This year offered lots for families to enjoy together in the way of television and movies. It also offered plenty for older viewers, whether those audiences needed the occasional break from the more family friendly fare or just needed and wanted something to enjoy. Between imports and domestic releases, this year’s field of new viewing options for grown-ups offered much to appreciate.
DC and Warner Brothers’ second season of Doom Patrol, BBC America’s The Watch (It is sadly still unknown if the show will get a renewal for a second season) offered plenty of enjoyment in their own right. Meanwhile, CBS/Paramount’s third season of Star Trek: Discovery finally got that ship righted. Along with so many domestic and import releases from PBS and other sets from WB and DC, this year’s field of new offerings for older audiences helped audiences escape and relax every day. So much new content was released that it gave Phil’s Picks more than enough for another annual list of the year’s top new offerings in said field.
As with every list from Phil’s Picks, this list offers the Top 10 new entries in said field alongside five additional honorable mentions for a total of 15 titles. Each entry in this list is deserving of applause in its own right, too. Without further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks 2021 Top 10 New Grown-Up DVD/BD Box Sets.
PHIL’S PICKS’ 2021 TOP 10 NEW GROWN-UP DVD/BD BOX SETS
Cold War Creatures
All Creatures Great & Small: Season 1
Doom Patrol: Season 2
Miss Scarlet & The Duke: Season 1
Human: The World Within
Jekyll & Hyde
Star Trek Discovery: Season 3
Black Lightning: Season 4
Superman & Lois: Season 1
Star Trek Lower Decks: Season 1
Finding Your Roots: Season 6
Finding Your Roots: Season 7
The Twilight Zone: Season 2
Star Trek Discovery: Seasons 1-3
That’s it for this list, but before the attention turns from the box sets, there is still one more category to check in on tomorrow. That category is the year’s top new DVD/BD box sets overall between the stuff for families and that for older audiences. From there, later this week, the attention will turn toward the year’s top new family DVDs and BDs to finish this year’s field of year-end lists. So there’s still plenty to come. That means as always, stay tuned!
PBS’ hit genealogy based series Finding Your Roots wrapped its seventh season late this past May. With the season officially wrapped, PBS Distribution released the season to home audiences late last month on a three-disc DVD set. The discussions that host Henry Louis Gates Jr. has with his guests this season make for the majority of the season’s interest. For all of the interest that those discussions offer, the season’s presentation in its new home release proves problematic. This will be discussed a little later. Keeping all of this in mind, it makes the set’s average price point and separate listings worth noting in their own right. Each item noted is important in its own right to the whole of the season’s presentation. All things considered, they make this season worth watching at least once.
The seventh season of PBS’ Finding Your Roots is an intriguing presentation that audiences will find worth watching at least once. Its interest comes largely through the discussions that host Henry Louis Gates, Jr. has with his guests. Gates welcomes guests from across the entertainment world once more in this season. Actors John Lithgow and Mandy Patinkin join journalist Nina Totenberg and Gretchen Carlson, as well as comedian Lewis Black and hip-hop star Pharrell Williams along so many others. One of the most interesting interviews that Gates conducts is with filmmaker John Waters. That is due to one point in particular in which the discussion turns (as Waters even notes that it so often does in Gates’ interviews) to the talk of a guest’s ancestors being slave owners. Waters seemed irritated that the discussion turned to the matter, too. As the discussion progresses, Waters says very briefly that “It’s always astounding when this kind of thing is found, but what can you do?” That brief statement is so powerful. Gates has made a habit of pointing out to certain interviewees that their ancestors were slave owners. In the process, Gates seems to have a certain sense of schadenfreude as his guests react (normally in shock and disgust). It is really discouraging to go back and see that happen time and again throughout the series, including in this season. Waters’ comments are necessary because they speak to what so many people feel and think. Yes, many people have ancestors who did bad things. This critic’s own ancestors were on-board the Mayflower. That means they were part of the group that persecuted the Native Americans in the region with that so-called treaty that essentially gave the Native Americans no rights against the Pilgrims. This critic also has ancestors who fought on the side of the Confederacy during the Civil War. That does not make this critic a bad person. At the same time, this critic also has ancestors who fought for America’s freedom from British rule. This is a discussion that we as Americans must have just as much as the discussion on the white washing of America’s history, yet Gates even in this season does not seem to want to have the discussion on people’s ancestry.
