PBS, BBC’s New Apollo 11 Program Is Better Than Any “Based On Actual Events” Flick That Hollywood Could Ever Create

Courtesy: PBS Distribution/PBS

Eat your heart out, Hollywood. Your over-the-top, overly-embellished movies that are based on actual events have officially been put to shame thanks to PBS and BBC.  The agencies released last month, their own presentation based on an actual event – the Apollo 11 mission in the form of 8 Days: To The Moon and Back, and it is everything that a production within the “based on actual events” genre should be.  That is proven in part through the program’s story, which will be discussed shortly.  The combined special effects and actual vintage footage plays into its presentation just as much as its story.  This will be addressed a little later.  Considering the positives of all of this noted content, the presentation’s average price range proves to be money well spent and will be addressed a little later, too.  When it is considered along with the content, all three elements combine to make 8 Days: To The Moon and Back easily one of this year’s top new documentaries and an example of how to do movies based on actual events the right way.

PBS and BBC’s new docu-movie 8 Days: To The Moon and Back is an important new release from the two companies.  That is because it proves that it is possible to create a presentation based on actual events without a bunch of over-the-top special effects and unnecessary embellishments that clearly were not part of the original story.  The story in question is that of the Apollo 11 mission, which led to the very first human stepping foot on the moon. Presented here is that story from beginning to end without any extra, unnecessary drama.  There are no underlying romance subplots, no unnecessary drama points from when the program alerts happen and no added over-the-top speeches at any point throughout the story.  In place of those unnecessary elements are the actual comments from the crew of the Apollo 11 and from the late great Walter Kronkite coupled with actual footage of the mission control staff interacting by radio with the Apollo 11 crew.  They all join to make in whole, one complete story that provides just as much drama as any other movie that is based on actual events.  It shows that such presentations really do not need extra embellishments to make them enjoyable.  Now if only the officials at Hollywood’s “Big Six” would let that sink in.  Sadly, that likely won’t happen anytime soon.  That is okay, though.  It just means that PBS and/or BBC can continue making the true based on actual events presentations and meanwhile let Hollywood’s take on history continue to fade into history.

The story portion of 8 Days: To The Moon and Back is key in its own way to the whole of this presentation.  It is just one of the program’s most important elements.  The aforementioned vintage footage used to help tell the story is just as important to the program’s whole as the story itself.  That is especially the case when it joins with the special effects that are incorporated into the story.  The special effects are clearly computer generated, but are still worthy of their own applause.  They are not the multi-million-dollar, over-the-top blockbuster special effects that one might see in one of Hollywood’s action flicks, but are still impressive in their own right.  From the shots aboard the rocket during its separations to the moments when the Apollo 11 crew looks out of its windows and sees the stars and the sun peeking out from behind the moon to the very moments inside the spacecraft, the special effects utilized in the presentation prove just as good as anything viewers might see on the big screen.  When those special effects are set alongside the vintage footage of the Apollo rocket launching, the mission control staff hard at work keeping the crew safe and even the news footage, the whole of that combination makes the program’s secondary content just as impressive in its own right, as the program’s primary content and worthy of applause.  Once again, it shows that it is possible to make an entertaining, engaging program without the need for lots of explosions, lasers and other standard science fare.  To that end, the combined footage and special effects joins with the story itself to make this presentation a work that outshines any other space-based flick that Hollywood has ever churned out across the board and is well worth the price.

Speaking of the program’s price, that figure is just as important to note as the program’s content.  The average price point of $18.59 for this almost hour-long program is clearly affordable.  That price was obtained by averaging price listings at PBS’ store, Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Books-A-Million.  PBS’ listing of $19.99 is neither the most nor the least expensive listing for the DVD.  The most expensive listing comes in at $24.99 at Books-A-Million.  Amazon and Walmart list the least expensive price at $15.82.  Target’s price listing of $15.86 is only four cents more expensive than the noted listings while Best Buy and Barnes & Noble Booksellers list the DVD at $17.99 and $19.61 respectively.  Regardless of which retailer one chooses, PBS and BBC will still benefit from the sales of this DVD, and it is a work that is worth the money regardless of retailer, as has been pointed out here.  While the one noted price does exceed the average, the others are below that number.  To that point, the listings – average and separate – are affordable and worth spending for this program whose primary and secondary content more than delivers everything for which viewers can hope.  Keeping that in mind, the content and price comes together here to make 8 Days: To The Moon and Back a program that viewers will enjoy 365 days.

