PBS Crafts Another Of 2021’s Top New Docs in New ‘Nature’ Episode

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

Back in 2015, National Geographic and Virgil Films followed the efforts of workers at the Wolong Panda Center in China to protect and breed pandas in the then new documentary Pandas: The Journey Home.  The 40-minute presentation followed the center’s employees as they worked to not only protect the bears, but also prepare them for a life in the wild.  The efforts were aimed at helping increase the still low population of pandas.  Fast forward six years and audiences have gotten another such program, this time from PBS in the form of the Nature episode Pandas: Born to be Wild.  Released on DVD Jan. 5, the new profile proves to be an admirable companion piece (of sorts) to the aforementioned documentary.  That is due in part to its story, which will be addressed shortly.  The cinematography featured in the 53-minute episode builds on the program’s appeal.  It will be discussed a little later.  Noting everything else, the run time and pacing collectively round out the program’s most important elements here.  They will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the episode.  All things considered, they make the episode another enjoyable edition of Nature.

Nature: PandasBorn to be Wild is yet another strong addition to the long-running series that audiences will find enjoyable.  Not only that, but it is also a presentation that every nature and animal lover in general should see at least once.  That is proven in part through its central story.  The story in question follows the efforts of workers at a panda sanctuary in China’s Qinling Mountains to breed and release pandas into the wild.  It is very similar, stylistically, to the story in National Geographic and Virgil Films’ 2015 documentary Pandas: The Journey Home.  The main difference between the two documentaries is that the earlier documentary focused on pandas at another of China’s 40-plus panda centers.  To be precise, it focuses on the efforts undertaken at the Wolong Panda Center in the Chengdu Mountains.  This story meanwhile takes place at another center in the Qinling Mountains.  Audiences will be interested to learn about the lengths to which the center’s employees go in order to prepare pandas raised at the facility for life in the wild.  From dressing up as pandas and squirting themselves with panda urine (yes, you read right – simply so they can check the health of a baby cub – to keeping 24/7 watch on the pandas through a series of cameras, to even simply minimizing contact with the bears (so as to let them act as naturally as possible), the lengths to which the center’s employees go are great, and are aimed at helping the pandas…well…be pandas.  There is a lot of cuteness throughout the nearly hour-long program as the (thankfully) unnamed cub grows and learns how to be a panda.  Audiences will laugh as the narrator points out the cub’s “struggles” to grow and become independent of its mother.  That is because its actions are so much like those of an adolescent human.  At one point, the cub (at the equivalent age of a human teen) seems like it is finally becoming independent, but then regresses, not even able to figure out how to properly do something as simple as eating bamboo shoots.  It doesn’t seem funny on the surface, but in reality is funny because, again, it is so much like so many human teens.  At other points, the actions of the cub’s mom almost exactly mirror those of a human mother, making for its own share of entertainment and engagement.  The mother panda, in one of those points, grabs at her cub as he tries to climb a tree.  The noises that she makes as she tries to stop her cub from climbing a tree let viewers know (along with the narrator) that she does not want her baby climbing but so high.  This moment will bring plenty of smiles and laughter.  That the narrator points out her babying of her own baby (much like so many human moms) will bring its own share of laughs.  Something as simple as that ensures audiences’ engagement even more.

For all of the cuteness that takes place in the panda center, there is also much observation of the few wild pandas in the mountains that is more serious.  These moments help create a clear juxtaposition for viewers, pointing out how much work the protected cub has to do before it is ready for the wild.  Staying on that note, there are some semi-blurry scenes involving pandas mating in the wild here.  To that point, these moments are not kid friendly, so some viewer discretion is advised.  Otherwise, the rest of the program will find appeal among most audiences through its story, which follows the cub’s growth and development.  Making the story even better is the fact that audiences do not have to endure any preaching about environmentalism in this episode, unlike so many past episodes.  That is the best note of all here.  There is so much more in the story for audiences to enjoy.  Audiences will be left for viewers to discover on their own.  Keeping that in mind, the story is just one aspect of this episode that audiences will enjoy.  The cinematography featured in the episode adds its own appeal.

The cinematography featured in Nature: Pandas Born to be Wild is stunning to say the very least.  The wide shots of the mountain valley will leave audiences in awe throughout the seasons, for starters.  Watching a large male panda get so close to the camera crews in the mountains at one point makes for another awe-inspiring moment.  Thankfully the large male does not attack the camera crew, but seeing it so up close in the wild is a powerful moment in is own right in terms of the cinematography.  The many moments shared between the mother panda and her cub – including the sweetest moment early on in which she cradles her newborn — make for their own engagement and entertainment.  Between these moments and others, the cinematography featured in this episode of Nature makes for so much visual entertainment.  Together with the episode’s story, the two elements collectively enrich the episode even more.  They are just a portion of what audiences will find appealing, too.  The program’s collective pacing and run time round out its most important elements.

