History, Military History Buffs Alike Will Appreciate ‘SOTD: Hannibal In The Alps’

Courtesy: PBS

The journey of Carthaginian General Hannibal Barca along the French Alps en route to his conquest of Rome, which included 30,000 troops, 15,000 horses and 37 war elephants, is one of the most talked about stories in history.  While the perilous journey has been well documented and talked about over the course of thousands of years, one thing has not been known about that fateful journey is how exactly he and his forces made it across the Alps.  That is until now.  PBS delves into that story in a new episode of its hit history-based series Secrets of the Dead.  Originally aired this past April, the roughly 50-minute program follows a group of researchers as the group works to tell once and for all how Hannibal and his forces managed to cross the Alps in just 16 days en route to the noted attack.  The story of the team’s research, which lies at the center of this episode of SOTD, is its cornerstone, and gives viewers more than enough reason to watch.  While the story of the team’s research on Hannibal’s journey goes a long way toward making this doc well worth the watch, it is missing at least one key element – the answer as to why Hannibal took his chosen path.  It is a minor detail, but still would have added even more depth to the story.  It will be discussed later.  The program’s overall pacing rounds out the program’s most important elements.  It will also be discussed later. Each noted element is important in its own right to the whole of Secrets of the Dead: Hannibal in the Alps.  That will be proven through a discussion on each topic.  All things considered, the noted elements make this episode of SOTD one that will interest military history aficionados and history buffs in general.

Secrets of the Dead: Hannibal in the Alps is a fully engaging new episode of PBS’ hit history-based series.  It is a presentation that is certain to appeal just as much to military history aficionados as it is to students and lovers of history in general.  That is proven in part through the story at the center of this program.  The program’s central story focuses on researchers’ efforts to determine which route Hannibal Barca took with his troops over the French Alps in order to attack Rome.  Over the course of the program’s roughly 50 minute run time, viewers learn that the records of Hannibal’s perilous journey were indeed true.  They also learn the route in question.  What’s more, viewers learn that General Barca and his forces had not one, but at least four different routes from which to choose to get through the intimidating mountain range.  That is a little tidbit that is rarely if ever taught about Hannibal’s journey in schools.  It adds its own depth to the story, and in turn makes the story that much more interesting.  There is also ground research that proves in the long-term that route as well as an interesting revelation about why the war elephants were chosen in the first place.  Hint: It had to do with their feet and their ability to adapt to the weather.  That’s all that will be given away there.  There is even note of the losses incurred over the journey because of its danger.  That note is shared as one member of the research team follows the exact path taken by Hannibal thousands of years ago.  Yes, one of the team actually traces Hannibal’s path.  That is a key addition to the story, too.  Between that addition and everything else shared throughout the story, viewers get here, a presentation that is certain to keep military history buffs and history buffs in general completely engaged from start to end.  That being the case, it forms a solid foundation for the program.  Of course for all that the story presented here does for the program, it is lacking in one key area – the question of WHY Hannibal chose the path that he chose.

The question of why Hannibal chose the path that he chose is answered to a point at the presentation’s finale.  However, the answer isn’t necessarily an answer as it is more or less one of the team speculating than actually stating known fact.  In defense of those behind this program, maybe not enough information has ever been available as to why Hannibal chose the most difficult route possible.  Though, if said information is or has been available, then one is left scratching one’s head as to why this topic was not covered as part of the overall discussion on Hannibal’s journey.  That’s especially important to note because the program does note that the other paths that Hannibal could have taken were much easier than the one that he opted to take.  Regardless of whether or not the information was available to the researchers, the fact that the program largely ignores this key question detracts from the program’s viewing experience – not enough that it makes the program unwatchable, but it certainly would have been nice to at least have someone say that the noted question was researched, but no information was recorded in reference.  With any luck, maybe another episode of SOTD will focus more directly on that question so as to put the finishing touch to the story that was so sadly lacking here.  Moving past this, the doc’s sole con, the program’s pacing rounds out the program’s most important elements, and it does so to its own positive end.

Given, Hannibal’s journey through and over the Alps took only 16 days.  Maybe that is why he took the most difficult route.  Maybe it was the shortest route, albeit the most difficult.  Getting back on track, this program goes into quite a bit of depth as it shows the efforts to determine which route Hannibal took through the Alps.  There is even the noted tracing of Hannibal’s route.  Keeping that in mind, there is a lot of ground covered here both literally and figuratively speaking.  Even as much ground is covered here, at no point does the program ever get ahead of viewers or leave them lost.  Rather, just enough time is spent on each portion of the research with just the right emphasis on each element to keep the doc moving forward solidly.  Coming full circle, that solid pacing ensures each portion of the program gets its own share of attention.  The end result is pacing that does just as much good for the presentation’s whole as the story itself.  In reality, both elements work hand in hand.  When they are coupled, they make Secrets of the Dead: Hannibal in the Alps a presentation that, again, will appeal easily to history and military history buffs alike.

