‘NOVA: Human Nature’ Succeeds In Its Gene Editing, Bioethics Discussions

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution/WGBH

Technology can be a very good thing.  It can also be very bad.  It all depends on who uses it and how.  That is the central discussion of the recently debuted episode of PBS’ hit science-based series NOVA, Human Nature.  The episode, which debuted in September, was released Dec. 1 on DVD.  The 90-minute documentary is a presentation that is certain to engage and entertain viewers from start to end.  That is due in no small part to the program’s central discussion topic.  This will be discussed shortly.  The way in which the program is presented adds to the program’s appeal even more and will be discussed a little later.  Considering these aspects collectively, they make the DVD’s average price point a positive in its own right.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of this DVD.  All things considered, they make the DVD’s a presentation overall that many audiences will find a must in their personal documentary libraries.

NOVA: Human Nature is a powerful new episode of PBS’ hit science-based series that stands as one of the best of the series’ episodes this year.  That is proven in part through its central discussion topic.  The topic in question is that of the use of what is known as clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, or “CRISPR” for short.  As is revealed through the discussion, “CRISPR” as something genetic has been happening for eons.  If what is discussed is understood correctly, it has played a big part in the evolution of many if not most biological creatures.  It has helped protect biological beings safe from viruses, allowing them to survive.  From there, the discussion turns to the use of “CRISPR” as a technological tool for humans.  Some of America’s top scientific minds discuss the possibility of using “CRISPR” to potentially eliminate diseases, such as cancer and sickle cell anemia, and to even alter genes of embryos so that couples can have potentially disease-free babies.  The topics of whether even doing that is ethical and the long term impact – whether humans would even remain disease free throughout life – branch out from the central theme along the way.  No bias is shown one way or the other, as supporters are interviewed along with opponents to the use of “CRISPR.”  One of the noted scientists who comes across as a supporter of “CRISPR” points out that despite popular belief, scientists are not looking to use “CRISPR” to bring back dinosaurs and wooly mammoths.  Another points out that at this point, the military is not working to use
”CRISPR” to make “super soldiers” and other military technology.  Yet another even points out that “CRISPR” is in fact being used to potentially create plants that are able to adapt to the world’s changing climate conditions.  To its defense, this aspect of “CRISPR’s” potential positives is rather interesting.  Humans need agriculture in order to produce food, and with climate change’s impact on the planet (and the human impact on the naturally occurring process) so clear, creating plants that are adaptable (or resistant to) the impacts of climate change could proof beneficial for humans.  As one of the interviewed scientists points out in the program’s end (not to give away too much), hopefully the day won’t come anytime soon that humans would decide to use this clearly divisive tool that is “CRISPR” for anything bad.  Regardless of which side one takes on the ongoing discussion over the use of “CRISPR” it is clear in watching this episode of NOVA that the discussions likely will not end anytime soon.  That is not a bad thing, either, considering all of the issues raised through the program.  To that end, the central topic featured in this in-depth documentary creates a solid foundation for the program.  It is just one of the aspects that makes NOVA: Human Nature a success.  The way in which the program is presented adds to its appeal.

A lot of ground is covered over the course of NOVA: Human Nature’s 90-minute run.  It is all presented in one continuous program, too.  Keeping that in mind, the manner in which the episode is presented is key in its own right in order to keep viewers watching.  In order to keep viewers engaged, those behind the episode divided the episode into “chapters.”  The “chapters” are clearly pointed out on screen as the documentary progresses.  This leaves no doubt that the overall discussion is changing direction.  What’s more, the transitions between chapters are solid in their own right.  There is just enough space between the “chapters” to let viewers know that the program’s discussion is changing.  That and the visual presentation of each “chapter’s” title collectively makes for a wonderful presentation for the episode.  It breaks things up just enough to keep viewers from getting bored with the topic and its discussion.  That and the central topic collectively make NOVA: Human Nature even more successful, especially in the way it plays into the program’s pacing.  Keeping all of this in mind, there is one more aspect of the episode to discuss, the program’s average price point.

