PBS Investigates One Of America’s Greatest Mysteries In New Episode Of ‘Secrets Of The Dead’

Secrets of the Dead - The Alccatraz Escape Box ArtNext month, PBS and PBS Distribution will release another episode of its history-based series Secrets of the Dead to DVD.

Secrets of the Dead: The Alcatraz Escape will be released Tuesday, June 7th on DVD.  Ironically, its release will come almost fifty-four years to the day that Frank Morris and brothers Clarence and John Anglin broke out of Alcatraz Prison.  That was June 11th, 1962.  The men broke out of what was supposed to be an inescapable fortress of a prison and then floated away on a raft made of raincoats that they had personally assembled during their incarceration.  In the five-plus decades that have passed since the men escaped, one thing has remained a mystery—the fates of the men.  Now in this new episode of Secrets of the Dead a trio f Dutch scientists has assembled to try and solve once and for all the lingering mystery.

The story of the men’s escape is told via interviews with just some of those close to the cold case and others.  Among those close to the case featured in the program are: Jolene Babyak, US Marshal Michael Dyke, and Patrick Mahoney.  Babyak is the daughter of one of Alcatraz’s associate wardens, thus leading her to spend much of her youth at the prison.  She was present at Alcatraz the night of the men’s escape.  Dyke is the Marshal currently in charge of the still-open cold case.  Mahoney was a guard at Alcatraz from 1956 – 1963.

The scientists tapped to try and solve the mystery of the escapees—Olivier Hoes, Rolf Hut, and Fedor Baart—use maps, charts, 3D computer modeling, and even a makeshift mockup of the raft crafted by the inmates to determine if they could have survived the cold waters of the San Francisco Bay after their initial jailbreak.

Secrets of the Dead: The Alcatraz Escape will be available Tuesday, June 7th.  It will retail for MSRP of $24.99 but can be pre-ordered online now at a discounted price of $19.99 via PBS’ online store.  More information on this and other episodes of Secrets of the Dead is available online now at:

 

 

Website: http://pbs.org/secrets

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/SecretsPBS

 

 

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PBS Distribution Releasing Another New Kate & Mim-Mim DVD Next Month

Courtesy:  Public Media Distribution

Courtesy: Public Media Distribution

Disney Junior’s hit series Kate & Mim-Mim will get its second home release of the year next month.

PBS Distribution will release Kate & Mim-Mim: Balloon Buddies on Tuesday, May 24th.  The DVD, which will feature three more episodes from the hit Disney Junior series, will be available in stores and online.  In the first of the disc’s featured episodes—the disc’s title episode—Kate wants to make a balloon buddy for Mim-Mim.  This is tied in to a big balloon parade in Mimiloo.  When Kate goes to Mimiloo she and her friends find a balloon tree, but all of the tree’s balloons are deflated.  So they have to figure out how to re-inflate them for the parade.

“Cloud Castle” is the disc’s second episode.  Kate’s head is in the clouds both figuratively and literally in this episode.  As she cloud gazes with her parents, Kate tells them that one of the clouds looks like Mim-Mim to her.  But her dad doesn’t see it.  Meanwhile when Kate goes to Mimiloo, she, Mim-Mim, and their friends pull clouds from the sky to make their own bouncy castle.  But their fun is short-lived  as the castle starts to float away

“Clean Sweep” rounds out this collection.  This episode is all about the importance of keeping things clean.  Kate is trying to clean up her room.  But it feels to her like it is taking forever to get it done.  Over in Mimiloo Kate and her friends want to have a picnic.  But their picnic basket is lost in a pile of Tack’s inventions.  Tack tries to clean up his mess, but he takes the quick way, which doesn’t end so well for him.  So unless they can get everything cleaned up it looks like the picnic might get canceled.