PBS and BBC’s recently released docu-movie 8 Days: To The Moon and Back is a standout presentation that history buffs, space history buffs and space science aficionados alike will appreciate.  That is due in part to its story, which completely ignores any unnecessary speeches, drama and other similar items.  Rather, it presents just the facts, but does so in a fashion that still makes the program wholly engaging and entertaining from start to finish. The combined special effects, which themselves avoid being over-the-top, and the vintage footage combine to enrich the program even more.  Taking into consideration that overall content, the DVD’s average price point of less than $20 – and separate listings that are mostly below that price, too – is appealing in its own way, considering how much engagement and entertainment this presentation offers audiences.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the DVD.  All things considered, they make 8 Days: To The Moon and Back a widely appealing work that is one of this year’s top new documentaries and new DVDs/BDs in general.  It is available now.  More information on this and other titles from PBS is available online now at:

 

 

 

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More information on this and other titles from the BBC is available online now at:

 

 

 

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‘AmEx: Chasing The Moon’ Is One Of The Best NASA Histories To Be Created In 50 Years

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

Fifty years ago last month, one of the most important events in the history of mankind took place when Apollo 11 landed on the surface of the moon and its occupants – Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin – stepped out of the capsule and became the first humans to ever walk on the lunar surface.  That moment, on July 20, 1969 was the day the world actually stopped and – for once – came together.  While everybody knows the story of the Apollo 11 mission, not everyone knows the full story that led up to that historic moment, that is until now.  PBS Distribution released a new documentary centered on the Apollo 11 mission July 9 to celebrate the mission’s 50th anniversary.  The story at the center of the six-and-a-half-hour documentary is in itself more than enough reason for audiences to own this presentation.  It will be addressed shortly.  The bonus content that comes with the documentary’s home presentation adds more for viewers to appreciate.  It will be addressed a little later on.  The documentary’s combined primary and secondary content makes its average price point such that audiences will agree that the money spent on the multi-part presentation is money well-spent.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the documentary.  All things considered, they make American Experience: Chasing The Moon a work that gives audiences the moon and more in terms of the Apollo 11 story.

PBS Distribution’s presentation of American Experience: Chasing The Moon is a work that more than exceeds expectations for history buffs and space history aficionados alike.  That is due in part to the story at the center of the program.  The story presents not just the familiar story of the Apollo 11’s groundbreaking lunar landing, but the evolution of America’s space program both within itself and as it pertained to America’s competition with Russia’s space program and government.  That is just one of the key elements of the program’s story.  Audiences will be surprised to learn some not so savory elements of the evolution of America’s space program, such as the fact that it dealt with some issues of race relations.  Apparently it was possible one of the first men on the moon could have been African-American if not for the sociopolitical climate of the times.  On a related note, it is argued through the program’s interviewees that NASA’s mission control was located in Houston because most of the congressional members who played a part in NASA’s evolution were from the south.  It is argued that this is also likely why the noted astronaut likely was eventually removed from the lunar program.  Hearing that astronaut’s comments about being scrubbed from the mission from actual recorded footage is a powerful thing.  That is just one more element of the story that makes it so engaging.  Viewers are also treated to anecdotes from media personnel who documented the evolution of the space program and the Apollo 11 landing.  Viewers will be entertained and engaged by the anecdotes about certain media personnel who allegedly liked the camera and the limelight a little bit too much.  On the same note, the recollections of the re-enactments that the media outlets used serves to show how pivotal they were in translating the astronauts’ journeys.  It serves as the starting point for so many mass communications college courses’ discussions.  As if everything noted here is not enough, the revelation that the Russians may have in fact managed to land a probe on the moon right around the same time that Apollo 11 landed is a part of history that is rarely if ever taught in any history class at any level.  All of this and more is told through firsthand accounts from those connected with the space race and the eventual Apollo 11 mission.  There is no one single narrator for this program.  It makes the program that much more personal.  The result is a presentation that connects with audiences that much more directly, and in turn ensures even more, viewers’ maintained engagement and entertainment.  It makes a very strong foundation for the whole of American Experience: Chasing The Moon.  While it does more than its share to keep viewers engaged and entertained, it is just one of the elements that makes the program’s home release a positive presentation.  Its bonus content plays its own pivotal part to its overall presentation.

The bonus content that is featured with the home release of American Experience: Chasing The Moon is not as extensive as the story that forms the foundation of AmEx: Chasing The Moon, but is still interesting in its own right.  It will appeal more to those who have an interest in video editing than the program’s primary target audience.  The two bonuses featured within the program’s home release – “Interview with Robert Stone” and “Behind The Scenes With Film Crew” – take viewers into the genesis of the program and its creative process.  Stone reveals in his solo interview that director Stanley Kubrick’s cinematic adaptation of 2001: A Space Odyssey is what first got him interested in the film creation process.  He adds in his most enjoyable anecdote, his first experience as a film maker involved a super 8 camera kit that was not even his.  It was not a criminal thing, but will certainly leave viewers laughing along with him as he recounts the story.  Stone also recalls his interaction with Apollo 8 astronaut Frank Borman helped bring some of the footage for this documentary into the program.  That story will be saved for audiences to discover on their own, but it is certainly an interesting story, needless to say.  It is just one more of a number of topics that he touches on in his brief interview.  When it is considered with the rest of the items that he discusses, the whole of the interview certainly proves entertaining and engaging in its own right.