As has already been noted, Nature: Pandas Born to be Wild clocks in at 53 minutes, which is the typical run time for most of the series’ episodes.  There is actually a lot going on in this episode’s story considering the comparison of how pandas in the wild live and how the featured panda cub lives.  The story’s end will not be revealed here since it is not the most important aspect.  What is important to note is that the transitions between the panda center and the wilds of the Qinlin Mountains is steady and stable throughout the course of the noted run time.  That stability in the transitions ensures in its own right, that the program’s pacing remains stable, too.  It is the cornerstone of the overall story of the panda cub’s growth, which again is so entertaining and engaging just because that story will find audiences laughing and “awwwing” throughout.  That aspect and the stable transitions together keep the story moving fluidly throughout the episode, putting the finishing touch to the program.  By story’s end, audiences will feel fulfilled.  To that end, this element is the final touch to the program’s presentation.  Together with the cinematography and the story itself, all three elements make the program in whole another standout episode of Nature.

Nature: Pandas Born to be Wild is a presentation that audiences will agree is another enjoyable addition to the long-running wildlife series’ body of work.  Its central story, which follows the growth and development of a young panda cub in the Qinlin Mountains of China does well to compare his development versus how wild pandas live.  What’s more, it avoids any unnecessary preachy environmentalist message.  The cinematography featured along with the story adds to the episode’s engagement and entertainment.  The story’s collective run time and pacing put the finishing touch to the episode’s presentation.  Thanks to those elements, audiences will never feel left behind or overwhelmed, which is another positive.  Each item noted here is important in its own right to the whole of this episode of Nature.  All things considered, the episode in whole proves to be another example of what makes Nature such an enjoyable program.  They make this program easily one more of 2021’s top new documentaries.

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

Websitehttps://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/PBSNature

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/PBSNature

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

Pandas: The Journey Home Is A Journey That Every Animal Lover And Documentary Fan Will Want To Take

Courtesy:  National Geographic Films/Virgil Films

Courtesy: National Geographic Films/Virgil Films

There was big news from the animal world recently as a giant panda named Kelin became a mother for the first time. The seven-year old panda, who had been artificially inseminated, gave birth to twin female cubs at a breeding center in Chengdu, in Southwest China. The news is so big because of the rarity of twin panda births. With the happy news being announced this week it would seem a fitting time to take a look at the newly released panda-centric documentary Pandas: The Journey Home. The documentary, which was recently released by National Geographic and Virgil Films, examines the efforts of workers at China’s Wolong Panda Center to raise and protect pandas. The program boasts a number of positives; positives that collectively show it to be both an invaluable tool for teachers and an enjoyable watch for even the most casual nature lover. The main way in which it shows this is through its central presentation. It doesn’t try to be just another wildlife program nor is it just another run-of-the-mill activist piece either. Rather it is a hybrid of both genres. The end result of that mix is a presentation that will move viewers both to laugh and cry. That sounds like a line right out of a movie promotion, yes. But in the case of this program, it is actually a fitting description. On a related note, the program’s cinematography is just as stunning. Audiences will see the pandas as they are raised in the mountains of China’s Sichuan Province. The footage that was captured and presented here is within itself plenty of reason for audiences to check out this documentary. Last but hardly least of note here is the program’s collective run time and pacing. It runs roughly forty minutes total. That is not very long. None of that time is wasted. Nor does it leave viewers feeling left behind and confused at any point. The resultant effect is that audiences will be better able to appreciate the program’s camerawork and the information shared throughout its run time. The end result of all of this is the realization that Pandas: The Journey Home is a documentary that any nature lover and animal lover should see at least once.

