‘Endeavour’ Reaches A Low Point In Its Seventh Season

Courtesy: itv/PBS Distribution/PBS

British television company itv’s hit crime drama Endeavour will have an eight season. Star Shaun Evans, who portrays the series’ eponymous character, confirmed the information late last month after the series’ seventh season officially wrapped on PBS and released domestically to DVD and Blu-ray.  When Season Eight starts recording is anyone’s guess.  While audiences await the premiere of Season Eight, they do have Season Seven to take in – as noted – on DVD and Blu-ray.  The show’s seventh season was an interesting point in the series’ run.  That is due in part to its writing.  That item will be addressed shortly.  The bonus content that accompanies Season Seven in its home release is just as important to note in examining the season as the writing, so it will be discussed a little later.  Considering the content featured in this latest season, the set’s average price point is also of note.  It will be examined later, too.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the set.  All things considered, they make this latest season and its home release a key moment in the history of Endeavour.

The recently wrapped seventh season of itv’s hit crime drama Endeavour is an intriguing presentation.  That is due in part to its writing.  Unlike the series’ first six seasons, this season was presented in a serial fashion, according to Evans during a recent interview.  He pointed out that (thankfully) it is an approach that will not be taken again in the series’ eighth season.  The story opens and closes with Endeavour Morse attending the opera in Venice.  It is there that he first meets his new love interest Violetta (Stephanie Leonidas – Killjoys, Defiance, American Gothic).  Upon meeting Violetta, Morse becomes embroiled in what he thinks is an affair with a married woman, but is much more than that, as he eventually learns.  This critic will not reveal the end result of the duo’s tryst, but that the writers thought this plot element was needed is troubling.  Even his relationship issues in previous seasons with Joan Thursday (Sara Vickers – Watchmen, Privates, Shetland) were handled better than those with Violetta.  This latest romance story is just so contrived and overly commonplace for stories.  It felt so forced.  The revelation made in the season finale – which also is left here for audiences to discover for themselves – feels just as contrived as the romance subplot itself.  That revelation ties into the season’s overarching story about the homicides, which leads to even more contrivance because of how many people were involved in the crimes.  One can’t help but do a face palm as Endeavour traces all of the clues, which lead back to the ringmaster.

While the writing in general clearly caused its own share of problems this season, it did not doom the season.  Audiences will remain engaged throughout as they watch the working and personal relationship between Morse and Thursday become strained.  That strain is caused by the duo’s own distinct personalities and the related fashion in which they investigate the cases.  The only matter there is that considering how Season Seven ended, audiences were left wondering if Thursday and Morse had mended their proverbial fences.  At one point, the pair clashed, with Morse stating that he would put in for a transfer once the cases were solved.  However, it is unknown if that happened in the last scene of the season finale.  Thursday did search out Morse in that final episodes closing minutes, and he did find him.  However, audiences are still left hanging once Thursday locates Morse.  So considering that, there is a clear need for an eighth season if only for the purpose of tying up that loose end.

The only real strong writing point in this season comes in the season’s second episode, “Raga.”  It presents the rising tensions between the British community and Indian immigrants to Great Britain in the 1970s.  Now whether this matter is historically accurate is worth investigating.  That aside, it is a matter that echoes what is happening around the world today, with tensions rising everywhere against minority groups.  That makes suspension of disbelief relatively easy, at least until the killer reveals his motivation for committing his crime.  That revelation is a bit contrived in its own right.    Between this matter, the issue raised by the loose end between Morse and Thursday’s relationship, and the forgettable story involving Morse and Violetta, the writing this season just suffered all the way around.  One can only hope that the show’s writers will make up for those issues in the series’ eighth season.

The writing featured in the seventh season of Endeavour presents quite the quandary for the series, as it does something that has never been done.  Hopefully it will not be repeated in Season Eight, either.  It is just one of the concerns raised in this season, too.  The bonus features, or really lack thereof, poses its own problems.  Accompanying the episodes in this season is a series of vignettes in which various topics, such as the costuming and makeup, Morse’s relationship with Thursday, and Evans once again taking on a directorial role in the series are discussed.  Each discussion is very brief, running no more than a couple of minutes at best.  Little is really mentioned in the extra focus on Morse and Thursday that was not already known from the season’s writing.  Even the opening discussion about Morse’s evolution as a character offers little extra for viewers.  The most insightful of the bonus discussions come in the form of Evans’ discussion on directing and that of the costuming and makeup.  The other discussions are in reality, extraneous.  Viewers will be glad to see Evans’ own appreciation for what it takes to get the right angles, the impact of lighting for a scene’s mood, and other related topics.  His work behind the lens pays off, too, as is seen in the noted areas, as well as in the acting in the key episode.  The discussion on the costuming and makeup shows the lengths to which those behind the lens went to make sure that the series’ costumes and backdrops looked the part for the 1970s.  The mention of the effort to make Leonidas look like famed actress Sophia Loren in terms of her fashion shows even more, the attempts to maintain the look of the times.  It is just too bad that the discussion on making the show reflect the look of the times was not more in-depth.  For that matter, it’s too bad that none of the bonus content was more in-depth.  It would have been nice to have had some discussion on who made the decision to make Season Seven a serial season, why the writers decided to make that romance story between Violetta and Morse the center of the show, as well as where things will go between Morse and Thursday.  Sadly, that lack of extra information detracts from the show’s presentation in its recent home release even more.  Considering everything noted about the content featured in the seventh season of Endeavour, the set’s average point for its DVD and Blu-ray presentation makes for its own interest.

