‘NOVA: Decoding Da Vinci’ Will Appeal To Students, Lovers Of Art, Anatomical Sciences

Courtesy: PBS Distribution/PBS/WGBH

It goes without saying that Leonardo da Vinci is one of the greatest minds of his time and possibly of all time.  His paintings , few as they are, continue to evoke discussion and great emotion from people from around the world.  His scientific advancements were centuries before his time, showing even more, his incredible mind.  Now in a new episode of its hit science based series NOVA, titled Decodind Da Vinci, PBS examines how da Vinci’s interest in science and art played directly into one another, leading to what are some of the greatest paintings of all time.  That story in itself is more than enough reason for audiences to view this episode of NOVA.  While the program ensures viewers’ engagement an entertainment, hindsight in watching the program makes the show’s title slightly problematic.  This will be addressed a little later.  Even with that problematic titling, the DVD is still worth the purchase, considering its average price point, which will also be discussed later.  Each item noted plays its own important part to the program’s presentation.  All things considered, Decoding Da Vinci becomes a presentation that will appeal to art and science students and lovers alike.

NOVA: Decoding Da Vinci, another recent episode from PBS’ hit science-based series, is an interesting presentation.  It is a work that will appeal to those with an interest in and knowledge of art and science alike.  That is due in large part to the program’s overall story.  The story in question shows how Leonardo da Vinci’s interest in art and science intersected and the role that his scientific mind played into his artistic vision.  It is not an overly broad presentation, either.  It especially focuses on the connection between da Vinci’s interest in science and how it played into his most famous painting, “The Mona Lisa.”  Along the way, the program takes audiences into da Vinci’s study of human anatomy in relation to his art while exhibiting anatomical drawings that da Vinci created and their influence even today on biologists and scientists who study anatomy and anatomical science.  One of those individuals praises da Vinci for some of his drawings while also candidly saying his drawing of the female reproductive system was quite off.  That moment with bring laughter from any viewer.  That is the case due to the revelation of why he made the drawing in the fashion in which he did.

In coordination with the discussion on da Vinci’s art, the program also takes time to examine his specific painting style and uses that discussion in the examination of the painting of Bacchus.  It has long been believed that the painting is one of da Vinci’s, but the examination of his painting style reveals that the artwork may well in fact not be one of his works.  That revelation is tied back to da Vinci’s focus on human anatomy, too.  Between this discussion, that of his interest in science, and how the two topics correlate (and even the paints that he used) make for a fully engaging presentation.  While the overall presentation of Decoding Da Vinci will keep viewers engaged throughout its 53-minute run time, the story featured therein does not fully work with the episode’s title.

The very title Decoding Da Vinci hints at mystery and some kind of unknown about Leonardo da Vinci.  That very word “decoding” means uncovering something unknown.  However, there is no real mystery or unknown information per se here.  The closest that the program comes to any mystery is the discussion on whether the painting of Bacchus is one of his works.  The discussion on the ties between da Vinci’s scientific and artistic interests is more lecture than mystery.  Keeping that in mind, the title is problematic in this case, but it does not make the episode unwatchable by any means.  It is just something is in need of some attention.

Taking into consideration the depth and breadth of information shared through Decoding Da Vinci’s story, it makes the DVD’s average price point an item that will appeal just as much to audiences as the DVD’s content.  The average price point for NOVA: Decoding Da Vinci is $19.35.  That price, which once again is below the $20 mark, is obtained by averaging prices at Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Books-A-Million, and PBS’ online store.  Once more, the only price listings that exceed that point are from Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Books-A-Million.  Their price listings for the DVD are $22.74 and $24.99 respectively.  Meanwhile, the lowest and most common listing of $16.59 comes from Amazon, Walmart and Target.  Best Buy’s listing for the DVD is $17.99 while PBS’ listing is $19.99.  So, while PBS’ price point is once again above the average price point for one of its DVDs, that exception is still only barely above the line.  Making exception for the two outstandingly overpriced listings at Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Books-A-Million, the rest of the listings are largely either below the DVD’s average price point or right at that point.  In other words, the DVD’s cost will not break any viewer’s budget.  It’s another positive for this episode of NOVA in its home release.  When considered along with the DVD’s content, the DVD in whole proves to be another positive offering from PBS and PBS Distribution.

PBS Distribution’s home release of NOVA: Decoding Da Vinci is an episode of NOVA that will appeal to audiences.  That is due in part to the DVD’s central story, which examines the connection between Leonard da Vinci’s scientific mind and his artistic mind.  On the surface, that connection seems simple, but as this story shows, the connection is quite deep.  Considering the depth and breadth of that content, the DVD’s average price point serves as its own motivation, by connection.  The only negative to the DVD’s presentation is its title, and even there, that negative is not enough to make the DVD unwatchable.  Keeping all of this in mind, NOVA: Decoding Da Vinci proves itself another example of what makes NOVA such a respected and popular series.  More information on this and other episodes of NOVA is available at:






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The Mona Lisa Mystery Is As Gripping As Any Major Mystery Author’s Novels

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

Da Vinci’s famed Mona Lisa is perhaps the single most talked about painting in the history of visual art.  His painting has been the topic of discussion for ages largely because of the mystery surrounding the identity of the woman behind the painting.  Experts, critics and average art lovers alike were confounded by her identity for quite some time.  But now that that mystery has seemingly been solved, there is still another mystery that remains about the Mona Lisa.  That mystery is whether or not the painting that hangs today in the Louvre is in fact the real deal or a very convincing counterfeit.  That’s right.  As it turns out, there is a second Mona Lisa painting that many never knew about until recent history.  And the two paintings are the subject of the latest episode of PBS’ hit series Secrets of the Dead.  As a matter of fact, they are the center of why anyone with any appreciation of art and art history will want to see this episode now that it is on DVD.  The very discussion itself on whether the two paintings were crafted by the same man or by separate individuals is only the start of why audiences will want to watch this episode of Secrets of the Dead.  The depth of the arguments and the evidence provided for said arguments makes the program even more engaging.  This is the case even for viewers that might not be so familiar with the art world.  And last but not least of all to consider in this episode’s success is the tasteful use of re-enactments throughout the course of the program.  Altogether, these factors make The Mona Lisa Mystery another example of what makes Secrets of The Dead another great addition to PBS’ schedule.

