour mini-series (two hours, 50 minutes to be exact) is a powerful and memorable work that while maybe not at the level of the cinematic adaptation of author Alex Haley’s novel Roots, it is sill moving, powerful and memorable.  That is proven in part through the historical fiction’s story.  This item will be discussed shortly.  The cast’s work on camera adds its own share of engagement and entertainment.  It will be discussed a little later.  The story’s general look (the backdrop and costuming) rounds out the program’s most important elements.  It will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the mini-series’ presentation.  All things considered, they make The Long Song a presentation that is well worth watching at least once.

BBC One’s adaptation of author Anrea Levy’s novel, The Long Song is a powerful story that audiences with any interest in the history of slavery (and especially Great Britain’s role in the slave trade) will find worth watching. That is due in part to its central story.  The central story is a historical fiction that is based on the Great Jamaican Slave Revolt of 1831-32.  The story in fact opens in the waning days of slavery in Jamaica, which was controlled by the British government.  The opening story in its three-episode run in fact takes place as the Great Slave Revolt essentially begins.  The difference here is that the slaves burned down portions of the region’s sugarcane fields right at Christmas as a group of British aristocrats meet at the Amity plantation.  In reality, the sugarcane fields were not burned, but certain estates in Jamaica.  That aside, the story here is still close enough to reality that viewers can forgive the fiction. 

The related story of the tension between the plantation workers and overseer Robert Goodwin (Jack Lowden – War & Peace, Small Axe, Fighting With My Family) adds to the overall story’s presentation.  It is so telling because what happens with Robert’s development is in reality, its own commentary on how so much of the white world is even today.  Even people who claim they are not racist still do have some racist tendencies because it has been ingrained into them by another generation.  It is a topic that the world really needs to address.  On a similar note, that moment when James (Ansu Kabia – Miss Scarlet & The Duke, Hobbs & Shaw, Murder on the Orient Express) tells Robert that he and his fellow emancipated friends refused to pay higher rent for their home and to work longer hours adds to the story involving Robert’s clearly deep-rooted racist tendencies.  This is a matter that will resonate with audiences even today, not just African-Americans.  Average workers everywhere are dealing with the issue today, of increases in the cost of living versus stagnant wages.  It makes this part of the overall story that much more engaging because it shows how far back this issue has reached in human history.

On yet another note, the love triangle between Roger, July (Tamara Lawrance – The Gurney, Kindred, On Chesil Beach), and Caroline (Hayley Atwell – Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Ant-Man) adds   yet another layer of engagement and entertainment.  The love triangle between the trio is like something out of a trashy romance novel, so it is certain to bring in plenty of female audiences.  At the same time, July getting caught up in-between Robert and her fellow freedmen adds to the drama, and that will engage and entertain men and women alike.  Considering this story line and the other two noted here, it is clear that there is a lot going on over the course of The Long Song’s story.  All of the noted story elements go a long way toward making the story fully engaging and entertaining.  Considering how much is going on in the story, it is all well-balanced.  To that end, the story featured in The Long Song forms a strong foundation for the mini-series’ presentation.  The cast’s work in front of the camera builds on that foundation, making the presentational the better.

The work of The Long Song’s cast is so important to discuss because it is so impressive.  Atwell really steals the show here.  She makes it so easy to hate Caroline.  The way that Caroline treats July throughout the story and the way that she competes with her over Robert makes her that stereotypical spoiled bratty aristocrat.  It makes her a great antagonist.  Not to give away too much, but her behavior late in the second episode in regards to Emily (July’s infant daughter) is just plain despicable.  It makes her performance all the richer.  What’s more, considering her extensive time in the Marvel universe (and her overall resume), taking on the villainous role makes for an interesting turn.  She handled it expertly and makes for a clear example of why the cast’s work is so important.

Kabia’s performance is one of the surprise standouts in this story.  While some might consider his role supporting, he comes across more as a lead actor.  That is because of the lead that he takes among the plantation workers.  The noted confrontation that James has with Robert is just one way in which Kabia shows his chops.  What he does is what so many viewers wish they could do to their bosses. It is such a believable moment.  Throughout the story, his leadership of the plantation workers shows him as such a respected figure.  At the same time, the contrast of his presence to that of July really helps to build the tension.  Between his performance here and that in Miss Scarlet & The Duke, Kabia continues to show his talent.  Considering that, it will hopefully not be long before he gains his own even bigger role that finally really breaks him through.

Lawrance’s performance is just as notable as that of Atwell and Kabia.  There were plenty of points at which she easily could have chewed the scenery so to speak, considering all of the drama in the story.  Yet, her performance from beginning to end, Lawrance interprets each scene expertly in her own right.  Case in point is the moment when Caroline tells July that Robert is going to marry her.  The emotion that she brings out here is so moving and not too emotional.  That fateful moment in which the plantation workers refuse to work on Christmas and Robert storms off, nearly leaving her behind is another key example of Lawrance’s talents.  The way she stands there, trying to make sense of the situation showed July as someone who was just so torn.  And her vulnerability as she had to get Robert to stop the carriage added even more to the moment.  On a more subtle note, the way in which Lawrance handles July’s reaction to Caroline imagining kidnapping Emily is another example of Lawrance’s talent.  Rather than just go all out, freaking out, Lawrance instead brings out the mother in July, making her concern for her daughter evident.  It is yet another powerful presentation.

Lawrance’s performance is just one more that makes clear, the importance of the cast’s work.  That of Lowden is yet another prime example of that importance.  At first Robert comes in as this dashing, almost prince charming type figure.  However, his reaction at the very sight of a cockroach shows a certain weakness.  It is funny.  Also, it is a wonderful depiction of someone who clearly spent his upbringing being very coddled.  Lowden’s portrayal of Robert in this case does so much to really bring out that aristocratic side of Robert.  As the story progresses, Lowden’s display of Robert’s gradual breakdown does just as much to keep viewers engaged.  It makes viewers want to see to what point Robert will go.  What’s more, it slowly reveals Robert’s innate racist tendencies that he otherwise wants to deny and hide.  Audiences will find themselves wanting to watch his performance throughout just as much as the other noted cast’s work.  When all of that work is considered collectively, that whole makes clear the importance of the cast’s work.  When that work is considered along with the richness of the overall story, the two elements collectively make for so much engagement and entertainment.  They are just a portion of what makes The Long Song so enthralling.  The story’s general look rounds out its most important elements.

The Long Song’s look is important because it also plays into the presentation’s overall appeal and believability.  Audiences will find interesting that while it takes place in Jamaica, its visual presentation was captured in the Dominican Republic.  If audiences did not know that, they would just as easily believe their eyes.  The rich greens of the sugarcane fields and the look of the Amity House are so enveloping.  Even the look of the Brits and plantation workers is proper for the era.  From Caroline’s and July’s dresses to the plantation workers’ far simpler apparel, the overall look of the story proves correct.  That attempt to make the story believable through its look paid off just as much as the work that that cast and show’s heads put in.  All things considered, the overall presentation that is The Long Song proves a powerful story that deserves seeing at least once if not more.

