Ben Franklin’s Bones Proves Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction (And More Entertaining)

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

People love drama.  A quick look through the shows dominating both the broadcast and cable networks today proves that.  The same can be said of offerings filling America’s theaters both past and present with dramas even dominating the Oscars ever since the very first Academy Awards celebration nearly ninety years ago in 1927.  Given comedies, musicals, and rom-coms have picked up their own share of Oscars for the “Best Picture” since that year.  But their wins have been extremely sparse.  So what is wrong with this seemingly never-ending fascination with drama?  The issue is that the dramas and medical procedurals that dominate television are entirely fictional.  The dramas that have won so many Oscars over the past eight decades plus have been either fictional or fictional in part.  The problem is that with so much fictional drama dominating television and movie theaters for so many decades, the importance of real life drama seems to have been decreased.  Thankfully though, PBS’s hit history-based series Secrets of the Dead continues to prove that real life drama is just as important as all the made up material on both the small screen and the silver screen.  Its new episode Secrets of the Dead: Ben Franklin’s Bones proves that. It proves that primarily through its story of bones found in Franklin’s home in England upon renovations done on the residence back in the late 1990s. The story plays out like something right out of a Sherlock Holmes novel. The twist revealed as the story progresses will throw everyone unfamiliar with the story for a loop. The story’s pacing set against its material adds to the overall presentation. The juxtaposition of the story’s pacing to its included material will keep audiences fully engaged from start to finish. Rounding out the whole thing are the collective re-enactments, interviews, and actual footage that are used to help illustrate and advance the story. The re-enactments are kept to a minimum instead of being made the star of the show. Coupled with the video of the actual excavations and the included interviews, all three elements work in tandem to fill out the presentation and prove yet again that real life crime and medical drama can be just as gripping as the fictional material broadcast to thousands of households every week and sent to thousands of theaters every month. And together with the episode’s actual story and its pacing, everything together shows why the drama of Secrets of the Dead: Ben Franklin’s Bones makes it a piece that every drama lover will appreciate.

Anyone that is a fan of all the fictional dramas that dominate American television and theaters will appreciate the real life drama contained in Secrets of the Dead: Ben Franklin’s Bones. The drama comes from the story of skeletal remains found in the one-time home of Benjamin Franklin and the resultant search for clues and answers as to where the bones came from and how they got there. The bones were discovered in the late 1990s when a group of individuals was working on the house in order to turn it into a museum honoring Franklin and his legacy. The identity of the bones has never been revealed. And for those that have not yet seen this episode of Secrets of the Dead, the discovery as to the remains themselves will be left for those viewers to find out for themselves. Even more shocking to learn is the semi-criminal link to how the bodies got to the home and the purpose for which the bodies were used. It’s wild to think that as dark as everything presented in the story seems, if not for the revelations made in this episode of Secrets of the Dead, the advances made in the medical field today might never have happened. As the old adage states: truth is stranger than fiction. And because it is so much stranger than fiction, any lover of drama on television and in movies will be just as entertained by this episode of Secrets of the Dead as they would by those fictional dramas.

The story presented in Secrets of the Dead: Ben Franklin’s Bones is just as gripping a drama as anything that could ever be written for an episode of Law & Order, CSI, Grey’s Anatomy or any other crime drama and medical procedural. The difference between this episode and those of the noted shows is that the story presented in Secrets of the Dead: Ben Franklin’s Bones is real. It proves the old adage that truth is stranger than fiction. And because of that it makes this episode just as entertaining as anything on television and in theaters today. As enthralling as the story in this episode proves to be in the end, the information in the story is only part of what makes it work. The story’s pacing works in tandem with its in-depth information to keep the program moving forward and interesting at the same time. No time is wasted ruminating on one aspect of the story or another more than others. Rather, equal time is offered to every part of the presentation from the discussions on the excavation and resultant research to the re-enactments to the interviews, every part of this episode receives just enough time to keep audiences engaged from start to finish, waiting on the edge of their seats to find out the next revelation.   Along with the story at the center of this episode, it and its pacing combine to strengthen the episode even more and prove even more clearly why any fan of television and theatrical dramas should watch this episode of Secrets of the Dead just as much as those fictional presentations.

