PBS Takes On Sleep Science In New ‘NOVA’ Episode

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution/WGBH

Much has been said and studied in the world of sleep science throughout the decades.

News agencies nationwide use stories of sleep as space fillers on slow news days all the time.  Now a more reputable source, PBS’ NOVA takes a deeper dive into the science of sleep in a new episode scheduled for release Tuesday on DVD.  The episode, Mysteries of Sleep, examines the benefits of good sleep and consequences of not so good sleep.

Additionally, it presents research on how something, such as pink noise, can possibly have a positive impact on sleep, and how sleep impacts children’s ability to learn.

NOVAMysteries of Sleep has a run time of one hour.  It will retail for MSRP of $24.99, but can be pre-ordered at a reduced price of $19.99 through PBS’ online store.  More information on this and other episodes of NOVA is available at:

 

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

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/novapbs

 

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PBS Distribution To Release New ‘Berenstain Bears’ Collection Next Week

Courtesy: PBS Distribution

PBS Distribution will release another collection of episodes from The Berenstain Bears to audiences next week.

The Berenstain BearsTree House Tales Volume 3 is scheduled for release May 19.  The latest collection features 28 more episodes from the animated series and will retail for MSRP of $14.99.  Among the most notable episodes is “Car Trip,” in which brother and sister learn that the family’s vacation will not take it to Grizzyland, but somewhere else.

Another notable addition to this latest collection comes in the form of “The Giddy Grandma.”  Sister is writing about a bear that she admires in this episode, and learns Grizzly Gran had a lot of accolades during her life.

“Moving Day’ tackles an issue that so many children (and families) face when brother and sister’s friends are moving away.The  siblings learn that people moving is not entirely bad.

More information on The Berenstain BearsTree House Tales Volume 3 is available along with all of the latest Berenstain Bears news at:

 

Website: http://www.berenstainbears.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/TheBerenstains

 

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‘Okavango — River of Dreams’ Is The Best Episode Of PBS’ Series ‘Nature’ So Far This Year

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution/WNET

The Okavango River is one of Africa’s most important and one of the world’s most important and awe-inspiring bodies of water.  Instead of flowing out into the ocean, the river flows inland through Botswana and toward the Kalahari Desert.  The river creates a virtual paradise for the animals that live in the desert’s hostile environment while also being a virtual Eden in its source and its delta.  Now thanks to PBS Distribution, audiences can take a journey along the river with the animals that migrate along its length and that call the river home in the new episode Okavango: River of Dreams.  The nearly three hour documentary, released Jan. 7, is an engaging and entertaining presentation in part due to the information that is featured throughout its three segments.  That information will be discussed shortly.  Speaking of the segments, the fact that the two-hour, forty-minute program is presented in three separate segments is another key aspect to its presentation.  It will be discussed a little later.  The cinematography featured in this episode of Nature is also worth noting, and will also be addressed later.  Each item noted here is key in its own way to the whole of this program.  All things considered, they make it one of the year’s best new documentaries even despite the unnecessary preachy pro-conservation message featured in the episode’s finale.

OkavangoRiver of Dreams is an awe-inspiring presentation that is among the best new Nature episodes released so far this year and among the best new overall documentaries so far this year.  That is proven in part through the story at its center.  The story in question is that of the Okavango River, and its role as the center of a much larger ecosystem.  Audiences will remain engaged and entertained as they watch the river course its way from its source, into its delta and into the dry, arid desert land where it ends, at least until rains fall to give those lands new life.  Learning of the role that elephants play in the river’s course and even that some seemingly natural foes – hyenas and warthogs – actually find some moments in which they live peacefully at times is enlightening.  Seeing the lengths that some animals go to for survival at the far, drier end of the river is just as enlightening, as those behaviors prove to be quite similar to human behaviors, in terms of survival of the fittest.  Simply watching the interactions of the overall ecosystem of the Okavango River is in itself enlightening. From the hierarchies of the cat families (lions and leopards) to the influence of elephants on the whole of the ecosystem to the sheer vast number of species is another key portion of the program’s informational aspect.  Between all of this and so much more, the general content of this episode of Nature gives audiences so much to appreciate.