The Behind The Scenes documentary will especially appeal to those who are students and lovers of the cinematic arts.  Audiences learn firsthand how the music for the program came to life for starters.  Viewers are also treated to discussions on the restoration of the original footage for the program.  Though brief, this is its own interesting discussion because it exhibits the painstaking efforts taken to restore the footage.  Looking back at the vintage footage used for the program, those efforts paid off, needless to say.  Even the sound editing is addressed in this bonus segment as well as the general video editing.  The whole of the topics will appeal primarily to the noted viewers.  When it is considered along with the content presented in Stone’s interview, the whole of the bonus content proves quite entertaining and just as valuable to the whole of American Experience: Chasing The Moon as the program’s central story.  When both the primary and secondary content are coupled, they prove the program’s average price point – both on DVD and Blu-ray – a number that while maybe not inexpensive, still money that is well-spent.

The average price point of American Experience: Chasing The Moon comes to $27.41 for its Blu-ray presentation and $24.49 for its DVD presentation.  Those prices were reached by averaging prices from Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers and PBS’ store.  At the time of this review’s posting, the program was not listed through Books-A-Million’s website on DVD and Blu-ray.  Now keeping this in mind, the majority of the single listings were below that average price listing on both platforms.  The majority of the listings were below those price points, though a couple – Target and Barnes & Noble Booksellers did come close on the Blu-ray price point.  PBS’ listing was the only one that exceeded both platforms’ price point.  Each retailer’s price point for the program’s DVD price exceeded its average by only cents.  Keeping all of this in mind, that still makes the 3-disc set’s price less than $10/disc.  At a total run time of six-and-a-half hours, that is actually quite affordable, especially considering the depth and breadth of the presented information.  Keeping all of this in mind, the average price point of American Experience: Chasing The Moon proves just as integral in its own way to the whole of the program as its primary and secondary content.  When all three elements are considered together, the whole of the elements makes this documentary an out of this world hit, proving once more why this documentary, though length, is well worth the watch by space history aficionados and history buffs in general.

PBS Distribution’s new American Experience documentary Chasing The Moon is a program that will keep lovers and students of space history and general history buffs alike fully engaged and entertained throughout the course of its six-and-a-half-hour run time.  That is due in no small part to its completely engaging and entertaining story, which is told through the words of those connected to America’s space program and to the Apollo 11 mission.  The bonus content that couples with that primary content will appeal to a more targeted audience, but is still just as entertaining and engaging in its own right.  They collectively make the average price point for the program’s home release – both on DVD and Blu-ray – money that is very well spent.  Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of the program.  All things considered, they make American Experience: Chasing The Moon a presentation that will give viewers the moon and more.  More information on this and other episodes of American Experience is available online now at:

 

 

 

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

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Twitter: http://twitter.com/AmExperiencePBS

 

 

 

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Journey To Space Will “Ignite” Audiences’ Enthusiasm For The Next Space Race

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

On August 31st, 2011 the world watched on as one of the most storied chapters in NASA’s history was officially closed.  That was when the agency’s shuttle program was ended.  While its ending was a major point in its history, it definitely wasn’t the end for NASA.  That is because not long after that chapter closed, talk about NASA’s next chapter began.  And now the world knows what the next step into space will be thanks to the announcement that NASA wants to send humans to Mars.  It isn’t the only organization looking to begin interstellar colonization.  SpaceX head Elon Musk has made it clear that he wants his company to send humans to Mars, too.  Both organizations are in their own race to get humans to Mars by 2024.  That is not very far off.  To be precise it is only eight years away at the time of this post and will be here before we know it.  As it nears so does anticipation over what this potential next step will bring for mankind.  Shout! Factory has a new program on the way this week that attempts to answer some of those questions in the form of Journey to Space.  The new feature is currently running in IMAX theaters nationwide.  This includes many science museums’ IMAX theaters.  For those not lucky enough to see it on the big screen, its new small screen presentation offers its own interesting experience.  One of the key elements to note in that experience is the program’s collective cinematography and sound.  It is just one of the program’s most important elements.  The program’s story is notable in its own right, too.  Last but hardly least of note in this program is its bonus material.  Yes, even the bonus material is important here.  Each element is just as important as the others in this program’s presentation.  Altogether they make Journey To Space an interesting presentation in its new home presentation that is worth at least one watch.

Shout! Factory’s new home presentation of Journey To Space is an interesting work.  It is a program that the whole family will enjoy, and is worth at least one watch.  One element that makes it worth that watch is its production values.  Originally filmed in IMAX, this program cries out desperately to be watched on a surround sound home theater system.  That is not to say that it won’t play out on a regular HDTV or even 4K UHD TV (as it is presented on both Blu-ray and 4K UHD platforms).  But it is obvious in watching this program that it was transferred directly from its original masters right to disc without any touchups.  For those without a home theater system, those production values (its collective audio and video mix) will be best appreciated on the largest screen possible.  Anything below 40 inches does not do the program proper justice.  That is especially true in the case of the sequences in which the actual video is placed inside a small frame, which is then set against a much larger backdrop.  Those sequences, as audiences will learn in the program’s bonus material, were originally filmed in 3D.  So that explains that.  In regards to the program’s audio presentation, using either “movie” or “personal” audio settings will produce the best audio experience.  Audiences will understand that when they hear this program for themselves.  The mixing and levels are exactly as they were in the program’s big screen presentation.  That means that they have not been optimized for small screen settings.  This, again, is why this presentation is best viewed in a home theater setup.  Between that and the program’s video, the production values presented in Journey To Space make it a very specialized program in its Blu-ray and 4K UHD platform.  Though it is a very specialized presentation in its new home release, there are still elements of the program that make it worth the watch by any viewer regardless of setup.  One of those elements is the program’s story.