The average price point for Endeavour’s DVD presentation is $28.11 and its Blu-ray presentation, $33.25.  The DVD was not listed at Target, but the Blu-ray platform was.  Keeping all of that in mind, the DVD price point was obtained by averaging price listings at Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Books-A-Million, and PBS’ online store.  The Blu-ray price point was reached by averaging prices at the noted retailers as well as at Target.  Amazon presents the least expensive listing at $22.99.  Best Buy and Barnes & Noble Booksellers offer prices below that average at $22.99 and $24.99 respectively.  Walmart’s listing of $28.23 is just above the average, while Books-A-Million far exceeds that number at $44.99.  PBS’ regular listing of $34.99 also far exceeds the average, as does its sale price of $29.99.  Books-A-Million also far exceeds the average price point for the season’s Blu-ray presentation, at $44.99 along with PBS’ listing of $39.99.  Amazon and Walmart, which each list the season’s Blu-ray set at $27.64 offer the least expensive pricing while Target and Best Buy offer a slightly higher price at $27.99.  Barnes & Noble Booksellers reaches the high end with a listing of $31.49.  Noting the set’s average and separate price listings here is important, again, because of the content featured (and not featured) in the set.  The DVD price listing would have been more attractive at maybe $25 and the Blu-ray $30 if not maybe a little less considering, again, how little bonus content is featured in the set, and how largely forgettable this season’s stories are in whole.  That is in comparison to the show’s first six seasons, each of which are so much more enjoyable in their own right.  Keeping everything noted here in mind, the seventh season of Endeavour is the series’ lowest point.  Thankfully there is at least one more season left, and hopefully it will make up for everything wrong with this season.

The seventh season of itv’s Endeavour is the least of the show’s seasons so far. That is due in part to the season’s writing.  The writing presents a season-long story that feels so forced and contrived from beginning to end.  It also leaves at least one major question unanswered.  That question is whether Morse and Thursday’s professional and personal relationship will heal following the season’s events.  The very limited bonus content poses its own problem for the set’s presentation, too.  They give viewers a glimpse behind the writing and lenses, but little more than that.  Considering everything noted here, the average price points for the season’s DVD and Blu-ray sets seem a bit high, as do the separate listings.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the season’s set.  All things considered, they make this season a presentation that hopefully will not be repeated in the series’ eighth season, whenever it launches.

More information on Endeavour is available online now at:

 

 

 

Websitehttp://www.pbs.org/masterpiece

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PBS Announces Streaming Date For ‘Endeavour: Season Seven’

Courtesy: itv/PBS Distribution/PBS

PBS Distribution is bringing the latest season of the crime drama Endeavour to its streaming service.

The seventh season of the British crime drama is scheduled to stream through the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel Aug. 9.  The channel is available with a subscription to Amazon Prime and Prime Video.  Subscription to the noted services is $5.99/month.

The seventh season of Endeavour is believed by many to possibly be the last for the hit series.  Opening on New Year’s Eve 1969, the three-episode season finds things back to some semblance of normalcy among Endeavour and his co-workers following the events of Season Six.

Chief Superintendent Bright is back in charge, and while new relationships will grow, friends already established will face their own new challenges.

The 1970s opens for the staff of Castlegate CID with the discovery of a body at the canal towpath on New Year’s Day.  The only clue that the investigators have to go on in the case is a witness who alleges having heard whistling just before the crime happened.

Pre-orders are open now for the home release of EndeavourSeason Seven on DVD an Blu-ray.  Its home release is scheduled for Aug. 25.

More information on Endeavour is available online now at:

 

 

 

Websitehttp://www.pbs.org/masterpiece

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/masterpiecepbs

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/masterpiecepbs

 

 

 

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‘Endeavour’ Remains Among TV’s Top Crime Dramas In Its Sixth Season

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

British TV network itv’s hit crime drama Endeavour will return for a seventh season.  The announcement was recently made on PBS’ official Masterpiece website following the airing of the finale for the series’ sixth season on PBS.  That means that fans of the famed sleuth will have at least one more season to enjoy.  The announcement, which is posted at to.pbs.org/31PxG7Z, states the seventh season will air sometime in 2020, but does not specify the air date for the season premiere.  As audiences wait for the premiere of Season Seven, they can enjoy the series’ sixth season on DVD and Blu-ray.  Released July 9, this latest season is another positive addition to the ongoing series.  That is due in part to the season’s writing, which will be addressed shortly.  The work of the series’ cast adds even more interest and appeal to the season.  It will be addressed a little later.  The bonus content featured with the season’s home release rounds out its most important elements.  It will also be addressed later.  Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of the season’s home presentation.  All things considered, they make the collection another positive offering from itv and PBS.