Kate & Mim-Mim: Balloon Buddies will be available in stores Tuesday, May 24th.  It will be available exclusively on DVD and will retail for MSRP of $6.99.  It can be pre-ordered online now via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=93347026&cp=&sr=1&kw=kate++mim-mim&origkw=kate+%26amp%3B+Mim-Mim&parentPage=search.  More information on Kate & Mim-Mim is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.kateandmimmim.com

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

 

More information on this and other titles from PBS is available online now at:

 

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

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/pbs

 

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American Experience: Space Men Reaches Its Own Great Heights

Courtesy:  PBS/PBS Distribution

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

Neil Armstrong.  Buzz Aldrin. Virgil “Gus” Grissom.  Every American knows their names.  Their names are taught from childhood up through adulthood.  That is because of their accomplishments during their time as astronauts with NASA.  They are just a few of the names that put the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on the map over the course of its now nearly sixty years in operation.  For all of the history that has been taught about NASA and its famed astronauts through the years, one part of NASA’s history that hasn’t been so widely taught at any level is its very roots.  Thanks to PBS, though audiences recently received a healthy introduction to NASA’s roots in a new episode of its series American Experience titled Space Men.  This new episode of American Experience delves into NASA’s earliest roots, explaining the men and the tests that helped form the foundation of today’s space exploration efforts.  It will be available next Tuesday, April 19th on DVD.  For those that were not lucky enough to catch it in its initial broadcast on their local PBS stations, there is plenty to appreciate about this episode of American Experience beginning with its story.  The story, as already noted, focuses not so much on NASA’s more commonly discussed era but its earliest roots.  This will be discussed shortly.  As with so many other PBS presentations the interviews, pictures, and footage that are used to advance the story and better illustrate it add even more to its presentation.  This will be discussed later. Last but hardly least of note is the program’s pacing and overall organization.  The two elements work in partnership with one another.  Together with the program’s central story and its overall content, each of the elements combine with one another to make American ExperienceSpace Men mandatory viewing for history buffs and space history buffs alike whether in the home or in the classroom.

American ExperienceSpace Men is mandatory viewing for history buffs and more specifically space history buffs alike.  This applies just as much in a home setting as in a classroom setting.  The main reason for this is the program’s story.  Rather than present the all too commonly discussed topic of the “Space Race” this program instead focuses on NASA’s earliest roots. Ironically though, it is noted early in the program’s roughly hour-long run time that even in NASA’s infancy it was in fact engaged in a space race of sorts with the Russians.  However in that time the race in question was quite different as it was just to see who could get a balloon higher into the stratosphere.  That is just one of the interesting tidbits that are revealed about NASA’s early life in this program.  Audiences also learn that if not for the concerted efforts of certain parties, America’s efforts to reach space might not have progressed beyond that original record setting balloon journey.  That is because more than once, government officials though that what would go on to be called the “Man High Project” wasn’t worth the funding.  That’s not all that audiences learn about.  They learn about the men that made everything happen, beginning with the man called “The fastest man on earth”–thanks to the tests that he underwent–Dr. John P. Stapp.  His dedication to keeping America’s earliest astronauts safe was truly laudable, as audiences will learn in watching this story.  There are also profiles of Joseph Kittinger, Davis Simons, and Clifton McClure, the men that piloted the aptly titled Man High Project in each of its flights.  This and s much more is presented in American ExperienceSpace Men’s central story.  Altogether it is more than enough reason for history buffs and space history buffs alike to watch this new episode of PBS’ history-based series.  It’s just one part of the program that makes it well worth the watch, too. The interviews, pictures, and vintage footage that are incorporated into the program add to its presentation.

The story at the center of American Experience: Space Men is in itself plenty of reason for history buffs and space history specialists alike to check out this program.  It’s just one part of what makes the documentary worth the watch.  The combined interviews, pictures, and footage that are incorporated into the episode are just as important to it as its story.  The interviews are so important to the episode because they help tell the story both from a third person perspective at times and at others from a first hand perspective.  In other words it is told collectively and wholly from the point of people who are very knowledgeable about the story and whose passion for the story is just as obvious.  The footage of the Man High project and the projects that preceded them will take viewers right back to those early days of NASA’s attempts to reach space.  The pictures that work alongside that footage add even more interest to the story and help to advance it even more.  Both of those elements, when set against the program’s interviews, will keep viewers just as engaged and entertained as the movie’s story being that they tell the program’s story.  Keeping all of this in mind, the story and its overall content are not the only important and notable of the program’s elements.  Its collective pacing and organization are just as important as its story and associated content.