The story presented in Secrets of the Dead: Ben Franklin’s Bones and its pacing are both key to the enjoyment of this program. Both elements work together to make the story just as entertaining and as gripping as anything ever churned out by the writers at CSI, Grey’s Anatomy, or Law & Order: SVU. While both elements are equally important to the whole of Secrets of the Dead: Ben Franklin’s Bones, there is still one more element to note that makes the episode complete. That element in question is the episode’s collective interviews, re-enactments, and actual excavation footage. These three parts make up the body of this episode’s story. And thanks to the work of those behind the episode, all three elements are given just enough time to keep things interesting. It goes right back to the show’s pacing and in turn the work of the show’s writers to keep the pacing just enough that none of the noted elements dominates the program. Had one of them dominated, it might have hindered the show and in turn made it far less interesting and enjoyable than it is. Luckily that didn’t prove to be the case. And the end result of that is an episode of Secrets of the Dead that proves again to be just as interesting and engaging as any of the major dramas on television and in theaters today. It proves to be a piece that any drama fan will appreciate just as much as those offerings.

Secrets of the Dead: Ben Franklin’s Bones is one of the best episodes that the hit PBS series has produced to date. Whether for the in-depth information shared throughout the program, its pacing, the surprise twist revealed through the program’s in-depth information or for another reason, it proves to be just as entertaining as any crime drama and medical procedural on television and in theaters today. Some might even argue that being a real life crime drama and medical procedural in one, it is even more entertaining than said offerings on television and in theaters Secrets of the Dead: Ben Franklin’s Bones will be available on DVD on Tuesday, March 17th. It can be pre-ordered direct from PBS’ online store now at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=57131096&cp=&sr=1&kw=secrets+of+the+dead&origkw=Secrets+of+the+Dead&parentPage=search. Audiences can check out a clip from this episode of Secrets of the Dead online now via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pkQeQJU9eU. More information on this and other episodes of Secrets of the Dead is available online now at:

 

Website: https://pbs.org/secrets

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SecretsOfTheDead

 

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Lucky Diaz & The Family Jam Band Looking To Its Fans For Its Next LP

Courtesy:  Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band

Courtesy: Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band

Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band is looking to fans to help fund its next album.

The band has released six albums, all of which were released independently. It has its own show on PBS called Lishy Lou and Lucky Too. The show in question is produced by the band’s own production company, meaning it puts its own money into the show. It has even won a Latin Grammy for its 2013 album fantastico. That album was the band’s first US release to win a Latin Grammy. As if these accolades aren’t enough, Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band has been featured by no less than NPR’s All Things Considered, USA Today, CNN, Sprout TV, American Airlines, Univision, and many more outlets.

For all of the success that Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band has had over the years, it should be noted again that said success has come from the pockets of the band members’ own pockets. Now Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band is looking to its fans to help fund its next album Adelante. The band is looking to its fans for help in part because while working on Adelante it suffered a heartbreaking setback. Someone broke into the band’s storage locker, stealing its instruments and destroying the set that it uses for its show on PBS. Sadly the band’s insurance apparently only covers a very minute portion of its damages and losses. So now it is asking its fans to be part of its new bi-lingual record’s creation. The money donated by fans will go toward purchasing new instruments and replace the set for its show. And what’s in it for fans that help make Adelante a reality? Fans can pick up autographed copies of the band’s albums, props from its show, private concerts, skype time with the band and pretty much anything else that fans could probably think up. Donation levels start as cheap as $15 and run as high as $15,000. Here’s how it breaks down:

For $15, fans will get an advance digital download of Adelante and monthly behind-the-scenes video journals. Also at this level, fans will get a digital download code for the album a month ahead of its release as well as monthly behind-the-scenes video journals from the band. Only forty of these offers are left.

