How The States Got Their Shapes Teaches Even More Fun Facts In Its Second Season

Courtesy:  History Channel/A&E Home Video

Courtesy: History Channel/A&E Home Video

How the States Got Their Shapes Season 2 is a welcome follow-up to the show’s original season.  Season Two is just as entertaining as the show’s debut season.  The primary reason for this is that Season Two takes viewers into more depth than just how the states’ borders were developed.  This season, viewers are taken more into depth in the history of the states along with the history of the states’ shapes, too.  While Season Two’s episodes go into more depth on the different states in the union, they don’t go into so much depth that they become too involved for viewers.  Rather, they are simple enough for viewers of any age to grasp.  What’s more, each episode minus commercials clocks in at just under half an hour.  So whether in the classroom or the living room, it’s a fitting new installment to this hit History Channel Series, and an equally fitting addition to any history buff’s home library.

The second season of How the States Got Their Shapes is made up of a total of eighteen episodes.  Over the course of those eighteen episodes, host Brian Unger takes viewers deeper into the history of the states.  Rather than just focus on how the states got their shapes, Unger takes viewers into history lessons such as: the history of the infamous feud between the Hatfields and McCoys, what makes one state red and another blue and when the terms “red” and “blue” first came about, and the impact of a state’s population on politics.  There are other equally intriguing concepts across this season’s three discs.  But viewers can find out for themselves what each one is, and what makes each one so important this season.  Audiences will be surprised to learn in the episode ,”Hatfields vs. McCoys” that despite the popular belief, it might not have in fact been a pig that started the cross-state conflict, but a member of one clan fighting for the “wrong” side in the civil war.  According to the history shared, the alleged theft of a pig might have just been one of many factors that caused the conflict to escalate.

Just as interesting for viewers to learn, is that the terms “red state” and “blue state” didn’t even exist until the 2000 election between President George W. Bush and Al Gore.  “Red State vs. Blue State” reveals that this now commonly used phrase wasn’t even a reality until the news media made it so during the course of the now infamous election that centered on hanging chads and elderly voters in Florida.  How many adults or even younger viewers can honestly say that they knew this little tidbit of information?  This critic will honestly say that he did not know this until having watched this episode.  It serves as a reminder that as much as even adults would like to claim they know about political science, not all adults know nearly as much as they’d like to believe.

“Red State vs. Blue State” was just one of a number of episodes that offers viewers a civics lesson in How the States got their Shapes Season 2.  The lessons permeate the season’s eighteen episodes.  Just one more example of this lies in the episode, “Big vs. Small.”  This episode takes a different angle on the show’s political science sessions.  It explains to viewers through interactions with average people how the size of one state versus another has a vast effect on the state’s pull in elections.  For instance, it compares the size of Texas and Rhode Island, and ties it to the number of representatives and senators a state has in connection to the state’s size and population size.  Yet again, whether a viewer is young or more world-wise most viewers will be surprised at just how much they had either not known or had forgotten over time.  It’s just one more episode that makes this season of How the States got their Shapes so entertaining and interesting.

The lessons and concepts raised through this season’s episodes take viewers deeper into the states’ history.  As in depth as they get, not one episode gets too in depth for casual viewers.  Unger interviews people from every walk of life in each episode instead of just politicians and academics.  Those individuals are there.  But there are just as many ordinary people in these episodes, too.  And because of the large number of ordinary people interviewed, Unger is able to talk to them (and in turn viewers) on a casual level.  This casual discussion will make viewers feel less like Unger and the show’s producers are talking down to them.  This serves even more to make this season just as entertaining and enjoyable as Season One.

The general informational content of each episode is on the level of any casual viewer, whether fifteen or fifty-years old.  In simple terms, this season’s episodes are just as viewer friendly, content-wise, as Season One’s episodes.  The episodes included in this season are just as viewer friendly because of the length of each episode.  Each episode comes in at just under half an hour.  That’s because there are no commercials to have to navigate.  And because the episodes are on DVD, viewers can fast forward or go back to wherever they want with just the push of a button.  This only makes each episode collectively even more viewer friendly and even more worth watching not just once, but any time.

The key to the success of How the States got their Shapes Season 2 can be summed up in two words, as one should be able to tell by the factors noted here.  Those two words are “viewer friendliness.”  The episodes are short.  And the producers have written the facts and figures in a way that makes them easy for viewers of any age to understand and appreciate.  Even host Brian Unger comes across like an every guy.  And he interviews everyday people as well as academics and politicians.  This works with everything else noted to make this season all the better both in the classroom and in the living room, regardless of whether this is the last season for the show or not.  It is available now on DVD and can be ordered online direct from History Channel’s website at http://shop.history.com/detail.php?p=450943&SESSID=1f92713358ed29d46f0205c1e2c6d1f9&v=history#tabs.  Audiences can find out more about this show on the official History Channel Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/History and its official website, http://www.history.com.