BBC One’s presentation of The Long Song is a presentation that history buffs and drama fans alike will appreciate.  That is due in no small part to its story.  While the story is a historical fiction, it does have some reality incorporated into its whole.  That and the drama that is added to the story makes the story even more engaging.  The work of the cast in interpreting the scripts adds to the overall appeal.  The general look of the program’s presentation does its own share to make the whole appealing, too.  Each item noted is important in its own way in making this presentation appealing.  All things considered, they make the whole a powerful, memorable work that history and drama fans alike will find well worth watching at least once.  It is available now.  More information on this and other titles from BBC One is available online at:

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Eagle Rock, UMe’s New Lynyrd Skynyrd Live Recording Is A Must For The Band’s Fans, Even With Its One Concern

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/UMe

When Lynyrd Skynyrd released its debut live recording, One More from the Road in September 1976, no one knew that it would go on to be the only live recording from the band (at the time) featuring the group’s original lineup.  More than a year after the recording’s release, on Oct. 20, 1977, a plane crash claimed the lives of then front man Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, and backing vocalist Cassie Gaines (who was Steve Gaines’ sister).  The crash happened during the band’s tour in support of One More from The Road and ironically, only days after the band released what would be its fifth album, Street Survivors.  After the tragedy of that incident, more than a decade would pass before the band reformed with a new lineup and album.  More than three decades would pass before any other live recording featuring the band’s original lineup would see  the light of day in 2009’s Authorized Bootleg: Lynyrd Skynyrd Live: Cardiff   Capitol Theater and Authorized Bootleg: Live at WinterlandSan Francisco Mar 07, 1976.  Every live recording that followed (and those in between) have all featured the band’s post crash lineup.  Now Friday, Eagle Rock Entertainment and UMe will release another rare fully official recording featuring the band’s original lineup in the form of Live at Knebworth ’76.  The concert captured in this rare recording took place Aug. 21, 1976 at the Knebworth as part of the day-long festival headlined by none other than The Rolling Stones.  This is an important piece of information about the concert.  It plays directly into the recording’s presentation and will be discussed later.  The most important of the recording’s elements is its set list, which will be discussed shortly.  For all that this concert offers audiences to appreciate, it is an imperfect presentation.  That is due to one key limitation, which will be discussed a little later.  Even keeping that one negative in mind, it is not enough to make the recording a failure.  Keeping this in mind, the recording proves for the most part, to be a work that most Lynyrd Synyrd fans will appreciate.

Very few official recordings featuring live performances of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s original lineup have ever seen the light of day over the decades.  In all, only three of those recordings have ever been released.  That is saying a lot.  Now Friday, what will be only the fourth ever live recording featuring the band’s original lineup will be released in the form of Live at Knebworth ’76.  This 11-song recording is a mostly successful presentation, too.  Part of the recording’s success comes through its set list.  The set list pulls from all of its then four studio recordings, and even from its debut live recording, One More from the Road.  What is truly interesting to note is just how balanced the set list is.  The band’s 1973 debut album Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd receives three nods as does its follow-up, Second HelpingThat record’s follow-up, 1975’s Nuthin’ Fancy, was represented with two songs while the band’s then latest album, 1976’s Gimme Back My Bullets is represented by one song.  One More from the Road got two nods here.  Simply put, it is easy to say that this rare live recording’s set list was at the time, career-defining.  Adding to the interest here is that research into the band’s tour in support of One More from the Road, compared to this concert’s set list, mostly lines up.  Comparisons show that the majority of the songs most commonly played by the band during its tour at the time are featured here.  There is some variance between the band’s average set list from the tour and this concert’s set list, but for the most part, audiences got the set list presented in most of the band’s shows.  To that end, the set list featured in this presented concert forms a solid foundation for the recording’s presentation.  Now,  for all that the concert’s set list does to establish appeal for the overall presentation, the recording does suffer from one negative.  That negative comes from the limitation of the availability of the authorized Lynyrd Skynyrd biography, If I Leave Here Tomorrow.  The last time this documentary was released was in 2018.  The 97-minute documentary recounts Ronnie Van Zant’s upbringing, how that played into his song writing, and the band members’ relationships.  It is itself a rarity, being that it is so difficult to find at any of America’s major retailers.  In the case of its presentation here, it is made available as part of the recording’s Blu-ray/CD platform, but not its separate DVD/CD platform.  Who made such a decision and why is anyone’s guess.  Regardless, that limitation means that audiences who want to watch the documentary will either have to buy the Blu-ray player and HDMI cable, and Blu-ray/CD package (if they do not already own said product) or just try to find it streaming online.  It really is a disservice to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s fans that the documentary would be so limited in its availability.  Of course in defense of Eagle Rock and UMe, maybe not everyone is such a devotee and some people care more about the concert.  To that end, that limited availability is not enough to make this recording a failure.  Regardless, again, it is still a concern that audiences cannot ignore.

Going back to the topic of the concert and those audiences who perhaps prefer that more than the documentary, they and all other audiences receive in the concert, quite the presentation. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s performance here is considered by critics and fans alike to be a defining moment for the band.  That is even considering that it was hardly the band’s first ever performance outside the United States.  The band played Europe well before the tour that included its Knebworth show.  There really is something special in this performance.  The band keeps the energy high throughout the course of the 66-minute (one hour, six minutes) concert, wasting little time between songs with any amount of talking.  Rather, the band allowed its performance to talk.  In all honesty, the performance moves so fluidly that audiences are left feeling like it has reached its midpoint and even finale before they realize it.  That is meant in the most complimentary fashion possible.  It means that the band uses its songs and performances to make audiences completely forget about the time and just enjoy the show.

One big part of what makes that full immersion happen is the collective performance of drummer Artemis Pyle, guitarists Gary Rossington, Allen Collins, and Steve Gaines, and bassist Leon Wilkerson.  The quartet’s talent is on full display throughout the show.  The manic energy from the group throughout is so powerful as it pulls in audiences.  Meanwhile, Van Zant’s own eclectic performance made for its own interest.  His general lack of real emotion and motion throughout the show made for quite the contrast to the power in his vocals.  Those moments in which he just stands there on stage as his band mates play their solos immerses audiences even more.  That is because it makes audiences want to know what is going on in his mind.  That mystery in itself makes for so much interest in his performance.

The audience’s reaction to this overall performance will engage and entertain home viewers just as much as the band’s performance.  Some of those in attendance at the concert were decked out in Rolling Stones apparel – The Rolling Stones headlined the Knebworth show, but most critics agree Lynyrd Skynyrd even outperformed them, which speaks volumes — dancing just as energetically in time with the music.  It clearly shows the band’s popularity at that early point in its life.  Even in the more contemplative opening minutes of ‘Freebird’ audiences remained just as engaged, the camera at times showing the almost intense focus and attention from the audience as the band performed.  At yet other points, the cameras capture a Confederate flag waving in the air as the band performed.  This was not a flag that the band had in the crowd, either.  It was brought by the audience.  As a reminder, this was a show in England.  It made the moment one of the weirdest moments in live music history, even as simple as it was.  Yet at the same time, it shows the reach of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s appeal at that point in time. Between the interest that it creates and that generated through the rest of the audience reaction and through the band’s performance, the whole of that interaction makes clear why the actual recording featured in this package proves so important and enjoyable.  When the appeal generated through the interaction between the band and audience is considered along with the recording’s equally rich set list, those elements make this recording a presentation that will appeal to any Lynyrd Synyrd fan.  That is even with the one negative concerning the documentary’s limited availability in mind.

Eagle Rock Entertainment and UMe’s forthcoming presentation of Lynyrd Skynyrd: Live at Knebworth ’76 is a presentation that audiences will agree is a mostly successful presentation, especially being such a rare presentation.  The recording’s success comes in part from its set list.  The show’s set list is a presentation in itself that was at the time of the concert, career-defining.  It pulled from all of the band’s studio recordings at the time and from its debut live recording.  That live recording and this latest are technically the only two fully official live recordings featuring the band’s original lineup.  Two “official bootlegs” were released in 2009 by Geffen Records, but are again, “bootlegs,” so considering this along with the career-defining set list in this recording, the set list gains even more importance.  While the set list is undeniably important to the recording’s presentation, the limitation on the availability of the companion authorized documentary detracts from the recording’s appeal to a point.  Luckily its negative impact is not enough to make the recording a failure, though it cannot be ignored, regardless. Moving on from there, the band’s performance and the audience’s reaction to that performance pairs with the set list to make the recording all the more enjoyable.  That performance leaves no doubt about critics’ statements that the band outplayed The Rolling Stones, who were stars in their own right at that point.  All things considered here, Lynyrd Skynyrd: Live at Knebworth ’76 proves itself a presentation that is for the most part, a successful new offering from Lynyrd Skynyrd, Eagle Rock Entertainment, and UMe.

Pre-orders for Live at Knebworth ’76 are open. A trailer for the concert is streaming here.