There is plenty to say to the positive about American Experience: Space Men as has already been noted in the discussions about the program’s story and its overall content.  As important as both elements are to the whole of the program they are not the episode’s only important, notable elements.  The program’s collective pacing and organization are just as important to the episode’s presentation as its story and associated material.  Being that it has so much ground to cover its pacing is relatively solid from beginning to end.  Audiences will agree in watching through the program it never short-changes viewers at any point or even spends too much time on one subject or another.  Each moment in the story receives just enough attention to the end that audiences will never feel lost or bored.  In the same vein the program’s organization will keep viewers just as engaged.  The whole thing starts at the story’s end in order to set it all up.  From there, it rewinds back to the story’s beginning and sets the stage for the achievements to come.  Again through it all, no one moment receives too much or too little time.  The end result is a roughly hour-long program that is loaded with little known history and that in turn is certain to introduce many audiences to a whole new part of NASA’s history.  That is especially the case when the program’s pacing and organization are set against the episode’s story and its associated content.  All things considered American Experience: Space Men proves in the end to be a presentation that, once again, proves to be well worth the watch among history buffs and space history specialists.  It is yet more proof of why PBS remains today the last remaining bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television.

American Experience: Space Men is another edition of PBS’ history-based series that is well worth the watch by its specific audience and history buffs in general.  This is thanks in part to the episode’s story.  It tells a part of NASA’s story that is rare (if ever) taught at any level of education and even known by audiences.  To that end it will keep audiences engaged and entertained.  The program’s content is just as certain to keep viewers engaged.  The program’s combined pacing and organization rounds out its most notable elements.  All things considered these elements work together to make American Experience: Space Men a program that reaches its own *ahem* heights for history buffs and space history specialists alike.  It will be available next Tuesday, April 19th and can be ordered online direct via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=89071786&cp=&sr=1&kw=american+experience+space+men&origkw=american+experience+space+men&parentPage=search.  More information on this and other episodes of American Experience is available online now at:

 

 

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

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/AmExperiencePBS

 

 

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PBS Distribution Releasing New Peg + Cat DVD

Courtesy:  PBS/PBS Distribution/PBS Kids

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution/PBS Kids

PBS and PBS Distribution will release the latest collection of Peg + Cat episodes this week.

Peg + Cat: Super Peg and Cat Guy will be released Tuesday, April 5th in stores and online.  The collection which features four more episodes from the hit elementary math-based series, will be available exclusively on DVD.  The episodes featured in this eighth collection include: “The Arch Villain Problem,” “The Straight and Narrow Problem,” “The Flat Woman Problem,” and “The Race Car Problem.”

The Arch Villain Problem”:  In this episode, Peg and Cat have to face off against The Arch Villain.  The Arch Villain has come to Mathropolis.  He is wreaking havoc on the city by turning everything into arches.  So it’s up to Super Peg and Cat Guy to stop him.

The Straight and Narrow Problem”: Super Peg and Cat Guy are still hot on the trail of The Arch Villain in this episode.  This time the Arch Villain has gone from turning everything into arches to using straight and narrow shapes instead.  Only Super Peg and Cat Guy can stop his evil deeds once again.

The Flat Woman Problem”: Super Peg and Cat Guy have two new villains on their hands in this episode.  This time instead of The Arch Villain, they have to deal with Triangulo and Flat Woman.  The diabolical duo has teamed up to triangulate and flatten the city and only Super Peg and Cat Guy can stop them.

The Race Car Problem”: Peg and Cat’s race car is pitiful compared to the cars that they have to pass in order to win the big race.

Peg + Cat: Super Peg and Cat Guy will be available April 5th in stores and online.  It will be available exclusively on DVD and will retail for MSRP Of $6.99.  It can be ordered online direct via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=91837426&cp=&sr=1&kw=peg++cat&origkw=Peg+%2B+Cat&parentPage=search.  More information on this and other Peg + Cat DVDs is available online now along with more activities, games, and more at:

 

Website: http://pbskids.org/peg

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

 

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Audiences Will “Find” Plenty To Like About Finding Your Roots’ Third Season

