PBS Distribution To Release New ‘NOVA’ Episode On DVD Next Month

Courtesy: PBS Distribution/PBS

PBS Distribution will bring another episode of its hit science-based series NOVA to DVD next month.

NOVA: Saving Notre Dame is scheduled for release Feb. 16. The program profiles the efforts made to restore the Notre Dame Cathedral following the fire that nearly destroyed the historic landmark. The cathedral caught fire in 2019, nearly losing more than 800 years of history in the process. The program follows the examinations and technology used in the efforts to restore the centuries-old structure and prevent another such incident in the future over the course of its 57-minute run time.

NOVA: Saving Notre Dame will retail for MSRP of $24.99. Pre-orders are open now.

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

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

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/NOVApbs

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/novapbs

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

PBS Distribution To Release First-Ever ‘Hero Elementary’ DVD Next Month

Courtesy: PBS Distribution/PBS/PBS Kids

PBS Kids’ new animated science-based series Hero Elementary is getting its first DVD release.

Hero Elementary: Sparks’ Crew Pet Rescue! is scheduled for release Feb. 9. The single-disc collection offers audiences more than two hours of entertainment.

One of the collection’s stories finds Sparks’ Crew working to reunite a newborn bird with its parents. Another of the stories featured in the collection finds the crew learning how animals use their tails to communicate with each other. Yet another episode features Sparks’ crew helping animals who are out of place around the city due to fog.

Hero Elementary: Sparks’ Crew Pet Rescue! will retail for MSRP of $9.99. Pre-orders are open.

More information on PBS Distribution’s new Hero Elementary DVD is available along with activities, printables, and more at:

Website: https://pbskids.org/heroelementary

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

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.

PBS Distribution Announces Release Date, Specs For New ‘Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood’ DVD Set

Courtesy: PBS Kids/PBS Distribution/PBS

PBS Distribution will bring a new collection of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood episodes to DVD next month.

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Tigertastic 50 Pack is scheduled for release Feb. 9. The collection’s 50 total episodes are spread across three discs. One of the set’s featured stories features Daniel going to Baker Aker’s bakery to pick out a birthday cake. When the cake is damaged, Daniel learns the lesson that just because the cake is messed up, it is still edible and tasty.

In a throwback to one of the most beloved episodes of the original Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, Daniel and his friends visit the crayon factory in yet another of the set’s featured episodes. Daniel learns that going to the doctor for a checkup is not as scary as he thinks in yet another of the collection’s stories.

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Tigertastic 50 Pack will retail for MSRP of $19.99. Pre-orders are open.

More information on this and other Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood DVDs is available online now along with activities, games, printouts and more at:

Websitehttp://pbskids.org/daniel

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/danieltigertv

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

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

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Kids/PBS Distribution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Website: http://pbskids.org/pinkalicious

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


To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://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, WNET’s New Titanic Documentary Stays Afloat From Beginning To End Despite Its Setup

Courtesy: PBS/WNET

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/SecretsofTheDead

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/SecretsPBS

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

Vintage, Modern Offerings Gave Families Lots To Like This Year

Courtesy: MVD Entertainment Group

Families spent a lot of time indoors together this year thanks to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Between parents working from home and students forced to take classes online, parents and their children have seen a lot of each other this year; Probably a lot more than usual.  That increased time together can often lead to tensions between families.  Thankfully, plenty of new DVD and Blu-ray box sets were released this year to help relieve that tension and give families plenty to enjoy together.  That has already been pointed out in part through Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New DVDs & Blu-rays list.  Single disc presentations are just a part of what families had to enjoy together this year.  There was also plenty of content thrown in this year in the form of new DVD and Blu-ray box sets for families.  Among some of the best of this year’s new family box sets are first time releases from the likes of Time Life, PBS, and Nickelodeon.

As with each list from Phil’s Picks, this list features the year’s Top 10 new titles and five additional honorable mention titles for a total of 15.  Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New Family DVD & Blu-ray Box Sets.