More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available at:

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The First Season Of “All Creatures Great & Small’s” Reboot Is A Surprisingly “Great” Presentation

Courtesy: PBS Distribution/Channel 5/Screen Yorkshire/Playground/all3 media

Reboots have become in recent years, an all too common thing in television.  Paramount is rebooting Rugrats, NBC tried (and failed) with its reboot of Will & Grace, as did CBS with its reboot of Murphy Brown.  There are even so many game shows getting rebooted over on ABC, and none are nearly as entertaining and engaging as the original series.  So when it was announced that the British drama All Creatures Great & Small was getting the reboot treatment on Britain’s Viacom-owned Channel 5 last year, there was good reason for audiences to be tense.  The original series, which also aired on Channel 5 from 1978 – ’80 and again from 1988 – ’90, offered so much for audiences to enjoy, so needless to say the  bar was already set high, considering the simplicity, heart and warmth of the original series.  Now with the release of the rebooted series’ lead season available on DVD (it was released Feb. 9 on DVD), it can be said that this show is one of the very rare exceptions to the rule of reboots being less than their source material.  Rather, this update on the original series is just as enjoyable as the original show.  That is proven in part through the stories, which will be discussed shortly.  The presentation thereof plays its own subtle but important part to this presentation and will be discussed a little later.  The work of the show’s cast also does its own share to engage and entertain audiences.  It will also be discussed later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the first season of All Creatures Great & Small’s reboot.  All things considered, they make the lead season’s presentation one that makes this reboot stand out in the best way from so many other reboots being churned out on either side of the Atlantic.

Channel 5’s reboot of All Creatures Great & Small is a surprisingly entertaining and engaging presentation in its debut season, considering that it is, again, a reboot.  One of the items that makes this reboot shine in its lead season is its stories.  Given, the stories are loosely connected to the semi-autobiographical stories by James Herriot and just as loosely connected with the stories featured in the original series.  That aside, the stories bear so much heart and warmth from one to the next as they expertly balance drama and comedy alike for a fully immersive whole.  One episode that exemplifies the show’s powerful dramatic element finds James (Nicholas Ralph) facing the consequences of having to euthanize a horse that was suffering internally.  It would have been so easy for the show’s creative heads to go and make this moment early in Herriot’s career way schmaltzier than it needed to be.  That’s something that producers of any American drama might do with such a show, but thankfully was not allowed to happen here.  The way in which the story was handled, with James eventually gaining Siegfried’s (Samuel West) trust and  even respect, but still beating himself up, is so moving because of the control on all aspects therein.  That is also attributed to the work of the cast, which will be discussed later.  The result of that overall control is that said story becomes one of the series’ most moving and powerful moments in this its debut season.

By contrast, the story that finds James having to take part in the Dales’ annual fair balances drama and comedy together.  This story has equal parts drama and comedy as Siegfried, Mrs. Hall (Anna Madeley), and Tristan (Callum Woodhouse) make a bet as to how long James will last at the fair before he finally snaps.  That these otherwise prim and proper types were gambling, and on the fate of their own friend no less, makes for so much laughter.  James’ own struggles to handle all of the pressure make for their own lighthearted moments, too.  It really serves to bring out that Buster Keaton type persona that Nicholas Ralph presents throughout the season. This will be discussed later.  Alongside with all of the laughs is James’ own inner struggle with having to decide whether to keep a secret involving a bull’s potency or lack thereof.  It is a simple matter, but the manner in which the show’s writers handled this story crates real engaging drama and ensures viewers’ engagement in its own way. That balance of lightheartedness and seriousness makes this story another memorable addition to this season.  It shows in its own right, what makes the show’s stories so important in its debut season.

Another story that shows the importance of the stories in this reboot actually stretches throughout the show’s debut season.  The story in question is that of Tristan’s personal growth.  He starts out as an indignant, snotty brat, but as his time at his brother’s office continues, audiences see him grow as a person.  It would have been easy in this case, to have just left Tristan a static character.  Thankfully that did not happen. His growth leads to scenes throughout that will lead to awe and laughter throughout.  The balance of dramatic chops and physical comedy that Woodhouse incorporates into his character as Tristan changes does so much to entertain audiences, too.  It is yet another example of how the stories featured in this season make it so appealing.  When these stories are considered along with the story of James’ romance with Helen (Rachel Shenton), James’ efforts to save a cow’s life, his near fatal mistake with another cow’s diagnosis, and even the powerful holiday-themed story that serves as the season finale, that whole makes clear why the stories featured in the first season of All Creatures Great & Small’s reboot surprisingly entertaining.  The manner in which the stories are presented here couples with the stories themselves to make for even more appeal.

The manner in which the stories are presented in the first season of All Creatures Great & Small’s reboot is important because by and large, it breaks from the norm of so much of today’s television.  The stories are presented as standalone works rather than as part of some serialized presentation.  Yes, there is a serial type aspect to the show in terms of the character development, but that is where that element stops.  This means that for the most part, audiences do not have to feel like they have to invest themselves in the show but so much.  In an age when far too much programming (on either side of the Atlantic) has become serialized, it is nice to return to a simple brand of programming if only for once.  Keeping that in mind, audiences who, like this critic, are beyond sick and tired of serialized shows will openly welcome this once familiar brand of story telling, making for even more appeal here.  This aspect is just one more that makes this season so enjoyable.  The cast’s work on camera puts the finishing touch to the presentation.

The work of All Creatures Great & Small is important to discuss because of the engagement and entertainment that it ensures.  As noted previously, newcomer Nicholas Ralph’s take on James gives James a new sort of identity this time out.  Not only does Ralph look somewhat like silent film legend Buster Keaton with his often stone-face emoting, but the personality that Ralph brings to James has that same sort of character type to the role.  That type in question is the innocent, underdog figure.  Whether Ralph set out to emulate Keaton is anyone’s guess.  Regardless, it makes Ralph’s performance and James that much more endearing and enjoyable.

Ralph is just one of the cast members, whose work on camera deserves attention and credit here.  Samuel West’s performance as Siegfried is entertaining in its own right.  Watching West develop Siegfried’s persona from the gruff, eccentric figure that he was in the season’s premiere to the more vulnerable, open type that he became by the season’s end is just as enjoyable as watching any of his cast mates.  West is fully believable in the role, and just as entertaining because viewers never know which side of Siegfried that they would see from one episode to the next.  The way in which West plays his character alongside/against Ralph’s own performance adds even more to each actor’s portrayal.  It shows there must have been some real chemistry between the pair off camera and on.

Much the same said of Ralph and West in regards to their performances can also be said of Callum Woodhouse’s presentation of Tristan.  At first, his take on Tristan’s snotty, arrogant behavior makes it so easy for audiences to dislike Tristan and write him off as just an antagonist to James (and even his own brother to a lesser extent).  However, as the season progresses, Woodhouse shows just as well, Tristan’s gradual desire to grow and become a better person.  The result is that audiences will find themselves surprised at their desire to actually pull for Tristan.  The reason being, that he manages to make Tristan a reflection of audiences.  He mirrors that desire that audiences have to better themselves because they know they, too, are imperfect.  Woodhouse’s clear understanding of that concept makes his portrayal just as strong as any other this season, and certainly not the last.  The one and only Anna Madeley is just as entertaining as her cast mates.

Madeley, who takes on the role of Mrs. Hall this time out, is the closest thing to a matriarch at Siegfried’s office.  She plays friend/confidant to Siegfried while taking on the part of a motherly figure to James and Tristan.  Her ability to be gentile with those two at times and firmer at others gives just the right balance of care and concern while also treating them as the adults that they are.  At the same time, the vulnerability that she allows Siegfried to see shows her softer side in a completely different fashion.  That is just a part of what audiences will enjoy watching from her.  There is a scene at the fair in which she silently but firmly goes toe to toe with a crooked carny who took a young girl’s money.  Her fortitude in that moment against the carny makes for another great performance on her part.  All things considered here, Madeley makes Hall just as great and beloved in this season of the show’s reboot as do her cast mates make their characters.  That is, again, the way in which she interprets each scene and Hall’s role in each circumstance.  That talent makes Hall unquestionably just as important to this show as her fellow characters.  Keeping that in mind, when Madeley’s performance is considered along with those of her cast mates, the result is performance after performance that fully immerses audiences into each story.  That immersion in turn results in appreciation for the stories and their own presentation style.  Keeping all of this in mind, there is no question in the end that all things considered, the lead season of Channel 5’s reboot of All Creatures Great & Small is a surprisingly entertaining presentation, especially being a reboot.