The production values presented in Shout! Factory’s home release of Journey To Space makes it a very specialized presentation.  While the production values do tend to make it a specialized presentation it is just one of the program’s most notable elements.  The program’s story is just as important to note as its production values.  The story is something for every viewer.  The story starts at mankind’s aviation past.  It then flashes forward to the final days of NASA’s shuttle program before ultimately transitioning to the story of mankind’s next step into space, the journey to Mars.  This segment of the story makes up the bulk of the program.  Audiences learn in this segment about the efforts being undertaken to get humans deeper into space and ultimately onto the surface of the red planet.  Those efforts include the Orion spacecraft, specialized vehicles that will roam the planet’s terrain, and even space suits that will allow astronauts to transition right from their suits directly into the noted vehicles.  It outlines the training being undertaken by astronauts in order to prepare them for both the journey to Mars and life on the planet’s surface.  This includes underwater training, learning how to operate those noted vehicles, and even learning to walk in the noted space suits.  The whole thing ends with lead narrator Sir Patrick Stewart (Stewart is just one of the program’s narrators, as audiences will learn) bringing everything full circle.  He notes in his final monologue mankind’s future once Mars is reached and what lays beyond that, including even more advanced craft to go far deeper outside of the Milky Way.  All in all the story at the center of Journey To Space will both entertain and enlighten audiences.  Even as specialized as the program’s production values prove to be, this story makes it worth at least one watch in its new home video platforms.  It isn’t the program’s last notable element either.  Its bonus material is just as notable as its story or even its production values.

The production values presented in Journey To Space make it a very specialized presentation in its new home video release.  That aside, its story makes it worth at least one watch.  That is because it discusses (and ultimately promotes) humans’ journey beyond Earth and the moon.  It does so in a way that makes the story accessible to audiences of all ages.  While it is an important part of the program’s presentation, it is not the program’s only key element.  The bonus material that is included with the story is just as important as the story and its production values.  That is because of the revelations that are made in said material.  The “Behind-The-Scenes” feature, although short (it clocks in at just under five minutes), reveals that much of the program’s cinematography was captured in 4K by astronauts aboard the ISS.  Other footage was created via High Def cameras (such as those of the shuttle taking off) and via CG.  There was also use of 3D and other elements incorporated into the program’s presentation.  This includes the large visual backgrounds that are used for the smaller video segments.  There are even some CG scenes that are revealed to have utilized some 3D elements along with the CG elements.  There are even discussions in that short span on specific camera types and shooting styles used to capture to program’s footage.  These discussions will appeal largely to those with a background and interest in cameras and film production in general.  All things considered, the bonus Behind-The-Scenes featurette included in Journey To Space’s home presentation bring the whole thing full circle.  The discussion, though short, explains why the program is a specialized presentation in regards to its production values.  It also explains the specifics of the footage presented in the entertaining and insightful story.  Keeping this in mind, each element noted here proves important in its own right to the whole of Journey To Space.  Altogether they make Journey To Space an interesting outer space presentation that is worth at least one watch.

Shout! Factory’s new home presentation of Journey To Space is an interesting outer space presentation that is worth at least one watch in its new home presentation.  That is the case even with its production values making it a very specialized presentation.  The forty-five minute program’s story (forty-five minutes counting end credits) makes the program worth the watch even despite its specialized production values.  That is because of the picture that the story paints for mankind’s future.  The bonus Behind-The-Scenes material included in the program’s home release ties everything together.  It explains why the footage is so specialized and also presents how the program’s different scenes were captured and presented in the whole of the program.  Each element proves hugely important in its own right to the movie’s presentation.  Altogether they make Journey To Space an outer space presentation that is worth at least one watch.  It will be available this Tuesday, June 7th in stores and online on Blu-ray and 4K UHD/3D Blu-ray/Blu-ray combo pack and can be ordered online direct via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/film/documentary/journey-to-space.  More information on this and other titles is available online now at:

 

 

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American Experience: Space Men Reaches Its Own Great Heights