Staying on that topic, Williams’ reaction at the revelation that his ancestors were slaves is powerful, as is his statement following that revelation. Justifiably, he is shocked and angry. At the same time, he stresses in his comments that while he would like to have a conversation with the descendants of the man who owned his ancestors, that conversation would not be to try and make them feel ashamed of themselves, but just to have that discussion on the white washing of America’s history. That is a mature reaction and statement from Williams, even though it certainly seemed at times that Gates was trying to egg him on, telling him “You should be angry. We should allbe angry.” Yes, we should be angry, but we should also not allow that anger to divide ourselves. It seemed here that Gates did not care about that. He just wanted to get a reaction out of Williams, it seemed, which is so discouraging.
Williams’ discussion with Gates is just one more example of what makes this season’s discussions so interesting. His discussion with Mandy Patinkin is one of the season’s most powerful. That is Patinkin is known on and off screen for being very stoic and strong. Yet his reaction at finding out the fates of his Jewish ancestors at the hands of the Nazis shows a completely different profile from him. It shows a real human side from him. What’s more, learning about his upbringing might also explain his inability or unwillingness to stick to one project for but so long. It is just one more notable interview conducted in this season of Finding Your Roots. Between these interviews and all of the others featured in this season, the whole makes the interviews a solid starting point for the season. While the featured interviews do plenty to make this season of Finding Your Roots worth watching, the season’s DVD packaging proves problematic.
Once again, the packaging lacks any episode listing anywhere on the case or even on the three discs that make up the season. This means that audiences are left to have to play each DVD to figure out which interviews are on which disc. This in itself is problematic, too. Instead of listing the celebrities in the episodes, the episodes have semi-cryptic titles, leaving audiences again to spend that extra time to figure out which episodes are on which discs. Having to take that unnecessary extra time is an aesthetic element, but do not be confused, the frustration at having to take that extra time can and will discourage audiences from even wanting to take the time to try. That means that it will decrease odds of audiences even wanting to watch, having to take that extra time going from one disc to the next. This sadly, nothing new from the series in terms of its home releases. In only one season so far have audiences had an episode guide. It is just too bad that that only happened that one time.
There is no denying that the lack of an episode guide once again detracts from Season 7’s home presentation. In this case, that negative impact can and will be very notable. Luckily for the same of those behind the show, there is at least one more positive. That positive is the set’s average price point. The set’s average price point is $32.70. That price was obtained by averaging prices listed Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Books-A-Million, and PBS’ store. That price is about on part with most other DVD sets of the same size. The least expensive listing, $26.99 is at Amazon, Walmart, and Target. That is well below that average. Again, considering the average price of most other box sets of the same size, that price of less than $30 is welcoming to say the least. Even Best Buy’s price of $27.99 is below that average. Yes, it is more expensive than the other three retailers, but is still relatively affordable. By comparison, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Books-A-Million, and PBS each list the set far above the average at $39.99. So considering those prices against the average price point and those of the other retailers, this is actually encouraging in its own right. That is because it reminds audiences that there are some affordable prices for this set. Keeping that in mind along with the interviews featured in this season and even the problems posed by the set’s packaging, the whole proves still worth watching at least once.