British network Channel 5’s reboot of the classic series All Creatures Great & Small is a surprisingly enjoyable new take on that original series.  It truly stands out among all of the otherwise forgettable reboots that have and do pollute the airwaves and ISPs.  That says a lot in itself.  Part of the reason that it stands out is its stories.  The stories, while loosely based on James Herriot’s books and the original series’ episodes at best, they are still enjoyable works that boast so much heart and depth.  The dramatic plot elements never get too extreme while the comedic elements get just enough time of their own.  At the same time, that the stories once again focus on James’ development at Siegfried’s office adds even more appeal to this aspect.  The fact that the stories are presented more as standalone stories than serial style tales makes for even more engagement and entertainment.  The work of the show’s cast within each episode puts the finishing touch to the whole.  When all three elements are considered together, they make Channel 5’s reboot of All Creatures Great & Small a rare exception to the rule of so many reboots being unnecessary and lacking in any entertainment and engagement.  They make this first season of the series’ reboot a surprisingly “great” presentation.  All Creatures Great & Small: Season 1 is available now.  More information on the series and other shows from Channel 5 is available online at:

Website: https://channel5.com

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CMG Announces Details For Forthcoming British Crime Noir Double Feature

Courtesy: Cohen Media Group

Cohen Media Group has a new film noir double feature scheduled for release later this month on Blu-ray and DVD.

The forthcoming collection features the 1946 flick Wanted for Murder and the 1955 movie Cast a Dark Shadow as its primary content. The movies are classic British noir movies.

Wanted For Murder stars Eric Portman (49th Parallel, A Canterbury Tale, The Whisperers) as Victor, the son of a hangman. Thanks to his father’s occupation, Victor eventually goes crazy and starts starts strangling women, essentially emulating his father. However, when he meets and falls in love with Anne Fielding (Dulcie Gray — The Glass Mountain, The Franchise Affair, My Brother Jonathan) he has to suppress his urge to kill even her.

Cast a Dark Shadow stars Dirk Bogarde (Death in Venice, The Servant, Darling) and Margaret Lockwood (The Lady Vanishes, Night Train to Munich, Jassy) in the lead roles. Bogarde stars as playboy Edward Bare, who has developed a knack for marrying women and then killing them and taking their money. However, Charlotte Young (Kay Walsh — Oliver Twist, Stage Fright, The Horse’s Mouth), the sister of one of Edward’s victims is determined to bring him to justice. Things take an extra interesting turn when one of Edward’s latest wives tells him she wants to keep their accounts separate, leading to another murder plot. Charlotte’s plan plays into this matter in its own way.

The double feature will retail for MSRP of $19.95 on DVD and $29.95 on Blu-ray.

More information on this and other titles from Cohen Media Group is available online now at:

Websitehttp://www.cohenmedia.net

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/CohenMediaGroup

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/cohenmediagroup

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Lamb of God Debuts ‘Resurrection Man’ Live Clip

Courtesy: Epic Records

Lamb of God debuted the live clip for its song, ‘Resurrection Man‘ this week.

The band debuted the clip Wednesday. It is taken from the DVD featured with the new Deluxe edition of the band’s self-titled album. That album was released in 2020 while the new Deluxe Edition was released March 26.

Guitarist Mark Morton talked about the band’s new clip during a recent interview.

“‘Resurrection Man’ has been a fun song to watch the fan reaction to and a fun one to play live for the first time,” said Morton. “We wrote the music for that song quickly and spontaneously in pretty much an afternoon in our jam room. [Guitarist] Willie [Adler] freestyled the opening riff and we built from there. Sometimes it’s cool to just let stuff flow without overthinking things to death. I feel like ‘Resurrection Man’ is a great example of that.”

Lamb of God’s ‘Resurrection Man’ clip is just the latest visual presentation to come from Lamb of God Deluxe Edition. The band most recently unveiled the lyric video for its song, ‘Hyperthermic/Accelerate.’ The song is one of two bonus tracks featured in the album’s expanded presentation. The album’s other bonus track is ‘Ghost Shaped People.’

The complete track listing for Lamb Of God Deluxe Edition is:

Disc 1

Lamb Of God Original Album + 2 Bonus Tracks

1.    Memento Mori

2.    Checkmate

3.    Gears

4.    Reality Bath

5.    New Colossal Hate

6.    Resurrection Man

7.    Poison Dream feat. Jamey Jasta

8.    Routes feat. Chuck Billy

9.    Bloodshot Eyes

10.  On The Hook

11.  Ghost Shaped People

12.  Hyperthermic/Accelerate

Disc 2

Lamb Of God – Live From Richmond, VA

1.    Memento Mori (Live)

2.    Checkmate (Live)

3.    Gears (Live)

4.    Reality Bath (Live)

5.    New Colossal Hate (Live)

6.    Resurrection Man (Live)

7.    Poison Dream (Live)

8.    Routes (Live)

9.    Bloodshot Eyes (Live)

10.  On The Hook (Live)

11.  Contractor (Live)

12.  Ruin (Live)

13.  The Death of Us (Live)

14.  512

Disc 3

Lamb Of God – Live From Richmond, VA DVD

1.    Memento Mori 

2.    Checkmate

3.    Gears

4.    Reality Bath

5.    New Colossal Hate

6.    Resurrection Man

7.    Poison Dream1.

8.    Routes

9.    Bloodshot Eyes

10.  On The Hook

11.  Contractor

12.  Ruin

13.  The Death of Us

14.  512

Digital copies will contain only Disc 1 and Disc 2.

Lamb Of God – Live From Richmond, VA vinyl track listing:

Side 1

1.    Memento Mori

2.    Checkmate

3.    Gears

4.    Reality Bath

5.    New Colossal Hate

Side 2

1.    Resurrection Man

2.    Poison Dream

3.    Routes

4.  Bloodshot Eyes

5.    On The Hook

In related news, Lamb of God’s tour with Megadeth is scheduled to launch in July following delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Trivium and In Flames are scheduled to provide support throughout the tour. The UK leg of Lamb of God’s tour with Kreator will tentatively follow in November and December. Tickets for each tour are available here.

More information on Lamb of God’s new singles, album, upcoming live dates, news and more is available online now at:

Websitehttps://www.lamb-of-god.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/lambofgod

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/lambofgod

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‘Miss Scarlet & The Duke’ Is Mostly Succesful In Its Debut Season

Courtesy: A+E Networks International/PBS/PBS Distribution/WGBH

Fans of the British crime drama Miss Scarlet and the Duke received some positive news this week.  The series will return for a second season.  The announcement came Monday through an email newsletter from WGBH and PBS.  Season Two’s premiere date was not announced, as the global COVID-19 pandemic forced stoppage of Season Two’s filming early this year.  That means filming will have to resume first if it has not already restarted.  While audiences await the premiere of Season Two, they can watch the series’ debut season on DVD thanks to PBS Distribution and A+E Networks International.  Released Feb. 16, the lead season of the Victorian-era crime drama is an interesting presentation.  That is due in part to its writing, which will be discussed shortly.  While the writing makes for its own share of interest, the acting deserves its own share of attention, too.  It will be discussed a little later.  For all that the writing and acting do for this series, they are just a portion of what audiences will appreciate about this season of Miss Scarlet & The Duke.  The season’s look fits relatively well with the time, too.  Taking into account that aesthetic element along with the writing and acting, the whole of the elements makes the first season of Miss Scarlet & The Duke worth watching at least once.

Miss Scarlet & The Duke is a presentation that will appeal to most crime drama fans in its debut season.  That is due in part to its writing.  Season One’s writing follows Eliza Scarlett, daughter of well-known private detective Henry Scarlett.  The story opens with Eliza facing her father’s death, and in turn, taking over his business.  The move is a result of not only her own love of solving crimes – instilled by Henry – and a need to financially support herself.  That need to support herself comes because she is a progressive woman in a very male-dominated Victorian-era England.  She does not want to rely on a man, which will appeal to plenty of hardcore feminists today.  Ironically (and no to give away too much) it would seem that odds are she and William – her male counterpart at Scotland Yard – will likely end up together by Season Two. Season One starts off with what seems like a random story, but as the season continues, viewers eventually find that each case that Eliza investigates is connected to the prior, ultimately leading to one last case, which brings everything full circle back to her father’s death.  This writing style will keep viewers engaged throughout.  Of course for all that the writing does to entertain and engage with the storytelling itself, there are some problems.

