It’s hard to believe, but there is officially a little more than a week left in the almost old year. For most of the country, it means winter break is here and kids are out of school, getting excited over Christmas and relaxing. That means lots of parents out there are struggling to find ways to entertain their kids and maybe also keep their brains growing at the same time. Phil’s Picks’ final “best of” list for this year will hopefully help with those efforts.
The last of this year’s “best of” lists focuses on the year’s top new single-disc family friendly DVDs and Blu-rays. It features new releases for families from PBS, Shout! Factory, and Nickelodeon, as well as Turner Broadcasting/Cartoon Network, and even 20th Century Studios. It runs the gamut from the educational to the entertaining, too.
Without any further ado, here is the last of Phil’s Picks’ “best of” lists for 2021, this year’s Top 10 New Family DVDs/BDs.
PHIL’S PICKS’ 2021 TOP 10 NEW FAMILY DVDs/BDs
Hero Elementary: Sparks’ Crew Animal Rescue
Wild Kratts: Cats and Dogs
Dinosaur Train: Adventure Island
Molly of Denali: Molly & The Great One
Are You Afraid of the Dark?: Curse of the Shadows
Victor & Valentino: Folk Art Foes
Ron’s Gone Wrong
Paw Patrol: The Movie
PBS Kids Christmas Collection
Thomas & Friends All Engines Go!: Time For Teamwork
Sesame Street: Things Elmo Likes
Sesame Street: Wonderful World of Friends
Baby Shark’s Big Show!
PBS Kids 15 Girl Power Adventures
That’s it for this year, folks. Again though, there are lots of new titles already announced and scheduled for 2022, so Phil’s Picks is already looking forward to next year for all the new family DVDs and BDs and so much other content. Stay tuned!
Between families and grown-ups, plenty of positive content has been released this year on DVD and Blu-ray in the form of newly released box sets. Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon’s full series presentation of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, Arrow Video’s classic creature feature collection, Cold War Creatures, and the latest collection of classic Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood do well to support the noted statements. Between them and so many others, there is more than enough to create a list of this year’s top new DVD/BD box sets overall. Enter Phil’s Picks’ 2021 Top 10 New DVD/BD Box Sets.
As with every other list from Phil’s Picks, this list features the top 10 titles from this year as well as five honorable mention titles for a total of 15. There’s already some positive news about new releases coming in the new year about new box sets, but in the meantime, the titles on this list will help people pass the time. Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks’ 2021 Top 10 New DVD/BD Box Sets list.
PHIL’S PICKS’ 2021 TOP 10 NEW DVD/BD BOX SETS
1.Cold War Creatures
2. The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: The Complete Series
3. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: Mister Rogers Meets New Friends Collection
4. All Creatures Great & Small: Season 1
5. The Watch
6. How To Train Your Dragon: Ultimate Collection
7. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Tigertastic 50 Pack
8. Jekyll & Hyde
9. Spongebob Squarepants: Season 12
10. Rugrats: The Complete Series
11. Star Trek Discovery: Season 3
12. Doom Patrol: Season 2
13. Josie & The Pussycats In Outer Space: The Complete Series
14. Human: The World Within
15. Thundarr The Barbarian: The Complete Series
Okay that it’s for this list. There is still one more list to go for this year. It will come tomorrow in the form of the year’s top new family friendly DVDs/ Stay tuned!
This year offered lots for families to enjoy together in the way of television and movies. It also offered plenty for older viewers, whether those audiences needed the occasional break from the more family friendly fare or just needed and wanted something to enjoy. Between imports and domestic releases, this year’s field of new viewing options for grown-ups offered much to appreciate.
DC and Warner Brothers’ second season of Doom Patrol, BBC America’s The Watch (It is sadly still unknown if the show will get a renewal for a second season) offered plenty of enjoyment in their own right. Meanwhile, CBS/Paramount’s third season of Star Trek: Discovery finally got that ship righted. Along with so many domestic and import releases from PBS and other sets from WB and DC, this year’s field of new offerings for older audiences helped audiences escape and relax every day. So much new content was released that it gave Phil’s Picks more than enough for another annual list of the year’s top new offerings in said field.