The average price point for NOVA: Human Nature is $21.52.  That price is reached by averaging prices listed through Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, and PBS’ online store.  At the time of this review’s posting, the DVD was not listed through Target or Books-A-Million.  Amazon and Best Buy offer the least expensive of the noted retailers, at $17.99.  PBS’ listing once again is the most expensive at $24.99 while Walmart’s listing of $24.13 is just below PBS’ price.  Barnes & Noble Booksellers’ listing of $22.49 also exceeds the average price point.  So in the bigger picture of the DVD’s price, its average price point barely tops the $20 mark along with the majority of its single listings.  Two of the noted listings are well below that mark.  Now given the breadth and depth of the content featured in the DVD and its pacing (which works so well because of the episode’s construction) those less expensive listings prove to be money well spent.  They are prices that will not break any viewer’s budget.  The same can be said of the more expensive listings, even being that they exceed the DVD’s average price point.  Regardless of which retailer one chooses, at least some of the money spent on this fully engaging program will go back to PBS.  So it is a win for everyone.  Audiences get a documentary that they are sure to watch time and again, and PBS receives financial support that allows it to continue providing such top notch programming.  Keeping all of this in mind, NOVA: Human Nature proves itself to be a presentation that is one of this year’s best new documentaries.

NOVA: Human Nature is a powerful addition to the series.  Now that it is available on DVD, it is a presentation that so many audiences will want to watch time and again.  That is proven in part through its central discussion topic, that of the use of “CRISPR” and the ethics related to its use.  The unbiased discussions are sure to keep viewers engaged and entertained in their own right.  The episode’s construction works directly with the overall discussion to keep viewers engaged and entertained, too.  It keeps the whole from becoming monotonous.  That is especially important considering the amount of content covered in the discussions and the program’s overall 90-minute run time.  Keeping in mind the content featured in this episode and its delivery, the DVD’s average price point proves to be money well-spent, as audiences will, again, find themselves watching it more than once.  Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the DVD’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the episode a welcome addition to most audiences’ home libraries and one of the year’s top new documentaries.  NOVA: Human Nature is available now.

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

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‘NOVA: Secret Mind Of Slime’ Is An Intriguing Study On Evolutionary Science

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

Defining intelligence is not an easy task.  The common belief among scientists and people in general is that in order for a being to have “intelligence” it has to have a brain, central nervous system, etc.  But what if that criteria might not necessarily be accurate?  That is the discussion at the base of NOVA: Secret Mind of Slime.  The hour-long NOVA episode was released on DVD Dec. 8.  This recently premiered episode is a presentation that will appeal just as much to those with any interest in the biological sciences as evolutionary sciences.  Its foundation is formed through its main feature, which will be discussed shortly.  Considering how much is discussed in this episode in terms of theory and science, the program’s pacing turns out to be stable throughout.  This aspect will be discussed a little later.  The average price point of NOVA: Secret Mind of Slime proves to be its own positive for this presentation, considering the episode’s content and pacing.  It will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the documentary.  All things considered, they make NOVA: Secret Mind of Slime a presentation that should be anything but a secret.

PBS and PBS Distribution’s recently released DVD presentation of NOVA: Secret Mind of Slime is a surprisingly engaging and entertaining program that will appeal to students and lovers of the biological sciences just as much as those of the evolutionary sciences.  That is proven in part through the program’s main feature.  The feature in question examines how a slime mold called Physarum polycephalumdoes what it does.  Audiences will be amazed as they watch the literally brainless organism find its way through mazes, make its way across salt bridges, and even “deciding” which sources of nutrients it “prefers.”  Again, this is all done without a brain.  What is ultimately discovered is that what is going on is that the slime mold is using what is known as bioelectricity and even a form of adaptation in order to accomplish everything.  Bioelectricity is exactly what it sounds like.  They are electric currents produced within living organisms that regulate organisms’ behaviors.  The revelation is made through examinations of how plants react to their surroundings, which is itself also documented in this episode.  Observing this ability of organisms that lack nervous systems or even brains to “make decisions” and react “intelligently” to given situations will leave many viewers’ minds blown.  As is noted in the narration, it is collectively an example of the earliest form of sentience in Earth’s biological organisms.  It is certain to generate plenty of discussion among audiences in itself.