Courtesy:  PBS/PBS Distribution

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

Neil Armstrong.  Buzz Aldrin. Virgil “Gus” Grissom.  Every American knows their names.  Their names are taught from childhood up through adulthood.  That is because of their accomplishments during their time as astronauts with NASA.  They are just a few of the names that put the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on the map over the course of its now nearly sixty years in operation.  For all of the history that has been taught about NASA and its famed astronauts through the years, one part of NASA’s history that hasn’t been so widely taught at any level is its very roots.  Thanks to PBS, though audiences recently received a healthy introduction to NASA’s roots in a new episode of its series American Experience titled Space Men.  This new episode of American Experience delves into NASA’s earliest roots, explaining the men and the tests that helped form the foundation of today’s space exploration efforts.  It will be available next Tuesday, April 19th on DVD.  For those that were not lucky enough to catch it in its initial broadcast on their local PBS stations, there is plenty to appreciate about this episode of American Experience beginning with its story.  The story, as already noted, focuses not so much on NASA’s more commonly discussed era but its earliest roots.  This will be discussed shortly.  As with so many other PBS presentations the interviews, pictures, and footage that are used to advance the story and better illustrate it add even more to its presentation.  This will be discussed later. Last but hardly least of note is the program’s pacing and overall organization.  The two elements work in partnership with one another.  Together with the program’s central story and its overall content, each of the elements combine with one another to make American ExperienceSpace Men mandatory viewing for history buffs and space history buffs alike whether in the home or in the classroom.

American ExperienceSpace Men is mandatory viewing for history buffs and more specifically space history buffs alike.  This applies just as much in a home setting as in a classroom setting.  The main reason for this is the program’s story.  Rather than present the all too commonly discussed topic of the “Space Race” this program instead focuses on NASA’s earliest roots. Ironically though, it is noted early in the program’s roughly hour-long run time that even in NASA’s infancy it was in fact engaged in a space race of sorts with the Russians.  However in that time the race in question was quite different as it was just to see who could get a balloon higher into the stratosphere.  That is just one of the interesting tidbits that are revealed about NASA’s early life in this program.  Audiences also learn that if not for the concerted efforts of certain parties, America’s efforts to reach space might not have progressed beyond that original record setting balloon journey.  That is because more than once, government officials though that what would go on to be called the “Man High Project” wasn’t worth the funding.  That’s not all that audiences learn about.  They learn about the men that made everything happen, beginning with the man called “The fastest man on earth”–thanks to the tests that he underwent–Dr. John P. Stapp.  His dedication to keeping America’s earliest astronauts safe was truly laudable, as audiences will learn in watching this story.  There are also profiles of Joseph Kittinger, Davis Simons, and Clifton McClure, the men that piloted the aptly titled Man High Project in each of its flights.  This and s much more is presented in American ExperienceSpace Men’s central story.  Altogether it is more than enough reason for history buffs and space history buffs alike to watch this new episode of PBS’ history-based series.  It’s just one part of the program that makes it well worth the watch, too. The interviews, pictures, and vintage footage that are incorporated into the program add to its presentation.

The story at the center of American Experience: Space Men is in itself plenty of reason for history buffs and space history specialists alike to check out this program.  It’s just one part of what makes the documentary worth the watch.  The combined interviews, pictures, and footage that are incorporated into the episode are just as important to it as its story.  The interviews are so important to the episode because they help tell the story both from a third person perspective at times and at others from a first hand perspective.  In other words it is told collectively and wholly from the point of people who are very knowledgeable about the story and whose passion for the story is just as obvious.  The footage of the Man High project and the projects that preceded them will take viewers right back to those early days of NASA’s attempts to reach space.  The pictures that work alongside that footage add even more interest to the story and help to advance it even more.  Both of those elements, when set against the program’s interviews, will keep viewers just as engaged and entertained as the movie’s story being that they tell the program’s story.  Keeping all of this in mind, the story and its overall content are not the only important and notable of the program’s elements.  Its collective pacing and organization are just as important as its story and associated content.

There is plenty to say to the positive about American Experience: Space Men as has already been noted in the discussions about the program’s story and its overall content.  As important as both elements are to the whole of the program they are not the episode’s only important, notable elements.  The program’s collective pacing and organization are just as important to the episode’s presentation as its story and associated material.  Being that it has so much ground to cover its pacing is relatively solid from beginning to end.  Audiences will agree in watching through the program it never short-changes viewers at any point or even spends too much time on one subject or another.  Each moment in the story receives just enough attention to the end that audiences will never feel lost or bored.  In the same vein the program’s organization will keep viewers just as engaged.  The whole thing starts at the story’s end in order to set it all up.  From there, it rewinds back to the story’s beginning and sets the stage for the achievements to come.  Again through it all, no one moment receives too much or too little time.  The end result is a roughly hour-long program that is loaded with little known history and that in turn is certain to introduce many audiences to a whole new part of NASA’s history.  That is especially the case when the program’s pacing and organization are set against the episode’s story and its associated content.  All things considered American Experience: Space Men proves in the end to be a presentation that, once again, proves to be well worth the watch among history buffs and space history specialists.  It is yet more proof of why PBS remains today the last remaining bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television.