As with every list from Phil’s Picks, this list offers the Top 10 new entries in said field alongside five additional honorable mentions for a total of 15 titles. Each entry in this list is deserving of applause in its own right, too. Without further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks 2021 Top 10 New Grown-Up DVD/BD Box Sets.
PHIL’S PICKS’ 2021 TOP 10 NEW GROWN-UP DVD/BD BOX SETS
Cold War Creatures
All Creatures Great & Small: Season 1
Doom Patrol: Season 2
Miss Scarlet & The Duke: Season 1
Human: The World Within
Jekyll & Hyde
Star Trek Discovery: Season 3
Black Lightning: Season 4
Superman & Lois: Season 1
Star Trek Lower Decks: Season 1
Finding Your Roots: Season 6
Finding Your Roots: Season 7
The Twilight Zone: Season 2
Star Trek Discovery: Seasons 1-3
That’s it for this list, but before the attention turns from the box sets, there is still one more category to check in on tomorrow. That category is the year’s top new DVD/BD box sets overall between the stuff for families and that for older audiences. From there, later this week, the attention will turn toward the year’s top new family DVDs and BDs to finish this year’s field of year-end lists. So there’s still plenty to come. That means as always, stay tuned!
Maybe it is just this critic, but it seems that increasingly the case that families are becoming increasingly segregated in their own homes. That is due to the advancement of technology and to the fact that there seems to be less programming than ever for families to watch together. Even if there is less for families to watch together, it does not mean that there is nothing out there. PBS and its home distribution arm proved that true this year with their new family DVD box sets alongside Nickelodeon, Universal, Warner Brothers and other companies.
This year actually saw a wide range of enjoyable new DVD and Blu-ray box sets for the whole family to enjoy together, not the least of which was another new collection of classic Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood episodes from PBS and PBS Distribution. The first time release of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius from Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory is another great new offering for the whole families that released this year. Even fans of Universal’s How To Train Your Dragon franchise got something special recently in the franchise’s “Ultimate Collection.” All three of these titles and plenty of others make up what are this year’s top new family DVD and BD box sets list from Phil’s Picks. Between these new releases, new offerings from Nickelodeon’s Loud House,Spongebob Squarepants, and The Casagrandes, another new Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood collection from PBS/PBS Kids/PBS Distribution, and so many other releases, this year showed that thankfully there is at least still some programming left for families to enjoy together.
As with every other list from Phil’s Picks, this collection features the year’s Top 10 new releases in the given category and five honorable mention titles for a total of 15. Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks’ 2021 Top 10 New Family DVD/BD Box Sets.
PHIL’S PICKS‘ 2021 TOP 10 NEW FAMILY DVD/BD BOX SETS
Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: Mister Rogers Meets New Friends Collection
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Tigertastic 50 Pack
The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: The Complete Series
Spongebob Squarepants: The Complete 12th Season
Loud House: Season 3 Volume 1
Loud House: Season 3 Volume 2
The Casagrandes: Season 1
How To Train Your Dragon: The Ultimate Collection
Curious George: 5 Movie Collection
Rugrats: The Complete Series
PBS Kids’ 20 Snowy Stories
Garfield & Friends: The Grumpy Cat Collection
Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space
Thundarr The Barbarian: The Complete Series
Animaniacs Season 1
It should be added as a special note, this year marks the first time ever that Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space and Thundarr The Barbrian have ever gotten a proper, official release. There are DVD releases for those titles, but they are not official releases. They are DVD-R sets that Hannah Barbera and Amazon partnered to release, so they are not official. This year’s BD releases of the series’ are in fact the real deal. They are released through Warner Archives and are well worth the money and the watch. Speaking of the watch, that show is one of the many that made Phil’s Picks’ 2021 Top 10 New Grown-Up DVD/BD Box Sets list. That list will come Monday, so stay tuned!
It seems like ever year, audiences everywhere are seeing an increase in the number of classic TV shows and movies that were once popular everywhere they go. It really is a sad state of affairs. Of course that is not the only avenue in which older content is getting renewed so to speak. The originals also get new life every now and then on DVD and Blu-ray through various distributors, sometimes in better form than others and vice versa. This year saw a handful of classic TV shows and movies get some laudable re-issues and some less so.