While the content featured in NOVA: Secret Mind of Slime goes a long way toward making the program appealing, it is just one aspect of the episode that audiences will appreciate.  The program’s pacing adds its own touch to the show’s interest.  As noted, a lot of ground is covered in this hour-long program.  There is the examination of the slime mold’s ability to navigate mazes and to adapt to different situations (E.g. changing so as to deal with salt as it makes its way to a “food source” and even its ability to connect with other slime molds from other parts of the world in order to survive).  There is also the examination of how plants spread out their roots in much the same way that the Physarum polycephalum spreads out its “veins” as well as that of how ants use pheromone trails in equally similar fashion to find food sources.  Again, this is a lot of information.  Considering how much ground is covered through all of this, it would have been easy for the program to get bogged down in itself.  Thankfully, those behind the episode’s creation and assembly did not let that happen.  From start to end, the discussions ensure viewers’ engagement and entertainment, presenting topics rarely if ever considered by audiences.  The discussions remain mostly in layman’s terms, ensuring even more that noted engagement and entertainment.  That presentation style plays a big role in the program’s pacing if not the episode’s biggest role.  Between that aspect and the ability of the topics to move so fluidly from one to the next, audiences will never feel lost within the program or even bogged down.  The result is that that the program moves easily from one point to the next, never losing viewers along the way.  Keeping this in mind with the very content in the program’s main feature, the two elements collectively show even more why the documentary is such an appealing new presentation from PBS and PBS Distribution.  It also plays its own collective importance in considering the DVD’s average price point.

The average price point of NOVA: Secret Mind of Slime barely tops the $20 mark.  This is determined by averaging prices listed through PBS’ online store, Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, and Barnes & Noble Booksellers.  Walmart presents the least expensive listing, at $16.61 while Amazon and Best Buy are the mid-point price, at $17.99.  PBS’ listing of $24.99 is actually the most expensive while Barnes & Noble Booksellers is just a step below that at $22.49.   Looking at these listings, viewers have at least three retailers from which to choose that are below the noted average price point.  The noted listings will not break audiences’ bank accounts.  The more expensive listings will not hurt viewers’ checkbooks either, even being a bit more pricey.  Regardless of which outlet consumers choose, audiences will still get their money’s worth while also bringing in more money for PBS, the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming.  When this is considered along with the pacing of this program and the content presented in its main feature, the whole of the program proves itself well worth the watch among students and lovers of the biological and evolutionary sciences.  NOVA: Secret Mind of Slime is available now.

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

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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 http:///philspicks.wordpress.com.

New PBS Doc Is A Solid Starting Point For Lessons On One Of Humanity’s Most Important Aspects

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

Writing is one of the fundamental things that a society does.  That is because letters and words are at the center of everything that humans do.  From books, to speeches, to general documents, to even printing out receipts or purchases, writing and words control everything.  Words, letters, and writing even have their own courses of study from elementary school through college and post-college.  Next week, PBS will present a new episode of NOVA on DVD that focuses on the history of words and language in the form of A to ZThe First Alphabet and How Writing Changed The World.  The DVD, set for release on Dec. 22, succeeds as a starting point for any lesson on the topics in part because of its two separate main features.  This will be discussed shortly.  The fact that those features are separated out in the single disc adds to the presentation’s appeal.  This element will be discussed a little later.  The pacing of the two programs rounds out the most important of the noted elements.  It will also be discussed later.  When it is considered along with the DVD’s overall content and its division, the presentation in whole makes itself a widely appealing presentation.

PBS and PBS Distribution’s forthcoming home release of A to ZThe First Alphabet and How Writing Changed The World is a widely appealing presentation that students of linguistics will enjoy just as much as those of history, anthropology and basically every science.  That is proven in part through the overall program’s two separate main features.  The first feature takes audiences through a history of the evolution of writing.  It starts out in ancient Egypt, explaining how specific symbols actually stood for certain sounds.  From there, the story expands, explaining how early cuneiform followed a similar model to that of the figures used by the Egyptians before moving to China to examine the similarity in the use of Chinese writing figures and how they are used to the way in which Middle Eastern writing systems were used early in human history.  As the program progresses, audiences learn that from the early symbols used by the Egyptians and Sumerians, the Romans took the Egyptians’ symbols and altered those original designs, using them for what is now our modern alphabet.  It is interesting to learn about that history.