Pandas: The Journey Home is a documentary that every nature lover and animal lover should see at least once. For that matter it is a presentation that any fan of documentaries should see at least once. The main reason for this is its writing. The work of those charged with its writing composed it in such a way that it comes across as neither a standard wildlife nor an activist piece either. Rather it comes across as a hybrid of both. Being that it does, it will move viewers both to laughter and to tears throughout the course of its forty-minute run time. It will also teach audiences quite a bit without actually necessarily being a straight forward educational program. For instance, viewers will learn as the program progresses that female pandas are only fertile for roughly three to four days in their fertile periods. Audiences will also learn the shocking statistic of how few pandas currently live on their own in the wild today. That number alone will in itself be enough to keep viewers engaged, almost wanting to cheer for those working to return pandas to the wild in hopes of one day turning things around for pandas, increasing their numbers in the wild. These are a couple of pieces of information included in the presentation that will have audiences watching and thinking all at the same time. There is much more of course that audiences will learn on their own when they purchase the program for themselves. Whether for the noted fact and figures presented here or for the other in-depth information shared throughout, the material in whole shows the importance of the writing in the enjoyment and success of Pandas: The Journey Home. It is only part of what makes the program worth the watch, too. The work of the documentary’s cinematographer(s) adds even more enjoyment to it.

The information shared throughout the course Pandas: The Journey Home makes this presentation well worth the watch by itself. Of course on its own it can only go so far in keeping audiences engaged. That is where the show’s cinematography comes into play. The work of those behind the lens in this documentary is exceptional in its own right. Audiences get stunning views of the mountains in which the panda center resides and of the panda center itself throughout the course of the show. The footage isn’t just formulaic by any means at any point, either. There are aerial shots of the mountains, topped by low-hanging fog and clouds, river flowing below at their bases. There are also shots from ground level of the forests that populate the mountains. The view of the forests from ground level set against the raging river makes for even more “oomph.” On a related note, the footage of the panda center is just as interesting. Audiences don’t just get the standard exterior shots. They also get a first-hand look at the operations of the panda center from caring for the newborn cubs and playing with them as they grow to taking the cubs into the wild and preparing them for their lives on their own outside of the center’s walls. Those charged with capturing the whole thing on camera are to be highly for their work. As audiences will see for themselves, the whole of their filming will move viewers to awe. It collectively makes for yet another way in which Pandas: The Journey Home shows itself to be a worthwhile addition to any classroom and living room.

The work of the camera crew and those that were charged with assembling the information disseminated throughout the program collectively makes Pandas: The Journey Home a journey that audiences of all ages will enjoy whether in the living room or the classroom. For all of the value of the program’s cinematography and writing, none of it would mean anything with pacing that keeps viewers engaged. In the case of this documentary that is exactly what audiences get. Thanks to its collective pacing and related run time, at no point will audiences feel left in the proverbial dust, scratching their heads. Rather each separate segment of the program is given just enough time and attention. The end result of that timing and attention is a forty-minute documentary that feels anything but those forty minutes. It feels far shorter as a matter of fact. That is meant in the best way possible. Being that it keeps viewers fully engaged rather than bored out of their minds, the collective pacing and run time of Pandas: The Journey Home solidifies the documentary’s enjoyment and its place on this year’s list of the year’s best new documentaries.

Pandas: The Journey Home is one of the best of this year’s crop of documentaries. It is a production that is just as valuable and worth the watch in the living room as in the classroom. That is made clear initially via the in-depth information provided by the program. The information in question is a balance of both education and information. The work of those charged with recording its footage makes it even more enjoyable. Thanks to its solid pacing its forty-minute run time feels as if it flies right by all without losing viewers along the way. Because viewers are kept engaged from beginning to end, they will in turn see clearly the importance of the camera crew’s work and that of those charged with assembling the program’s information. All things considered Pandas: The Journey Home proves in the end to be a presentation that is just as valuable of an addition to any classroom or living room setting and a presentation that is one of the best of this year’s crop of new documentaries. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct from Virgil Films’ online store at http://www.virgilfilmsent.com/store/product.php?pid=713. More information on this and other titles from Virgil Films is available online now at:

Website: http://www.virgilfilmsent.com

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

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.

National Geographic Films, Virgil Films Team Up For New Documentary Film

Courtesy:  National Geographic Films/Virgil Films

Courtesy: National Geographic Films/Virgil Films

Virgil Films and National Geographic Films will release Nat Geo’s latest documentary Pandas: The Journey Home next month.

Pandas: The Journey Home will be released Tuesday, June 16th on 2D and 3D Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. Shot entirely in IMAX, the documentary follows a group of pandas from birth to transition back to the wild. In order to create the program, its filmmakers were given unprecedented access to the Wolong Panda Center in China. The thirty-six minute documentary presents the work put in to protect pandas and return them to the wild.

Actress Joely Richardson (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Nip/Tuck) serves as narrator for the film. The project is helmed by director Nicolas Brown (Human Planet, Expedition Alaska) and produced by Caroline Hawkins (Meerkats 3D, Fatal Attractions) of Oxford Scientific Films. Hawkins noted in a recent interview part of her reason for signing on for this film explaining that pandas “are more than just cute and cuddly animals to see in the zoo. They have a place in the wild and in the ecosystem.”