The recently released sixth season of EndeavourSeason Six is yet another positive addition to the series.  That is proven in part through the season’s writing.  Audiences will note over the course of season six, that the series’ writers do not just rely on all of the same storylines that made up the series’ first five season in terms of the crimes.  To top it off, the character development – that ongoing storyline that started in Season One – continues to evolve throughout this season, too.  In regards to the crimes featured throughout each of the season’s four episodes, fans of Law & Order SVU will find appealing the story in the season premiere, “Pylon.”  The disappearance of a young girl leads Endeavour Morse and his now former partner DI Friday to an investigation into the Thames Valley’s seedy underworld of perverts, which leads to a years-old cold case being solved.  The suspect in the case is someone that no one would have expected.  The noted girl is eventually found, and her cause of death is just as unexpected.  It won’t be given away here, but it is a plot element that has not been used up to this point in the series.  The season’s second episode, “Apollo,” is a tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission.  It serves as the basis of a murder mystery that also pays tribute to the late great Gerry Anderson and all of his supermarionation series.  The murder happens, as it turns out, because of a love triangle between three people who are working on the fictional puppet-based series.  “Confection,” the season’s third episode, is another whodunit centered on a romantic tryst.  The season finale “Duguello” takes the season out on a bang as it takes in the all-too-familiar crime drama plot elements of corrupt cops and government officials for its basis.  That is the extent of what will be given away here, but its outcome plays a key role in what happens at the Thames Valley headquarters.  Again that element will be left for viewers to discover for themselves.  All four stories offer more than their own share of entertainment and engagement for crime drama fans on both sides of the Atlantic.  The fact that the writers continued on this season, to bring viewers new, twist-filled stories that will keep them guessing right to the end is in itself just one key element of the season’s writing.  The writing involved with the season’s secondary story elements is just as important to note as that of the primary stories.

The writing involved with the season’s secondary stories – Morse’s relationship with Friday, Friday’s relationship with his (and Endeavour’s) new boss, and even Friday’s relationship with his own wife adds its own share of entertainment and engagement to this season.  The writers are to be commended for how they handled each element within the bigger picture of the season.  The change in Morse and Friday’s relationship is gradual and subtle.  That subtlety in this storyline  does just enough to leave viewers watching to see when the longtime friends’ friendship will finally reach its breaking point (and it does, too).  In the same breath, Friday’s relationship with his wife creates its own share of drama too because of the subtlety in how it was approached.  The balance of these secondary story lines with the primary story lines involving the crimes makes for more than enough entertainment and engagement.  It shows once again why Endeavour remains one of the best crime dramas on television today if not the absolute best.  While the writing at the center of Season Six does more than its share to keep viewers entertained and engaged, it is only one part of what makes this season work so well.  The work of the show’s cast does just as much to make it so appealing.

As noted, the story line involving Friday and Morse’s friendship creates its own interest for viewers.  While the work of the show’s writing team deserves its own accolades for that interest, stars Shaun Evans (Morse) and Roger Allam (Friday) deserves its own share of credit, too.  It would have been so easy for the pair to go over the top as tensions rose between their characters, but being the consummate professionals that they are, that never happened.  The same can be said of Allam’s work as he works on-screen alongside new co-star Simon Harrison (DCI Ronnie Box).  The duo’s work together creates just the right amount of tension as their partnership progresses.  Those developments play expertly off of the aforementioned work between Allam and Evans for a bigger developing story that shows in whole, just how hard the cast worked to keep viewers watching.  Much the same could be said of Allam’s interaction on camera with co-star Caroline O’Neill, who plays Thursday’s wife Win.  As the couple’s marriage seems to break down due to Thursday’s work life, it would have been just as easy for the pair to ham it up.  Thankfully that didn’t happen in this case, either.  The result is even more engagement for viewers.  All things considered here, the cast’s work interpreting each script within this season makes for just as much entertainment and engagement for viewers as the stories that form the season’s basis.  For all that it does to add to the season’s enjoyment, the work of the cast is not the last of the season’s most important elements.  The bonus content that is featured with the season’s home release rounds out its most important elements.