Courtesy:  PBS/PBS Distribution

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

Later this month PBS and PBS Distribution will release the third complete season of PBS’ hit hybrid series Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr.  The latest installment of this series, it boasts plenty of positives that are not weighed down even with its one lone con—its lack of an episode guide.  That will be discussed later.  In regards to its pros the central pro is its list of celebrities featured throughout this season make up just one of the set’s pros.  The list of celebrities featured in Season Three spans the entertainment universe.  This will be discussed shortly.  The history presented behind each celebrity is the finishing touch to this season.  Together with the season’s featured episodes, these two pros cannot be outweighed by the set’s one lone con.  Keeping that in mind Season Three in whole still proves to be just as welcome in any home setting as any classroom setting.  It could be argued that despite financial support from a certain genealogy website the program refuses itself to be come just a glorified advertisement for said website (unlike a certain other similar program on another network).  But that goes without saying.   Keeping all of this in mind, the third season of Finding Your Roots With Henry Lous Gates, Jr. serves to prove once again why PBS remains the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming.

The third season of PBS’ Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is another impressive and enjoyable installment of the hybrid history/genealogy-based series.  Compared to its counterpart over on TLC (and other potential counterparts) the series continues to stand out proudly.  The central reason for this is again its featured guests.  Yet again the series featured guests from across the entertainment universe.  That broad list of guests includes: Sean Combs and LL Cool J (both music stars), entrepreneur Richard Branson, actors Neil Patrick Harris, Bill Hader, Keenan Ivory Wayans, Maya Rudolph, and Juliana Margulies (actors), Soledad O’Brien and Bill O’Reily (news personalities), John McCain and Gloria Steinem (politicians), Jimmy Kimmel and Bill Maher (entertainers), Norman Lear (author/writer), activist Shonda Rimes, and so many others.  There are even famed architects interviewed for this season of Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr..  Simply put, once again this standout series has once again covered as much ground as possible in its guest list.  This is nothing new for the series, either this far into its run.  It shows a valid attempt to spread the wealth so to speak as much as possible and hot have any bias towards one group or another regardless of profession, gender, or ethnic background.  It’s nice to consider and just one part of what makes this season of Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. On a related note, the reactions of some of Gates’ guests are just as important to this season as their inclusion.

The guests that are featured in this season of Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. are important in their own right to the season’s overall presentation.  The reactions on the part of Gates’ guests are just as important as the guests themselves appearing on the show.  Those that watch through the season’s ten episodes will notice that some of Gates’ guests are truly moved and curious about their roots more so than others.  Rappers LL Cool J and Sean Combs are just two of those that are most visibly interested and moved in their interviews.  Just watching their facial gestures and listening to their reactions, it’s clear that they had a genuine appreciation for Gates’ work and that of those with whom he worked.  Celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich and author Azar Nafisi are also visibly intrigued and moved by the revelation of their families’ histories as were Dustin Hoffman and Mia Farrow.  That isn’t to say that any of the season’s featured celebrities were not appreciative of the research done to reveal their histories.  But some guests’ reactions were more visible than others.  On the surface this doesn’t seem overly important.  But on another level, that visible reaction helps establish a connection for viewers.  That is because in most cases, the guests’ roots are quite humble, just like those of most viewers more than likely.  Considering this, the reactions of Gates’ guests are, while minor on the surface, just as important as the guests themselves.  The guests featured in Season Three and their interaction with Gates both do plenty to make it enjoyable for audiences.  As important as they are to this season there is one factor tied in to both that takes away at least a certain amount from the season’s presentation.  That factor is the season’s lack of an episode guide.

The latest season of PBS’ Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. gives audiences plenty of reason to watch through all ten of its episodes.  That is visible through its once again vast array of guests and their equally vast reactions to the revelation of their families’ histories.  While both of these elements are plenty of reason in themselves to watch this season of Finding Your Roots they also tie in to the season’s one con.  That con is the season’s lack of an episode guide.  Unlike certain other imitator shows out there that try to copy this show’s format, this series doesn’t just focus on one guest per episode.  It focuses on anywhere from two to three per episode.  So having an episode guide of any sort would have been very good here considering this.  Season One came with an episode guide printed on the back of its case.  This critic will admit to not knowing if Season Two came with an episode guide of any sort.  Even having the comparison between just the two seasons, it can be said that having the episode guide included in the standalone set is a clear positive.  Without that guide, audiences are left to try and memorize which guests (episodes) appear on which of the set’s three discs.  On the surface this might seem minor.  But it does save time for audiences regardless of whether or not audiences already saw the episodes in their original broadcasts.  Keeping this in mind, the lack of an episode guide in this season does prove problematic in its own right.  Luckily though, it isn’t enough of a con that it ruins this season’s overall presentation.  The history behind the guests’ families couples with the guests and their reactions to more than make up for the lack of an episode guide this season.