The second half of the program moves away from the writing, albeit slightly, to the aspect of how the delivery of writing evolved.  From the early use of papyrus to the use of a specific kind of paper in Asia to the advent of the printing press, audiences learn about how each delivery platform played into the evolution of the alphabet and writing in general.  On the surface, this might not seem all that interesting, but in the bigger picture, understanding how slow writing started out with calligraphy and other methods to the use of the printing press makes for more appreciation for how much the very process of creating and preserving writing evolved over thousands of years, and in turn, how much easier it become.  From carving figures into stone and clay to having to write everything slowly and monotonously, to finally developing moveable type, the evolution of writing letters and words is shown in large part here.  It’s just too bad that the story felt so short.  Of course that is not necessarily a bad thing, since it really is just a starting point for those more in-depth lessons about the evolution of writing and its delivery systems.

While the story presenting the evolution of our modern alphabet and its delivery methods does plenty to appeal to audiences, it is just one part of what makes this program a success.  The division of the two-hour program into two separate segments adds to the presentation’s appeal in its own way.  Each segment is its own standalone “episode” so basically, audiences are getting two episodes for the price of one here.  What’s more, having the episodes divided into their own settings ensures even more that audiences will remain engaged and entertained.  Had they been joined as one full episode, audiences might have felt difficulty in deciding where to stop if they needed to do so for whatever reason.  Luckily though, that is not the case here.  That division allows audiences to watch each segment at their own pace, thus, again, increasing enjoyment and engagement that much more.

Speaking of pacing, that element rounds out the most important aspects of this presentation.  The pacing of each of the program’s hour-long “episodes” stays largely stable throughout.  It would be so easy for each segment to run slowly, considering how much information is shared, but luckily, those behind the program’s editing and composition mad sure to hit the most important points of each topic.  The result is that viewers will never feel lost or even left behind at any point in the program.  Rather, they will feel that much more encouraged to remain engaged.  After watching each segment, viewers will find themselves potentially wanting to do their own research and learn more on their own thanks to that attention to detail.  Keeping this in mind along with the positive impact of the content featured in A to ZThe First Alphabet and How Writing Changed The World and the division of the program’s segments, the whole becomes a program that those who enjoy the social and historical sciences alike will enjoy.

PBS and PBS Distribution’s home release of A to ZThe First Alphabet and How Writing Changed The World is a presentation that plenty of audiences will find appealing.  That is proven in part through the content shown in the program’s two separate main features.  First audiences get a brief but in-depth history of the evolution of what is now our modern alphabet.  From there, audiences get an equally brief — but still in-depth in its own right – look at how the actual presentation and delivery of our now modern alphabet evolved.  The episodes are segmented out rather than combined into one whole, making for more appeal.  The separation will allow audiences to view the segments at their own pace rather than feel that they have to watch the whole program in one sitting.  The segments’ pacing in itself puts the finishing touch to this presentation.  The pacing is solid because each segment points out the most important aspects of each story rather than trying to push in everything possible.  This leaves viewers wanting more in the best way possible.  In turn, it will likely lead viewers to in fact do their own research and learn even more.  To that end, this element and the other two noted collectively make A to ZThe First Alphabet and How Writing Changed The World a wonderful introduction to one of the most important aspects of human history.

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

Websitehttp://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova

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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 http:///philspicks.wordpress.com.

PBS Distribution To Re-Issue Two Recent ‘Garfield’ Movies

Courtesy: PBS Distribution

Public Media Distribution will re-issue two Garfield movies next week.

The company is scheduled to release Garfield: Cartoon World Tuesday on DVD. The two-movie collection features the 2007 direct-to-DVD movie Garfield Gets Real and its 2008 follow-up Garfield’s Fun Fest.

Garfield Gets Real was the first full-length movie from the CG-era of Garfield. Its story follows Garfield as he literally takes the leap from the printed page to the real world. He takes the risk because he has become bored with his life as a comic strip star.

Frank Welker (The Real Ghostbusters, Scooby Doo, Where Are You?, Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels) voices Garfield in this movie. He is joined by Jason Marsden (Hocus Pocus, A Goofy Movie, Extreme Ghostbusters) as the voice of Nermal, and Gregg Berger (Garfield On The Town, Garfield in the Rough, Garfield & Friends, The Garfield Show) as the voice of Odie. Wally Wengert (DC Superfriends, My Life as a Teenage Robot, The Angry Beavers) takes on the voice of Jon Arbuckle.