The bonus content featured within the home release of EndeavourSeason Six is a series of featurettes that finds the cast discussing various aspects of the season.  Harrison, Allam and Richard Riddell sit down to talk about the stylistic difference in law enforcement between Morse, Jango and Box in one of the featurettes.  The featurette in question even presents a tribute to the famed British crime drama The Sweeney as Harrison discusses Box’s methodology.  Fans of that series (which was the basis for FX’s former hit crime drama The Shield) will appreciate this mention, and in turn the noted relationships between Friday and Box, Friday and Morse and Box and Morse.  In yet another of the bonuses, the cast talks about the tribute to Gerry Anderson in the episode “Apollo.”  Viewers will be interested to learn about the episode’s tie to Anderson’s timeless series Thunderbirds with this episode, as well as the fact that the puppeteers had to be trained (yes, trained) in how to handle the puppets for certain scenes within the episode.  There are also brief vignettes with certain cast members that features those cast members sharing fond thoughts about their characters and scenes that they recorded for Season Six.  Some of those scenes made the final cut while others weren’t so lucky.  All things considered here, the bonus content featured with the home release of Season Six is brief, but still adds its own share of entertainment and insight to the whole of the season.  When that is considered alongside the engagement and entertainment guaranteed through the season’s acting and writing, it becomes no mystery why the sixth season of Endeavour is another success for the series.

EndeavourSeason Six is another strong new entry in the long-running crime drama’s run.  That is proven in part through the writing that went into the series.  Both the primary and secondary story lines show the strength of said writing.  The work of the series’ cast is just as strong as the writing.  The bonus content, though brief, adds its own entertainment and insight to the whole of the season’s presentation.  Each item is important in its own way to the season’s whole.  All things considered, they show why Endeavour continues to be one of television’s top crime dramas in its sixth season, if not the best.  More information on Endeavour is available online now at:

 

 

 

Websitehttp://www.pbs.org/masterpiece

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Twitterhttp://twitter.com/masterpiecepbs

 

 

 

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PBS Distribution Announces ‘Endeavour: Season Six’ Release Date

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

PBS Distribution is bringing the sixth season of the British crime drama Endeavour home next week.

EndeavourSeason 6 is scheduled for release July 9 on DVD and Blu-ray.  Shaun Evans returns as the series’ titular character Endeavour Morse alongside co-star Roger Allman, who portrays Detective Inspector Fred Thursday for four more episodes of murder and mystery.

Season Six picks up right where Season Five left off.  The Oxford City Police Department has been dissolved and combined with the Thames Valley Constabulary.  Detective Constable George Fancy remains in the minds of everybody from the Oxford City Police Department, even as the longtime friends and co-workers are all filling new roles in the new merger of departments.

In the season premiere — “Pylon” — Morse is back in uniform, working a quiet, rural region of Oxford when he discovers the body of a missing schoolgirl.  Problems within the Castle Gate CID leave Endeavour to take the lead on the case and prove the innocence of a teenage suspect and find the girl’s real killer.

Episode Two — “Apollo: — is Evans’ directorial debut.  The story in this episode ties the impending Apollo 11 mission to the death of a young astrophysicist and his girlfriend.  The couple’s death in a car accident seems at first, to be completely accidental.  However, a deeper investigation leads to the suspicion of foul play.  In turn, Morse must get Thursday’s help to investigate and solve the case.

In Episode Three — “Confection” — Morse investigates the death of a successful chocolate factory owner.  The investigation leads Morse to connect the confectioner’s death to another murder — that of a young, single mother.

The season finale — “Duguello” — centers on the death of a librarian, leaving Morse and Thursday to become their own Holmes and Watson.  All the pair has to go on in their investigation is a pair of muddy boot prints.  Morse’s investigation leads to an unlikely suspect.

EndeavourSeason 6 will retail for MSRP of $39.99 on DVD and $49.99 on Blu-ray.  the DVD can be pre-ordered now at a reduced price of $34.99 and the Blu-ray at a reduced price of $44.99 via PBS’ online store. More information on Endeavour is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.pbs.org/masterpiece

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/masterpiecepbs

 

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No Joke, Time Life’s Robin Williams Retrospective Is 2018’s Top New Box Set For Grown-Ups

Courtesy: Time Life

The final hours of 2018 are upon us, and with those final hours nearing their end, so do Phil’s Picks’ annual year-ender lists.  One of this year’s final yea-enders examines the year’s top new box sets for grown-ups.

Grown-up audiences have quite a few options from which to choose this year in regards to box sets.  From the multitude of dramas turned out by CBS to the wider variety of titles released via PBS to material released via Time Life, audiences had plenty to enjoy this year.

This year’s list was actually relatively easy to develop even with the number of titles released for grown-ups.  Taking the top spot in this year’s list of best new DVD/BD Box Sets for Grown-Ups is Time Life’s Robin Williams retrospective, Comic Genius.  The multi-disc set, which spans two separate volumes, offers hours of entertainment while chronicling Williams’ evolution as a comedian.  This set is well worth the money and time.