The future of the relationship between Eliza and William is predictable to say the least.  What’s more, in that Eliza is so progressive yet that she and William are becoming closer, emotionally just seems very contradictory.  This is just one of the problems from which the writing suffers. The all-too-familiar plot element involving the private detective outsmarting the official law enforcement which shows up here detracts from the writing, too.  It has been done so many times in shows, such as Psych, Murder, She Wrote, and even Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? just to name a few shows that have used this approach. To that end, that the show’s writers would fall victim to that trapping is discouraging.  The same applies to Eliza getting herself trapped in “Cell 99.”  The detective getting into a dangerous situation has been done, too.  Even with these negatives in place, the writing in reference to the stories is enough to make the writing of at least some interest.  It is just one of the important items to note in examining this season of Miss Scarlet & The Duke.  The work of the show’s cast is also worth noting in examining this series’ debut season.

The work of Scarlett & The Duke’s cast is entertaining in its own right.  Kate Phillips and Stuart Martin do very well together onscreen as Eliza and William.  The duo’s chemistry is on full display even as their characters come across just as similarly as so many onscreen romantic duos.  It is obvious in watching them together, that as much as they argue, the connection is there.  To that end, the progression of the couple’s relationship and the result of that progression – which will not be revealed here – should come as no surprise.  Keeping that in mind, their acting will appeal to anyone who is already so familiar with so many similar on-screen romantic relationship stories. 

On yet another note, Ansu Kabia is just as impressive as Moses.  Moses becomes a key character in this season’s run.  Odds are, his finale with William makes one wonder if (and even hope that) he will return in Season Two.  It will not be a surprise if he does in fact become a regular in Season Two.  Not to reveal too much, but his acting leaves audiences fittingly wondering throughout, about his loyalties.  It leaves the final reveal that much more fulfilling. His work is just that subtle and impressive.

Speaking of unsuspecting, Danny Midwinter’s role as DS Frank Jenkins adds its own nice touch to the whole.  As William’s partner, he and Martin bounce off of each other so well throughout the season.  It makes the revelation of Jenkins’ truth that much more hard hitting, again, because at no point does he make it even possible to know what would come.  To that end, credit where due with his acting, too.

Looking at all of the notable work put in by the cast of Miss Scarlet & The Duke, it builds on the slightly shaky foundation formed by the writing to help secure that foundation.  That work is just one more notable aspect of the season’s presentation.  The sets and costumes featured in this season add their own interest to the presentation.  The sets that are used, including even the horse-drawn “taxis,” fully immerse audiences into Victorian-era England.  The sound of the horses’ hoofs against the cobblestone streets (yes, there are even cobblestone streets) is a minor aesthetic element, but adds so much to the believability in terms of the backdrop.  At the same time, the cast’s attire – from the men’s suits and tuxedos to the women’s hairstyles, dresses, and hats – is period  appropriate, too.  It serves to show the show runners’ dedication to making the show’s look just as appealing as its acting and writing.  That ensures the program’s engagement and entertainment even more.  When this is considered along with the program’s writing and acting, that whole makes this lead season of Miss Scarlet & The Duke a presentation that the most die hard crime drama will find is worth watching at least once.

The debut season of A&E Networks International’s Miss Scarlet & The Duke will find appeal among most crime drama fans.  That is due in part to its writing, imperfect as it is.  The writing keeps the season moving, as it connects each of the season’s six episodes without making the connections too obvious.  The way in which the season’s stories build on one another and ultimately bring everything together will generate appeal among audiences in hindsight.  The problem with the writing rests more in the plot elements that are tied into the stories.  They are all too familiar within the crime drama realm, and in turn become little more than tropes here.  Luckily, they do not detract from the writing to the point that they completely negate the importance of the writing.  The work of the series’ cast on camera adds its own touch to the whole.  It proves even stronger than the show’s writing because of the professionalism in that presentation.  The show’s look puts the finishing touch to its presentation.  That is because the majority of the show’s look is era-appropriate.  It shows the dedication that went into making the show believable even in that aspect.  When it is considered along with the noted work of the writers and cast, the whole, again, makes this lead season of Miss Scarlet & The Duke a presentation that will appeal for the most part to most crime drama fans.  It is available now on DVD.  More information on this and other shows from A+E Networks International is available online at:

Websitehttps://aenetworks.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AENetworks

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/AENetworks

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

PBS Distribution, itv’s ‘Jekyll And Hyde’ Home Release Will Hopefully Bring This Underappreciated Show Some New Life

Courtesy: itv/PBS Distribution

Ahhhhh ,’tis better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.  Everyone knows that old adage about relationships.  The thing is that the saying can just as easily apply to other areas of life, such as finding a television show that one enjoys, only to lose that show too soon through cancellation.  In those cases, audiences have to remind themselves that at least for that moment, they had something they loved, if only momentarily.  Such is the case with British television network’s short-lived action/drama, Jekyll and Hyde.  The series ran from October to December 2015 on the British television network itv, but thanks to itv and PBS Distribution, the series, which was canceled after only one season, is getting another chance to be loved.  That is because the two sides partnered to release the show on DVD March 9.  Regardless of whether audiences are new to the show or original viewers, each side will agree that the show’s rebirth of sorts is a welcome return.  Odds are it won’t help the series get some surprise second season, more than five years after the show’s original cancellation, but it will still provide audiences with at least 10 great stories.  Those stories serve as the foundation for the series’ new DVD release.  They will be discussed shortly.  The cast’s work on camera adds its own appeal to the series’ enjoyment.  It will be discussed a little later.  The collective sets, costumes, and special effects round out the most important of the show’s elements.  This will all be addressed later, too.  When that is all considered along with elements, such as the show’s cinematography and editing, too, that overall whole makes Jekyll and Hyde a series that shows in its new home release, it more than deserves if not a new season, at least a movie.  Even if it doesn’t get that much, this home release of Jekyll and Hyde proves itself a presentation that horror and science fiction fans everywhere will enjoy.

British TV network itv and PBS Distribution’s new home release of itv’s short-lived series Jekyll and Hyde is a presentation that so many audiences will appreciate and enjoy.  That is due in absolutely no small part to the series’ story.  The story in question finds a young Dr. Robert Jekyll dealing with his curse as he fights an evil monster organization called Tenebrae in Victorian-era London.  In the process, Robert is also trying to make sense of his past, of which he knows next to nothing.  Prior to fighting the evil monsters, he had lived in India with his adoptive family, even then fighting his curse.  A letter that he received about his grandfather’s estate is what brought him to London in the first place.  The whole story has such a comic book feel, most specifically that of Hellboy.  At the same time, domestic audiences will also manage to make comparisons to the likes of other American science fiction shows, such as Fringe and The X-Files to a slightly lesser extent.  The Hellboy comparison should come as no surprise.  The show’s heads even mention in the “Introduction” in the set’s bonus content that the superhero feel that the show exhibits is fully intentional.  The story starts off a little slow and does leave audiences with some questions, but luckily those questions are gradually answered as the story progresses.  Even the fashion in which the questions are answered makes for a comic book vibe, even though apparently this series is not adapted from any comic book.  Much the same can be said of the dialogue here.  It is just as superhero/comic book-esque, and will be discussed more when the cast’s work on camera is addressed.  All things considered here, the story featured at the center of Jekyll and Hyde makes for a solid foundation for this wonderful show.  It is just a part of what makes the show so enjoyable.  The cast’s work on camera adds its own share of enjoyment and engagement to the whole.