Pandas: The Journey Home will be available from Virgil Films and National Geographic Films Tuesday, June 16th. It will be available in a 2D/3D Blu-ray + DVD combo pack for MSRP of $29.99. It will also be available on demand and via digital platforms in both SD and HD versions. Audiences can check out a trailer for Pandas: The Journey Home online now along with more information on the film online at http://movies.nationalgeographic.com/movies/pandas/. Audiences can get more information on this and other movies from National Geographic Films online at http://movies.nationalgeographic.com/movies. More information on this and other titles from Virgil films is available online now at:

Website: http://www.virgilfilmsent.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/virgilfilms

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.

No Mystery Here: Mysteries Of The Unseen World Is A Fun Film For Audiences Of All Ages

Courtesy:  Virgil Films/National Geographic/Lockheed Martin/FEI/National Science Foundation

Courtesy: Virgil Films/National Geographic/Lockheed Martin/FEI/National Science Foundation

National Geographic officially released its new documentary film Mysteries of the Unseen World this week. The film, which runs barely over the half-hour mark, is just as good a fit for any family’s home collection as it is a science class at any level of education. The film’s aforementioned run time is the central reason that it is such a good fit in both the living room and the classroom. By association, its pacing plays its own role, too. It’s just part of what makes it so worth the watch. Its clear presentation of two separate yet similar topics adds to its enjoyment. For those that might actually have a 3D Blu-ray player and 3D TV will also appreciate the fact that National Geographic has presented the film in both standard 2D and 3D format. Both formats are both Blu-ray presentations, too. So regardless of whether or not audiences have the equipment for a 3D presentation, every viewer will have reason to be happy when they pick up the film in its 2D/3D Blu-ray combo pack. Whether for this reason, for the fact that it clearly separates the topics into two separate segments or for its relatively short run time, audiences will see in the end that there is plenty to like about Mysteries of the Unseen World.

National Geographic’s new documentary Mysteries of the Unseen World is a good fit for the living room and the classroom alike. As a matter of fact, watching through this program, it proves to be a piece that audiences of any age will enjoy whether in the living room or the classroom. That is saying quite a bit. It is just as valuable for a junior high science class as a freshman level college science course. One reason for this vast reach is the program’s run time. Its total run time comes it at just over the half hour mark. To be more precise, its run time comes in at approximately thirty-nine minutes. That time seems to fly by, too even with the amount of information shared through the course of the film’s two segments. That is a credit to those charged with editing and assembling the film. As much information is shared through the course of the program–the wonders of the microscopic world and slow motion photography, and its history and impact–at no one point does it spend too much or too little time on the subjects or their related topics. Speaking of those topics, they are another reason that audiences of all ages will appreciate this film.

The run time and pacing of Mysteries of the Unseen World collectively make this presentation well worth the watch in and of themselves. No time is wasted on either end of the clock covering any of the material presented throughout the course of the film’s thirty-nine minute run time. It’s just part of what makes this documentary feature worth the watch regardless of audiences’ age. The material itself adds even more enjoyment to the program in whole. It examines the world first through the lens of a high-speed camera, showing specific situations both slowed and sped up. Those situations include a balloon being popped, a rose decaying, a glass and pitcher of milk falling and breaking and more. Anyone that remembers Discovery’s short-lived series Time Warp and who might have actually watched it will appreciate this segment. The second segment, which is clearly separated from the first, takes viewers into the microscopic world, introducing viewers to otherwise invisible objects. Those objects are both good and bad. For instance, there is a close up look at a butterfly egg and at a highly bendable material that–as narrator Forest Whitaker notes–could one day be used to build the long talked about elevator to space. On another level, there’s a note of the bumpy microscopic surface of a lily pad which could be used as a model to keep planes’ wings from icing over one day. To these extents, the things that we can’t see become that much more incredible. And they make for an especially welcome starting point for just such a discussion, again, in a science class at any level. On the other side of the discussion is a microscopic look at some not so nice objects such as head lice and even a mite that lives on people’s eyelashes. It’s unsettling but so intriguing that one can’t help but look. And it’s one more way that the content presented in Mysteries of the Unseen World makes this documentary worth the watch whether in the living room or the classroom. Coupled with the film’s run time and pacing, the content adds even more punch to the whole, making it that much more of a must have at least for any science teacher and lover of science in general.