What is most interesting about this year’s field of top new DVD and BD re-issues is the wide range of companies that released said titles. It shows that along with the likes of Shout! Factory – which has made quite the name for itself over the years in the home entertainment field – other familiar and up-and-coming names are really working to make their names known in that field, too, such as Arrow Video and Corinth Films, making for so much more variety.
From Shout! Factory’s re-issue of Explorers, to Arrow Video’s re-issue of the original Dune, to even Mill Creek Entertainment’s re-issue of the classic, short-lived animated series, The Critic, this year’s re-issues and the companies that released them offered audiences plenty of alternatives to the never-ending ocean of prequels, sequels, and reboots that filled theaters and streaming services this year. As with every list from Phil’s Picks, this list features the Top 10 titles in the given category with five additional honorable mention titles for a total of 15. This year’s list was not easy to compile but is complete.
Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks’ 2021 Top 10 New DVD/BD Re-Issues.
PHIL’S PICKS’ 2021 TOP 10 NEW DVD/BD RE-ISSUES
Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In: The Complete Series
The Final Countdown
The Belles of St. Trinian’s
Ken Burns’ Baseball
The Rolling Stones: A Bigger Bang – Live at Copacabana Beach
Motorhead: No Sleep Till Hammersmith
The Snake Girl and the Silver Haired Witch
The Transformers: The Movie
Superman: The Animated Series
The Critic: The Complete Series
Star Trek: The Original Series
Emergency: The Complete Series
It should be stressed here that in the case of Emergency and Star Trek, those two series sets are intentionally set at the bottom of this year’s list as, their positives are few. They are the least of the year’s best new re-issues. Audiences would do well to largely avoid these sets. There is a reason they are at the bottom of even the honorable mention titles. Keeping that in mind, this year’s list of top new DVD and BD re-issues is officially wrapped. There are still plenty of other lists coming, such as the year’s top new box sets for grown-ups, families, and even family DVDs/BDs. Stay tuned!
This year’s new music lists are officially done for Phil’s Picks, so now it’s time to move on to the TV and movie side of things as we continue to wind doown 2021. Starting off this year’s lists on the audiosvisual side is the best of this year’s new documentaries.
All of this year’s top new documentaries come from none other than PBS, the last true bastion of worthwhile programming. They come fromsome of th network’s most beloved series, while others are standalone offerings. From bios, to science, to mother nature and wildlife, the documentaries that PBS has produced this year have proven quite exceptional. They have also proven why PBS remains such an important force in American television offerings.
As with each list from Phil’s Picks, this year’s list presents the Top 10 new titles and five additional honorable mentions for a total of 15. There is nothing bad about that additional set of honorable mention titles. Each is equally deserving of its own applause. So with that in mind, it’s time to get into this year’s lit. Here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks’ 2021 Top 10 New Documentaries.
PHIL’S PICKS 2021 TOP 10 NEW DOCUMENTARIES
NOVA: Saving Notre Dame
NOVA: Can We Cool The Planet
NOVA: Touching The Asteroid
NOVA: Searching For Life On Mars
American Experience: American Oz
Nature: River’s Bend
Nature: The Alps
Laura Ingalls Wilder: From Prairie to Page
America Experience: The Codebreaker
Nature: Pandas — Born to be Wild
NOVA: Nature’s Fear Factor
NOVA: Great Electric Airplane Race
Life at the Waterhole
NOVA: Secrets in our DNA
That’s all for this list, but there is still more to come on the DVD/BD side of things before this year lets out, so stay tuned!
The second season of Channel 5’s reboot of All Creatures Great & Small will make its American premiere in January.
The second season of the rebooted series is scheduled to launch Jan. 9 at 9 p.m. EST on PBS stations nationwide. A trailer for the rebooted series’ second season is streaming below.
The Season Two trailer finds James (Nicholas Ralph) having to make an important decision. The decision in question centers on whether to stay at Siegfried’s (Samuel West) office or breaking out on his own. Along the way, James tries to help Siegfried’s brother, Tristan (Callum Woodhouse) grow into his own and even deal with Siegfried.
Also back for Season Two are Mrs. Hall (Anna Madeley) and Helen (Rachel Stenton). Both women play their own key role in the season’s overall story. PBS and PBS Distribution released the series’ lead season in April on DVD and Blu-ray.