The seventh season of PBS’ Finding Your Roots is a presentation that audiences will find interesting and worth watching at least once. That is even despite the problems posed by its packaging. The interviews featured in this season are the main reason audiences will want to watch. They are with celebrities from across the entertainment world. They also serve as starting points for bigger discussions on race relations this time around. While the interviews form a strong foundation for this season, the lack of an episode guide in the packaging detracts from the season’s engagement and entertainment. The extra time that audiences will once again have to spend going from disc to disc in order to find specific episodes will detract notably from audiences’ enjoyment. Audiences do not want to have to take that extra time, and in turn, may end up just not watching any of the episodes. As much as the issue of the packaging detracts from the enjoyment of this season, the average and separate pricing for the set makes for its own positive. The set’s average price point is in line with most other DVD sets of its size. Many of the separate listings are even below that point, too. That is more encouragement for audiences to purchase the set even despite the packaging problems. Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the season’s set. All things considered, they make the album neither a full success nor a total failure. Finding Your Roots Season 7 is available now.
More information on Finding Your Roots is available online now at:
Almost nine years ago to the day this week, PBS launched what has become one of the network’s most beloved series in the form of Finding Your Roots. The series has now run a total of seven seasons and has welcomed guests from across the pop culture and political realms. With Season Six officially in the books, it is scheduled for release Tuesday on DVD. Audiences across the board will find Season Six just as interesting in its new home release as in its original airing. That is due to the history that audiences learn through each star’s session. This will be discussed shortly. While the history and celebrities featured in this season makes for its own appeal, the season’s home release does struggle from one key negative, its episode listing. This will be discussed a little later. The set’s pricing is its own positive to the presentation and will also be discussed later. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of this three-disc set. All things considered, they make the home release of Finding Your Roots: Season 6 a worthwhile watch for any genealogy and history aficionado.
PBS Distribution’s home release of Finding Your Roots: Season 6 is a presentation that longtime fans of the series will find worth watching at least occasionally. That is due in part to the history that is revealed through some of the season’s celebrity genealogy sessions. Case in point is revelation that Modern Family star Eric Stonestreet’s ancestors actually changed the family name when they came to America. As is revealed, the name change happened at the time because of the view that Americans had against Germans at the time. In relation, it is revealed that Germans, at the time in question, were put into internment camps of sorts here in the U.S. just like Asians would later in World War II. That is something that few if any history classes teach in America’s schools. It is somewhat disconcerting to see how readily Americans would turn their backs on even those immigrants who were themselves fleeing conflict. Another example of the interesting history revealed here comes during a session with actress Justina Machado. It is revealed that her grandfather was jailed in Puerto Rico simply for being homosexual. In other words, America is not the only nation that has ever persecuted the homosexual community. It makes for its own share of discussion even today since the acceptance of the LGBTQI+ community is more front and center among Americans today than ever before. On yet another note, viewers learn in National Public Radio personality Terry Gross’ session that her ancestors were treated as second class citizens in a region of Russia that was largely populated by Russian Jews. The mistreatment of those people is another sad example of how far back the persecution of Jews went worldwide going even back to the 19th century. It serves as a starting point on that topic and is just one more example of what makes this season’s history so important to the season’s overall presentation. Between it and so much more history revealed throughout the season’s 16 total episodes, the whole proves why that content is so important to the season’s presentation.
For all that the featured history does for the presentation of Finding Your Roots’ sixth season, the matter of its episode listing detracts from that presentation to a point. As with so many of the series’ existing season sets, the episode guide is on-screen only. There is no episode guide printed anywhere on the set’s art wrap. The result is that audiences are forced here to take extra time deciding which episode(s) they want to watch by going through each of its three discs. Making things even more complicated is that the on-screen menus use titles rather than the names of the celebrities featured within the episodes. This artsy form of titling the episodes is more burden than boon for audiences because even those audiences who have already watched Season 6 likely forgotten which celebrities are featured throughout the season. In turn, audiences are going to be forced to spend just as much time finding the episodes’ featured stars either just by going through the discs or by checking them online through Wikipedia. Regardless of the chosen course, the fact of the matter is that the extra time taken in either path will lead to some frustration for audiences. It is not enough to doom the season’s home DVD release, but is enough to detract from the overall presentation to some point.