Secrets of the Dead: Hannibal in the Alps is a strong new episode of PBS’ hit history-based series.  It is a presentation that is certain to reach plenty of audiences especially now that it is available on DVD.  That is proven in part through the story of the research team’s efforts to figure out how Hannibal and his forces made their way through the French Alps en route to their attack on Rome.  The pacing of the story ensures even more, viewers’ engagement.  When those two elements are joined, they do plenty to make up for the lack of one key element – the answer to the key question of why Hannibal decided on his specific route.  Each element is important in its own right to the whole of Secrets of the Dead: Hannibal in the Alps.  All things considered, it serves as another reminder of why Secrets of the Dead is one of PBS’ best series and why history and military history buffs alike will appreciate the program.  Secrets of the Dead: Hannibal in the Alps is available now.  More information on this and other episodes of Secrets of the Dead is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/SecretsPBS

 

 

 

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‘Endeavour: Season 5’ U.S. Release Date Announced

Courtesy: itv/PBS Distribution

itv’s hit crime drama Endeavour wrapped its fifth season this past March, and now Season 5 is coming home for the series’ American audiences.

Public Media Distribution will release Masterpiece Mystery!Endeavour Season 5 July 10.  It will be released on DVD ($39.99) and Blu-ray ($49.99).  In the fifth season of the international hit series, it’s 1968, and turmoil is brewing inside and outside the Cowley Police Station.

As Endeavour Morse takes a new recruit named Fancy (Lewis Peek — PoldarkCurse of the PhoenixDartmoor Killing) under his wing, his current partner, Thursday (Roger Allam — V For VendettaPirates of the CaribbeanOn Stranger TidesThe Wind That Shakes The Barley) is considering retirement.  Organized crime is also on the rise in Oxford, causing plenty of concern for Morse and company.

Season 5 opens with an auction of a famed Faberge Egg at Lonsdale College.  It catches the attention of an international thief — and in turn, the police — upon the report of a failed burglary.  That case turns to an even bigger investigation into a serial killer.  Along the way, Morse ends up taking the aforementioned Fancy under his wing, but not entirely willingly.

In ‘Cartouche,’ the second of Season 5’s episodes, a horror movie filming in Oxford crosses with the investigation into the poisoning of a former detective sergeant as Morse and Thursday are led to a theater in their investigation.  It just so happens that the theater is hosting the stars of that horror film at a special event.  Things take an even more unexpected turn when the theater’s organist is also poisoned, leading the movie’s stars to think an Egyptian  curse is to blame for the poisonings.  The reality though, is much darker.

‘Passenger,’ the season’s third episode follows Endeavour as he investigates a woman’s disappearance, fearing it may be linked to a cold case involving the death of a teenager killed years ago.  Thursday meanwhile, is investigating a truck hijacking that is believed to have been linked to organized crime in the city.

The death of a model following a photoshoot on an army base lies at the center of the season’s fourth episode, ‘Colours.’  Things get even more complicated when Sam Thursday — the son of Morse’s partner — is implicated in the model’s death, leading him to be sidelined.  DS Jim Strange takes Thursday’s place during the investigation.  Tensions rise between the pair during the investigation, especially after a second model is found dead and more secrets are revealed.

‘Quartet,’ the season’s fifth episode, is a turning point for Morse and Thursday as Thursday decides to step away and work more from home following an investigation into an attempted assassination.  While the investigation into the assassination attempt is halted, Morse wants to keep investigating, leading him deeper into the underbelly of Oxford than ever before, and revealing even more secrets than ever thought.  Thursday meanwhile, has to face his own issues as he works from home.

The season’s finale continues the turning point in Morse and Thursday’s working relationship after Thursday’s brother returns suddenly.  Meanwhile, Morse is investigating  a case at a school involving the disappearance of a teacher and the appearance of a body.  The discovery leads Morse to question who he can and cannot trust.

While audiences will have to wait until July 10 for Season 5 to be released on DVD and Blu-ray, the wait for its American television premiere is much shorter.  Season 5 is currently scheduled to premiere on PBS stations nationwide June 24.  Audiences can view a full season trailer for Season 5 online now here.