The third season of Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. offers audiences plenty of viewing pleasure through its featured guests and their reactions to the revelations of their families’ histories.  They more than make up for the set’s one clear con, its lack of an episode guide.  They are not the set’s only pros.  The family histories that are put on display are just as important to the season’s presentation as the guests and their reactions to their family histories.  The family histories of Bill Maher, Bill O’Reilly, and Soledad O’Brien are clear examples of that importance.  Audiences learn through their family histories that apparently despite being white, Irish immigrants did not exactly receive what would be considered a warm welcome.  Rather many were treated as second class citizens.    This is so interesting because the Irish that settled in the U.S. came here to escape things like the Irish Potato Famine as well as religious persecution and other issues.  Even the view of the Irish for the jobs that they took was anything but positive.  It shows blacks and Asians weren’t the only groups that were discriminated against in America’s youth.  Viewers will be just as interested to learn in celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich’s interview the trials faced by her family during World War II as a result of Italy’s role in the conflict.  It’s interesting to learn that even innocent Italians who did not support Mussolini suffered just because they were Italian.  Even more interesting is that they suffered not at the hands of the dictator but at the hands of other Europeans that fought him and his forces.  It is no wonder that Bastianich is so moved in her interview especially considering what she did and didn’t already know about her family’s history.  As if that isn’t enough, audiences also learn that LL Cool J’s love of boxing actually has roots in his family history in his interview.  He apparently didn’t even know that himself until his interview, either.  And Senator John McCain learns that he isn’t the only member of his family that had ever been a POW.  And actress Juliana Margulies’ interview revealing her father’s role in Alka-Seltzer’s famous “Plop, plop-Fizz, fizz” campaign is sure to generate its own share of discussion.  Gates says that her father is responsible for the jingle.  However that has been debated by some groups.  There are those that allege not he but Tom Dawes, of The Cyrkle, was the man responsible for the jingle, and that Margulies’ father was an executive at the agency that came up with the jingle.  It would definitely be interesting to learn who in fact was truly behind that jingle whether it was her father or Mr. Dawes.  Again regardless of who really was responsible, this point of Margulies’ interview makes her family history just as interesting to discover as that of any of the season’s other featured guests.  All things considered the histories that are revealed throughout Season Three make for their own share of interest in this season.  Together with the season’s spread of guests and their reactions to their respective family histories all three elements give audiences plenty to appreciate about the season’s presentation even with the season’s lack of an episode guide.  That lack does take away at least a little bit from the season’s presentation.  But with everything else that goes into the season it isn’t enough to ruin the season’s presentation.  All things considered Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr.: Season 3 proves in the end to be yet another installment of PBS’ hit hybrid history/genealogy-based series that will be just as welcome in home setting as in classroom settings.

The third season of PBS’ Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is yet another welcome addition to PBS’ hit history/genealogy-based series.  The central reason for this is the season’s vast spread of guests.  The featured guests come from a wide variety of professional and ethnic backgrounds.  And they are relatively well-balanced in regards to the ratio of male to female.  Their family histories and reactions to said histories add even more interest to each episode.  Even the lack of an episode guide this season isn’t enough to detract from those pros.  Because it isn’t, the end result of the season’s presentation is a ten-episode run that proves to be just as welcome in the living room as it is in the classroom.  It will be available Tuesday, April 12th and can be ordered online direct via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=85849896&cp=&sr=1&kw=finding+your+roots+season+3&origkw=Finding+Your+Roots+Season+3&parentPage=search.  More information on this and the first two seasons of Finding Your Roots is available online now along with all of the series’ latest news at:

 

 

Website: http://www.pbs.org/weta/finding-your-roots

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/HenryLouisGates

 

 

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PBS Distribution Releasing New Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood DVD

Courtesy:  PBS/PBS Kids/PBS Distribution

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Kids/PBS Distribution

Daniel Tiger is coming to DVD again.