More information on the series and other shows from Channel 5 is available online at:
Air transportation has seen a lot of highs and just as many lows throughout its history. From the Wright brothers’ first powered flight, to Charles Lindberg’s solo trans-Atlantic flight, to Amelia Earhart’s flight around the world and more, the highs are many. The lows have been just as many. From the still unsolved disappearance of Flight 19 in the Bermuda Triangle, to the now infamous crash of the airship Hindenburg and so many other crashes, those lows are enough to fill their own history book. Speaking of the Hindenburg, more than 84 years have passed since the airship went down in flames over New Jersey. To this day, the exact cause of the incident still remains a mystery, but a new episode of NOVA — NOVA: Hindenburg – The New Evidence – aims to answer that question. The investigation into the fire that destroyed the airship serves as the episode’s foundation and ensures audience’s engagement and entertainment in its own right. It will be examined shortly. The general presentation herein makes for its own appeal and will be discussed a little later. Considering all of the noted content, the DVD’s pricing proves to be its own positive. It will also be examined later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the DVD. All things considered, they make the DVD an interesting new episode of NOVA.
PBS Distribution and PBS’ recently released presentation of NOVA: Hindenburg – The New Evidence is a unique new addition to the long-running science-based series. Its interest comes in large part through its central story. The story in question focuses on the investigation into what exactly caused the airship Hindenburg to go down in flames more than 80 years ago in New Jersey. The investigation in question spends most of its time focused on mooring ropes that were dropped from the airship as it prepared to land and how they may or may not have caused the spark that ignited the hydrogen that caught fire. Not to give away too much, but while the investigation proves the ropes may have in fact caused the fatal fire, ultimately speculation still remains by the story’s end; that and conjecture. The science aspect here is how the story ties itself to NOVA’s bigger science theme, which is interesting, leaning how the airship’s electrified body may have actually led to the fire, not sabotage. That blending of history and science is certain to keep audiences engaged and entertained throughout the presentation’s nearly hour-long body. Speaking of that blend of history and science, it plays just as much into the program’s appeal.
The general presentation of this episode of NOVA makes it appealing because it really is more than just another episode of NOVA. Instead of just being one overall feature filled with facts and narration, it presents elements of another PBS series – History Detectives – along with the more science-based elements of NOVA in one. Having those “hosts” so to speak to take viewers along through the story personalizes the presentation and in fact makes it connect with viewers that much more. Keeping all of that in mind, the general presentation works directly in tandem with the story to make for more than enough reason for audiences to watch. To that end, there is one more item to examine. That item in question is the DVD’s pricing.
The average price point for NOVA: Hindenburg – The New Evidence is $21.48. That price was obtained by averaging prices listed through Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Books-A-Million, and PBS’ store. The DVD was not listed through Target at the time of this review’s posting. Now for a program, such as this, that is a little bit expensive. That is undeniable. At the same time though, the separate listings reveal prices, there are listings that are well below that figure. Amazon and Walmart each list the DVD at $17.96 while Best Buy’s listing of $17.99 barely tops that figure. Meanwhile, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Books-A-Million, and PBS each list prices that exceed the average, at $24.99 each. So while the average price and some of the separate listings are somewhat expensive, there are also listings that come in at less than $20. To that end, those less expensive listings will not break anyone’s budget. What’s more, considering the unique presentation featured within the DVD, it makes the less expensive listings more appealing even as the episode comes across like episodes of certain shows on other commercial cable networks, which will remain nameless here. Keeping this in mind along with the content featured in this episode of NOVA, the whole proves mostly worth watching at least once.
PBS and PBS Distribution’s recently released DVD presentation of NOVA: Hindenburg – The New Evidence is an intriguing addition to the series’ history. It stands out stylistically from so many other of the series’ episodes. That applies in its examination of what brought down the airship and the general presentation thereof. That is not an entirely bad thing, but at the same time, does detract somewhat from the presentation. Even with that in mind, it is still worth watching at least once. The pricing for the DVD proves to be at least somewhat positive, too, considering that there are some less expensive listings for the DVD. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the DVD and its presentation. All things considered, they show this episode of NOVA to be imperfect but still entertaining and engaging.