While the matter of the season’s episode guide is a hindrance that one cannot overlook, it its negative impact is offset at least to a point thanks to the set’s pricing. Using listings at Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, and PBS, the set’s average price point comes to $35.72. Season 6 was not listed through Target (though for some reason Season 7 is listed there) and Books-A-Million. Amazon and Best Buy offer the set’s least expensive listing at $27.99 each. Walmart actually has the most expensive listing this time, at $42.63. While that listing is exorbitantly high, it should be stressed that it is not actually through Walmart, but through M and N Media, LLC, one of the many third party sellers with which Walmart works. Barnes & Noble Booksellers and PBS each list the set at $39.99. Taking all things into consideration, the two less expensive listings through Amazon and Best Buy become even more appealing even coming close to the $30 mark. Add in that many DVD sets with just as many discs (and sometimes more) run roughly at the same price if not more expensive. To that end, those two listings prove to be their own positive. What’s more, fans will note that even buying the set through Amazon or Walmart, a portion of the money from those sales will still benefit PBS. Add in the amount of content here and the prices prove even more affordable. When that is considered along with the content and featured stars, this season proves that much more worth watching at least occasionally and purchasing.
PBS Distribution of Finding Your Roots: Season 6 is a presentation that the series’ longtime fans will agree is worth purchasing and watching at least occasionally. That is due in large part to the set’s featured history and stars. They in themselves make the set worth watching at least occasionally. While the season’s content does its own share to make the collection positive, the concerns raised through the set’s episode listing detract noticeably from the set’s presentation. That is because it forces audiences to have to take extra time deciding which episode(s) to watch. Luckily, the concerns raised in that matter are not enough to completely ruin the collection. Keeping that in mind, the set’s pricing proves at least somewhat positive. That is because at least two major retailers list the collection below the average price point of more than $35. Those two less expensive listings are just below the $30 mark. In comparison to other DVD and BD sets of the same size, that price is right on par with some and even less expensive than others. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of this box set. All things considered, they make Finding Your Roots: Season 6 at least a partial success. The box set is scheduled for release Tuesday.
More information on Finding Your Roots is available online now at:
The fifth season of PBS’ popular genealogy-based series Finding Your Roots is officially available on DVD. Released late last month, the three-disc set is a good offering, though is sadly lacking in at least one area, its packaging. This negative will be discussed a little later. Before touching on that topic though, it would be best to discuss one of the set’s positives, and that is the season’s guest list. It will be addressed shortly. The set’s average price point is another of its positives. It will be discussed later. Each item noted here plays its own key part in the whole of Finding Your Roots: Season Five. All things considered, this latest season set from PBS’ popular series is another presentation that fans of the series will enjoy.
The fifth season of PBS’ popular genealogy-based series Finding Your Roots is another presentation that fans of the series will enjoy. That is due in part to the season’s guest list. This season’s guest list once again presents a wide array of celeb guests. From NFL great-turned TV host Michael Strayhan to author George R.R. Martin to comedian/actress Sarah Silverman to broadcast journalist Ann Curry and more, this season reaches across the celeb spectrum. There are also appearances by Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio, just to name a couple of well-known figures from the world of politics. Reaching from across the celebrity community is nothing new for FYR. The series has profiled well-known figures from across the various celebrity worlds as far back as its debut season. What is even more interesting about the celeb profiles is the note of each person’s humble family roots. So many of the celebs featured this season have ancestry that is anything but upper class. Rather, their ancestors were more often than not, humble immigrants who came from nothing – both in America and other parts of the planet – to start the lives in America that eventually made way for the show’s guests. It serves as a reminder that at their *ahem* roots, the celebrities that the show’s guests are themselves just ordinary people. They are no greater than the rest of us, and they and their families are just a portion of what truly makes America great, not the hate spewed by some about the nation’s diversity.