Season 5 is spread across three discs on each platform with a total run time of 540 minutes.  It can be pre-ordered online now via PBS’ online store at reduced prices of $34.99 (DVD) and $44.99 (Blu-ray).  More information on Endeavour is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/shows/endeavour

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/masterpiecepbs

 

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‘SOTD: Scanning The Pyramids’ Is A Rare Miss For PBS

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

The Great Pyramid of King Khufu is one of the most well-known and talked about landmarks around the world.  Known as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Great Pyramid has hidden so many secrets for centuries. So many methods have been used to try to decode the pyramid’s secrets, but so many mysteries still remain.  This past April, PBS presented a new program about the most recent efforts to uncover and answer some of those mysteries in a new episode of its hit history-based series Secrets of the Dead titled Scanning The Pyramids.  The story of those efforts is interesting, though honestly, does pose at least one problem.  It will be discussed shortly.  The visualizations and footage used to help tell the story do help at least to a point.  They will be discussed later.  The program’s pacing rounds out its most important elements.  That’s especially considering the other elements noted here.  Each element is important in its own right to this program.  All things considered, the noted elements make Secrets of the Dead: Scanning the Pyramids worth at least one watch.

Secrets of the Dead: Scanning The Pyramids is an interesting new addition to the rich history of PBS’ hit history-based series.  While not the series’ best offering, it is worth at least one watch.  That is due in part to the episode’s story.  The story starts out focusing on the efforts of a group of researchers to uncover and solve the mysteries of king Khufu’s Great Pyramid, but soon thereafter turns to the methods used to uncover one mystery in question – a single opening on the pyramid that had previously gone unnoticed.  Along the way, there’s a bunch of discussion on particle science and how it was used to determine that apparently there was something behind the entrance.  The thing is that there was no real answer as to what was behind the entrance.  To that end, this episode proves in the long run to just be another focus on the latest efforts to solve another mystery that remains unsolved.  What’s more, all the talk of particle physics and how they play into the efforts to figure out what may or may not be behind that entrance might go over most viewers’ heads and instead keep the attention of a very limited audience.  Along with all of this in mind, considering that the story focuses on the efforts to solve one mystery of one pyramid, the program’s title is not exactly fitting, either.  Rather, it is somewhat misleading.  Pyramids probably should have been reduced to the singular Pyramid instead of the plural in hindsight.  Keeping all of this in mind, the story at the center of Secrets of the Dead: Scanning the Pyramids proves to be worth at least one watch, but sadly proves in the end to be its own mystery even being worth one watch.  While the program’s story is somewhat problematic to its presentation, its footage and visualizations do help – to a point – to keep viewers engaged.

The footage and visualizations help keep viewers engaged as much as they do because they tend to help illustrate the importance of the methods.  For instance, watching the research of what the particle hits can do to help reveal what might be inside the pyramid shows how far research methods have come and what those methods can reveal.  On the same note, seeing the research team actually hard at work inside and outside the pyramid, working to get everything in place shows how important the project is to all involved.  There is even 3D technology of sorts used in the process.  That visualization alone is sure to leave viewers in awe while the internal and side scans of what is believed to be inside the pyramid will interest even the most novice of  Egyptian history buffs.  Keeping this in mind, the footage and visualizations do their own important part here to keep audiences watching.  They, collectively, are not the only important element that keeps viewers engaged.  The program’s pacing puts the final touch on the program.

Considering that this episode of Secrets of the Dead runs roughly 55 minutes and the amount of information shared over that course of time, the program’s pacing proves solid from start to end.  It would have been so easy for the program to get bogged down in its discussion on solar particles hitting Earth and their impact on the team’s research, but thankfully that didn’t happen here.  It would have also been easy to get bogged down in the pyramid’s many mysteries, but even that element was balanced with the program’s other elements, leading to just as much insurance of viewers’ engagement.  All things considered, each segment and every bit of information compliments the prior quite well.  The result is a program that moves fluidly from one element to another, thus keeping viewers at least partially watching, and more so if they are they program’s key audience.  When this is considered alongside the importance of this program’s visualizations and footage, the two elements do just enough to make this program worth at least one watch since the program’s story proves so problematic.  Keeping all of this in mind, Secrets of the Dead: Scanning The Pyramids proves in the end to be a program that, while not the series’ best entry, still worth at least one watch.

Secrets of the Dead: Scanning the Pyramids is an interesting addition to the rich history of PBS’ hit history-based series.  Its story shows that it is definitely aimed at a very specific target audience.  That’s rare for this series, too.  Thankfully, the program’s footage and visualizations couple with its pacing to do just enough to keep viewers engaged at least to a point that they make up for the story’s problems.  Keeping all of this in mind, while this program ultimately proves to not be the best entry from Secrets of the Dead, it is still worth at least one watch.  It is available now and can be ordered online direct via PBS’ online store.  More information on this and other episodes of Secrets of the Dead is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/SecretsPBS

 

 

 

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PBS Distribution Bringing Arthur Fans A New “Present” This Summer

Courtesy: PBS Distribution

PBS Distribution is bringing home another Arthur special this summer.