The run time and pacing of Mysteries of the Unseen World taken into consideration with the overall content and its arrangement makes collectively for more than enough reason for audiences to check out the new documentary from National Geographic. While the noted elements are each equally important to the whole that is Mysteries of the Unseen World, there is still one more element to note of the film that should be noted that makes it a worth the watch. The element in question is the very fact that the documentary has been presented in a 2D/3D Blu-ray combo pack. The 2D/3D Blu-ray combo pack obviously presents the documentary both in its 2D presentation and enhanced 3D presentation. Those that have the necessary equipment to take in the 3D presentation will see for themselves just how amazing the microscopic world and the smaller world in whole look. It is the finishing touch to a documentary that along with its overall content, run time, and pacing shows to be a surprisingly fun and entertaining piece for audiences of all ages.

Mysteries of the Unseen World is available now in stores and online. The 2D/3D combo pack can be ordered online direct from Virgil Films’ online store and National Geographic’s online store. More information on this and other titles from Virgil Films is available online at:

Website: http://www.virgilfilmsent.com

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

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 reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

PBS’ NOVA Goes Prehistoric In New Episode

Courtesy:  PBS/National Geographic

Courtesy: PBS/National Geographic

PBS’ hit science series NOVA is going prehistoric.

PBS will release NOVA: Bigger Than T. Rex on DVD next month. The DVD will be released Tuesday, December 9th. The program focuses on paleontologists’ discovery almost a century ago of a dinosaur that was even bigger than the king of the dinosaurs, the T. Rex. The dinosaur, dubbed the Spinosaurus, was almost lost to the ages due to a bombing raid by allied forces in WWII. The near complete destruction of the dinosaur’s bones left only drawings of the beast , leaving researchers with more questions than answers.

Many of those questions left by the partially destroyed skeleton are now being answered thanks to the recent discovery of a new skeleton in a Moroccan cliff face. In this new episode of NOVA, audiences will see the processes undertaken by paleontologists as they dig out the skeleton of the 53-foot-long creature and answer those questions previously left unanswered. The episode is presented in partnership with National Geographic.

NOVA: Bigger Than T. Rex will be available on DVD Tuesday, December 9th. It will retail for MSRP of $24.99. It can be ordered online direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=50703646&cp=&sr=1&kw=bigger+than+t.+rex&origkw=Bigger+Than+T.+Rex&parentPage=search. It will also be available via digital download. 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

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.

PBS To Release Special FIFA World Cup Tournament Tie-In

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS will release a special documentary this summer in celebration of the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup Tournament.

American Pharaoh will be released on DVD July 8th. The documentary, helmed by Egyptian filmmaker Hossam Aboul-Magd, follows the Egyptian National Soccer team—the Pharaohs—and the team’s former American coach, Bob Bradley. It documents the team’s attempt to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup for the first time in more than twenty years. Aboul-Magd and his crew filmed the documentary over the course of more than two years. The team’s struggle to qualify is set against the unrest in the team’s home nation.

Bardley is only the third American to ever manage a foreign soccer team.   Along with the struggles of the team as a whole, American Pharaoh follows Bradley’s journey and that of his family, staff and players. It offers coverage of the Pharaohs’ games in Africa and shows the team’s fight to reach its lofty goals despite everything going on around the team.

Aboul-Magd explained in an interview that his documentary is more than just a sports-themed documentary. He explained that this documentary is about the team and its fight to succeed as an example of how Egypt as a country can also overcome its own struggles. “This is not just a film about soccer,” he said. “This is about my country, my team, a coach I respect and the dream of capturing the World Cup in spite of enormous challenges.  I see the goal of developing a strong team, in the middle of a revolution, as a metaphor for the rebuilding of Egypt.”

Bill Gardner, VP of Programming and Development with PBS, also shared his thoughts on the documentary. He noted in his comments what led PBS to take on American Pharaoh. “When Hossam approached PBS with this idea, we were immediately on board,” he said. “This film not only tells a compelling story, but also provides a unique window into Egyptians’ ongoing struggle to define themselves during a time of national unrest. The journey of the Pharaohs on the road to the World Cup with the perspective of their American coach make this a truly unusual and intimate film.”

Hossam Abou-Magd is an award-winning filmmaker. American Pharaohs is not his first film for PBS. He has helmed previous works for PBS, Discovery Channel, National Geographic, History Channel, BBC, ABC, CNN, NHK and Al-Jazeera.

American Pharaoh will be available on DVD Tuesday, July 8th. It can be ordered online direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=35620216&cp=&sr=1&kw=american+pharaoh&origkw=American+Pharaoh&parentPage=search. More information on this and other documentaries from PBS is available online at http://www.pbs.org and http://www.facebook.com/pbs. 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.