PHIL’S PICKS 2020 TOP 10 NEW FAMILY DVD & BLU-RAY BOX SETS

  1. Laurel & Hardy: The Definitive Restorations
  2. The Buster Keaton Collection: Volume 4
  3. Dolly: The Ultimate Collection
  4. Arthur: The Complete Friendship Collection
  5. The Berenstain Bears: Tree House Tales Vol. 2
  6. The Berenstain Bears: Tree House Tales Vol. 3
  7. Molly of Denali: Molly’s Awesome Alaskan Adventures
  8. The Jetsons: The Complete Series
  9. Sesame Street: Old School Volume 1
  10. Sesame Street: Old School Volume 2
  11. Spongebob Squarepants: Season 11
  12. Paw  Patrol: PUP-tastic 8-DVD Collection
  13. The Flintstones: 2 Movies & 5 Specials
  14. Garfield & Friends: Season Three
  15. Benji 4-Movie Collection

Next up from Phil’s Picks is the 2020 Top 10 New Grown-Up Box Sets and then the year’s top new re-issues to finish off this year’s lists.  Stay tuned for all of that this weekend.

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

‘NOVA: Human Nature’ Succeeds In Its Gene Editing, Bioethics Discussions

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution/WGBH

Technology can be a very good thing.  It can also be very bad.  It all depends on who uses it and how.  That is the central discussion of the recently debuted episode of PBS’ hit science-based series NOVA, Human Nature.  The episode, which debuted in September, was released Dec. 1 on DVD.  The 90-minute documentary is a presentation that is certain to engage and entertain viewers from start to end.  That is due in no small part to the program’s central discussion topic.  This will be discussed shortly.  The way in which the program is presented adds to the program’s appeal even more and will be discussed a little later.  Considering these aspects collectively, they make the DVD’s average price point a positive in its own right.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of this DVD.  All things considered, they make the DVD’s a presentation overall that many audiences will find a must in their personal documentary libraries.

NOVA: Human Nature is a powerful new episode of PBS’ hit science-based series that stands as one of the best of the series’ episodes this year.  That is proven in part through its central discussion topic.  The topic in question is that of the use of what is known as clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, or “CRISPR” for short.  As is revealed through the discussion, “CRISPR” as something genetic has been happening for eons.  If what is discussed is understood correctly, it has played a big part in the evolution of many if not most biological creatures.  It has helped protect biological beings safe from viruses, allowing them to survive.  From there, the discussion turns to the use of “CRISPR” as a technological tool for humans.  Some of America’s top scientific minds discuss the possibility of using “CRISPR” to potentially eliminate diseases, such as cancer and sickle cell anemia, and to even alter genes of embryos so that couples can have potentially disease-free babies.  The topics of whether even doing that is ethical and the long term impact – whether humans would even remain disease free throughout life – branch out from the central theme along the way.  No bias is shown one way or the other, as supporters are interviewed along with opponents to the use of “CRISPR.”  One of the noted scientists who comes across as a supporter of “CRISPR” points out that despite popular belief, scientists are not looking to use “CRISPR” to bring back dinosaurs and wooly mammoths.  Another points out that at this point, the military is not working to use
”CRISPR” to make “super soldiers” and other military technology.  Yet another even points out that “CRISPR” is in fact being used to potentially create plants that are able to adapt to the world’s changing climate conditions.  To its defense, this aspect of “CRISPR’s” potential positives is rather interesting.  Humans need agriculture in order to produce food, and with climate change’s impact on the planet (and the human impact on the naturally occurring process) so clear, creating plants that are adaptable (or resistant to) the impacts of climate change could proof beneficial for humans.  As one of the interviewed scientists points out in the program’s end (not to give away too much), hopefully the day won’t come anytime soon that humans would decide to use this clearly divisive tool that is “CRISPR” for anything bad.  Regardless of which side one takes on the ongoing discussion over the use of “CRISPR” it is clear in watching this episode of NOVA that the discussions likely will not end anytime soon.  That is not a bad thing, either, considering all of the issues raised through the program.  To that end, the central topic featured in this in-depth documentary creates a solid foundation for the program.  It is just one of the aspects that makes NOVA: Human Nature a success.  The way in which the program is presented adds to its appeal.