At the $25 level, fans can get a physical autographed copy of Adelante from the band as well as a secret download code for the album and monthly behind-the-scenes video journals. Fans that donate at the $25 level will even get their name in the album’s liner notes along with that downloadable copy of the album. Supplies of both rewards at this level are limited.

From the $25, the level jumps to $40. At this level, fans can get a two-fer. Fans at this level can get one personalized copy of Adelante for a family member and a signed copy to give as a gift. The band will send out the gift copy personally with a card letting the recipient know who had it sent to them. Or both copies can be sent to donors for donors to send out themselves. Less than 20 of these are left.

The rewards increase at each donation level from here. Fans can find out what they can get for donating at each level at the band’s indiegogo website at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/new-album-adelante-lucky-diaz-the-fjb. And for all of the latest news on the album’s progress, fans can follow the band online at:

 

Website: https://www.luckydiazmusic.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lucky-Diaz-and-the-Family-Jam-Band/182600891967

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PBS’ Nature Will Keep Things Cool Next Month With A New Episode Of Nature On DVD

Courtesy:  PBS Distribution/PBS

Courtesy: PBS Distribution/PBS

Typically when one thinks of Antarctica, one thinks of snow, ice, and penguins. Thoughts turn to what is one of the harshest environments on the planet. However, those harsh conditions exist during the continent’s coldest months. During its summer months, things change, allowing for tourists to make their way to the Antarctic. Along the way, said tourists make it a point to stop at the Antarctic peninsula at Port Lockroy. It is there that a colony of approximately 3,000 gentoo penguins find their mates, build nests, and raise the next generation of gentoo penguins. It just so happens that along with the penguins, there is also a British post office at Port Lockroy where tourists can purchase post cards to send back to their friends and family and visit the post office’s on-site museum. Now thanks to PBS, audiences can get a glimpse into the lives of the gentoo penguins and how they are being protected in the new DVD Nature: Penguin Post Office.

Nature: Penguin Post Office will be released Tuesday, March 17th. The DVD examines the lives of the gentoo penguins at Port Lockroy and the efforts to protect the penguins as visitors make their way to the port through each year. The hour-long program includes interviews with volunteers from the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust who run the post office and museum at Port Lockroy. The DVD will retail for $19.99 but can be pre-ordered online via PBS’ online store at a reduced price of $17.99 at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=57130986&cp=&kw=penguin+post+office&origkw=penguin+post+office&sr=1#Details. More information on this and other episodes of Nature is available online along with the latest Nature news at:

Website: https://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PBSNature

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PBS Announces Release Date, Specs For New NOVA DVD

Courtesy:  PBS Distribution/PBS

Courtesy: PBS Distribution/PBS

CERN’s Large Hadron Collider has been one of the world’s most polarizing points ever since it was first started up in 2008. While the concerns that so many people had have been allayed since then, the LHC still has not revealed the long-speculated Higgs-Boson Particle, or “God Particle” to researchers. Though, researchers have found a particle in their efforts that is a starkly close match to the Higgs-Boson Particle. Now this spring, scientists with CERN are set to restart the LHC and restart their research. As they prepare to start what is the world’s largest atom smasher, PBS will release NOVA: Big Bang Machine.

NOVA: Big Bang Machine will be released on DVD Tuesday, March 17th. The hour-long episode of PBS’ hit science-based series looks at the LHC, its history including what made it such a hot button topic, and expectations for its next startup. Audiences can check out a clip from this episode of NOVA online now via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfJBUJMywPs. The DVD will retail for $24.99. It can be pre-ordered online now via PBS’ online store fora reduced price of $19.99 at http://www.shoppbs.org/search/index.jsp?kwCatId=&kw=nova%20big%20bang%20machine&origkw=NOVA+Big+Bang+Machine&sr=1. It can also be ordered in a combo pack that also includes a wristwatch for $49.99. The combo pack will retail in stores for $68.94.