NOVA: Hindenburg – The New Evidence is available now. More information on this and other episodes of NOVA is available online now at:
PBS Kids’ animated series Molly of Denali has been in the news a lot in the past year or so. The series’ fans got good news about the show back in April when WGHB and PBS Kids announced that more than two years after its launch, the series will get a second season. According to the information provided at the time, the award-winning series is set to premiere its second season “in Fall 2021.” The announcement came only months after PBS Kids released an extensive collection of Season One episodes in the form of Molly’s Awesome Alaskan Adventures. Its released was followed up last month with the release of the show’s first single-disc presentation, Molly and the Great One. The DVD is another wonderful presentation from PBS Kids and WGBH that audiences of all ages will enjoy. The presentation’s positives begin with its primary content, which is the hour-long episode, “Molly and the Great One.” It will be discussed shortly. The bonus content that accompanies the main feature builds on the appeal created through the main content. It will be discussed a little later. Considering the content in terms of its breadth and depth, it makes the DVD’s pricing key in its own way. To that end, this item will also receive its own attention here, too. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the DVD. All things considered, they make the presentation one of the best of the year’s new family DVDs/BDs.
PBS Kids and WGBH’s recently released DVD presentation, Molly of Denali: Molly and the Great One is a wonderful new presentation from PBS Kids and WGBH. As with its predecessor, this first-ever single disc collection from the series (the first collection was a double-disc set) offers a lot for audiences to like, beginning with its primary content. In this case the primary content is the hour-long episode, “Molly and the Great One.” The episode serves as what would appear to be the season finale for the first season of Molly of Denali. There is a lot going on in the story, but it is all woven together so seamlessly. The central story finds Molly and her friend Tooey joining Molly’s Grandpa Nat as he and Molly’s dad, Walter, make their way up Mount Denali, North America’s tallest mountain. The journey happens because Molly wants to help Grandpa Nat achieve a lifelong dream, a bucket list item so to speak. Everyone has their own bucket list, so to that end, this is a starting point that will make it easy for even grown-ups to relate to this story. Also along for the hike is the internet celebrity Mac McFadden. Meanwhile, Molly’s other friend Trini is finally – albeit temporarily – reunited with her mother back in town. Her mom ends up playing her own important part in what happens on Mount Denali, too. Obviously everything has a happy ending. That goes without saying. What is really interesting here is the clear cultural divide between Molly’s father and grandfather, and Mac. Mac is a solid representation of not only today’s internet celebrity culture, but also of so much American culture, specifically of white Americans of European descent. Case in point is when Nat and Walter warn Mac to not try to get to the mountain’s peak alone during a major snowstorm. Like the fool that he is, he ignores their warning, leading to the noted role that Trini’s mom ends up playing. Mac’s behavior – that machismo, that refusal to listen to wiser people who know the land – is so representative of how dismissive Americans of European descent have been to people of other ethnicities for centuries, and it is fully deserved. The writers are to be commended for taking on this matter and doing so without being preachy about it in the process.
Getting back to Trini’s story, while it is secondary, it is still an important part of the story in its own right. In this case, it is revealed that Trini’s mom is a helicopter pilot. It should be obvious from here how she plays into what happens atop Mount Denali later in the story. She works with the military to a certain extent. This means that she is gone a lot, which would explain why it is the first time that audiences have seen her this season. By showing the dynamic between parent and child here, it serves as a certain representation for those children whose parents serve in the military, whether full-time or as reservists. It helps those children watching this program to see that they are not alone, and that they will be okay, even as emotionally tough as it may be to not have that parent there all the time. To that end, it is a great addition to the story that works both as its own strong standalone story and as an equally enjoyable addition to the primary story. Keeping all of this in mind, the main story featured here does a lot to make the DVD’s main story enjoyable and engaging. While it does so much to keep viewers engaged and entertained, it is only one of the DVD’s positives. The bonus content (of sorts) that accompanies the main feature is also of note.