American Experience: Space Men is another edition of PBS’ history-based series that is well worth the watch by its specific audience and history buffs in general.  This is thanks in part to the episode’s story.  It tells a part of NASA’s story that is rare (if ever) taught at any level of education and even known by audiences.  To that end it will keep audiences engaged and entertained.  The program’s content is just as certain to keep viewers engaged.  The program’s combined pacing and organization rounds out its most notable elements.  All things considered these elements work together to make American Experience: Space Men a program that reaches its own *ahem* heights for history buffs and space history specialists alike.  It will be available next Tuesday, April 19th and can be ordered online direct via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=89071786&cp=&sr=1&kw=american+experience+space+men&origkw=american+experience+space+men&parentPage=search.  More information on this and other episodes of American Experience is available online now at:

 

 

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

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/AmExperiencePBS

 

 

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PBS Reaches For The Stars In New AE Episode

Courtesy:  PBS/PBS Distribution

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

Next month PBS and PBS Distribution will reach for the stars when they release another new episode of American Experience to DVD.

PBS and PBS Distribution will release the new American Experience episode Space Men on Tuesday, April 19th.  The hour-long program focuses on the men that formed NASA’s foundation—John Paul Stapp, Cpt. Joseph Kittinger, Dr. David Simons, and others—and their impact on the agency’s future.  The story starts with Stapp’s experiments on g-force at Edwards Air Force Base in the late 1940s and progresses to Project Manhigh (Man – High), which Stapp conducted alongside Dr. Simons.  From there, the story goes into even more depth as the years pass, explaining agency’s literal and figurative highs and lows.  There is even a discussion of the agency’s efforts in regards to the early days of the so-called “Space Race” in the program.  There is far more for audiences to take in over the course of the program.  It can all be taken in when the program is released on DVD on Tuesday, April 19th.  Audiences can view a trailer for this episode online now via the American Experience YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CK4-elKF9Z8.

Courtesy:  PBS/PBS Distribution

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

American Experience: Space Men will be released on Tuesday, April 19th.  It will retail for MSRP of $24.99 but can be pre-ordered at a discounted price of $19.99 via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=89071786&cp=&sr=1&kw=american+experience+space+men&origkw=american+experience+space+men&parentPage=search.  More information on this and other episodes of American Experience is available online now at:

 

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

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

 

 

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The Sixties Is A Must See For Any Real History Buff

Courtesy: CNN/PBS/Fremantle Media International/Herzog & Co./Playtone

Courtesy: CNN/PBS/Fremantle Media International/Herzog & Co./Playtone

Earlier this year, PBS and CNN teamed up to release CNN’s 2014 documentary The Sixties on DVD. This latest trip back in time is not the first time that PBS has taken viewers back to America’s most tumultuous and transformative era. It is however the most in-depth look at the era that PBS’ viewers have gotten to date. That depth lies at the center of the series’ success and its overall enjoyment. The depth in question is provided by the interviews and general material covered within each segment. Making this presentation just as enjoyable is that segmentation. Rather than just trying to jam everything into one continuous stream of consciousness sort of presentation as many other outlets do, CNN has shortened the whole of the program, thus shortening it into ten roughly forty-five to fifty minute segments. This better ensures audiences’ engagement from beginning to end. That coupled with each segment’s pacing ensures even more that audiences will remain engaged from one segment to the next and might even lead viewers to want to remain engaged. Whether for the material covered, for the segmentation of the series in whole or for the pacing of each segment, the whole of these elements together shows The Sixties to be one more of this year’s best new documentaries.

The Sixties is one of this year’s best new documentaries hands down. It is not the first time that PBS has delved into what was one of America’s most tumultuous and transformative eras. But it is the most in-depth look at that era that the network’s viewers have gotten yet, even with the documentary being originally aired on CNN last year. It is that depth that lies at the center of the series’ success. The depth in question is provided by a variety of interviews and vintage footage that was originally recorded during the course of the presented events. Even more specifically, the interviewees featured within each segment are not just random celebrities and academics. They were people who were directly linked to the events in question. For instance, the series’ final segment “Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘N’ Roll” features commentary from Jefferson Airplane member Grace Slick, Graham Nash of CSN, and famed music critic David Wild among others to discuss the cultural changes of the 60s and how they were being reflected within the music industry and back out amongst those subcultures that were linked to the changes (I.E. hippies, etc). There is also vintage footage of folk legend Joan Baez discussing politics and Jerry Garcia discussing the role of the Grateful Dead (in his younger days) in the world in comparison to the other bands and artists at the time. In “The Space Race,” audiences hear from Glynn Lunney, who was at the time head of the Gemini and Apollo missions, NASA administrator Charles Bolden, and NASA astronaut Mike Massimino among others. Their knowledge and experience within the U.S.’ space program throughout its history makes this segment all the richer and engrossing. They talk about the role that American pride played in the space race, President Johnson’s role in the space race and much more with the end result being yet another example of the series’ content playing an integral role in its success and enjoyment. Audiences even hear in the series’ opening segment “Television Comes of Age” from famed television personality Dick Cavett, Everybody Loves Raymond executive producer Phil Rosenthal, and veteran actress Sally Field among many other notable figures on the role of television in the 1960s from the good to the bad and the downright ugly. It’s interesting to really discover the tight connection that television had on America at the time and vice versa. This is especially the case when examining the role of television in America today. The material presented here is just as in-depth as the series’ other segments and shows just as much why once again the presented material is so important to the overall success and enjoyment of The Sixties. Whether for these segments, the segment centered on The Vietnam War, which reveals that the impact of the war weighed heavily on Johnson during his one term in office, or for the series’ other segments, the material presented throughout each segment via interviews and vintage footage presents The Sixties as one of the most in-depth and insightful pieces ever composed about America’s most influential eras.