ArthurD.W. and the Beastly Birthday is scheduled to be released on DVD August 14.  Its upcoming home release will come almost a year after it originally premiered on PBS — August 2, 2017.

The half-hour special takes a page from the beloved book Where The Wild Things Are with a bit of an updated take on that story.  In the case of this story, D.W. “runs away” to the island of Ukubonga when her 5th birthday doesn’t go exactly as she planned.  of course, she doesn’t actually run away.  Meanwhile, Arthur learns his own important lesson when he skips D.W.’s birthday to go to the planetarium with his friends instead.

As an added bonus, D.W. and the Beastly Birthday is complimented by the bonus episode ‘Arthur’s Birthday.’  As the title implies, it centers on Arthur’s birthday.  There’s just one problem.  Muffy Crosswire is having her birthday on the same day as Arthur.  She tells everyone that if they don’t come to her party, they won’t be her friend.  Both Arthur and Muffy learn some valuable lessons here, too.

Arthur: D.W. and the Beastly Birthday‘s total run time is 70 minutes on one disc.  It will retail for MSRP of $6.99, and can be pre-ordered at that price via PBS’ online store.  More information on this new forthcoming DVD is available along with plenty of games, activities, printables and more at:

 

Website: http://www.pbskids.org/arthur

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

 

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PBS Shows Even Other Animals Can Be Rebels In New Three-Part “Nature” Episode

Courtesy: PBS

Truth is, more often than not, stranger than fiction, and that is just as true when it comes to the animal kingdom as in any other aspect of life.  Audiences will see that for themselves firsthand this summer when PBS Distribution releases PBS’ new Nature documentary Natural Born Rebels on DVD.

NatureNatural Born Rebels is currently scheduled to be released on DVD June 5. The 159 minute (2 hours, 39 minutes) documentary presents to viewers some animals whose behavior seems so unbelievable, yet is very real.  That includes a crab that can’t help stealing, a chimpanzee who rules his group with an iron fist and even a rather amorous prairie dog.  As audiences will learn throughout the three-part series, these are just some of the surprising yet very real behaviors that animals display, too.

Over the course of the program, researchers reveal to viewers that these behaviors may be the key to survival in the animal kingdom.  NatureNatural Born Rebels will retails for MSRP of $24.99 and can be pre-ordered at a reduced price of $19.99 via PBS’ online store.

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

 

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/PBSNature

 

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PBS Delves Into Immigration Policy History In New ‘AmEx’ Episode

Courtesy: PBS

Recent news stories about immigration policy have sharply divided America and its people.  While the actions being taken by this nation’s leaders are deplorable to say the least, it is not the first time that such heinous acts have happened, as has been shown in a new episode of PBS’ hit history-based series American Experience.

American ExperienceThe Chinese Exclusion Act examines Republican President Chester A. Arthur’s role in the Chinese Exclusion Act, which suspended Chinese labor immigration into the United States.  Arthur vetoed the original act, but signed the second draft, which reduced the immigration ban from 20 years to 10.  The bill also prevented Chinese citizens already living in the United States from becoming full citizens, something else that President Arthur disliked.

The Chinese Exclusion Act marked the first time that the American government prevented the immigration of people of any certain ethnic group or nationality, but would not be the last. Presidents who followed Arthur would use their own power to stop such bills from moving through and becoming law.  Now with the current immigration issues happening in America, this episode of American Experience proves as timely as ever.  A trailer for this special episode is streaming online now here.

It is currently scheduled to be released on DVD June 5 and to retail for MSRP of $24.99  The 163-minute program can be pre-ordered online now at a reduced price of $19.99 via PBS’ online store.  More information on this and other episodes of American Experience is available online now at:

 

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

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/AmexperiencePBS

 

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PBS Follows Hannibal’s Journey Across The Alps In New Episode of ‘Secrets Of The Dead’

Courtesy: PBS

Hannibal’s journey along the Alps along with his forces is one of the most talked about stories from history.  Throughout the ages, no one has been able to definitively say which path the infamous General took en route to Rome.That is until now.

PBS delves into that story in a new episode of its hit history-based series Secrets of the Dead.  Originally aired this past April, it is currently scheduled to be released on DVD June 5.  The roughly 50-minute program follows a group of researchers as the group works to tell once and for all how Hannibal — with his 30,000 troops, 15,000 horses and 37 war elephants — managed to cross the Alps in just 16 days en route to his attack on Rome.

Secrets of the DeadHannibal in the Alps will retail for MSRP of $24.99, but can be pre-ordered now at a reduced price of $19.99 via PBS’ online store.  A trailer for this episode of Secrets of the Dead is streaming online now here. More information on this and other episodes of Secrets of the Dead is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/SecretsPBS

 

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