PBS and PBS Distribution will release the new Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood DVD Daniel Goes Camping this Tuesday, April 5th.  The DVD will feature three more episodes from the hit family friendly series.  Those episodes are: “Backyard Camping,” “Daniel’s Sleepover,” and the extended, “Nighttime in the Neighborhood.”  The DVD’s total run time is only forty minutes, putting each of the episodes at roughly ten minutes.

 

“Backyard Camping” follows Daniel and O The Owl as they go camping in Daniel’s backyard.  O the Owl isn’t entirely certain about going camping because it’s a new, unfamiliar setting.  But in looking around the yard, O realizes that camping in Daniel’s backyard isn’t so scary.  Rather, he finds out that backyard camping can be fun.

 

“Daniel’s Sleepover” sees Daniel and his parents go to Prince Daniel’s castle for a family sleepover.  Daniel learns that Prince Wednesday and his family do things a little bit different than him and his family in getting ready for bed.  Daniel also finds things that at first are scary but later prove to be anything but scary.

 

“Nighttime in the Neighborhood” presents Daniel’s neighborhood at night as Daniel and his friends are headed to a pajama party at the library.  Daniel and his friends talk and learn about ho tings look different at night from daytime and why there’s nothing to be afraid of  in noting those differences.

 

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Daniel Goes Camping will be available Tuesday, April 5th.  It will retail for MSRP of $9.99.  It can be ordered online via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=90114526&cp=&sr=1&kw=daniel+tigers+neighborhood&origkw=daniel+tiger%27s+neighborhood&parentPage=search.  More information on this and other Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood DVD is available along with games, activities, and more at:

 

 

Website: http://pbskids.org/daniel

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

 

 

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

PBS’ Nature Shines Again With Moose–Life Of A Twig Eater

Courtesy:  PBS/PBS Distribution

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

PBS and PBS Distribution are set to release another new episode of PBS’ hit wildlife series Nature today.  NatureMooseLife of a Twig Eater will be released today on DVD.  The latest addition to the series’ list of episodes to be released to DVD so far this year, it is another wonderful presentation showing why Nature is the top wildlife program on television today and why PBS is, once again, the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television today.  This is exhibited in a number of ways in this episode, not the least of which being the episode’s central story.  The story follows a group of moose in Canada and the U.S. in order to find out what might be causing the recent sharp decline in moose populations in North America .  The journey, presented firsthand by cinematographer and narrator Hugo Kitching, takes viewers along with him in Canada and with researchers in Minnesota as they follow two distinct groups of moose in their efforts to get answers.  Kitching’s narration plays its own important part in the whole of this episode, too.  It’s rare to note a narrator’s role in such a program.  But in the case of this episode, the narration is hugely important to its presentation.  Last but hardly least of note is the episode’s stunning cinematography.  Each element plays its own important part in the whole of the episodes.  Altogether they make NatureMooseLife of a Twig Eater one of 2016’s top new documentaries.

Nature: MooseLife of a Twig Eater is one more clear candidate for any critic’s list of 2016’s top new documentaries.  It is also more proof as to why Nature is television’s leading wildlife series and why PBS remains today the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television.  This is proven in large part by the program’s central story.  The story in question sees narrator and cinematographer Hugo Kitching following a moose and her calves in the wilds of Canada while another group of researchers follows another group of moose in Minnesota .  The story is one that for the most part is easy to take in.  There is no footage of animals mating or even animals killing one another.  That sounds minor.  But the reality is audiences see a lot of that even in any number of Nature episodes.  Luckily, again, there is none of that here  At the very worst audiences see the end result of wolves attacking one of the calves that Kitching is following.  And at another point, audiences see the Minnesota researchers having to put down a moose that has been ravaged by brain worm.  Those two moments are as difficult to see as is that of the cow (female moose are in fact called cows, believe it or not) chasing her own young out of the proverbial nest upon becoming pregnant with her next calf, only in another way.  The whole point of the story is to follow the lives of the moose in question and see if they survive the cold winter season and the first year of the calves lives.  That is all because of the rapidly declining moose population in both regions, which as viewers learn is not because of human interference but because of environmental factors.  That is one of the most intriguing pieces of information that is revealed in the program’s central story.  Instead of pointing the finger at humans, it points it squarely at extraneous, environmental causes.  That information and everything else that is shared as Kitching and the others follow their respective moose makes the program’s story one that will keep any biologist, nature lover and fan of Nature engaged in this story from beginning to end.  It is just one part of what makes this episode of Nature so enthralling.  The narration on the part of Kitching is just as important to the episode as its central story.