The guests featured in this season of Finding Your Roots build a strong foundation for the series’ DVD presentation. They and their stories are more than enough reason for audiences to take in this season from start to end. While they do plenty to make this season as appealing as its predecessors, the season is not without at least one notable flaw. That flaw is the lack, once again, of any episode guide. There is no episode guide printed anywhere inside or outside the set’s box or on the discs and their on-screen menus. Given, there is a guide – of sorts – in the on-screen menus, but the problem there is that the episodes have titles instead of guest lists. This is not the first time that this has been an issue for the series’ DVD releases, either. It goes back as far as the home release of the series’ second season, and has been an issue ever since. On the surface, some might think this aesthetic issue is not overly important, but it is in fact quite important to the show’s home presentation. Not having an episode guide means viewers have to take extra time going through DVDs and/or searching episode listings online to figure out which guests are featured on which discs. This wastes viewers’ time as they try to decide which episodes to watch. Simply knowing which guests are featured on which disc will help viewers make their decision which episode to watch much faster. To that end, yes, this is an aesthetic element, but even as menial as it seems to the set’s overall presentation, it is still quite important in its own way. Maybe if the show reaches Season 6, those responsible for assembling the season’s DVD sets will take this into account.
While the lack of an episode guide is of at least some concern to the overall presentation of Finding Your Roots’ fifth season, it is not hardly enough to make the season unwatchable. It just would have been nice to have had that element, which is so commonplace in most TV series’ DVD and BD box sets. There is one other positive to note in examining the set’s overall presentation – its average price point. The set’s aver age price point – using listings at PBS’ store and those of Amazon, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Book Sellers and Books-A-Million – is $30.38. Considering that so many triple-disc sets from other series’ range between $35 and $40, such an average price point is not that bad. The least expensive listing is at Amazon, at $24.73, while the most expensive is listed at Books-A-Million, at $39.99. Best Buy and Barnes & Noble’s listing of $27.99 is the most common listing, at $27.99, which is also the midway point of the price listings. Regardless of whether consumers purchase this set from the Best Buy (which is clearly not the best buy in this case), from Target or even Amazon, a portion of that money still goes back to PBS. Add in the fact that this season features more than a dozen more interesting celebrities and engaging, entertaining stories, the noted price range is not too bad. It easily could have been far more expensive from one retailer to the next, but thankfully was not. Keeping all of this in mind, Finding Your Roots: Season 5 proves to be another welcome offering from PBS.
The fifth season of PBS’ popular ancestry series Finding Your Roots is another good offering from the network. It features another mass of celebs from across various professions. Their stories serve as a reminder that they are not celebs, but are in fact on the same level as us. That is evident through the stories of each guest’s family history. The set’s average price point is, in comparison to multi-disc sets from other series, relatively affordable. Those elements combine to offset the set’s one negative of no episode guide, and in turn, make the set another appealing offering for the series’ fans. Finding Your Roots: Season 5 is available now. More information on the series is available online now at:
The fifth season of PBS’ hit series Finding Your Roots comes to DVD Tuesday.
Finding Your Roots: Season Five follows the ancestral paths of 23 more celebrities from various areas. From the literary world to the world of politics to the worlds of comedy, television and movies, audiences are presented with even more histories that show you never know who you are unless you find your own roots.
Among the most notable of the celebs featured in the fifth season of Finding Your Roots are individuals, such as Sarah Silverman (Wreck-It Ralph, Wreck It Ralph: Ralph Breaks The Internet, School of Rock), Facebook Executive Sheryl Sandberg and politician Paul Ryan. Others featured in this season include, but are not limited to: actor Kal Penn, journalist Lisa Ling and Marco Rubio.
Finding Your Roots: Season Five will retail for MSRP of $39.99, but can be ordered now at a reduced price of $34.99 at PBS’ online store. Its run time is listed at 600 minutes.
More information on Finding Your Roots is available online now at:
Time is quickly ticking away for 2018. As the hours tick by, Phil’s Picks is trying to get everything done before the old year is out and the new year is in. Next up as this finally day of 2018 winds down is the year’s top new DVD/BD box sets for families.