More information on NOVA: Big Bang Machine and other episodes of NOVA is available online now along with all of the latest NOVA news at:

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

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

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PBS Kids Celebrates WordWorld Next Month With New DVD

Courtesy:  PBS Distribution/PBS/PBS Kids

Courtesy: PBS Distribution/PBS/PBS Kids

PBS Distribution announced this week that fans of the PBS Kids’ series WordWorld will see a brand new collection of episodes on DVD next month.

WordWorld: Birthday Party! will be released on DVD Tuesday, March 7th. The DVD will feature five episodes from the family favorite PBS Kids series, all of which focus in one way or another on birthdays. It all starts with a surprise birthday party for Dog in “Happy Birthday, Dog.” The WordWorld gang is planning a surprise party for Dog in this episode. But there is just one problem: There is no cake. It’s up to Frog to get the cake to the party in one piece without Dog finding out about the cake or the party.

“Pig’s Present” comes second on the disc. This is an especially important episode because not only does it teach the word “Jet,” but it also teaches an important lesson about patience. It teaches that lesson about patience as Pig can’t fight his curiosity after his nephews, The Three Little Pigs, make a secret present for him.

“The Rainbow Birthday Cake” is another important addition to the new PBS Kids DVD WordWorld: Birthday Party! This episode teaches an important lesson about recycling and conservation. This lesson is taught as Duck decides he wants to make a really big birthday cake for Frog. He wants to frost the cake in the colors of the rainbow. Duck learns that once he uses the cans of frosting, he can’t just toss them anywhere. He has to recycle them. And the result of that recycling ends up becoming part of Frog’s very special cake, proving the good that can come from recycling.

In the disc’s penultimate episode “Bit By Bit,” WordWorld’s writers teach young viewers a valuable lesson about handling big words when Duck and Bug have to take Frog’s present for Monkey–a banana–to Monkey’s birthday party. The duo is so excited about taking the banana to Monkey that they accidentally drop it and break it into lots of letters. So it’s up to Elephant to help Duck and Bug put the banana back together and get it to Monkey.

Ant has to enlist the aid of his buggy buddies in “Bugs to the Rescue,” the final episode featured in WordWorld: Birthday Party! He has to get the help of his friends after the balloon that he built for his friend Bear accidentally floats away with Bear in it.

WordWorld: Birthday Party! will be available on DVD Tuesday, March 7th. It can be pre-ordered online now via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=57493336&cp=&kw=wordworld&origkw=wordworld&sr=1. More information on this and other WordWorld DVDs is available online now along with all of the latest WordWorld news at:

Website: https://www.wordworld.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WordWorld

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Secrets Of The Dead Examines One Of Its Most Intriguing Mysteries To Date In New DVD

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

Benjamin Franklin is considered to be one of the most revered figures in America’s rich history.  He is one of the nation’s founders.  He is also considered one of the nation’s great philosophers.  He is also thought of as one of the country’s great inventors among many other titles.  But is it possible that there was a darker, more sinister side to Benjamin Franklin? Or could it have been someone else?  The unearthing of twenty-eight sets of human bones from Franklin’s residence in December 1997 has left many wondering these questions. That’s because another man named William Hewson lived at Craven Street. Hewson had his own intriguing background, which left even more questions.

Now PBS is “digging deeper” into the mystery of the remains in a new episode of its history-based series Secrets of The Dead titled Secrets of the Dead: Ben Franklin’s Bones. PBS Distribution will release Secrets of the Dead: Ben Franklin’s Bones on DVD on Tuesday, March 17th.  It will retail for $24.99.  The program focuses on the discovery of the bones during renovations done on Franklin’s residence in December 1997 and their potential link to both Franklin and the mysterious William Hewson. The renovations were part of a project to turn the residence into the Benjamin Franklin Museum. When examined, the bones dated back to the mid-1700s, right around the time that Franklin would have lied at the residence on 36 Craven Street.   The findings were made by Professor Simon Hillson, of the University College London.  Hillson is a specialist in the biology and history of human remains.