The second spot in this year’s list goes to the second season of PBS’ British import crime drama Endeavour.  From its debut season years ago to this season, the prequel series to Inspector Morse has proven to be so infectious and head and shoulders above its American counteraprts.  That is thanks to its strong writing.

The bronze in this year’s list goes to the debut season of The CW’s Black Lightning.  The CW is filled out by so many superhero series today that it should re-brand itself as “The DC/Superhero Network” — note the sarcasm here — and even with all of the shows that it airs, this series stood out proudly in its first season thanks to its writing, acting and bonus material.

Along with these three titles, is a bevy of other wide-ranging titles, such as the second season of NBC’s The Good Place, the debut season of PBS’ new cooking series Milk Street and the fourth season of the network’s family history series Finding Your Roots along with Shout! Factory’s recently released Super SentaiGojin Sentai Jetman — The Complete Series and plenty of other titles.  As always, the top 10 titles on the list are just that, while the five that follow are honorable mentions, making a total of 15 titles.

Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks 2018 Top 10 New Grown-Up DVD/BD Box Sets.

PHIL’S PICKS 2018 TOP 10 NEW GROWN-UP DVD/BD BOX SETS

  1. Robin WilliamsComic Genius
  2. EndeavourSeason Five
  3. Black LightningSeason One
  4. Finding Your RootsSeason Four
  5. Milk StreetSeason One
  6. The Good PlaceSeason Two
  7. Super SentaiGojin Sentai Jetman — The Complete Series
  8. The Durells in Corfu: Season Three
  9. Rowan & Martin’s LaughInThe Complete Series
  10. Star Trek DiscoverySeason One
  11. Rowan & Martin’s LaughInThe Complete Second Season
  12. Rowan & Martin’s LaughInThe Complete Third Season
  13. Rowan & Martin’s LaughInThe Complete Fourth Season
  14. Rown & Martin’s LaughInThe Complete Fifth Season
  15. Rowan & Martin’s LaughInThe Complete Sixth Season

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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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PBS’ Vietnam War Docu-Series Is A Timeless Look At A Critical Conflict

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

The clock is ticking on the year.  In a little more than 24 hours, 2017 will finally winding down and the world will be looking forward to 2018.  Before those final hours pass by, there’s still work to be done from Phil’s Picks in the year-ender department.  That work includes year-enders for the year’s top new box sets for grown-up audiences.  In saying grown-ups, that does not necessarily mean solely that the material is inappropriate for younger viewers, but that it might simply not appeal to younger viewers because of the issue of their ability to relate to the material in question.

PBS and Shout! Factory dominate this critic’s list this year with a rather wide array of titles with PBS’ new miniseries doc The Vietnam War taking top honors.  Whether or not one is a military or even history buff, this set is a must see.  Period.  The fourth season of PBS’ British import crime drama Endeavour is also on the list alongside new releases such as Shout! Factory’s Green AcresThe Complete SeriesThe Good PlaceSeason 1 and Ernie Kovacs retrospective Take A Good Look.  Smithsonian Channel even gets some nods with the first two seasons of Air Warriors and the first season of Sports Detectives.  Even mpi Media Group’s Gerry Anderson collection The Lost Worlds of Gerry Anderson is on this critic’s list.

As with every previous list from Phil’s Picks, this list features this critic’s Top 10 New Grown-Up Box Sets plus five additional honorable mention titles for a total of 15 titles.  Developing this list was anything but easy, but every title included was well deserving of its place in the list.  that being said, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks 2017 Top 10 New Grown-Up DVD/BD Box Sets.

PHIL’S PICKS 2017 TOP 10 NEW GROWN-UP DVDs/BDs

  1. The Vietnam WarA Film By Ken Burns and Lynn Novick
  2. EndeavourSeason 4
  3. Green AcresThe Complete Series
  4. Sports DetectivesSeason 1
  5. Mystery Science Theater 3000 Vol. XXXVIII
  6. Mystery Science Theater 3000 Vol. XXXIX
  7. Ernie KovacsTake A Good Look
  8. The Good PlaceSeason 1
  9. The Lost Worlds of Gerry Anderson
  10. Air WarriorsSeason 1
  11. Air WarriorsSeason 2
  12. Just Shoot MeThe Complete Series
  13. Ned & StaceyThe Complete Series
  14. IceSeason 1
  15. From Dusk Till DawnSeason 3

That’s it for this list, but still not it for this year’s new DVD and BD titles.  Still up for grabs are spots on Phil’s PIcks 2017 Top 10 New Family DVD/BD Box Sets.  That list is nearly compiled and will be posted ASAP, so stay tuned!

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

Public Media Distribution Announces ‘Endeavour: Season 4’ Domestic Release Date

Courtesy: itv/Public media Distribution/PBS

Public Media Distribution is bringing home the fourth season of the hit British crime drama Endeavour this summer.