While the content featured throughout the course of Okavango River of Dreams does a lot to make this episode engaging and entertaining, it is just one of the presentation’s important elements.  The fact that the nearly three-hour program is broken up into segments ensures even more, audiences’ engagement and entertainment.  The program is broken up into three distinct segments – “Paradise,” “Limbo,” and “Inferno” – a la Dante’s epic poem.  The whole thing starts at the best point in the river’s extension, “Paradise.”  As the rive flows through the African continent, resources begin to become less, leading to more competition for resources and survival.  That moment is “Limbo.”  The river’s end near the Kalahari Desert is the “Inferno.”  It is the harshest point for all of the creatures that rely on the river for life.  The far southern end of the river is a point at which the water becomes far less available for creatures above and below the waves.  Each segment has a distinct beginning, middle and end.  Viewers are not forced to sit through the story in one whole watch.  This is important to note because in segmenting the story, it allows viewers to take the story at their own pace.  That ability to take in the story of the river and its ecosystem ensures even more, that audiences will be more focused and in turn engaged as they watch each segment.  So while this might not seem all that important on the surface, it is of great importance in the bigger picture.  What’s more, the pacing within each segment partners with that segmentation to add even more certainty that audiences will remain engaged and entertained throughout the program overall.  Keeping in mind the impact of the episode’s pacing and segmentation along with the general content, the whole of this presentation is even stronger.  They are not the program’s only key elements.  The cinematography featured throughout the episode puts the finishing touch to its whole.

The cinematography that is featured throughout the course of OkavangoRiver of Dreams is award-worthy to say the absolute least.  Whether it be the aerial shots from high above the African continent, the close ups of animals wading through the river’s waters, the creatures of the deep (so to speak) who live in the river or even the smooth, seamless shots of the river that flow just as smoothly as the river itself, every one of those shots does its own part to keep viewers engaged and entertained, too.  The program may be presented on DVD, but the footage is so rich and full of life and color, as if it was shot in high definition.  Whether watching the flamingos take to the skies in “Inferno,” the elephants make their way along the river in all three segments and big cats working to survive all along the river while also training their cubs, audiences are given the best seat in the house while feeling like there are immersed in the program thanks to the cinematography.  The blue skies set against the dry, cracked ground at the river’s end creates such a stark contrast that creates its own powerful impact for audiences.  The slow motion shots of gazelles bounding through the river’s waters is moving in its own way, too.  Simply put, the cinematography featured throughout the course of this episode of Nature is just as important to its presentation as the episode’s primary content and its segmentation.  When all three elements are considered together, the whole of those elements makes this presentation a work that is the best episode of PBS’ Nature so far this year and one of the year’s top new documentaries so far, too.  That is even despite the inclusion of the completely unnecessary preachy pro-conservationist message pushed at the finale of the program and also the equally confusing inclusion of Marilyn Manson’s cover of The Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)’ at the beginning and end of each segment.  Yes, it actually incorporates Marilyn Manson into its whole.  Again, even with this in mind, the program in whole is still worth the watch.

PBS’ presentation of Nature: OkavangoRiver of Dreams is one of the best of the series’ episodes so far this year and easily and one of the year’s top new documentaries.  That is evidenced in part through the general content that makes up the body of the episode.  It is rich in its own right, as has been pointed out here.  The fact that the nearly three-hour program is separated into three distinct segments will encourage audiences to watch the program in whole, and in turn ensure even more, audiences will remain engaged and entertained.  The cinematography featured throughout the program round out its most important elements.  The only real negatives to the whole are the fact that once again, that unnecessary preachy pro-conservationist message is there and the inclusion of Marilyn Manson’s cover of The Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).’  One can’t even begin to figure out what necessity had for the program.  That was just a poor choice as there is no connection between that song and this program in terms of content.  What’s more, audiences who watch Nature know that we need to care for planet Earth and all of its ecosystems.  We do not need to be preached at time and again.  The people behind Nature have got to get this through their heads and stop letting that preaching get into every episode.  Save the preaching for one episode of the program.  People watch this show to learn and to be entertained, not to be preached at.  Now, getting back on track, even despite the two noted negatives, this program still boasts so much to its positive that it is still well worth the watch time and again.  It is available now on DVD.  More information on this and other episodes of Naure is available online at:

 

 

 

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

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/PBSNature

 

 

 

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‘Nature: Bears’ Largely Successful In Its Presentation Of The World’s Different Species Of Bears