A lot of ground is covered over the course of NOVA: Human Nature’s 90-minute run.  It is all presented in one continuous program, too.  Keeping that in mind, the manner in which the episode is presented is key in its own right in order to keep viewers watching.  In order to keep viewers engaged, those behind the episode divided the episode into “chapters.”  The “chapters” are clearly pointed out on screen as the documentary progresses.  This leaves no doubt that the overall discussion is changing direction.  What’s more, the transitions between chapters are solid in their own right.  There is just enough space between the “chapters” to let viewers know that the program’s discussion is changing.  That and the visual presentation of each “chapter’s” title collectively makes for a wonderful presentation for the episode.  It breaks things up just enough to keep viewers from getting bored with the topic and its discussion.  That and the central topic collectively make NOVA: Human Nature even more successful, especially in the way it plays into the program’s pacing.  Keeping all of this in mind, there is one more aspect of the episode to discuss, the program’s average price point.

The average price point for NOVA: Human Nature is $21.52.  That price is reached by averaging prices listed through Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, and PBS’ online store.  At the time of this review’s posting, the DVD was not listed through Target or Books-A-Million.  Amazon and Best Buy offer the least expensive of the noted retailers, at $17.99.  PBS’ listing once again is the most expensive at $24.99 while Walmart’s listing of $24.13 is just below PBS’ price.  Barnes & Noble Booksellers’ listing of $22.49 also exceeds the average price point.  So in the bigger picture of the DVD’s price, its average price point barely tops the $20 mark along with the majority of its single listings.  Two of the noted listings are well below that mark.  Now given the breadth and depth of the content featured in the DVD and its pacing (which works so well because of the episode’s construction) those less expensive listings prove to be money well spent.  They are prices that will not break any viewer’s budget.  The same can be said of the more expensive listings, even being that they exceed the DVD’s average price point.  Regardless of which retailer one chooses, at least some of the money spent on this fully engaging program will go back to PBS.  So it is a win for everyone.  Audiences get a documentary that they are sure to watch time and again, and PBS receives financial support that allows it to continue providing such top notch programming.  Keeping all of this in mind, NOVA: Human Nature proves itself to be a presentation that is one of this year’s best new documentaries.

NOVA: Human Nature is a powerful addition to the series.  Now that it is available on DVD, it is a presentation that so many audiences will want to watch time and again.  That is proven in part through its central discussion topic, that of the use of “CRISPR” and the ethics related to its use.  The unbiased discussions are sure to keep viewers engaged and entertained in their own right.  The episode’s construction works directly with the overall discussion to keep viewers engaged and entertained, too.  It keeps the whole from becoming monotonous.  That is especially important considering the amount of content covered in the discussions and the program’s overall 90-minute run time.  Keeping in mind the content featured in this episode and its delivery, the DVD’s average price point proves to be money well-spent, as audiences will, again, find themselves watching it more than once.  Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the DVD’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the episode a welcome addition to most audiences’ home libraries and one of the year’s top new documentaries.  NOVA: Human Nature is available now.

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

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

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/NOVApbs

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/novapbs

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

‘NOVA: Secret Mind Of Slime’ Is An Intriguing Study On Evolutionary Science

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

Defining intelligence is not an easy task.  The common belief among scientists and people in general is that in order for a being to have “intelligence” it has to have a brain, central nervous system, etc.  But what if that criteria might not necessarily be accurate?  That is the discussion at the base of NOVA: Secret Mind of Slime.  The hour-long NOVA episode was released on DVD Dec. 8.  This recently premiered episode is a presentation that will appeal just as much to those with any interest in the biological sciences as evolutionary sciences.  Its foundation is formed through its main feature, which will be discussed shortly.  Considering how much is discussed in this episode in terms of theory and science, the program’s pacing turns out to be stable throughout.  This aspect will be discussed a little later.  The average price point of NOVA: Secret Mind of Slime proves to be its own positive for this presentation, considering the episode’s content and pacing.  It will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the documentary.  All things considered, they make NOVA: Secret Mind of Slime a presentation that should be anything but a secret.