Endeavour: Season Four will be released Sept. 4, just as summer starts to wind down and the weather starts to change, giving audiences plenty to enjoy through the rest of this year.  Season 4 picks up right where Season 3 left off with the young Detective Morse and his partner Thursday dealing with more personal and work issues.

Morse waits in the series fourth season for the results of his Sergeant’s exam at work while dealing with emotional issues off the job.  Thursday and Win have their own issues as Sam has left for the army and Joan has gone off to points unknown.

Season 4’s four episodes—‘Game,’ ‘Canticle,’ ‘Lazaretto,’ and ‘Harvest’—are spread across two discs, totaling 480 minutes.  The DVD will retail for MSRP of $34.99 and the Blu-ray for 44.99.  It will be listed soon online via PBS’ online store.  More information on this and other PBS Masterpiece series is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.pbs.org/masterpiece

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/masterpiecepbs

 

 

 

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.

Inspector Lewis’ Seventh Series Is A Welcome Return For One Of Television’s Greatest Crime Dramas

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

Never say never.  Famous words.  Everybody has said or heard these words at one time or another.  That includes the world of popular entertainment.  So it goes without saying that when itv wrapped Inspector Lewis in its sixth series in 2013 the instant reaction was for audiences to say never say never.  Low and behold Inspector Lewis returned earlier this year overseas for its seventh series.  And PBS brought in Series Seven this fall.  Now, for those that weren’t lucky enough to see Series Seven, PBS and ITV have made it available both on DVD and Blu-ray.  Inspector Lewis Series Seven is a welcome return for what has become over the years one of the greatest crime dramas on television.  The proof lies first and foremost in the writing behind each of the series’ episodes.  The writing even in these three episodes is just as strong as in earlier episodes.  The acting on the part of lead stars Kevin Whaley and Laurence Fox.  The same can be said of new addition Angela Griffin as DS Lizzie Maddox.  Whately and Fox haven’t lost a step.  And Griffin brings in a whole new dynamic to the program that makes it even more enjoyable.  The writing and acting are of equal importance to the overall presentation of Inspector Lewis Series Seven.  Also to be considered to the success and enjoyment of this installment of Inspector Lewis is the fact that it maintains the standard set by the show years ago when Inspector Lewis in terms of not using overt sex, blood, and violence unlike the crime dramas that dominate American television.  That the show’s heads would maintain that standard all these years later is a testament to their dedication to the show’s fan base.  It rounds out the whole thing, making it again well deserving of a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new box sets.

When itv wrapped Series Six of Inspector Lewis, it wasn’t too much of a forgone conclusion that somewhere along the line, Inspector Lewis would be back in some form or fashion regardless of whether or not it would be part of the series that made him such a beloved figure.  That’s especially the case considering the success of the series’ prequel series Endeavour.  So seeing Inspector Lewis’ return for a seventh series was quite the welcome return albeit not too surprising.  It goes without saying that expectations were high when it was even announced that Inspector Lewis would in fact return for a seventh season.  And thankfully this series has lived up to the hype.  It has lived up to the hype primarily through the writing behind each of the series’ three episodes.  One of the key examples of how the writing this time out keeps Inspector Lewis such a fan favorite comes in the episode “The Lions of Nemea.”  There are more than enough twists and turns in this episode to keep audiences guessing right up to the end.  The mystery starts right off the top when a well-respected professor is intentionally hit by a mystery driver while on his bike.  From there, the murder of a student at the same university where that professor works deepens the mystery even more.  The revelations of illicit affairs, literary fraud, and murder will keep audiences on the edge of their seats trying to solve the mystery themselves.  In the series’ closer, audiences’ minds are left twisted when one of Lewis’ most notorious cases comes back to haunt him and even threaten his career.  Surprisingly enough, the story’s closing moments leave the door wide open for another collection of episodes should the show’s heads opt for it to happen.  Even in the series’ opening episode “Entry Wounds” audiences will agree to the strength of the show’s writing.  Lewis’ desire to return to the force is made entirely believable thanks to the show’s writers.  What’s more, the growing relationship between Lewis and Hathaway and their new partner make this series all the more enjoyable.  Audiences will laugh at little jokes tossed in here and there in regards to Maddox’s having to answer to both detectives.  At one point, Maddox is asked by another officer how things are going with her boss. Her response is a flat “which one?”  One can’t help but laugh at her deadpan delivery of that simple line.  Again, the writers put the line at just the right moment to make it a good lighthearted break from the seriousness of investigating the crime at hand.  It’s just one of a number of moments that along with the stories themselves, exemplifies the strength of this series’ episodes.