The bonus content that is featured in this new DVD is actually composed of more episodes from Season 1. For those who perhaps do not keep up with Molly of Denali, its current lone season (thankfully Season 2 is coming…allegedly) is composed of 38 episodes, each episode being composed of two separate stories. Last year’s double-disc release, Molly’s Awesome Alaskan Adventures featured 16 of those episodes. That is just under half the season. This DVD presents another four episodes, putting the total count now to more than half of the season’s episodes. Even more impressive is that the stories featured in this DVD are not carry-overs from the previous collection. They are all previously unreleased on DVD. Yes, it’s sad that the entirety of Season One hasn’t been released to DVD, but maybe that will come sooner rather than later. In the meantime, having these additional stories along with the mass of stories featured in the previously released box set should make any fan of Molly of Denali happy. From making a journey to one of her people’s important cultural events in “Canoe Journey,” to adopting a frog in “Froggy of Denali,” to trying to save Trini’s garden from the work of some beavers in “Busy Beavers,” and more, the stories here offer entertainment for audiences of all ages. Keeping these stories in mind along with the fact that technically, “Molly and the Great One” is in fact technically just another episode (just in hour-long format), and it makes the whole that much more appealing for audiences. Considering the content and depth therein of this DVD’s content, the presentation’s pricing proves to be its own positive worth discussing.
The average price point of Molly of Denali: Molly and the Great One is $9.02. That price was obtained by averaging prices listed through Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Books-A-Million, and PBS’ store. Believe it or not, while PBS often has the most expensive of listings for its DVDs, that is not the case with this case. As a matter of fact, its listing of $9.99 is also not the least expensive, but is the most commonly occurring price. In this case, Walmart’s listed price of $11.80 is the most expensive. Amazon and Target’s listing of $6.69 is the least expensive. Looking at these prices, that they are mostly less than $10 (technically right at $10 or a little more counting tax, and shipping and handling for online ordering), the DVD clearly will not break any viewer’s budget. Those who are able to find the DVD in store will not have to pay that noted S&H, meaning the prices will be what they are. To that end, it makes those less expensive listings that much more appealing. Either way, the pricing for this DVD is largely positive. That is especially considering the amount of content featured between the DVD’s primary and bonus content and the depth therein. When this is considered along with the content, the whole makes the DVD that much more of a win for all involved.
PBS Kids and WGBH’s recently released Molly of Denali DVD, Molly and the Great One is a wonderful new collection of episodes from the series. It is another great way for fans to pass the time as they wait for the show’s alleged second season to premiere “this fall.” The DVD’s success is shown in large part through its main feature, the hour-long story which bears the DVD’s title. The story is fully immersive, engaging and entertaining. That is thanks to the writing and acting alike. The bonus content that accompanies the main feature is actually more episodes from the series’ lone season. That content and the main feature, which is actually Season One’s finale, bring audiences even more episodes from Season One along with last year’s box set. Considering the content featured here and its depth, the DVD’s pricing proves to be its own positive. That is because it is largely so affordable, even when ordered online with shipping and handling. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the DVD. All things considered, they make the DVD one more of the best of this year’s new family DVDs/BDs.
Molly of Denali: Molly and the Great One is available now. More information on PBS Kids and WGBH’s new Molly of Denali DVD is available along with games, activities, printables and more at:
Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous New Deal Program is one of the most pivotal government efforts in America’s history. The program puts thousands of Americans who were left jobless and penniless due to the Great Depression back to work. As a result, it led to one the nation’s greatest economic recoveries if not the greatest. Fro all that the program did to benefit Americans and the nation, there are parts of the program that are lesser-known than those infrastructure jobs, etc. One of those programs, the Works Progress Administration, helped put just as many to work as it addressed the arts. Thanks to Corinth Films, the documentary, which originally aired on PBS in April 1981 received renewed attention in July with a first-ever DVD release. The story that makes up the 90-minute program is the presentation’s heart. It will be examined shortly. The booklet that accompanies the DVD adds some interest to the presentation, too and will be discussed a little later. The DVD’s pricing is its own important element, content considered. It will also be addressed later. Each item noted is its own important part of the whole here. All things considered, they make the DVD an interesting addition to this year’s field of new documentaries.
Corinth Films’ presentation of the vintage PBS documentary, The New Deal for Artists is an intriguing presentation. Despite what its title infers, the documentary will appeal to more than just artists and people with any interest in art. That is because of its story. The story, which is narrated by famed actor Orson Welles, explains how FDR’s New Deal Program aided not jut the nation’s infrastructure, but its culture, too. It points out that the program and its WPA Arts Project put artists and photographers back to work as well as actors. They were put back to work as the program created for instance, the model for what would have otherwise become the first federal theater program. It also led to artists creating murals and paintings that mirrored the nation’s people at the time. What’s more, it also balked at segregation, so to speak, as it even gave African-Americans work in theater on stage and behind the scenes of so many plays.