Garfield’s Fun Fest finds Garfield back in the comic strip world. In this movie, Garfield has a new contender for his title at the annual Comic Strip World talent show, which he wins every year. Making things even more interesting for Garfield is that Arlene is tired of doing the same routine annually with Garfield, so his new opponent may have a new partner. This all leaves Garfield to do some soul searching, so to speak to determine whether he wins the 30th Comic Strip World talent show.

Welker once again voices Garfield. Berger and Wingert also return in their respective roles from Garfield Gets Real. Audrey Wasilewski (My Life as A Teenage Robot, Mad Men, Red) joins the cast in this movie as the voice of Arlene.

Garfield: Cartoon World will retail for MSRP of $6.99.

More information on this and other titles from PBS Distribution is available along with all of PBS Distribution’s latest news at:

Website: http://pbsdistribution.org

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

PBS Distribution’s Debut ‘Molly Of Denali’ DVD Set Is Awesome

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Kids/PBS Distribution

The wait is officially over for the first ever collection of episodes from PBS Kids’ animated series Molly of Denali.  The two-disc collection features 32 episodes from the series’ debut season released Tuesday, and it largely lives up to its title.  That is proven in part through its episodes, which will be discussed shortly.  The stories that are featured in the episodes build on the appeal formed through the compilation’s featured episodes.  They will be discussed a little later.  The set’s average price point rounds out its most important elements, considering the extensive content featured in this set.  Each item noted is key in its own way to the presentation of Molly of Denali: Molly’s Awesome Alaskan Adventures.  All things considered, they make this double-disc set a great first collection from the Peabody Award®-winning series.

PBS Kids’ first-ever collection of Molly of Denali episodes, Molly’s Awesome Alaskan Adventures is an impressive DVD debut from the series.  That is due in no small part to its featured episodes.  The collection features 32 episodes from the series’ debut season.  That equals to 16 full-length half hour episodes, which is almost half of the body of the series’ only season so far.  Season one consists of 40 full half-hour episodes.  For the most part, the featured episodes are presented in chronological order, though there is some jumping around at points.  Ironically, being that each episode is presented in full, one can’t help but wonder why they were split up in the presentation here rather than being presented exactly as they were on television.  That aside, it is still good to see so much of the first season presented together rather than just have a jumble of shorts from the bigger overall episodes.  Hopefully audiences will not have to wait too long to complete their Season One collections, keeping all of this in mind.

While the episodes that are featured in Molly’s Awesome Alaskan Adventures (that’s a lot of alliteration, isn’t it?) do a lot collectively to make this collection appealing, they are just a part of what makes it so appealing.  The stories that are featured within the episodes play into the collection’s appeal in their own right.  That is because they are so diverse.  Case in point is the story featured in “Book of Mammoths.”  As Molly and her dad go on a camping trip, they meet a tourist named Travis who is a conspiracy theorist of sorts.  He has read a book that has led him to believe that mammoths are still alive in Qyah.  This is a sort of spoof of all the people who think aliens have been to Earth since prehistoric times.  On a completely different note, “Name Game” and “Grandpa’s Drum” focus on the importance of accepting, appreciating, and recording cultural diversity and history.  “Qyah Spy,” yet another featured entry in this set, offers audiences yet another enjoyable story.  Molly and Tooey play spies as a mysterious stranger comes to Qyah and she thinks some of the town’s residents are being very secretive.  She thinks someone in town is up to no good, but the reality is the exact opposite.  Between these stories and so many others featured in the collection’s episodes, audiences get so much wonderful variety throughout the course of the collection’s approximately six-and-a-half hour run time.  Keeping this and the sheer volume of content in the set in mind, the set’s average price point proves to be its own positive.