Lewis and Hathaway built a strong working relationship and an equally solid friendship throughout the course of Inspector Lewis’ first six series.  The addition of Lizzie Maddox adds a whole new dynamic to the pair’s relationship.  It is highlighted expertly throughout the course of all three episodes in this series.  In terms of the show’s writing, the trio’s partnership and their friendship play a big role in the success of the episodes’ writing.  If not for the acting on the part of the trio though, the writing in regards to the trio’s personal and professional relationship would be moot.  Luckily, the chemistry developed by Laurence Fox and Kevin Whaley during the duo’s original run together had not lost anything in these episodes.  Whether sharing a joke in one of their more lighthearted moments or handling a tougher topic in one of their more serious moments, both men are fully believable.  Fox and Laurence even make believable even the slight tension in Lewis’ return before their characters reconnect as if not a day had been missed.  Angela Griffin is just as believable even in what very quickly becomes more of a supporting role.  Should Inspector Lewis pull off a miracle and see an eighth series, it would be interesting to see Maddox develop even more into her own character.  If an eighth series is not in the books, then it can at least be said of Griffin that she adds her own enjoyment to the overall product thanks to her own acting.  All three together pull viewers into their world, making suspension of disbelief so simple along the way.  The end result of the trio’s acting, and its interpretation of the scripts, is total immersion in and enjoyment of all three ninety-minute episodes.  It serves to show yet again why Inspector Lewis is just as enjoyable in its seventh series as in its first.

The scripts behind Inspector Lewis’ seventh series and the acting on the part of its veteran cast both play pivotal roles in the success of this series’ episodes.  Fox, Whately, and newcomer Griffin expertly interpret each episode’s script and in turn fully immerses viewers in each story.  The scripts themselves will keep audiences fully engaged and guessing right up to their final moments.  As if that isn’t enough, the episodes that make up Series Seven maintain the high standard set by the show’s previous series.  Simply put, Inspector Lewis remained in its seventh series the polar opposite of the crime dramas that populate American commercial networks.  There is no overt sexuality.  There is no unnecessary violence, gunplay, etc.  And the amount of blood and gore is kept to the same minimum as in the show’s previous series.  Again, this is the total opposite of all of the crime dramas that are so popular on American television.  Rather, the show continued here to focus on story and character development as is evident in the episodes’ scripts and the acting on the part of the cast.  Those factors, together with the continued high standard of content overall, round out the reasons that Inspector Lewis remains such a hit in its seventh series.  They collectively show once more why this series is quite well-deserving of a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new box sets.

Inspector Lewis: Series Seven is available now on DVD and Blu-ray.  It can be ordered online direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=46782166&cp=&sr=1&kw=inspector+lewis&origkw=Inspector+Lewis&parentPage=search.  More information on Inspector Lewis is available online now at:

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/lewis/

Facebook: http://twitter.com/masterpiecepbs

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

Endeavour Remains Television’s Top Crime Drama In Its Second Season

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

Late this summer PBS released the complete second series of itv’s hit crime drama Endeavour to the masses.  The four-episode season from the British television network proved to be such a hit among audiences that only a couple months after its release on DVD and Blu-ray, itv awarded the series with a full-season renewal for a third series.  There is currently no word on when Series Three will be broadcast.  But speculation is that fans won’t see new episodes until sometime in 2015.  That being the case, this summer’s release of Endeavour Series 2 will most definitely tide over audiences.  Series creator/writer/executive producer Russell Lewis has taken the success of the show’s first series /season and built quite solidly upon it in this collection of episodes making it one of this year’s best new box sets for grown-ups.  Lewis has built on the success of Endeavour’s first season first and foremost through his solid writing.  The stand-alone stories that make up each of the four episodes will keep audiences just as much on the edge of their seats as in the show’s first series/season.  Audiences that haven’t yet seen this series/season will note that Lewis has also incorporated a serial element of sorts to the show; a serial element that hopefully will not overshadow the show’s stand-alone element when it returns in 2015.  Luckily in the case of this series the two elements are actually quite well-balanced.  It’s one more reason that audiences will enjoy this series.  The acting on the part of Shaun Evans and his cast mates throughout each of this season’s episodes completes the whole experience.  Evans and company expertly interpret the episodes’ scripts and help to completely immerse audiences in the stories.  Together with the gripping primary story lines and the newly added secondary, the acting proves without a shadow of a doubt once more why Endeavour remains better than any of the crime dramas currently polluting the “Big 4” and the major American cable networks now in its second series/season.