PBS and PBS Distribution’s recently released DVD presentation of NOVA: Secret Mind of Slime is a surprisingly engaging and entertaining program that will appeal to students and lovers of the biological sciences just as much as those of the evolutionary sciences.  That is proven in part through the program’s main feature.  The feature in question examines how a slime mold called Physarum polycephalumdoes what it does.  Audiences will be amazed as they watch the literally brainless organism find its way through mazes, make its way across salt bridges, and even “deciding” which sources of nutrients it “prefers.”  Again, this is all done without a brain.  What is ultimately discovered is that what is going on is that the slime mold is using what is known as bioelectricity and even a form of adaptation in order to accomplish everything.  Bioelectricity is exactly what it sounds like.  They are electric currents produced within living organisms that regulate organisms’ behaviors.  The revelation is made through examinations of how plants react to their surroundings, which is itself also documented in this episode.  Observing this ability of organisms that lack nervous systems or even brains to “make decisions” and react “intelligently” to given situations will leave many viewers’ minds blown.  As is noted in the narration, it is collectively an example of the earliest form of sentience in Earth’s biological organisms.  It is certain to generate plenty of discussion among audiences in itself.

While the content featured in NOVA: Secret Mind of Slime goes a long way toward making the program appealing, it is just one aspect of the episode that audiences will appreciate.  The program’s pacing adds its own touch to the show’s interest.  As noted, a lot of ground is covered in this hour-long program.  There is the examination of the slime mold’s ability to navigate mazes and to adapt to different situations (E.g. changing so as to deal with salt as it makes its way to a “food source” and even its ability to connect with other slime molds from other parts of the world in order to survive).  There is also the examination of how plants spread out their roots in much the same way that the Physarum polycephalum spreads out its “veins” as well as that of how ants use pheromone trails in equally similar fashion to find food sources.  Again, this is a lot of information.  Considering how much ground is covered through all of this, it would have been easy for the program to get bogged down in itself.  Thankfully, those behind the episode’s creation and assembly did not let that happen.  From start to end, the discussions ensure viewers’ engagement and entertainment, presenting topics rarely if ever considered by audiences.  The discussions remain mostly in layman’s terms, ensuring even more that noted engagement and entertainment.  That presentation style plays a big role in the program’s pacing if not the episode’s biggest role.  Between that aspect and the ability of the topics to move so fluidly from one to the next, audiences will never feel lost within the program or even bogged down.  The result is that that the program moves easily from one point to the next, never losing viewers along the way.  Keeping this in mind with the very content in the program’s main feature, the two elements collectively show even more why the documentary is such an appealing new presentation from PBS and PBS Distribution.  It also plays its own collective importance in considering the DVD’s average price point.

The average price point of NOVA: Secret Mind of Slime barely tops the $20 mark.  This is determined by averaging prices listed through PBS’ online store, Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, and Barnes & Noble Booksellers.  Walmart presents the least expensive listing, at $16.61 while Amazon and Best Buy are the mid-point price, at $17.99.  PBS’ listing of $24.99 is actually the most expensive while Barnes & Noble Booksellers is just a step below that at $22.49.   Looking at these listings, viewers have at least three retailers from which to choose that are below the noted average price point.  The noted listings will not break audiences’ bank accounts.  The more expensive listings will not hurt viewers’ checkbooks either, even being a bit more pricey.  Regardless of which outlet consumers choose, audiences will still get their money’s worth while also bringing in more money for PBS, the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming.  When this is considered along with the pacing of this program and the content presented in its main feature, the whole of the program proves itself well worth the watch among students and lovers of the biological and evolutionary sciences.  NOVA: Secret Mind of Slime is available now.

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

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

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/NOVApbs

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/novapbs

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

New PBS Doc Is A Solid Starting Point For Lessons On One Of Humanity’s Most Important Aspects

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

Writing is one of the fundamental things that a society does.  That is because letters and words are at the center of everything that humans do.  From books, to speeches, to general documents, to even printing out receipts or purchases, writing and words control everything.  Words, letters, and writing even have their own courses of study from elementary school through college and post-college.  Next week, PBS will present a new episode of NOVA on DVD that focuses on the history of words and language in the form of A to ZThe First Alphabet and How Writing Changed The World.  The DVD, set for release on Dec. 22, succeeds as a starting point for any lesson on the topics in part because of its two separate main features.  This will be discussed shortly.  The fact that those features are separated out in the single disc adds to the presentation’s appeal.  This element will be discussed a little later.  The pacing of the two programs rounds out the most important of the noted elements.  It will also be discussed later.  When it is considered along with the DVD’s overall content and its division, the presentation in whole makes itself a widely appealing presentation.