The material that is presented through each of The Sixties’ segments proves it to be in the long run one of the most in-depth and insightful pieces crafted yet on what is one of the most important eras in America’s history. That is thanks to interviews with those directly linked to each segment and vintage footage that ties everything together. Of course as important as that element is to the whole of the presentation, it is only one part of what makes The Sixties worth the watch. The fact that it has been separated out into ten standalone segments adds to its success and enjoyment. This seems elementary. But the reality of the matter is that there are some specials and documentaries out there that try to cram everything into one long stream of consciousness sort of presentation, expecting to keep viewers’ attention along the way. CNN didn’t do that here. Each of the series’ ten segments clocks in at roughly fifty-one minutes each. That is about the same length of time as most episodes of PBS’ hit series. What’s more each segment even includes the bumps used to go to and come back from commercial breaks. This helps keep viewers engaged as it breaks up each segment within themselves, thus allowing viewers to take a quick mental break rather than feeling like they have to constantly keep up with everything being discussed. Having those quick breaks and relatively standard run times within each segment, audiences will be more inclined to remain engaged from one segment to the next. Being more inclined to remain engaged, audiences will in turn find themselves taking in the breadth of material presented within each segment and in turn experience for themselves the importance of said material in the whole of The Sixties as well as the segmentation of each segment.

The amount of information provided across the ten episodes that make up The Sixties and the separation of the episodes together makes this documentary a presentation that any and every history buff will appreciate. By themselves, both elements easily make the argument for this documentary series’ place on any critic’s list of the year’s best new documentaries. While both elements play their own important role in the success and enjoyment of The Sixties, the pacing of each segment should also be noted. Given that each segment runs roughly fifty-one minutes in length that offers plenty of room for lots of information. It also makes for plenty of room to add too much information. Luckily for audiences, those behind this series didn’t go that route. Each segment is expertly timed out, spending just enough time on each subject that makes up each segment. Viewers won’t be left feeling like they have to go back and watch one segment or another over again. The end result here is a greater understanding and in turn appreciation for the material presented throughout the course of the series. That understanding and appreciation will lead viewers to agree that The Sixties is well-deserving of a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new documentaries.

The Sixties is one of this year’s best new documentaries. Audiences that purchase this three-disc box set will agree with that sentiment. They will agree as they will see for themselves the depth of the information provided with in each of the series’ segments. They will agree just as much in noting the clearly defined separation of each segment from the others and each segment’s run time. Last but not least of all, audiences will agree in noting the pacing taken within each of the series’ segments. All things considered, The Sixties is one of the most in-depth documentaries to be released yet on the history of what is one of America’s most pivotal eras. It is available now and can be ordered online direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=54994166&cp=&sr=1&kw=the+sixties&origkw=The+Sixties&parentPage=search. More information on this and other titles from PBS is available online now at:

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

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

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.

PBS’ Armstrong Bio Is More Proof Of Why NOVA, PBS Remain Tops In Television

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

That’s one small step for man.  One giant leap for mankind.  Neil Armstrong spoke those words as he took the first steps onto the surface of the moon almost forty-six years ago.  July 20th of this year will mark forty-six years since that history changing took place.  While Armstrong was the first living being to step foot on the lunar surface, it is his fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin that has remained in the public eye in the years since.  Armstrong on the other hand shied away from the limelight after the men returned from the historic mission of the Apollo 11.  Now as the world prepares to mark celebrate the 46th anniversary of the lunar landing PBS has released an episode of its hit science-based series NOVA that examines Armstrong’s life and legacy.  Released this past December, NOVA: First Man on the Moon examines not just Neil Armstrong as the legendary figure that so many people know, but Neil Armstrong the reluctant public figure.  That in itself is the central reason that audiences will enjoy this episode of NOVA.  The use of interviews with Armstrong’s friends and family along with actual vintage footage and pictures from his life and career add even more interest to the program.  Thanks to its pacing, the third element of the program’s enjoyment and success, the interviews and footage combined with the story in whole are made easy for audiences to follow and in turn all the more impactful.  Being able to fully take in the impact that Neil Armstrong made and the legacy that he left behind, every viewer will agree that NOVA: First Man on the Moon is a program that should be in classrooms at every level from middle school through college.  It is that valuable a program.  And it is yet more proof both in the argument that NOVA remains today the best science-based series on television and that PBS is the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming.