British television network itv’s crime drama Endeavour proved to be a surprise hit in its debut season last year.  Its second series has proven to be even more of a hit both on television and on DVD and Blu-ray.  The central reason for that success is the writing.  The stories crafted by Russell Lewis for this outing are just as gripping as those developed for the show’s first season.  Season opener “Trove” picks up right where the series left off in its first season with Morse having returned from his brush with death in “Home.”  Audiences don’t know it at this point, but the happy working relationship that Morse has with Police Chief Superintendent Reginald Bright (Anton Lesser) is on the verge of a downturn beginning with this episode.  It’s part of the season’s secondary writing that makes this season even more enjoyable and engaging.  It will be discussed later.  Getting back to the primary writing, this season’s second episode proves just as much why the primary writing keeps the show so enjoyable.  “Nocturne” sees Morse investigating a series of murders that are linked to an old ghost story.  And in “Sway” audiences are presented with a story that seems to have been influenced at least to some degree by the stories of Jack The Ripper.  The comparisons are subtle.  But they are there.  “Neverland,” the season finale is perhaps the most gripping of the season’s episodes.  That is because it highlights the secondary writing that comes into play this season.  As Morse investigates a trio of murders, he uncovers corruption within the highest levels of Oxford’s society and even within the very police force for which he works.  It leads to not just one but two cliffhangers that are sure to leave viewers waiting anxiously for Endeavour’s third season.  There are those that have argued and who will, that the use of such a story element as these cliffhangers are far too below the standard set by Lewis in the series’ first season.  Those that are open-minded enough though, will see the value in these elements.  They keep anticipation high for the show’s third season.  It’s also only the first time that Lewis has used a cliffhanger at all.  So it goes without saying that Lewis has been tasteful in using it.  Lewis can easily be forgiven and even applauded for that.  Now the key is for itv to not leave audiences waiting too long for the show’s third season.  If network execs sit on their hands too long, the use of the dual cliffhangers will work against them and Lewis.  That’s because if itv waits too long to premiere Season Three, anticipation might have waned too much and such solid writing would have proven to be all for naught.

Endeavour’s second season proves in the long run to be quite a step up from the series’ first season.  That is not meant in any way to discount its first season.  Its first season was enjoyable in its own right.  But this season has taken the success of that season and built on it in a big way.  That is thanks in large part to Russell Lewis’ writing.  The stories presented in this season each keep audiences engaged from start to finish.  It is in itself a tribute to Lewis’ attention to detail.  The secondary writing that went into these episodes is just as much of a positive worth noting this season.  Lewis has incorporated a romantic interest for Morse this season.  Most interesting to note here is that his love interest is black.  Being that the series is supposed to take place in the 1960s–the civil rights era.  It is interesting to see the cultural acceptance of such a relationship in the U.K. verses the lack thereof in the United States.  It’s just one of the secondary story elements that Lewis incorporates into this season’s episodes that makes them so enjoyable.  The other equally important story element incorporated into Season Two is the gradually degrading relationship between Morse and certain individuals inside the police force.  Right from the season premiere to its finale, audiences see things really start to change especially between Morse and Police Chief Superintendent Reginald Bright.  The ultimate revelation as to Bright’s role in this season’s events makes him a perfectly despicable character in the long run.  It lets audiences know that something big is going to happen to him in the show’s third season.  It basically lets audiences know that Bright will likely get what’s coming to him in Season Three.  Here’s to hoping that in fact does happen.  The inclusion of a new underlying romance subplot and that of corruption within the police force is nothing new to the worlds of television and movies.  It’s been done.  But what makes it work so well here is the fact that [Russell] Lewis had not used these elements in the show’s first season.  With any luck, he will keep them to a minimum in the show’s third season.  Hopefully things will be wrapped up nicely early in Season Three so as to allow the show’s stand-alone elements to once again shine.  Regardless, their inclusion this season has done a lot to help advance the show and make it even more interesting and enjoyable.

The primary and secondary writing that went into Endeavour’s second season are both key aspects of the episodes that make them collectively so enjoyable.  As important as they are to the overall enjoyment and success of Season Two, the acting on the part of the cast is just as important.  Shaun Evans (Morse) and Roger Allam (DI Fred Thursday) are just as talented this season as in Season One.  The duo takes its roles with the full seriousness they deserve even with the show still in its infancy.  The care with which they present their characters makes audiences believe that Evans and Allam have been playing their roles for decades.  At no point in any of this season’s episodes does the duo falter in its high quality acting, either.  It makes suspension of disbelief that much easier and enjoyment of these episodes that much more in the long run.  Together with the season’s stories overall, the pair’s acting makes Endeavour: Series/Season 2 a must for any true lover of the crime drama genre.

Endeavour has proven once again in its second series to be just as enjoyable as any major American crime drama on television today.  It has proven that thanks both to the primary and secondary aspects of the show’s writing.  The expert acting on the part of Shaun Evans and Roger Allam helps prove this argument, too.  By themselves, each factor makes its own case why audiences will enjoy this latest installment of Endeavour.  Altogether, they make it stand head and shoulders above its American counterparts once again.  Endeavour: Series 2 is available no on DVD and Blu-ray.  It can be ordered direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=35620626&cp=&sr=1&kw=endeavour&origkw=Endeavour&parentPage=search.  Audiences can get more information on Endeavour online at:

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

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/masterpiecepbs

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