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution/WNET

PBS’ popular wildlife series Nature has, over the years, brought audiences countless hours of educational and entertaining content about animals and ecosystems from around the world.  From the plains of Africa to the waters of the Great Barrier Reef to the highest peaks of the Andes, the series has done so much for audiences.  Now with a mutated flu running rampant around the globe and causing so much unnecessary fear, panic and closures, the program is needed more than ever.  That is because even zoos, where people might otherwise be able to be exposed to many of those animals and ecosystems, are among the many places closed as a result of that unnecessary fear and panic.  So where else to be exposed to nature and wildlife in general than in PBS’ long-running series?  In one of its most recently released episodes, Bears, the program takes a look at the different species of bears that roam the world.  The surprising revelations about the different species form a strong foundation for the program.  It will be discussed shortly.  While that engaging content does a lot to help this episode of Nature, it should be noted that there is one negative to the whole.  That one negative is once again, is the preachy message about conservation pushed into the program’s final minutes.  This is not the first time that this has happened with an episode of Nature, and is something that needs to stop.  It will be addressed a little later.  Getting back to the positive, the program’s collective pacing and transitions round out its most important elements.  They work with the episode’s content and makes it well worth watching even despite the unnecessary preaching pushed into the episode’s final moments.  Keeping that in mind, Nature: Bears proves to be another overall positive episode of Nature.

Nature: Bears, one of the latest releases from PBS’ popular wildlife series Nature, is a welcome presentation for audiences everywhere in a time when panic and fear over COVID-19 has caused so much unnecessary closure nationwide.  It serves to expose audiences to a variety of bears that they otherwise might not have been exposed to at the zoos and other wildlife facilities that are now closed.  That introduction to the different species forms the program’s foundation.  Audiences are introduced to familiar bear species, such as black bears, grizzly bears and polar bears over the roughly hour-long episode as well as perhaps less familiar species, such as the sloth bear and the spectacled bear.  Not only are viewers introduced to all of those species of bears, but they are also introduced to the things that make each bear unique.  For instance, viewers learn that the polar bear’s sense of smell is 20 times stronger than that of a bloodhound, and that it can smell its prey as deep as three feet beneath the ice.  Also of interest in the program is the revelation that the sloth bear is able to avoid the pain of solder termites’ pincers when it breaks down termite colonies because of the construction of the bear’s mouth.  In regard to the grizzly bears, viewers learn that they learn through what is essentially modeling.  The cubs learn how to hunt for fish, for instance, by watching their mother.  That is very similar throughout the animal kingdom.  On another note, audiences also learn in watching the program that bears scratch their backs on trees, not because their backs itch, but because of territorial marking.  So, as funny as it is to watch, it actually serves a key purpose in the lives of bears.  All of this is just a snapshot of everything that is discussed throughout the course of Bears.  When it is considered along with the content that was note addressed here, the whole of the program’s main feature proves to be worthwhile presentation for audiences of all ages.  Even when the discussions on bears mating and hunting come up, the content is largely edited, so viewers don’t have to worry about covering their children’s eyes or fast forwarding at any point.  To that end, it makes the program that much more accessible for viewers.  All things considered, the content featured in Nature: Bears builds a strong foundation for this program.  Of course for all of the positives presented through the DVD’s content, it is difficult to ignore its one negative element, the unnecessary preaching about conservation at the program’s end.

As Nature: Bears nears its end, narrator Olga Merediz begins reading lines that make statements about the danger that many bears are in, such as the polar bear because of global warming.  At another point prior, she reads a message about how deforestation endangered panda bears in Asia.  Yes, we know global warming is a problem.  There is no denying it.  There is also no denying that deforestation globally is a problem.  However, being that the rest of the program did so much to educate and entertain, having that element to close out was not necessary.  It ruins an otherwise enjoyable program because of its preachy nature.  Please do not misunderstand the statement being made here.  There is no doubt that global warming should be addressed.  There is no doubt that the deforestation that nearly wiped out the panda bears is still very much of concern.  However, as important as they are, there is a time and place for everything, and a program that is otherwise presented solely as an educational piece does not need to include preachy messages about environmentalism at any point.  That should be saved for another time and perhaps another episode of Nature that is dedicated entirely to the issue facing the planet. For an episode that is supposed to focus on animals, that preachiness should not be there.  This is not the first time that this has happened in an episode of Nature, and likely isn’t the last either.  Hopefully though, the people at PBS will take this into consideration for future episodes of Nature.  Now as much of a detriment as that preachiness is to this episode of Nature, it doesn’t make the program unwatchable.  The collective pacing and transitions that are used throughout the program make the primary content even more engaging.