Just as grown-ups has plenty of options this year in regards to DVD and BD box sets, so did families in whole. Some of this year’s top family box sets also made their way to the grown-ups box sets list, as (E.G. Milk Street: Season One and Finding Your Roots: Season 4). That is because they really can be just as entertaining for the whole family as for grown-ups.
The top spot in this year’s list goes to PBS’ Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood collection, It’s A Beautiful Day. The multi-disc set offers hours of entertainment from a variety of classic Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood series. Considering how hard it is to find the series even on PBS stations nationwide, and the lessons that the episodes teach, this new collection hopefully will not be the only one from the series to be released.
Second Place in this year’s list belongs to Gravity Falls: The Complete Series. While its creator openly said it was intentionally short-lived, it has made one heck of an impact on audiences, and rightfully so. Whether one owns the collector’s edition or the standard set, which features episode-length commentaries with each episode, the series stands out. With any luck there will be a third season one day. One can only hope.
The third spot in this year’s list goes to Rugrats: Season Three, and it is followed up by the series’ fourth season. The land mark series’ writing was absolutely outstanding in both seasons. One can only hope that Nickelodeon will continue giving proper releases for the rest of the series’ seasons every year as it has done up to this point.
Also featured in this year’s list are the fifth season of CBS’ timeless fish out of water sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies, which was released on DVD this fall, alongside the full release of Fraggle Rock: The Animated Series and the ninth season of Spongebob Squarepants.
Whereas this critic’s previous lists all featured 15 total titles, this list will only feature 10 titles. Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks 2018 Top 10 New Family DVD/BD Box Sets.
PHIL’S PICKS 2018 TOP 10 NEW FAMILY DVD/BD BOX SETS
Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: It’s A Beautiful Day Collection
Gravity Falls: The Complete Series
Rugrats: Season 3
Rugrats: Season 4
The Beverly Hillbillies: The Complete Fifth Season
Courage The Cowardly Dog: The Complete Series
Fraggle Rock: The Complete Animated Series
Milk Street: Season One
Finding Your Roots: Season Four
Big Box Of Kids Favorites (Mill Creek Entertainment set)
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 Sentai: Gojin 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
Robin Williams: Comic Genius
Endeavour: Season Five
Black Lightning: Season One
Finding Your Roots: Season Four
Milk Street: Season One
The Good Place: Season Two
Super Sentai: Gojin Sentai Jetman — The Complete Series
The Durells in Corfu: Season Three
Rowan & Martin’s Laugh–In: The Complete Series
Star Trek Discovery: Season One
Rowan & Martin’s Laugh–In: The Complete Second Season
Rowan & Martin’s Laugh–In: The Complete Third Season
Rowan & Martin’s Laugh–In: The Complete Fourth Season
Rown & Martin’s Laugh–In: The Complete Fifth Season
Rowan & Martin’s Laugh–In: The Complete Sixth Season
PBS’ hit family history-based series Finding Your Roots has, over the course of its now four seasons on television, become one of television’s most significant series with the presentation of various celebrities’ humble family roots. Late last year — Dec. 19 — the series’ fourth season wrapped with profiles of Amy Schumer and Aziz Ansari’s family histories, and its fifth season is said to already be in production. While audiences wait for the premiere of Season Five, they now have the series’ fourth season to enjoy any time they want as Season Four was released on DVD early last month. This latest entry in the series’ run is another interesting offering that is certain to keep audiences engaged while also leaving audiences wanting to learn more about their own families’ histories. That is due in part to the guests featured in this season. This factor will be discussed shortly. While the guests clearly form the season’s foundation — and a solid foundation at that — they collectively lead to the season’s one negative, the lack of an episode guide other than on disc. As always, this might not seem overly important on the surface, but even as an aesthetic element, is important to the season’s overall presentation. To that end, it is something that cannot be ignored in examining this season’s presentation. It is, luckily, the season’s only negative. Its other positive is the collective information shared through each interview. That includes not only the celebs’ family histories, but the additional history to which each family’s history is connected. Each element is important in its own way to the whole of this season’s presentation, as will be pointed out throughout this review. All things considered, Finding Your Roots: Season Four proves to be another engaging and entertaining entry for the series.