Secrets of the Dead: Ben Franklin’s Bones runs approximately sixty minutes. It can be ordered direct online via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=57131096&cp=&sr=1&kw=secrets+of+the+dead&origkw=Secrets+of+the+Dead&parentPage=search. Audiences can check out a clip from this episode of Secrets of the Dead online now via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pkQeQJU9eU.

 

More information on this and other episodes of Secrets of the Dead is available online now at:

 

Website: https://pbs.org/secrets

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SecretsOfTheDead

 

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Peg + Cat’s New DVD Is An Aptly-Titled Release

Courtesy:  PBS Distribution/PBS/PBS Kids

Courtesy: PBS Distribution/PBS/PBS Kids

PBS Kids is set to release another new collection of episodes from its series Peg + Cat next month.  Whether familiar with the series or not, audiences of all ages will enjoy the aptly-titled Peg + Cat: Peg Rocks.  There is just as much to enjoy about this DVD, the series’ third compilation, as its predecessors.  And it all starts with the writing behind the DVD’s episodes.  The show’s writers put stars Peg and Cat into even more original situations that lead to easily accessible lessons on counting and problem solving.  Along the way, there are subtle lessons on various musical styles, too.  There are even playful tributes to the likes of The Spice Girls and The Beatles as well as opera and classical music.  Credit where credit’s cue.  The fact that the writers would go so far as to incorporate those subtle “lessons” in these episodes shows a branching out of sorts. When considered with the rudimentary lessons on counting and problem solving, it serves to show even more solidly why the writing in these episodes is so important to the DVD’s enjoyment.  While the writing behind the episodes is key to their enjoyment, just as important to the whole is the run time of each episode.  Each episode runs just over ten minutes.  This is much the same as Peg + Cat’s previous pair of DVDs.  Much the same can be said of the DVD’s bonus material.  The DVD’s bonus material is the same as on the series’ previous compilations.  That means that no parent or child will feel like they are missing out on anything.  Together with the look of the episodes and the writing that serves as the DVD’s cornerstone, all three elements together make Peg + Cat: Peg Rocks just as enjoyable as its predecessors and one more welcome addition to the library of any family and/or educator.

Peg + Cat’s latest full-length collection of episodes is yet another wonderful addition to the library of any family and/or educator.  The central reason for this is the work of the series’ writers.  As with the show’s previous compilations, the episodes culled for this collection put Peg and her feline friend Cat into even more original situations that are by themselves entertaining.  As entertaining as they are, that entertainment aspect also makes for original ways to teach the show’s continued rudimentary math and problem solving lessons. Throughout each of the episodes, Peg and Cat deal with a variety of musical mishaps.  From having to keep her band together in the disc’s opening episode “The Big Gig Problem” to helping Cat impress Peg’s girl group The Pentagirls in “The Girl Group Problem” to helping her grandmother make a memorable birthday present for his birthday in “The Groovy Sixties Problem,” the episodes culled for this collection offer more than their share of entertainment and educational value for young viewers.  Audiences will enjoy watching Peg and Cat take their band from an eleven member outfit in the beginning of “The Big Gig Problem” to a much bigger group even after members of the band leave for various reasons throughout the episode.  Parents and educators alike will enjoy the playful jab at the music industry’s use of lip syncing (especially in pop music) as Cat has to sing over Peg in his attempts to impress Peg’s group The Pentagirls.  They will enjoy just as much the tribute to the golden era of American music in “The Groovy Sixties Problem” as Peg has to work with Cat and her grandmother to come up with a memorable birthday present for his birthday.  The rudimentary math lessons and lessons centered on problem solving skills add even more to the episodes’ enjoyment.  These episodes show in their own way just why the writing behind the episodes collected for Peg + Cat: Peg Rocks is so important to its enjoyment.  The other episodes featured on the DVD show this just as much, not to devalue them by any means.  What’s more, the writing in question that combines so much entertainment and educational content is just part of what makes the writing so important.  The emphasis on music appreciation and education in these episodes is just as important.