The pacing and transitions that are used throughout the course of Nature: Bears is so important because it is these elements that keep the program flowing from start to end.  Considering the number of species of bear featured throughout the program and what makes each species unique from one another, there is clearly a lot of content presented.  Just enough time was given to each species and its abilities and adaptations from one to the next.  As each species’ focus gives way to focus on other species around the world, the transitions are seamless.  Audiences are never left behind and are never left feeling like the transitions are stark.  Everything is fluid throughout the program.  That fluidity and the steady pacing ensures that audiences will be largely, if not fully, engaged in this episode of Nature from start to end.  When this is taken into account with the power of the program’s content, that certainty of engagement and entertainment is strengthened even more.  That is even despite the one issue of the unnecessary environmentalist message pushed so hard in the program’s final moments.  Keeping that in mind, Nature: Bears proves itself another largely positive episode of what is one of PBS’ most notable series.

Nature: Bears, released on DVD Jan. 28, is another largely positive presentation from PBS’ long-running wildlife series.  It takes viewers around the world, profiling various species of bear and their unique adaptations and abilities.  Along the way, its pacing and transitions do a lot to make even more certain that viewers will remain engaged and entertained.  Even with the unnecessary environmentalist preaching at the episode’s end, those positives still make the program largely a positive presentation.  It is available now.  More information on this and other episodes of Nature is available online now at:

 

 

 

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

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/PBSNature

 

 

 

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Eagle Rock Entertainment Announces Home Release Date, Specs For New Miles Davis Doc

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Eagle Rock Entertainment will bring the new Miles Davis documentary Birth of the Cool home next month.

The documentary, which originally premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, grossed more than $1 million during its recent theatrical run.  It is scheduled for home release April 10, and will be available as a BD/DVD combo pack and 2DVD with bonus Montreux concert footage and 16-page hardcover book and all digital platforms.  The Montreux footage was culled from Davis’ performances at the festival in 1973, 1984 and 1985.

The performance listing for the Montruex shows is noted below.

 

BONUS DVD – ALL LIVE FROM MONTREUX Tracklisting
1.) Ife (1973)
2.) Star People (1984 Afternoon)
3.) It Gets Better (1984 Afternoon)
4.) Hopscotch; Star On Cicely (1984 Afternoon)
5.) Lake Geneva (1984 Afternoon)
6.) Star People (1985 Evening)
7.) Hopscotch (1985 Evening)

 

The documentary, which also recently aired nationwide on PBS as part of the network’s beloved American Masters series, was directed by three-time Emmy award winner Stanley Nelson. It profiles the life and career of the late great trumpeter Miles Davis.  The profile features never-before-seen live performances and outtakes from Davis’ studio sessions.  It also features interviews with people who knew Davis both professionally and personally, such as Quincy Jones, Carlos Santana, Clive Davis, Wayne Shorter and Ron Carter.

The documentary was nominated for a Grammy at the 62nd annual Grammy Awards and for a NAACP Image Award in the category of “Outstanding Documentary (Film).”

More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at:

 

Website: http://www.eagle-rock.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews

 

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’ New ‘Nature’ Episode Is A ‘Big’ Success

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution/WNET

Nature is full of giant creatures, and in a new episode of its hit wildlife series Nature, PBS is introducing audiences to some of nature’s biggest beasts.  Nature: Nature’s Biggest Beasts was released on DVD Jan. 14.  The hour-long episode takes viewers around the world, presenting the biggest of the big and even the biggest of the small.  That central aspect of the DVD forms the program’s foundation, and does a good job of doing so.  As interesting as all of the discoveries are throughout the episode, the program is not perfect, sadly.  The program’s final statement detracts from the episode, but thankfully not to the point that it makes the episode unwatchable.  This will be addressed a little later.  While the program’s finale does detract from its whole, it is the program’s only negative.  There is at least one more positive to note in examining the episode.  That positive is the episode’s pacing.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the episode.  All things considered, they make Nature: Nature’s Biggest Beasts its own “big” hit.

Nature: Nature’s Biggest Beasts is its own big, successful presentation.  That is due in large part (no pun intended) to its central story.  The hour-long program takes viewers around the world, offering audiences introductions to the biggest of the biggest and biggest of the small beasts.  From the giraffe, which has to position itself just right in order to be able to get a drink of water, to a certain kind of leech, which can eat other invertebrates, to a giant octopus, which can eat other sea life twice its size and more, the program’s central feature serves as a good starting point for so many biology lessons from high school onward.  The program takes audiences into the treetops and skies and even below the waves time and again, wasting little time along the way.  That matter, that of the program’s pacing, will be discussed later.  The central story will surprise many viewers as it introduces them to creatures that they otherwise might not have ever known about.  Case in point are the specific species of bats, beetles and even crabs featured within the program.  On a side note, the crab that is introduced in this program looks a lot like the one who held Maui’s hook in Disney’s Moana.  One can’t help but wonder if that real life crab served as the model for that character.  Getting back on the topic at hand, the various beasts that are introduced throughout the course of Nature’s Biggest Beasts and what makes them so intriguing more than gives audiences reason to take in this episode of NOVA.  That ensured engagement forms a solid foundation for the DVD.