Much has been said and made of Neil Armstrong and the legacy that he created over the course of his life.  The problem is that for all that has been said and made of his legacy,  most of what people know of Armstrong is the that he was the first human to step foot on the moon.  What’s really interesting is that despite this recognition, Armstrong actually never embraced the celebrity that came with this fact.  For that matter, he never embraced the mantle that was placed on him even before the historic flight of Apollo 11.  Rather, as audiences will see in NOVA: First Man on the Moon, Neil Armstrong was the epitome of the anti-celebrity.  Audiences learn through this nearly hour-long program that from his childhood, Armstrong’s first love was flight.  He never pursued his love for celebrity.  He chased the dream because of his pure love for aviation.  Through everything that he achieved during his life, the program reveals that Armstrong never once tried to bring light to his accomplishments.  The attention in question came from exterior sources.  It was that same attention that led him to shy away from the media later in his life after the events of the moon landing.  The companion interviews included with the program reveal that Armstrong actually never felt that he deserved the attention that he received after the mission.  It is also revealed that responsibilities such as speaking engagements were actually thrust onto him and that he only reluctantly accepted them, leading to his undeserved reputation as a recluse.  It’s a truly eye-opening story needless to say and one that every American should experience whether in the classroom or the living room.

The revealing story presented in NOVA: First Man on the Moon is reason within itself for audiences of all ages and interests to watch this episode of NOVA.  The story by itself is interesting.  But without the companion interviews and footage used to advance it, the story would have only gone so far.  The interviews included in the program are with Armstrong’s own friends and family including one of the men working at mission control during the Apollo 11 mission, Armstrong’s wives (yes, he was married more than once) his friend and fellow Apollo 11 crew member Buzz Aldrin among many others.  The insights offered by those interviewed paint a vivid picture of a man that few likely have ever known.  Their stories paint the picture of a man that did not go into his profession for celebrity, women or any other related reason.  Rather the picture painted through the story’s interviews is one of a man that went into his field for his love of the profession.  As the interviewees reveal, even in the direst of situations, he stayed calm and collected even after the fact, playing the situations down like they were everyday occurrences instead of making a big deal over them.  That is a huge statement.  Along the way, audiences get to see first-hand just some of the situations in question thanks to the inclusion of actual footage from some of the missions and projects in which he was included.  Audiences actually get the see the result of a docking mission gone wrong as they hear from those first-hand interviews of his cool demeanor in the face of certain doom.  They also see the result of that collected mindset as he and his fellow mission member touched down safely in the South China Sea and then returned to U.S. soil as the story is told of how he even played the event down in its aftermath.  That same picture of a man focused on his job is painted when a lunar landing training project goes awry.  Viewers see Armstrong eject from the training vehicle safely as it falls to earth, yet again playing down the event in its aftermath.  These are just a couple of examples of how the interviews and footage incorporated into NOVA: First Man on the Moon make it such a memorable story.  The story that is in turn presented along with the companion footage and interviews ironically makes Armstrong even more respected and perhaps even legendary than he was just for being the first man on the moon.  It makes him even more respected and legendary for being a man and a man that put his job and his family above fame.  Yet again here is even more reason for audiences to check out this in-depth video biography of a man who was great not for his accomplishments but for who he was.

The story of who Neil Armstrong was and his importance to American history in NOVA: First Man on the Moon is by itself a moving presentation. The interviews and footage interwoven into the story help to not only advance the story but to make the story all the richer and engaging for viewers. For all of their importance, the noted elements would mean nothing without proper pacing. It goes without saying that the pacing of this episode is at the very core of its success. Considering how much ground is covered over the course of the episode’s roughly fifty-three-minute run time, its pacing is solid from beginning to end. Not once does the program move so fast as to lose audiences or so fast that audiences are left feeling left behind. That is even considering all of the background information provided via the episode’s companion interviews. Taking into mind the balance of the program’s speed to its overall content, the end product proves to be an episode that is more than just another episode of NOVA or even just another biography. It proves in the end to be an in-depth look at a man that very few truly knew. It is a picture of a man that is just as deserving for who he was as for what he did. It is one more example of why NOVA remains today the best science-based series on television today and why PBS in whole remains the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television.

A lot of thought and work went into NOVA: First Man on the Moon before it was brought to life. The story presented here isn’t just another piece touting Neil Armstrong as “the first man on the moon.” It paints a picture of a man that was far more than that. It paints a picture of a man that wanted only to do what he loved rather than be in the limelight for what he did. The interviews and footage incorporated into the central story help paint that vivid picture. The pacing of the program in whole makes the companion footage and interviews easy to follow. Because the interviews and footage are so easy to follow, the story in whole becomes that much more accessible to audiences, and in turn that much more engaging and enjoyable. All three elements together show precisely that while it might have been released some months ago, NOVA: First Man on the Moon remains just as enjoyable in the living room as the classroom and will be for some time to come. NOVA: First Man on the Moon is available now on DVD and can be ordered online direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=49575346&cp=&sr=1&kw=first+man+on+the+moon&origkw=First+Man+on+the+Moon&parentPage=search. More information on this and other titles from PBS is available online now at:

Website: http://www.pbs.org

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

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

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

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/novapbs

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