The average price point of Molly of Denali: Molly’s Awesome Alaskan Adventures is $12.49.  That price was reached by averaging listings at Amazon, Best Buy, Books-A-Million, and PBS’ online store.  It was not listed through Walmart, Target, and Barnes & Noble Booksellers’ stores at the time of this review’s posting.  PBS’ listing and that of Books-A-Million are the most expensive, at $14.99 each.  Amazon and Best Buy each  list the set at $9.99, which is well below that average.  Considering again, the extensive amount of content featured in this collection, and the variety therein, a listing of roughly $10 is not bad at all.  Even $15 is not too bad though obviously lower prices are available.  Regardless of which retailer one chooses, PBS will still benefit in the end, so either way along with audiences.  To that end the set’s average and separate price listings prove their own value to this presentation just as much as the set’s content.  All things considered , PBS Distribution’s new Molly of Denali proves to in fact be awesome.

PBS Distribution’s debut Molly of Denali DVD set, Molly’s Awesome Alaskan Adventures is an impressive first home release from the award-winning animated series.  That is proven in part through its extensive episode listing, which covers almost half of the series’ first (and only so far) season.  The variety presented within the episodes is certain to keep audiences engaged and entertained throughout.  The set’s average price point puts the finishing touch to its appeal, coming in at less than $15.  The separate listings each are less than $20, adding even more appeal to that note.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the double-disc set.  All things considered, the collection truly lives up to its name, leaving no doubt that it is in fact awesome.

More information on Molly of Denali is available along with games, activities, printables and more at:

Websitehttp://pbskids.org/molly

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/MollyOfDenali

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

PBS Distribution Announces Release Date For New ‘Molly Of Denali’ DVD Set

Courtesy: PBS Kids/PBS Distribution/PBS

PBS Kids’ animate series Molly of Denali is coming to DVD.

PBS Distribution is scheduled to release its new two-disc compilation Molly of Denali: Molly’s Awesome Alaskan Adventures Nov. 10. The Peabody Award-winning series’ new collection with feature 32 episodes, more than three-quarters of its existing first season at an MSRP of $14.99.

Among the most notable of the collection’s featured shorts are episodes, such as “Hot Springs Eternal” (yes, a spoof of Hope Springs Eternal), “A-Maze-ing Snow,” and “First Fish.” The latter of that trio features a story of Molly going on her first fishing trip with her family. She wants to catch her first fish, but along the way, ends up catching her friend Tooey’s boot. It’s up to Molly to use her knowledge of the salmon life cycle to catch her first fish.

A-Maze-ing Snow” the roof on Molly’s school needs repairs, but the school can’t afford them. As a result, Molly comes up with the idea for a community ‘fun’-raiser with a large snow maze. Things don’t go exactly as planned, though Molly and her friends do manage to raise enough money to repair the school’s roof.

“Hot Springs Eternal follows Molly as she tried to find a hot spring that her Grandpa Nat discovered in his younger days. The pair sets off with Molly’s dad and her best friend Tooey to find the fabled hot spring. It’s up to Molly’s knowledge of the stars to help guide the group to the hot spring.

More information on Molly of Denali is available along with games, activities, printables and more at:

Website: http://pbskids.org/molly

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

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

PBS Distribution Announces ‘Garfield & Friends: Season 3’ Release Date

Courtesy: PBS Distribution

PBS Distribution will release the third season of Garfield & Friends to DVD next month.

The 18-episode collection is scheduled for release Oct. 27.  It will retail for MSRP of $14.99.  Season Three features a variety of great shorts both from Garfield and from his U.S. Acres pals.  “For Cats Only” is one of the many great shorts featuring Garfield.  This episode finds Garfield hosting a special program that tells the history of cats on Earth.  According to the story, cats came from another planet, and that they control humans, not the other way around.

In what is yet another of the season’s most memorable moments, the series shows once how far ahead of its time it was in “How The West Was Lost.”  This episode features returning character Cactus Jake, who was voiced throughout the series by Pat Buttram (Robin HoodThe AristocatsThe Fox and the Hound), out of a job after his ranch is automated.  Jake tries a variety of fields, but to no success.  Thanks to Garfield, Jake ends up getting his job back after Garfield sabotages some of the ranch’s robots to prove mechanization is not the answer to the workplace.

In yet another great moment, the series pokes fun at how mainstream commercial radio works in “D.J. Jon” after Jon becomes a disc jockey at his local radio station.  His new (and short-lived) stardom leads Jon to inadvertently neglect Odie and Garfield, so Garfield takes it on himself to  get out of the industry’s grip, to hilarious results.