For all of the strength that Nature’s Biggest Beasts gains through its central presentation, there is one problem with this episode that cannot be ignored.  That problem is presented, go figure, at the episode’s end.  As viewers are introduced to the corals that make up the Great Barrier Reef, the narrator makes a direct statement about appreciating and protecting all of nature’s beasts, whether they are the biggest of the big or the biggest of the small.  This is important to note because in hindsight, the whole episode essentially rounds out to one big preachy presentation.  The thing is that the preachy aspect was so covertly incorporated into the program.  It would have been so easy to have not had that element added to the mix, but the fact that it was put in at the very end results in that lasting impression that audiences really are sitting through one big statement story.  That realization that audiences will experience can and does leave a bad taste in some viewers’ mouths so to speak.  Keeping that in mind, this is a detriment to the episode’s presentation.  It is not so bad that it makes the episode unwatchable.  Regardless, it is an element that cannot be ignored.  Luckily for the episode’s sake (and for that of everyone involved in the episode’s creation), this negative is the program’s only con.  Its pacing works with its central presentation to make it that much more worth watching.

The pacing of Nature’s Biggest Beasts is key to note because over the course of roughly an hour, a lot of ground (and water – yes, that awful pun was intended) is covered.  From Africa to North America to Asia to the Atlantic and even to the Arctic, viewers are taken around the globe.  Considering how many regions and animals are examined, it would have been so easy for the pacing to get out of control and leave viewers behind.  Thankfully, that did not happen here.  For all of the material that is presented throughout, each beast and each region of the world gets just enough time.  The transitions from one segment to the next adds to the positive impact of the program’s pacing.  The two elements collectively do just enough to ensure viewers are able to keep up with everything, and in turn to ensure that they gain a certain appreciation for what makes each big beast so intriguing.  That time and thought that was incorporated into the program’s pacing and the transitions clearly paid off.  Considering the successful result of that material and the engagement and entertainment ensured through the presentation itself, the two elements do a lot to make it another positive offering from PBS.  That is even with the issue of the preachy message that was so covertly included in the program.  All things considered, Nature’s Biggest Beasts proves to be a possible candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new documentaries.

Nature: Nature’s Biggest Beasts is an engaging and entertaining new episode of PBS’s hit wildlife series that deserves consideration for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new documentaries.  That is due in part to the wide range of animals and areas that are covered throughout the course of the program.  The program’s pacing and its related transitions, which play into the pacing, make the program that much more worth the watch.  The one negative from which the episode suffers is the covert inclusion of the episode’s preachy message about conservation.  Yes, we as viewers know that we need to take care of the earth and its many great creatures.  The last thing we need in watching such an other wise enjoyable program is to be preached at.  The fact that the program’s script saves that preachy message until its end is really slick. It makes the episode in whole seem like one giant preachy message in whole, which detracts from its presentation.  Thankfully, the impact is not so negative that the episode is unwatchable.  It can’t be ignored either, though.  Keeping all of this in mind, Nature: Nature’s Biggest Beasts is a big success.  It just could have been even bigger if not for that unnecessary, covert preachy aspect.  Either way, it is an episode of Nature that is well worth the watch even with its one con.  The DVD is available now.  More information on this and other episodes of Nature is available online at:

 

 

 

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

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/PBSNature

 

 

 

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‘Xavier Riddle And The Secret Museum’ Makes Its DVD Debut This Month

Courtesy: PBS Distribution/PBS/PBS Kids

PBS Kids’ new hit animated series Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum will get its first DVD release this month.

Xavier Riddle and the Secret MuseumMeet Xavier is scheduled for release March 17.  The episode features three episodes from the series, which teaches young viewers about history and some of the most well-known figures from history.

The DVD’s title episode Xavier and his friends meet famed scientist Marie Curie.  Curie reminds Brad that he should never five up on his dreams.  “I Am George Washington,” another of the DVD’s episodes, teaches young viewers about the importance of taking care of Earth.  “I Am Charles Dickens” finds Yadina learning that using one’s own imagination is just as enjoyable as toys in entertaining one’s self.

Xavier Riddle and the Secret MuseumMeet Xavier will retail for MSRP of $9.99.  More information on Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum is available online along with lots of games, activities, printables and more at:

 

Website: http://pbskids.org/xavier

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

 

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.