PBS and PBS Distribution’s forthcoming home release of A to ZThe First Alphabet and How Writing Changed The World is a widely appealing presentation that students of linguistics will enjoy just as much as those of history, anthropology and basically every science.  That is proven in part through the overall program’s two separate main features.  The first feature takes audiences through a history of the evolution of writing.  It starts out in ancient Egypt, explaining how specific symbols actually stood for certain sounds.  From there, the story expands, explaining how early cuneiform followed a similar model to that of the figures used by the Egyptians before moving to China to examine the similarity in the use of Chinese writing figures and how they are used to the way in which Middle Eastern writing systems were used early in human history.  As the program progresses, audiences learn that from the early symbols used by the Egyptians and Sumerians, the Romans took the Egyptians’ symbols and altered those original designs, using them for what is now our modern alphabet.  It is interesting to learn about that history.

The second half of the program moves away from the writing, albeit slightly, to the aspect of how the delivery of writing evolved.  From the early use of papyrus to the use of a specific kind of paper in Asia to the advent of the printing press, audiences learn about how each delivery platform played into the evolution of the alphabet and writing in general.  On the surface, this might not seem all that interesting, but in the bigger picture, understanding how slow writing started out with calligraphy and other methods to the use of the printing press makes for more appreciation for how much the very process of creating and preserving writing evolved over thousands of years, and in turn, how much easier it become.  From carving figures into stone and clay to having to write everything slowly and monotonously, to finally developing moveable type, the evolution of writing letters and words is shown in large part here.  It’s just too bad that the story felt so short.  Of course that is not necessarily a bad thing, since it really is just a starting point for those more in-depth lessons about the evolution of writing and its delivery systems.

While the story presenting the evolution of our modern alphabet and its delivery methods does plenty to appeal to audiences, it is just one part of what makes this program a success.  The division of the two-hour program into two separate segments adds to the presentation’s appeal in its own way.  Each segment is its own standalone “episode” so basically, audiences are getting two episodes for the price of one here.  What’s more, having the episodes divided into their own settings ensures even more that audiences will remain engaged and entertained.  Had they been joined as one full episode, audiences might have felt difficulty in deciding where to stop if they needed to do so for whatever reason.  Luckily though, that is not the case here.  That division allows audiences to watch each segment at their own pace, thus, again, increasing enjoyment and engagement that much more.

Speaking of pacing, that element rounds out the most important aspects of this presentation.  The pacing of each of the program’s hour-long “episodes” stays largely stable throughout.  It would be so easy for each segment to run slowly, considering how much information is shared, but luckily, those behind the program’s editing and composition mad sure to hit the most important points of each topic.  The result is that viewers will never feel lost or even left behind at any point in the program.  Rather, they will feel that much more encouraged to remain engaged.  After watching each segment, viewers will find themselves potentially wanting to do their own research and learn more on their own thanks to that attention to detail.  Keeping this in mind along with the positive impact of the content featured in A to ZThe First Alphabet and How Writing Changed The World and the division of the program’s segments, the whole becomes a program that those who enjoy the social and historical sciences alike will enjoy.

PBS and PBS Distribution’s home release of A to ZThe First Alphabet and How Writing Changed The World is a presentation that plenty of audiences will find appealing.  That is proven in part through the content shown in the program’s two separate main features.  First audiences get a brief but in-depth history of the evolution of what is now our modern alphabet.  From there, audiences get an equally brief — but still in-depth in its own right – look at how the actual presentation and delivery of our now modern alphabet evolved.  The episodes are segmented out rather than combined into one whole, making for more appeal.  The separation will allow audiences to view the segments at their own pace rather than feel that they have to watch the whole program in one sitting.  The segments’ pacing in itself puts the finishing touch to this presentation.  The pacing is solid because each segment points out the most important aspects of each story rather than trying to push in everything possible.  This leaves viewers wanting more in the best way possible.  In turn, it will likely lead viewers to in fact do their own research and learn even more.  To that end, this element and the other two noted collectively make A to ZThe First Alphabet and How Writing Changed The World a wonderful introduction to one of the most important aspects of human history.