The cast’s work is so notable because of everything that it adds to the show.  As noted, this show was intentionally presented in a very distinct superhero/comic book fashion.  As most audiences know, such style presentation makes it easy for characters/actors to go over the top and really ham it up (sometimes too much).  In the case of lead actor Tom Bateman, he balanced both of his roles (Jekyll and Hyde) so well throughout.  The confident swagger that he presents as Hyde and the growth that he helps Hyde show throughout is applause worthy in its own right.  That is because of the control that Bateman uses in his performance.  At the same time, those moments in which Robert is facing his existential crises, Bateman does just as well to control his performance.  Those moments have been and are far too often overacted by other actors in other shows.  Thankfully, Bateman did not let himself fall victim to the moments.  Rather, the way he handled the moments made his performance all the more engaging and entertaining. That balance of personalities and presentations from Bateman makes his performances through the show another bright spot.  Of course his performance is just one of the many that shines here.  That of Donald Sumpter, as Garson, is another notable performance.

Sumpter’s take on Garson is important to address because of its unique presence.  Garson is, for all intents and purposes, the straight man to Bateman’s evocative lead.  The subtle way in which Sumpter exhibits Garson’s concern for and friendship with Robert makes for an interesting juxtaposition to Bateman’s performance.  One can almost sense a certain fatherly concern from Garson for Robert, not just a friendship.  That is not to say that audiences should compare the duo’s relationship to that of a Bruce Wayne and Alfred, but it is there regardless, just with more of a lighthearted feel.  Sumpter’s sometime deadpan delivery adds to that lighthearted nature, making for even more entertainment and engagement.

For all of the entertainment and engagement that Bateman and Sumpter bring to Jekyll and Hyde, their performances are but a bit of what makes the cast’s work stand out.  Natalie Gumede’s take on Bella will appeal to men and women alike.  She does so well to make Bella both a strong, confident figure, and feminine at the same time.  That is evident in the swagger that she gives Bella.  That balance of confidence and vulnerability does well to make audiences want her and Robert to end up together even more so than Robert and Lily.

Speaking of Lily, Stephanie Hyam’s performance in the role does well in its own right to make her a red herring of sorts.  Right from Lily’s first meeting with Robert, audiences know something isn’t right about Lilly, that she is not all she seems to be.  That proves to be exactly the case as the show progresses.  At the same time, Hyam does so well to keep it from being too obvious.  She makes Lily’s reluctance to fully commit herself to Robert clear that something is up, but the controlled fashion in which Hyam handles the duo’s interactions keeps viewers guessing at what is really going on, especially as Harry is introduced.  All things considered here, Hyam’s performance is just as important to this show as the performances of her cast mates.

One more performance that is worth noting in examining the cast’s work is that of Christian Mckay as Max. Max is one of the first people that Robert meets when he arrives in London, and quickly becomes more friend than acquaintance.  As with Sumpter, McKay’s performance alongside that of Bateman makes for its own share of entertainment and engagement.  The somewhat skittish personality that McKay brings out in Max opposite Bateman makes for a lot of funny moments.  The duo’s performances together are important to note because in comparison to Bateman’s performances alongside Sumpter, these moments make Bateman more the straight man and McKay more the comic relief.  It serves well to help show Bateman’s versatility as an actor while also showing Mckay’s own enjoyable talents.  Between McKay’s performance and those of Hyman, Gumede, Sumpter, and Batement (the majority of the show’s lead cast) no doubt is left as to the importance of the cast’s work.  One could just as easily cite the work of Richard E. Grant as Bulstrode, Michael Karim’s supporting role of  Robert’s adoptive brother Ravi, and even Tom Rhys Harries’ subtle but still engaging take on Sackler as proof of that importance, too.  Either way, the fact of the matter is that the cast’s overall work stands out throughout the series.  The cast’s ability to interpret the scripts brings the story even more to life and immerses audiences even more into the show.  It is another tribute to the cast’s work and the show itself, proving even more why this show deserves so much more respect than it got in its initial run more than five years ago.  It is just one more example of what makes the show just as entertaining and engaging all these years later as it was in its initial run.  The collective sets, costumes, and special effects put the finishing touch to this show.

The sets, costumes, and special effects are so important to address because of their aesthetic impact.  While sadly not discussed at all in the bonus content featured with the show’s new first-time DVD release, it is deserving of its attention.  Audiences will be in awe as Garson reveals the original Dr. Jekyll’s lab to Robert early in the series.  The cobwebs and dust that covers everything succeeds in making the lab look like something right out of an old Universal horror flick.  In the same breath, it looks increasingly like something out of a comic book as Robert works to restore his grandfather’s old lab.  That is evident in the vibrant lighting and the cleaned up lab equipment.  It almost makes one think of the bat cave for lack of a better comparison. 

On another note, Grant’s MIO office, as simple as it is, is strangely appealing with its gothic look.  The large sculpture that hangs behind Grant looms over the set.  What looks like a sun carved into the sculpture is interesting considering that MIO’s mission is a sort of Men in Black type quest: to keep the general public in the dark as it battles dark forces.  Yet here is this sun-type presentation behind him.  The sun is light and life.  So it’s almost as if it is meant as a sort of intentional, subtle statement about MIO bringing life by combating darkness and keeping people in the dark about those battles against dark forces.  It really adds so much to the importance of the show’s sets. 

On yet another hand, the Empire music hall shows in its own way, the importance of the sets.  The inside and outside looks so time appropriate.  The stage lights are built into the stage floor, as lights in that era were known to be done.  The curtains, tables and piano, and even the marquee outside the building are so eye catching in their own right.  The seemingly period proper set makes for such a contrast to Grant’s MIO office and Jekyll’s lab.  It almost comes across as a source of ease and relaxation against the sense of tension created in the other two sets, proving its success in helping set the mood as audiences watch.  It also leads into a discussion on the costumes and their importance.

Just as the Empire transports audiences back to the roughly 1800s, so do the cast’s costumes and even costumes.  Robert’s fine suits and the ladies’ dresses and gloves help enhance the setting.  The same can be said of the cars.  It takes audiences back almost to the turn of the century.  That contrast of such a spectacular story taking place in such an era makes for so much more engagement and entertainment.  Add in the special effects, such as Robert’s transformation into Hyde (which is simple in its own right, but still powerful) and the disturbing presentation of the Reaper as it goes from host to host, and audiences see even more how much work and time went into making Jekyll and Hyde fully immersive, entertaining and engaging.  When result of the time and work spent on the show’s sets, costumes and special effects is considered along with the result of the cast’s acting and that of  the story itself, the whole makes this show a presentation that   every science fiction and horror fan will enjoy and appreciate even in just one season.  With any luck maybe the renewed popularity of and interest in the show will lead to a deserved rebirth of the show either on the small or big screen.  If not, then oh well.  Audiences will at least have this short-lived standout series to enjoy anytime they want.

PBS Distribution and itv’s new domestic home release of Jekyll and Hyde is a surprisingly enjoyable presentation that every horror, science fiction and comic book fan should see at least once if not more.  It only lasted one season, thanks to complaints from people who are far too easily offended and by ratings (supposedly), but now it will hopefully receive the respect that it deserves even years after its initial television run ended.  Its appeal is due in large part to its story.  The story is very much a comic book/superhero type presentation, even though it was not adapted from a comic book.  It succeeds quite well, too throughout.  The work of the show’s cast builds just as successfully on the foundation formed through the show’s story, making for even more enjoyment and engagement.  The time and work that went into presenting the show’s sets, costumes, and special effects puts the finishing touch to the presentation.  It makes the show that much more believable and immersive.  When it is considered along with the show’s story and the work of the show’s cast, the whole of all of that content makes this presentation in whole a must see, again, for so many audiences.  Jekyll and Hyde is available now.  More information on this and other shows from itv is available online at:

Website: https://itv.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/itv

Twitter: https://twitter.com/itv

More information on this and other titles from PBS Distribution is available online at:

Websitehttps://www.pbsdistribution.org

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/PBSDistribution.org

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/PBSDistribution

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

Lamb Of God Improves — Somewhat — On Its Self-Titled 2020 Album In Its New Re-Issue

Courtesy: Epic Records

Lamb of God’s latest album is getting new life.  The band re-issued its self-titled 2020 album Friday with a rather rich amount of extra content, the most notable of which being the bonus recording of its first livestream of 2020, which it recorded last year from its hometown of Richmond, VA.  While the bonus livestream recording is itself a positive for this re-issue, the limitation in its availability proves problematic to the overall presentation.  Luckily though, it is not enough to make the re-issue in whole a failure, even with the concerns that it raises.  Keeping that in mind, the re-issue does have one more positive in the form of the two bonus songs featured in the main disc.  They add a little more to the appeal in the recording’s presentation.  When they are considered along with the full bonus livestream recording, that whole makes this re-issue a mostly successful presentation.