The general writing used in the episodes featured on Peg + Cat: Peg Rocks by itself presents plenty of reason for audiences to enjoy each episode.  On another level, the episodes’ emphasis on music appreciation and education makes them just as enjoyable if not more so.  Parents and educators especially will appreciate and enjoy the spoof of The Spice Girls in “The Girl Group Problem” and the episode’s associated playful jab at the pop world’s use of lip syncing. “The Groovy Sixties Problem” pays tribute to American music’s golden age, going so far as to pay tribute to both The Beatles and Bob Dylan along the way.  Other episodes such as “The Magic Uke” and the two-part “I Do What I Can: The Musical” pay tribute to the world of classical music and opera.  The fact that the series’ writers touched on so many different musical genres throughout these episodes means that parents and educators alike have been given a wonderful starting point on discussions about said genres.  With any luck, it could even lead to the beginning of an appreciation for any or all of the genres in question in the process.  So for that reason, the writers behind Peg + Cat are even more deserving of their credit, showing yet again just how important the writing behind these episodes proves to be to the overall enjoyment of the DVD.

The writing that went into the episodes featured on PBS Kids’ new Peg + Cat DVD is clearly the cornerstone of its enjoyment. Whether in terms of the situations into which Peg and Cat are placed in each episode, or in terms of episodes’ emphasis on music appreciation and education, the writing behind these episodes is clearly the cornerstone of the DVD’s enjoyment. As enjoyable as the writing makes each episode, the episodes’ run times are just as important to the presentation’s overall enjoyment. The DVD’s total run time is eighty-five minutes. With seven episodes—one of which is a two-part episode—this puts the run time of each episode at just over ten minutes. Taking into consideration the series’ target audience, that is just enough time to keep said viewers’ attention. Coupled with the work of the show’s writers, that run time feels like it passes without incident. This makes the presentation in whole all the more enjoyable. It still is not all that audiences will appreciate about this DVD, either. Last but not least worth noting of Peg + Cat: Peg Rocks’ enjoyment is its collection of bonus material.

PBS Kids has included with its new Peg + Cat compilation the same bonus material that was included with both of the series’ previous releases. To some, this might not seem to be a positive. But for those parents and educators that might not already have the previously released DVDs in question, it is very much a positive. Rather than switching up the bonus material from disc to disc, PBS Kids has opted to keep the bonus material the same, much as with its compilations from Arthur and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood just to name a couple. It means that no child or grown-up will feel like they have been ripped off and essentially keeps all viewers on the same level for lack of better wording. The bonus material in question includes: instructions on how to make a Cat sock beanie, four flip books, a “Pirates + Peaches” board game, and instructions on how to create homemade Peg + Cat stick puppets. These are all activities that children can do with their parents and/or teachers. In other words, they are activities that can be done in the classroom or the living room. It is the final element of Peg + Cat: Peg Rocks that makes the DVD another welcome addition to the personal DVD library of any educator and/or family. Together with the writing that went into each episode and the episodes’ run time, all three elements combine to show once and for all why any family and/or educator will enjoy this third addition to Peg + Cat’s DVD collection.

Peg + Cat: Peg Rocks boasts plenty of positives for viewers of all ages. The episodes’ writing presents even more new situations that lend themselves to even more basic math lessons. The writing also promotes music appreciation and education. The episodes’ run times make them just as enjoyable and accessible to viewers of any age. The addition of bonus material featured on previous Peg + Cat DVDs keeps audiences on the same level at least to that extent. So no one will feel left out when taking part in the presented activities. By themselves, all three elements do their own part in making this DVD enjoyable. Together, they make Peg + Cat: Peg Rocks yet another wonderful addition to the show’s series of home releases that is just as enjoyable and valuable in the living room as in the classroom. The DVD will be available on DVD Tuesday, March 3rd. It will retail for MSRP of $12.99. It can be ordered online via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=56262336&cp=&sr=1&kw=peg++cat&origkw=Peg+%2B+Cat&parentPage=search. More information on this DVD and other Peg + Cat DVDs is available online along with more Peg + Cat episodes and games at:

Website: http://pbskids.org/peg

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

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