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

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

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/NOVApbs

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/novapbs

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

PBS Distribution’s Debut ‘Molly Of Denali’ DVD Set Is Awesome

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Kids/PBS Distribution

The wait is officially over for the first ever collection of episodes from PBS Kids’ animated series Molly of Denali.  The two-disc collection features 32 episodes from the series’ debut season released Tuesday, and it largely lives up to its title.  That is proven in part through its episodes, which will be discussed shortly.  The stories that are featured in the episodes build on the appeal formed through the compilation’s featured episodes.  They will be discussed a little later.  The set’s average price point rounds out its most important elements, considering the extensive content featured in this set.  Each item noted is key in its own way to the presentation of Molly of Denali: Molly’s Awesome Alaskan Adventures.  All things considered, they make this double-disc set a great first collection from the Peabody Award®-winning series.

PBS Kids’ first-ever collection of Molly of Denali episodes, Molly’s Awesome Alaskan Adventures is an impressive DVD debut from the series.  That is due in no small part to its featured episodes.  The collection features 32 episodes from the series’ debut season.  That equals to 16 full-length half hour episodes, which is almost half of the body of the series’ only season so far.  Season one consists of 40 full half-hour episodes.  For the most part, the featured episodes are presented in chronological order, though there is some jumping around at points.  Ironically, being that each episode is presented in full, one can’t help but wonder why they were split up in the presentation here rather than being presented exactly as they were on television.  That aside, it is still good to see so much of the first season presented together rather than just have a jumble of shorts from the bigger overall episodes.  Hopefully audiences will not have to wait too long to complete their Season One collections, keeping all of this in mind.

While the episodes that are featured in Molly’s Awesome Alaskan Adventures (that’s a lot of alliteration, isn’t it?) do a lot collectively to make this collection appealing, they are just a part of what makes it so appealing.  The stories that are featured within the episodes play into the collection’s appeal in their own right.  That is because they are so diverse.  Case in point is the story featured in “Book of Mammoths.”  As Molly and her dad go on a camping trip, they meet a tourist named Travis who is a conspiracy theorist of sorts.  He has read a book that has led him to believe that mammoths are still alive in Qyah.  This is a sort of spoof of all the people who think aliens have been to Earth since prehistoric times.  On a completely different note, “Name Game” and “Grandpa’s Drum” focus on the importance of accepting, appreciating, and recording cultural diversity and history.  “Qyah Spy,” yet another featured entry in this set, offers audiences yet another enjoyable story.  Molly and Tooey play spies as a mysterious stranger comes to Qyah and she thinks some of the town’s residents are being very secretive.  She thinks someone in town is up to no good, but the reality is the exact opposite.  Between these stories and so many others featured in the collection’s episodes, audiences get so much wonderful variety throughout the course of the collection’s approximately six-and-a-half hour run time.  Keeping this and the sheer volume of content in the set in mind, the set’s average price point proves to be its own positive.

The average price point of Molly of Denali: Molly’s Awesome Alaskan Adventures is $12.49.  That price was reached by averaging listings at Amazon, Best Buy, Books-A-Million, and PBS’ online store.  It was not listed through Walmart, Target, and Barnes & Noble Booksellers’ stores at the time of this review’s posting.  PBS’ listing and that of Books-A-Million are the most expensive, at $14.99 each.  Amazon and Best Buy each  list the set at $9.99, which is well below that average.  Considering again, the extensive amount of content featured in this collection, and the variety therein, a listing of roughly $10 is not bad at all.  Even $15 is not too bad though obviously lower prices are available.  Regardless of which retailer one chooses, PBS will still benefit in the end, so either way along with audiences.  To that end the set’s average and separate price listings prove their own value to this presentation just as much as the set’s content.  All things considered , PBS Distribution’s new Molly of Denali proves to in fact be awesome.

PBS Distribution’s debut Molly of Denali DVD set, Molly’s Awesome Alaskan Adventures is an impressive first home release from the award-winning animated series.  That is proven in part through its extensive episode listing, which covers almost half of the series’ first (and only so far) season.  The variety presented within the episodes is certain to keep audiences engaged and entertained throughout.  The set’s average price point puts the finishing touch to its appeal, coming in at less than $15.  The separate listings each are less than $20, adding even more appeal to that note.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the double-disc set.  All things considered, the collection truly lives up to its name, leaving no doubt that it is in fact awesome.

More information on Molly of Denali is available along with games, activities, printables and more at:

Websitehttp://pbskids.org/molly

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/MollyOfDenali

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