The fourth season of PBS’ hit family history series Finding Your Roots is yet another engaging and entertaining entry for the series. It is an offering that is certain to not only engage and entertain audiences, but potentially have them doing more research on their own family histories. That is due in no small part to the guests who are featured throughout this season. The guest list this season includes celebrities from the worlds of television, movies, music and sports and people from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. That variety includes NBA superstar Carmelo Anthony, veteran actor William H. Macy, political strategist Ana Navarro and so many others. Simply put, the guests featured this season are black, white, Latin American and so many others. As a matter of fact, one of the biggest surprises that is revealed is that comedian Fred Armisen, another of the season’s featured guests, is in fact Korean by descent despite being American by birth. That is information that will be discussed later. Getting back to the matter at hand, this reaching into so many avenues of the entertainment world yet again, and presenting guests of so many ethnic and cultural backgrounds is another way to promote America’s diversity. It’s nothing new for the series. It creates its own interest for this season, and while it does plenty to make this season interesting and entertaining, it also leads to the season’s one negative, its lack of an episode guide outside of the discs’ main menu.
Omitting an episode guide might not seem like an important factor in the overall presentation of a box set, but it is in fact far more important to note than many might think. That is because of the number of guests (and by connection, information) presented throughout the season. The season’s total guest count sits at 27, with the majority of its episodes featuring three guests each. Episodes 1, 8 and 10 are the only episodes of the 10 total episodes to feature only two guests. Keeping this in mind, not having a physical episode guide leaves viewers to have to go through each disc manually or just go to Wikipedia for an episode listing. That takes extra time that viewers likely won’t like having to take. So again, while this aesthetic element might not seem all that important, it reduces the ease of choosing an episode/episodes to watch. The last time that the series seemed to have included an episode list was the series’ first season. Since then, there has seemed to be no sign of an episode list printed anywhere on the seasons’ cases, taking away at least some points for general effect. Luckily though, that once again lack of listing is not enough to make this season a fail by any means. It’s just one thing that really should be taken in to consideration for re-addition beginning with next season. Keeping that in mind, there is one more positive that should be noted here: the information shared throughout each episode.
The information that is revealed about each guest’s family history is so important because it reminds audiences that while these people are celebrities, their roots are just as humble as anyone else’s. That, in turn, makes the guests more relatable to viewers, and — coming full circle — makes the program that much more engaging and entertaining. Audiences will be surprised to learn that one of William H. Macy’s ancestors was one of a group of people who originally bought Nantucket Island and that The Tonight Show drummer/The Roots founding member Questlove’s roots go back to the last slaves to ever come to America aboard the slave ship Clotilda. Just as interesting to learn is that Ana Navarro and Carmelo Anthony’s famil histories involve stories that sound like something right out of a soap opera. As noted previously, Fred Armisen’s family history, which reveals that his family’s roots reach all the way back to Korea, is interesting in its own right. It’s just one more family history that is certain to keep viewers enthralled. Of course the histories are not the only interesting information shared throughout this season. The deeper histories presented alongside those family histories adds even more interest to the season.
As Armisen learns his family’s history, he (and viewers) learn about the mistreatment of the Koreans by the Japanese during and before World War II. This is another little-known piece of history that history buffs (and especially WWII history buffs) will appreciate. Gates’ interview with Lupita Nyong’o reveals the military element of her family’s past. This leads to a brief but concise history of Kenya that is sure to be the start for another lesson. Navaro’s family history leads to a brief discussion on the conflicts in Nicaragua and Cuba while interviews with Larry David and Bernie Sanders reveal the pair’s connections through their Jewish roots. Between these lessons and so many others presented through the guests’ family histories, audiences get even more to appreciate in each episode, historically speaking. When those history lessons are coupled with the guests’ own family history lessons, the whole of the two elements proves completely why the information shared throughout this season is just as important to its presentation as its guest list. That list, together with the information, makes this season well worth the watch, even without a printed episode list. Taking this into consideration, Finding Your Roots: Season Four proves to be another solid entry in the series’ run and one of this year’s top new box sets for grown-ups.