U.S. ACRES

The U.S. Acres shorts featured in Season Three offer their own enjoyment.  One of the most notable of this season’s shorts comes in what is clearly a tribute of sorts to The Andy Griffith Show in “The Legal Eagle.”  This short finds Roy Rooster taking it on himself to enforce the farm’s laws.  There’s just one problem:  The laws that Roy is enforcing are out of date, but Roy doesn’t know, so everyone ends up getting locked up, including Roy himself.  There was an episode of The Andy Griffith Show in which Don Knotts’ character Barney Fife got into some trouble for doing much the same, locking up lots of Mayberry’s residents for the tiniest infraction.

Another memorable U.S. Acres short from Season Three comes in the form of “Quack to the Future.”  The short’s title is a take-off of the Back to the Future franchise title.  The short’s story finds Orson hurting Wade’s feelings after he shouted at Wade following an accident.  It is not until after the fact that Orson realizes he overreacted to what happened.  He wishes he could go back in time and undo what he did, leading to another important lesson from the series; that of friendship and being aware of the power of words.

In another of U.S. Acres’ lighter moments, audiences get an adaptation of the classic story Alice in Wonderland when Orson dreams he has gone to Wonderland.  Lanolin plays the part of the Queen of Hearts and is just as loudmouthed as ever.  The dream sequence happened when Orson took a nap after searching for a missing croquet ball.

More information on this and other titled from PBS Distribution is available at:

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‘Endeavour’ Reaches A Low Point In Its Seventh Season

Courtesy: itv/PBS Distribution/PBS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More information on Endeavour is available online now at:

 

 

 

Websitehttp://www.pbs.org/masterpiece

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Twitterhttp://twitter.com/masterpiecepbs

 

 

 

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Viewers Of All Ages Will Want To “Explore” PBS Distribution’s Latest ‘Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood’ DVD

Courtesy: PBS Distribution/PBS/PBS Kids

Five seasons is a relatively long time for any television series to last.  That is how long PBS/PBS Kids’ series Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood has lasted since its premiere in 2012.  It just ran its fifth season in August 2019.  The program has continue Fred Rogers’ legacy, teaching young viewers lessons about topics, such as how to express their feelings, how to play well with others and appreciating the small things in the world.  Those lessons have also made their way to an expansive series of DVDs (23 single disc collections), the latest of is scheduled for release Tuesday in the form of Explore The Outdoors.  This latest offering is another enjoyable presentation for its target audiences.  That is proven in part through the set’s featured episodes.  The use of the episode separators while minor, is actually key in its own way to the viewing experience, too.  It will be discussed a little later.  The lessons that are incorporated into the episodes are another important part of the presentation’s whole.  They will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the DVD.  All things considered, they make Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Explore The Outdoors another positive addition to PBS Distribution’s ongoing series of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood DVDs.

Explore The Outdoors, the latest addition to PBS Distribution’s ongoing series of DVDs from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, is another enjoyable offering for the show’s target audiences.  That is proven in part through the collection’s featured episodes.  Six episodes are featured in this latest collection.  The majority of the episodes do well in sticking to the DVD’s central theme of exploring the outdoors.  The only exceptions to that rule come in the form of ‘Daniel Plays in A Gentle Way’ and ‘Daniel’s Toy.’  The episodes feature stories that do find Daniel and his friends outside, but are more about playing together outdoors than actually exploring the outdoors.  So they are a bit of a stretch, but do at least feature stories that take Daniel and company outdoors.  The other four featured episodes are more in line with the DVD’s theme.  From exploring the outdoors and appreciating all that nature has to offer in the title episode and in its companion, “Daniel’s Nature Walk,” to learning about lizards in another, to being active outdoors, playing with a kite in “Daniel Feels Two Feelings,” the DVD’s episodes largely stay true to its theme.

While not presented chronologically, the episodes present a snapshot of the series, as they are lifted from the program’s second, third and fourth seasons.  That in itself proves to be a positive for audiences.  That is because again, the episodes serve that latent function of showing various examples of the show’s writing over the course of its run.  To that extent, whether intended or not, the episodes play an even larger part in the DVD’s presentation.  When considered with the fact that the episodes do largely follow the DVD’s central title theme, they show even more why they are critical in their own right to the DVD’s presentation.  They are just one of the DVD’s key elements, to note.  The mid-show spacers that are featured with the episodes play their own important part to its whole.