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Ancient Egypt Anthology An In-Depth Journey Through Country’s History

Courtesy:  History Channel/A&E Entertainment

Courtesy: History Channel/A&E Entertainment

History Channel’s recently released box set, The Ancient Egypt Anthology is more excellent material both for history buffs and history teachers at every level.  This new six disc set contains the network’s previously released specials in one complete box.  It opens with the double disc set, Planet Egypt before expanding a little more in the set’s next pair of discs featuring the special, Beyond The Pyramids.  Next up is the single disc presentation of Engineering An Empire.  The entire set closes out with a compilation of other specials on Egypt on the set’s sixth disc.  At an estimated price of $50.00, the six discs included in this make the price well worth the purchase.

The set opens with the double disc set, Planet Egypt.  This presentation was released earlier this year in its own double disc presentation.  Fittingly, it opens this new complete box set, too.  Planet Egypt tells the story of Egypt from its earliest days through the rise of its most influential and important pharaohs.  It tells of the military might and political power of each pharaoh including the one and only Pharaoh Hatshepsut.  It also discusses how the pyramids come to be as a result of each leader.  From the discussion on the pyramids, The Ancient Egypt Anthology moves into an even more in depth discussion of them by going Beyond The PyramidsBeyond The Pyramids takes viewers even deeper into a study of the pyramids.  It explains to viewers how the pyramids were built and why each was built with its given internal structure.  Along with that, it also helps to highlight what made the pyramids so important as it compares the lives of the Pharaohs to that of the ordinary Egyptian during the time of the Pharaohs.  This comparison works with the discussion on the pyramids construction and cultural significance to make for a fitting continuation of what was started with Planet Egypt.

The fifth disc in the new Ancient Egypt Anthology is a good finishing touch to this set.  Having already discussed the construction of the pyramids, the Ancient Egypt Anthology goes into even deeper depth with a more broad discussion on how engineering helped not only bring the pyramids to their heights, but also Egyptian society as a whole.  This segment starts off with a discussion on the annual flooding of the Nile River Valley, and its impact on life in the region.  It proceeds to discuss how given rulers used their own engineering methods to help build and maintain Egyptian society through its most important times.  It makes for a nice final piece in the set.  But it isn’t all.  As an added bonus, the Ancient Egypt Anthology offers viewers a sixth disc in which topics such as medicine in early Egypt, and more material about the pyramids and a pair of Egypt’s most famed Pharaohs.  It makes for a nice extra touch on a set that already will impress any history buff and history teacher.  Anyone who has any interest in the history of Egypt will enjoy this and the set’s other five discs, too.  The Ancient Egypt Anthology is available now.  It can be ordered online at http://shop.history.com.

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Ancient Aliens Season Four Keeps The Questions Coming

Courtesy: History Channel/A&E Home Entertainment

The truth is out there, or so we’ve been told by a rather well known now classic sci-fi show.  But what if the truth isn’t out there?  What if it is in fact right in front of us?  In the fourth season of History Channel’s Ancient Aliens, viewers are presented with more theories that beings from another world have been visiting Earth and leaving their mark for eons.  Through it all, it leaves viewers to decide for themselves what they believe to be the truth. Season Four opens with one of the most classic stories of alien conspiracies.  It opens with the episode, ‘The Mayan Conspiracy.’  This episode takes viewers throughout the beliefs that beings from other worlds have been visiting Earth and its inhabitants as early as the days of the Mayans and even their own ancestors.  The show focuses on artwork left by the Mayans, presenting the possibility that the artwork carved into the Mayan temples in fact are images of technology used by the Mayans to communicate with whatever beings may have connected with them.  It claims that the Mayans may have even had technology to build an early rocket of sorts, allowing them to travel out of Earth’s bounds.  This episode also goes into depth about the Mayans’ expertise with astronomy and math.  The experts interviewed for this episode argue that how else could the Mayans have had the knowledge and abilities that they had without intervention from some higher being or beings?

Another of Season Four’s interesting episodes brings up the conspiracy theory centered on the true intentions of NASA.  ‘The NASA Connection’ explains the roots of NASA and explains what is believed to be the real reason for its creation.  From there, it goes into more depth about an alleged connection to the Russian space program early in NASA’s life possibly for covert reasons tied to beliefs about hidden cities on the dark side of the moon.  It goes into even more discussions about the possibility that NASA has been attempting to hide footage of extraterrestrial beings flying right past the ISS and NASA’s shuttle fleet.  Could it really be true?  Again, that’s up to viewers to decide.

Could beings from other worlds have visited Earth as far back as the days of the Mayans?  What about as recently as the days of the “Space Race?”  That’s anybody’s guess.  But those are just two of many theories raised in Season Four of Ancient Aliens.  Also presented here is the theory that famed artist and inventor Leonardo Da Vinci had to have had help from some form of interstellar beings in order to be able to create the inventions which he developed.  On top of that, the show presents perhaps one of the most interesting discussions ever raised in the possibility that instead of hiding a religious secret in his paintings, he in fact was hiding images of beings from other worlds.  Along with this, it presents a discussion that there are in fact images of alien spacecraft hidden throughout some of history’s great pieces of art.  It even goes so far as to focus in on these alleged objects, and have experts examine them for themselves.  The findings from these investigations are pretty interesting.  But audiences will have to see for themselves how interesting when they pick up Season Four of Ancient Aliens.

Ancient Aliens Season Four will be available in stores and online Tuesday, November 20th.  It can be ordered online direct via History Channel’s online store, http://shop.history.com.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.