Finding Your Roots: Season Four is yet another solid entry into the hit celeb/history-based series. The guest list presented this season is just one part of what makes it such a strong new offering. The dual history lessons presented on the guests’ families and the connected world histories prove that even more. When these two elements are joined together, they make the lack of an episode listing anywhere on the box an element that, while it can’t be ignored, not enough to ruin the season’s presentation. It is a nuisance, but not an overwhelming issue. With that in mind, this season’s presentation overall is such that the season is not only another solid entry to the series, but one of this year’s top new box sets for grown-up audiences. It is available now and can be ordered direct via PBS’ online store. More information on Finding Your Roots‘ fourth season is available online now along with all of the series’ latest news at:
Fans of PBS’ hit genealogy series Finding Your Roots will soon be able to own the series’ fourth season.
PBS and Public Media Distribution announced Monday that the series’ fourth season will be released Tuesday, Feb. 6 on DVD and digital HD. Season Four sees host Henry Louis Gates, Jr. interviewing celebrities such as Ted Danson and his wife Mary Steenburgen, Bryant Gumble, Fred Armisen, William H. Macy and even presidential candidate Bernie Sanders among many others.
Over the course of the season’s 600-minute run time, audiences will learn that one of William H. Macy’s family members was a member of America’s very first Air Force. Also of interest is the revelation that Sanders and entertainer Larry David have quite the interesting and unexpected connection. Christopher Walken and Amy Schumer receive their own emotional surprises in their interviews, too. Between all of this and more, audiences have a lot to enjoy in Season 4.
Season Four is spread across three discs and will retail for MSRP of $39.99. It can be pre-ordered at a reduced price of $34.99 via PBS’ online store now. More information on Finding Your Roots is available online now at:
PBS just recently wrapped up the third season of its hit history/genealogy-based series Finding Your Roots. And officials with PBS and PBS Distribution are making sure that audiences won’t have to wait long to own Season Three for themselves.
PBS and PBS Distribution will release the third season of Finding Your Roots on Tuesday, April 12th. Season Three will feature twenty-eight more well-known figures from across the worlds of entertainment, politics, literature, and more. The list includes names such as: Actor Neil Patrick Harris, rappers LL Cool J and Sean Combs, Senator John McCain, Actress Patricia Arquette, political activist and organizer Donna Brazile, celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich, and many others. The entire run is totals at six hundred minutes and is spread across three-discs. Host Henry Louis Gates, Jr. discussed the series’ third season in a recent interview noting that it is human to want to know where we came from. He added that he hoped that this season would influence audiences to research their own family histories, especially among younger audiences. “There is something essential in human nature that drives us to wonder where we came from,” he said. “We can’t truly know ourselves until we know something of our origins. With new DNA technology we can learn more about this past and go further back than ever before, and we hope that the new season will inspire people to find out more about their own personal family stories, and spark an interest among young people in genetics, anthropology, history, and the pursuit of science.”
Season Three finds that actresses Julianne Moore and Patricia Arquette, and Senator John McCain all have very deep, rich military roots. Those roots have helped each to develop a sense of strength and integrity. Sean Combs and LL Cool J both discover in their interviews that have some rather interesting family histories that leave them thinking about things in ways they never thought possible. And Donna Brazile tries to get answers about her family’s name while polarizing feminist Gloria Steinem learns in her interview that she is not the first of her kind in her family. These are just some of the secrets that are unearthed over the course of Finding Your Roots’ third season. Bill Hader, Jimmy Kimmel, and Norman Lear each learn about the highs and lows of their families’ histories while Ty Burell is left shocked to learn about his African heritage. All of this and so much more is in the third season of Finding Your Roots.