The central story presented in Nature: MooseLife of a Twig Eater is in its own right an important part of the program.  That is due to the unbiased information delivered over the course of its roughly hour-long run time.  That information is just one part of what makes this episode of Nature so engaging.  The narration on the part of Hugo Kitching is just as important to the program as the story and its content.  Narration usually is not something that most people would factor into a presentation such as this.  But the reality of the matter is that Kitching’s narration is in fact quite important.  That is because unlike with so many other wildlife programs and even other episodes of Nature, Kitching’s narration is so accessible even for the most casual viewer.  He speaks to viewers in a casual, conversational tone that even the most casual viewer can understand and that will in turn keep viewers just as engaged.  In the same vein, there’s no sense of pretense in his voice.  It makes his narration even more engaging, proving even more why it is such an important part of the program’s presentation.  Together with the unbiased, straight forward presentation the commentary adds another layer of enjoyment to the episode and in turn even more reason that this episode stands out so much among this year’s crop of documentaries so far.  It is not the last way in which the documentary proves itself such a standout presentation either.  The program’s cinematography is just as important as its narration and its central story.

The story that lies at the center of Nature: MooseLife of a Twig Eater and the program’s narration are both key to the episode’s overall presentation.  The story is unbiased all the way around.  There is no preachiness about human impact on the moose population.  Rather it comes across from a fully observational, unobtrusive fashion that aims to keep up with the moose in Canada and in Minnesota .  It even points out directly that the moose populations are being affected by parasites more than anything else.  Narrator/cinematographer Hugo Kitching plays his own important part in the program thanks to his unassuming, easily accessible narration.  He doesn’t come across as one of those uber-academic types at any point in his narration.  Rather he speaks in a fully simple, conversational tone that even casual audiences will enjoy and appreciate.  Even with its importance it is not the last element worth noting in this episode of Nature.  The episode’s cinematography rounds out its presentation.  And to say that its cinematography stands out is being humble.  There are stunning aerial shots of the Canadian wilderness in which Kitching is following the moose that will leave viewers breathless.  Those shots include wide shots of the region’s valleys, snow-capped mountains, and rivers captured by the program’s camera crew.  Kitching’s ground shots of the region’s forests are just as powerful.  This applies both in the winter season and spring.  The contrast of the bright, white snow to the deep hue of the evergreens and blue skies overhead in winter is something to truly behold.  In the same vein, the lush greenery of the area during spring and summer is just as rich.  Kitching is to be highly commended for his ability to so beautifully capture the beauty and majesty of the area over the course of his year there as are his fellow cinematographers.  These are just some of the examples of what makes the program’s cinematography stand out.  There are also incredible go-pro shots from Kitching as he tracks the moose that provide their own interest. The third person footage captured in Minnesota as the is just as impressive.  All in all, the camera work presented over the course of this episode of Nature proves just as invaluable to its presentation as Kitching’s simplistic narration and the episode’s fully engaging story.  When all three elements are set together they show once and for all why Nature: MooseLife of a Twig Eater is yet another enjoyable installment of PBS’ hit wildlife series.  In turn it shows why PBS remains today the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television.

PBS released recently released what was at the time its best episode of Nature so far this year when it released Nature: Natural Born HustlersNature’s Best Con Artists.  That episode of Nature was released just earlier this month.  Now another outstanding episode has been released in the form of Nature: MooseLife of a Twig Eater.  This episode is a great follow-up to that episode.  Between its wholly engaging story, its easily accessible narration and its breathtaking cinematography it boasts so many positives.  Even within each noted element there are plenty of smaller positives that could be noted.  And audiences will see it all for themselves when they order this episode of PBS’ hit wildlife-based series on DVD.  It is available now and can be ordered direct via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=87689536&cp=&kw=nature+moose++life+of+a+twig+eater&origkw=Nature%3A+Moose+%C3%82%C2%96+Life+of+a+Twig+Eater+&sr=1.  Audiences can view a trailer for this episode online now via PBS’ official YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SlQbZni5Mww.

 

Courtesy:  PBS/PBS Distribution

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

 

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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