Lamb of God’s newly released re-issue of its self-titled 2020 album is a presentation that the band’s audiences will find interesting.  That is due in large part to the bonus recording of its first livestream concert from 2020.  The recording in question features a full performance of that latest of the band’s studio recordings and a handful of encores.  The encores in question – ‘Contractor,’ ‘Wrath,’ ‘Death of Us,’ and ‘512’ – reach back into the band’s catalog.  Represented through these songs are the band’s 2009 album, Wrath, its 2003 album, As The Palaces Burn (which is itself still considered a key album in the band’s evolution), and its 2015 album VII: Sturm Und Drang.  ‘Death of Us’ is featured in the soundtrack to the 2020 movie Bill & Ted Face The Music, so that in itself is a special bonus for Lamb of God fans who otherwise might have opted to avoid that otherwise forgettable flick.  When it is joined with the other encores – and even the rest of the performance – the performance in whole gives audiences plenty to appreciate.  In short, they get the band’s latest album in its studio and live setting in one package along with some encores that pull from some of the band’s older, more recent, and new releases.  That in itself forms a solid foundation for the recording’s bonus content.  While the concert itself will appeal to audiences, the big problem with the recording is the limitation in its presentation.

The bonus concert featured with Lamb of God’s Deluxe Edition re-issue is featured in the re-issue’s physical and digital platforms.  However, the full audio-visual presentation is available exclusively along with the audio-only presentation in the re-issue’s physical platform.  Meanwhile, the album’s digital release offers the livestream recording only in audio format.  There is nothing wrong at all with doing everything possible to promote the physical object against the digital.  At the same time though, there just are those audiences who refuse to see the light about the importance of the physical object.  Those people are very likely going to feel that by limiting the availability of the recording’s presentation across platforms, it might actually discourage them from buying the re-issue on either platform.  Concerts are meant to be enjoyed fully, after all, not just heard. So by presenting the full concert experience for one group of audiences but not the other is going to leave some audiences unhappy.  It is a disservice that Epic Records and Lamb of God are doing not only to the audiences, but also to themselves.  Luckily, it is not enough to make the recording (including the original album with its two bonus tracks) a failure.  The two bonus songs that accompany the album’s main disc work with the bonus livestream recording to add to the recording’s appeal.

The two bonus songs featured in Lamb of God’s main album are ‘Ghost Shaped People’ and ‘Hyperthermic/Accelerate.’  The song’s musical arrangement is a blistering, guitar-driven track that will appeal to longtime Lamb of God fans.   The heavy, up-tempo rocker is a fiery work whose energy and overall sound will keep listeners engaged and entertained.  According to information about the song, its lyrical theme is meant to discuss the topic of someone entering the afterlife.  That in itself breaks somewhat from the band’s trend of tackling hot button socio-political concerns through the rest of the album and its existing albums.

‘Hyperthermic/Accelerate’ is another familiar work in terms of its musical arrangement.  The guitar arrangement pairs with the vocals and drums to take listeners back to the days of As The Palaces Burn.  The fire in the song’s musical arrangement pairs well with the song’s lyrical content, which seems to deliver a commentary about mankind bringing hisown downfall.  That is of course just this critic’s own interpretation.  As nihilistic as the seeming message is, it hits hard and is certain to resonate with listeners, especially when it is paired, again, with the song’s powerful musical arrangement.  When this song and ‘Ghost Shaped People’ are considered along with the bonus performance of ‘Death Of Us’ in the bonus livestream recording and the whole of that recording, those elements collectively make Lamb of God’s new re-issue of its latest album a mostly successful presentation.

Lamb of God’s new re-issue of its self-titled 2020 album is a presentation that audiences will find for the most part, a positive new offering from the veteran metal band.  That is due in large part to the bonus recording of the band’s first 2020 livestream featured with the re-issue.  The recording offers plenty to appreciate, presenting audiences with the band’s latest album at least semi-live in its entirety.  It is accompanied by some of the band’s older material and one new song that until now was only available on the soundtrack to Bill & Ted Face the Music.  So that old and new, along with the noted bonus track gives audiences much to enjoy.  As much as the content does to make the livestream recording appealing, the limitation in its availability no doubt detracts from that appeal to a point.  However, it is not enough to make this re-issue a failure.  The two bonus songs included with the main album add their own appeal to the presentation.  Regardless of whether they were songs that ended up on the cutting room floor from the Lamb of God sessions, they are still their own positive addition thanks to their musical and lyrical content.  When they are considered with the overall content featured in the livestream recording, the two items collectively still give the re-issue a presentation that is at least somewhat of an improvement on the original album.  Lamb of God Deluxe Edition is available now.

More information on Lamb of God’s new album, its new album, single, news and more is available online now at:

Websitehttps://www.lamb-of-god.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/lambofgod

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/lambofgod

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.

‘Nature: The Alps’ Rivals Any Museum’s IMAX Documentary

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

The Alps is one of the world’s greatest natural wonders.  Yes, that is a subjective statement.  It may not be on the “official” list of the world’s “Seven Natural Wonders,” but that hardly negates it from deserving such honor.  Now thanks to PBS and PBS Distribution, audiences will see for themselves why exactly the 750-mile mountain range deserves that title in a new episode of its wildlife-based series, Nature.  Simply titled The Alps, the two-part episode, which runs almost two hours, fully explains why the Alps deserves to be noted as one of the world’s great natural wonders through its story.  That story serves as a strong foundation for the episode, which was released Tuesday on DVD.  It will be discussed shortly.  The episode’s cinematography featured in this episode adds so much to its general effect and will be discussed a little later.  The program’s pricing rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the program’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the episode in whole such that any PBS and Nature fan will appreciate.

PBS and PBS Distribution’s new home release of Nature: The Alps is its own wonder of a presentation that any PBS and Nature fan will appreciate.  That is proven in part through the two-part episode’s story.  The story, which is in fact separated into two separate segments, presents the diverse ecosystem that exists within the expansive mountain range.  The story starts as winter in the Alps gives way to the warmth of spring.  Marmots come out of their dens well below the snow to mate, while also having to avoid being eaten by golden eagles.  Deer also come out to mate.  Certain rodent species even come out of their hibernation.  Audiences will be interested to see how even in the higher elevations, animals survive just as much as in the valleys below.  Watching Ibex compete and animals, such as brown bears and wolves return to the region after being nonexistent from that space for such a long time is engaging in itself.  Just as interesting is to learn about how climate change has impacted the Alps, including the recession of a major glacier in the Alps.  That leads into another important aspect of this episode of Nature.  Yes, the message of ecological concern is there, but thankfully it is not taken to the preachy level.  It just reminds audiences at points throughout the program, the changes that are taking place in the alps – at the higher and lower elevations – is due in large part to humans’ influence on the naturally occurring process that is climate change.   That  and the simple story of the wide range of animals that call the Alps home is reason enough in itself for audiences to watch this episode of Nature, and just one reason.  The cinematography that is featured throughout adds even more to the episode’s appeal.