The central discussion on which The Mona Lisa Mystery is based is key to the program’s overall success and enjoyment.  It doesn’t waste any time on the oft discussed topic of the picture’s subject.  Rather, it focuses on the far lesser known story of the second Mona Lisa painting.  That’s right.  What few people other than perhaps the most avid art lovers know about the Mona Lisa is that there were not one but two Mona Lisa paintings crafted.  This program aims to try and figure out if one of those paintings was a fake or if perhaps Da Vinci painted both of them and the one hanging at the Louvre is actually one of that pair potentially painted by one of the greatest artists in history. It makes for a great introduction into what is one of history’s lesser known mysteries. And that’s only the beginning (bad pun fully intended) of what makes this DVD worth checking out. The sheer depth of the evidence provided in the arguments and the arguments themselves make add to the interest of this mystery.

The arguments provided throughout this episode of Secrets of the Dead are an important piece of the whole as is the evidence provided for those arguments. Simply put, there is no bias one way or the other concerning the validity of the second Mona Lisa or lack thereof. Arguments are made supporting the possibility that Da Vinci could have painted both versions of the Mona Lisa with one having been painted on one canvas and the other having been potentially painted on a completely different canvas years later. This argument states that perhaps Da Vinci was unhappy with his original and only pulled it back out years later and used it as a model for the second one, thus attempting to explain away the differences in background, etc. Another argument alleges that not Da Vinci but another artist painted the second Mona Lisa having seen the original in its incomplete state. The painter in question is another of the more well-known names in the art world. And a third argument alleges that maybe, just maybe, a far less well-known individual had painted the second Mona Lisa. Again, none of these arguments is ever definitively confirmed. However, the evidence used in each of those arguments is quite compelling to say the very least. In depth information regarding dates of the paintings’ creation and carbon dating used to confirm said dating are just some of that evidence. It definitely leaves on wondering in the best way possible. It’s one more reason that audiences will enjoy this episode of Secrets of the Dead regardless if they are art lovers, history lovers, or just audiences looking for a worthwhile respite from all of the brainless “reality shows,” and overly violent and over sexed dramas and comedies that fill television’s spectrum.

The arguments presented in this program and the evidence used to support said arguments are integral to the program’s overall success. They leave audiences scratching their heads and wondering in the very best way possible. That along with the very fact that the program focuses primarily on the mystery of the paintings will most definitely keep audiences engaged throughout this program. There is still one more factor to consider in what makes The Mona Lisa Mystery work as well as it does. That last factor is the minimalist use of re-enactments. Those behind the program’s creation kept the re-enactments to a minimum. Instead, they let the program speak for itself, which it does and quite well at that. The re-enactments that are used are incorporated primarily for the purpose of illustrating specific arguments. Other than that, their use is kept to a very limited space. It’s one more way that PBS continues to prove why it is the gold standard for anyone wanting real educational content now that History Channel,TLC, Discovery and certain other channels of that ilk are but pale shadows of what they once were. And it is that alongside the solid and valid arguments and their evidence that completes The Mona Lisa Mystery, making it one of the best episodes yet of Secrets of the Dead.

Secrets of the Dead: The Mona Lisa Mystery is available now on DVD. It can be ordered direct online via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=38349356&cp=&sr=1&kw=secrets+of+the+dead&origkw=Secrets+of+the+Dead&parentPage=search. More information on this and other episodes of Secrets of the Dead is available online at the official Secrets of the Dead Facebook page and website at http://www.facebook.com/SecretsofTheDead and http://pbs.org/secrets. 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./

Da Vinci’s Demons To Haunt Audiences This Fall

Courtesy:  Starz

Courtesy: Starz

The new hit series, Da Vinci’s Demons has officially wrapped on its debut season.  And now fans won’t have to wait very long for the first season to come to home release.  Season One will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on September 3rd with all eight episodes.  Both sets will be three-disc sets.  They will contain not just all eight episodes from Season One, but also a handful of bonus features.  A complete list of expected bonus features is included below:

Bonus Features

·         Audio Commentaries with Writer/Creator/Executive Producer/Director David S. Goyer

and Actors Tom Riley, Laura Haddock, Blake Ritson, David Schofield and Tom Bateman

·         Mastering Da Vinci

·         Constructing Da Vinci

·         Dressing Da Vinci

·         Worldwide Fanfare

·         Deleted Scenes

·         Second Screen Promo

The series, headed by David S. Goyer (Blade, The Dark Knight trilogy, Man of Steel) focuses on Leonardo Da Vinci.  It portrays Da Vinci as a man fighting against those who would use history, politics, and religion to hold others back and hide the truth of the world.  While he faces foes around him, he also has to face his own inner demons.  The three-disc DVD set is expected to sell for an MSRP of $44.98 and the Blu-ray set for $54.99.

Fans of the show can find out when Season 2 starts up as well as all the latest cast news and more on the official Da Vinci’s Demons Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/davincisdemons.starz.

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.