The mid-show separators that are featured with Explore The Outdoors might not seem all that important to the DVD’s presentation on the surface.  However, their addition actually adds to the viewing experience.  Their inclusion with the episodes actually make it feel that much more like audiences are watching the episodes on TV rather than on DVD.  Keeping in mind that counterparts to the series, such as Let’s Go Luna, Curious George, and Arthur all have mid-show separators, but do not include them in the shows’ DVD releases makes for a clearer picture.  It’s an aesthetic element, but an element nonetheless that plays into the set’s presentation, and its inclusion here adds its own share of value to the DVD’s presentation, too.  It is not the last of the DVD’s most important elements, either.  The lessons that are tied into the featured episodes are key, too.

The lessons that are incorporated into the DVD’s featured episodes are important to note in that they will prove familiar to any of the series’ longtime viewers.  “Daniel Feels Two Feelings” presents audiences with yet another lesson about handling our feelings.  That is nothing new to the series, but still as welcome as ever.  “Daniel’s Toy” teaches young viewers that not everybody likes the same things, and that we should not degrade others just because they like different things.  That is a lesson that sadly adults need to learn over again.  The lesson about appreciating the importance of playing quietly and safely that is incorporated into “Daniel Plays In A Gentle Way” is reminiscent of the lesson in another story in while Daniel wanted to play loud, but his friend O The Owl wanted to play quietly.  Again, it is a lesson that deserves reminding.  The other three episodes featured in this DVD all present lessons about the wonder of nature, which will resonate with any child, and hopefully get said children outside and active.  All things considered, each lesson presents its own value and will certainly serve as a solid starting point for discussion between parents and their children about the noted topics.  When this is considered along with the importance of the DVD’s aesthetics and its episodes, the whole of the DVD becomes a presentation that is just as welcome in any family’s home DVD library as its predecessors.

PBS Distribution’s latest addition to its ongoing series of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood DVDs, Explore The Outdoors is another successful entry in that series.  It is a presentation that ensures viewers’ engagement and entertainment just as much as those DVDs.  That is due in part to its featured episodes, which largely follow the DVD’s title theme.  The mid-show separators that come with the episodes add their own depth to the set’s presentation.  The same can be said of the lessons that are incorporated into the episodes.  Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of the DVD’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the DVD another successful offering that will be welcome in any family’s home library.

More information on this and other Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood DVDs is available online now along with activities, games, printouts and more at:

 

 

 

Websitehttp://pbskids.org/daniel

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/danieltigertv

 

 

To keep up with the latest 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 Distribution To Release New ‘Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood’ DVD This Month

Courtesy: PBS Distribution/PBS/PBS Kids

PBS Distribution will release a new collection of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood episodes on DVD this fall.

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Explore The Outdoors is scheduled for release Sept. 22.  The single-disc collection features six episodes of the beloved series, all of which center on the topic of going outside and appreciating all that the outdoors has to offer.

One of the most notable of the disc’s episodes — “Daniel Explores Nature” — finds Daniel and his parents spending the day outdoors.  Daniel discovers a bird, and in turn learn how birds build their nests.  The bird’s next falls out of the tree, so it’s up to Daniel and his parents to get the nest back in the tree.

“Daniel’s Nature Walk” is another episode featured in the DVD.  This episode’s story follows O the Owl and his uncle X The Owl as the duo goes for a nature walk in the forest.  Along the way, the pair sees all kinds of creatures, such as frogs and worms, and even gets to see a rainbow.

“Daniel Plays in a Gentle Way,” yet another of the DVD’s stories, reminds young viewers about the importance of being careful even when playing.  That lesson is taught as some of Daniel’s friends want to play fast, even though he wants to play slow and safe.

Daniel Tiger’s NeighborhoodExplore The Outdoors will retail for MSRP of $6.99.  Pre-orders are open now.

More information on this and other Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood DVDs is available online now along with activities, games, printouts and more at:

 

 

 

Websitehttp://pbskids.org/daniel

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/danieltigertv

 

 

 

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.