It goes without saying that the cinematography of most Nature episodes is powerful, IMAX-level content.  That has been proven time and again.  The cinematography in this case is no exception to that rule.  The slowed frame rates of the golden eagles in flight and the time lapse photography of the sunrise over the majestic peaks are awe-inspiring  to say the very least.  On another level, the drone footage and what is likely footage recorded from a helicopter-mounted camera makes for just as much engagement and entertainment.  The footage of the Ibex fighting along the craggy mountaintops will send shivers through viewers as they wonder if one of the beasts will fall from the sheer cliff side.  In a similar vein, the aerial shots of the wolfpack make its way across the snowy, frozen landscape during winter presents its own unique impact.  Seeing them kick up the snow as they run across the snowy, forested valley makes for a thought and emotion that viewers will only understand in watching this themselves.  On yet another level, watching a group of crows essentially guide a family of bears to a deer carcass makes for its own interest.  There’s something almost human in the way they almost seem to direct the bears to the carcass and then patiently wait their turn to eat.  It is just one more way in which the cinematography proves its impact to this episode’s appeal.  When it and the other noted examples are considered along with the rest of the program’s cinematography, that whole makes for a viewing experience in itself that is fully engaging and entertaining.  When it is considered alongside the simple story of the mountain range’s ecosystem, that whole ensures listeners’ engagement and entertainment even more.  Taking all of this into account, it makes the pricing for the episode’s home release acceptable for the most part.

The average price point of Nature: Alps is $20.79.  That figure is reached by averaging prices listed at Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, and PBS.  It was not listed through Target and Books-A-Million at the time of this review’s posting.  That price point is actually relatively affordable in comparison to some of PBS’ other recently released single-disc presentation.  PBS and Barnes & Noble Booksellers once again exceed that price point, each listing the DVD at $24.99.  Meanwhile, Amazon, Walmart, and PBS all list the DVD well below that point, at $17.99.  In other words, the average price point barely tops $20 while the majority of the major retailers’ single listings put the DVD below that mark.  Add in the fact that the program runs just shy of two hours, that puts the DVD at less than $10/hr at the noted less expensive major retailers.  Additionally, considering the positive impact of the cinematography and the simple story, that makes the pricing even more positive.  All things considered, this presentation offers a lot for audiences to enjoy.  It makes the DVD another high mark that shows why after so many years on the air, Nature remains such a beloved series.

PBS and PBS Distribution’s new home release of Nature: The Alps is yet another enjoyable addition to the long-running wildlife series.  It is a presentation that audiences will find worth watching time and again.  That is due in part to the simple story, which presents the diverse ecosystem of the Alps.  The cinematography that accompanies the story adds to the appeal exponentially.  It is once again on the level of so many IMAX quality museum documentaries.  The episode’s overall pricing in its new DVD release puts the final touch to its presentation.  That is because for the most part it is relatively affordable and will not break viewers’ budgets.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the DVD and its presentation.  All things considered, they make this episode of Nature yet another of this year’s top new documentaries.  Nature: The Alps is available now.

More information on this and other episodes of Naure is available online at:

Websitehttps://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/PBSNature

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/PBSNature

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

‘NOVA: Secrets In Our DNA’ Sheds Interesting New Light On Consumer DNA Testing

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

Genealogy is big business around the world today.  People everywhere use companies, such as 23and Me, Ancestry, and even Myheritage every year to find their roots.  For all that the tests do to enlighten consumers about their families’ connections and histories, there are still some concerns raised through their use.  That balance of pro and con in what is known as direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing is at the center of another new episode of PBS’ hit science-based series NOVA.  Released Tuesday on DVD, the nearly hour-long examination of DTC genetic testing proves an interesting presentation that is worth watching at least once.  That is again due in part to the noted topic at the episode’s center.  It will be discussed shortly.  The editing that is used to help tell the story adds its own interest to the presentation.  It will be discussed a little later.  The DVD’s pricing is worth examining, too.  It will also be discussed later.  When it is considered along with the DVD’s overall content, the whole makes this episode of NOVA worth the purchase and watch.

PBS Distribution’s home release of NOVA: Secrets in Our DNA is a presentation that audiences will agree is worth the purchase and watch.  That is due in large part to the episode’s story.  The story in question examines the popularity of what is known as direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing.  The nearly hour-long feature is an unbiased look at the positives and negatives of the now multi-million (if not billion) dollar industry.  Audiences learn through the program that while DTC genetic testing can and does help people find family that they otherwise might not have known about, it can also lead to some unexpected consequences.  That is evidenced through a variety of interesting stories.  One of the stories that explains the unexpected consequences is a real crime story that opens the program.  It tells how a woman who used DTC testing ended up playing an unexpected role in a decades-old double homicide in Washington State.  The woman was not the murderer, but her DNA profile that she sent to a DTC testing company led police to the killer.  The whole story will be left for audiences to discover for themselves.  In another interesting case, viewers learn from another woman that the man she thought was her father was in fact not.  These and other stories featured in the program lead to discussions on the privacy of the DNA kits that people use for what they believe is their personal genealogical research.  As it turns out, the crime story is linked to this matter because as it turns out, much of the results from those tests goes into a database that law enforcement uses to solve cold cases.  Previously it was not known by consumers that this was happening.  The stories also lead to discussions on the efficacy of the tests in being able to determine whether consumers might be at risk for specific genetic concerns, such as cancer and whether companies might be in relation, selling the genetic information to drug companies for the purpose of patenting drugs.  The late, great author Michael Crichton touched on this topic in his 2006 novel Next.  Representatives from various genetic testing companies responded to the concerns, alleging consumers’ information is not being sold, one even stressing (justifiably) that the companies are not forcing consumers to take the tests.  Overall, both sides of the discussion are presented here.  The result of the non-biased presentation will hopefully encourage audiences to do their own additional research into DTC testing and make their own decisions on whether to use them in their own family history research.

The main feature presented in NOVA: Secrets in Our DNA is certain to keep viewers engaged from beginning to end what with its news story type presentation that delves into the business of DTC genetic testing.  It is just one part of what makes the episode worth watching.  The editing that went into the episode plays its own part in the presentation, too.  That is exemplified through the way in which the interviews and visuals were incorporated throughout the program.  Their placement helps to keep viewers engaged throughout.  The coordination between the narration and footage is its own tribute to the editing.  It all makes the program’s pacing steady and solid from start to end.  That fluid pacing works with the story itself to further engage and entertain viewers.  Keeping that in mind, the general presentation ensures viewers’ engagement and entertainment.

Considering the unbiased story featured in NOVA: Secrets in Our DNA and its editing, the program proves unquestionably that it is worth watching at least once.  These elements are just a pair of items that make the program as appealing as it is.  The DVD’s pricing adds at least slightly more appeal to the program’s home presentation.  The program’s average price point is $22.01.  That price was reached by averaging prices listed at Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, and PBS.  It was not listed through Target and Books-A-Million at the time of this review’s posting.  Barnes & Noble Booksellers and PBS have the most expensive listing at $24.99 each while Amazon and Best Buy each list the DVD at $17.99, the least expensive of the listings.  Meanwhile, Walmart’s third party seller, DeepDiscount lists the DVD at $24.09, again, well above the average price point.  Yes, only two of the major listed retailers have prices for the DVD.  However, that is two more than could otherwise have listed.  What’s more, the Walmart listing is, again, through a third party seller, not the retailer itself.  Keeping that in mind and that Walmart typically lists PBS’ product among the least expensive retail prices, the pricing even at this point should not be viewed too harshly.  All things considered, those noted inexpensive listings will not break viewers’ budgets, even with shipping and handling in mind.  Keeping this in mind along with the DVD’s content and editing, the whole makes this episode of NOVA worth watching at least once.

PBS and PBS Distribution’s home presentation of NOVA: Secrets in Our DNA is an interesting work that deserves at least some attention.  That is due in part to the story at the episode’s center.  Presented in the style of a broadcast news piece, the story shows in unbiased fashion, the pros and cons of direct-to-consumer genetic testing.  Viewers will find themselves interested in the “secrets” that testing can reveal, both good and bad.  Additionally, they will be interested in the discussion on privacy concerns raised in connection to the business’ popularity.  The editing that went into the program does its own share to keep viewers engaged, and together with the story, ensures viewers’ engagement and entertainment even more.  The program’s price in its DVD presentation rounds out its most important element.  While the average price point exceeds the $20 mark, two of its listings are well below that mark, making for at least some appeal.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the program in its DVD presentation.  All things considered, they make the DVD a presentation that proves worth purchasing and watching at least once.  NOVA: Secrets in Our DNA is available now.

More information on this and other episodes of NOVA is available online now at:

Websitehttps://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/NOVApbs

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/novapbs

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://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.