As the program progresses, it delves even deeper in its second half. Audiences learn along the way, that politics (specifically conservatives) led to the eventual demise of the short-lived WPA Art Programs. That is due in part to the fact that said conservatives did not like that many of the pictures, murals, and plays crafted through the programs were very socially conscious. Additionally, some of those who were put back to work through the programs admitted through archived interviews that, yes, they were Communist sympathizers, which played right into the hands of congressional members who were already looking for any reason to cut the programs since their products made them so uncomfortable. That duality exhibited here – the efforts by Roosevelt to preserve the arts and the efforts by his Conservative detractors to shut down the programs just because they hated him – and the way in which it is all presented makes the story in whole fully engaging and entertaining. Keeping all of that in mind, the story featured in this documentary is itself surprisingly interesting. It is just too bad that the doc’s title is so misleading, which is very likely to deter many from otherwise watching.
While there is no denying that the title of The New Deal for Artists is problematic, it is not enough to make the presentation a complete failure. That is proven through the program, as audiences will see when they actually give the documentary a chance. Once audiences realize just how surprisingly intriguing the documentary’s story is, the next thing they will appreciate is the information provided in the documentary’s companion booklet. That information in question comes through a pair of essays written separately by Armond White and Ed Rampell. The essays are for all intents and purposes really just two other reviews of the documentary. What makes them stand out is the additional background that they put into the mix along with their personal opinions. White for instance, explains how the WAP Arts Programs benefited Americans and the nation because it helped improve Americans’ morale. Additionally, he points out Welles’ role as narrator, and its importance even though he is that third person observing it all.
Rampell meanwhile, points out how many people in the nation’s arts community were put back to work. On the surface, the thousands noted seems like it is not much. When that number is considered along with the other thousands returned to payrolls in general, it makes for an even bigger number, showing just how important how the New Deal was. Additionally, he adds his own statement about the impact of those noted Conservatives in Washington, D.C. who worked so hard to shut down the programs just because they did not like that they pointed out how much Americans were struggling. That and so many more from Rampell and White offers audiences plenty to appreciate from the program’s overall presentation. Considering that content and the program’s primary content in whole, it collectively makes the documentary worth watching at least once. It is still only part of what makes the documentary worth seeing. Its pricing rounds out its most important elements.
The average price point for The New Deal for Artists is $21.81. That price is obtained by averaging prices listed through Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, and Books-A-Million. It was not listed through Target at the time of this review’s posting. While the average breaks the $20 mark, only Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Books-A-Million break that point from the get go. B&N lists the DVD at $24.99 while Books-A-Million is slightly less expensive at $24.95. So for all intents and purposes they are roughly the same, especially when shipping and handling is added to the mix. Walmart actually lists the least expensive price at $19.28. Amazon and Best Buy each list the DVD at $19.99. So while they will break the $20 mark when shipping & handling are added, they will still be far less expensive than ordering it through the other noted retailers. To that end, the price in general is still not that bad especially comparing the separate listings to the DVD’s average price point. Keeping that in mind along with the positives put forth through the DVD’s primary and secondary content, the whole comes together to make the DVD overall a mostly successful presentation that will appeal to a wide range of audiences.
Corinth Films’ presentation of the vintage PBS documentary, The New Deal for Artists is a surprisingly engaging and entertaining work. It is a doc that will appeal to a wide range of audiences, from history buffs, to art history lovers and students, to even those of theater and photography. The title just does not make that clear enough, though it is really the program’s only shortfall. It does show, though, the importance of proper titling for marketing purposes. The secondary content featured in the presentation that is exhibited in the DVD’s companion booklet adds to the interest. This even though that content is really just a pair of other reviews marketed as essays. Considering the amount of content and the depth thereof, the DVD’s general pricing proves positive in its own right. That is because it is relatively affordable. Each item examined is important in its own right to the whole of the DVD. All things considered, they make this DVD a mostly successful presentation.
The New Deal for Artists is available. More information on this and other titles from Corinth Films is available at: