PBS Presenting Rarely Told WWII Story In New Doc Next Month

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

The atrocities committed against Jews before and during World War II has been well-documented throughout the decades.  It has been presented time and again in so many books, movies and documentaries.  Now this May, PBS is bringing to DVD a new, rarely told story of Jews in WWII in the new documentary GI JewJewish Americans in World War II.

This 90-minute doc is currently scheduled to be released on DVD May 8.  It tells the story of the battles that Jewish Americans fought externally and internally as part of America’s military.  Those internal battles included anti-Semitism from their own fellow servicemen.

This story of Jewish immigrants becoming American all while working to overcome so many obstacles will retail for MSRP of $24.99, but can be pre-ordered now at a reduced price of $19.99 via PBS’ online store.  More information on this and other programs from PBS is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.pbs.org

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/pbs

 

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.

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‘NOVA: Killer Volcanoes’ Is A “Hotly” Entertaining And Engaging Watch

Courtesy: Public Media Distribution/PBS

Volcanoes are among Earth’s most stunning and awe-inspiring geographical features. From giving birth to new islands to their ability to disrupt and even destroy life around the world, it’s no wonder that they have been the subject of so many documentaries and major Hollywood blockbusters. Luckily, those blockbusters, which are largely fictitious, have flopped while the docs have been far more successful. This past December, PBS released what was at the time just the latest in that long flow (yes, that awful pun was intended) of volcano docs on DVD in the form of NOVA: Killer Volcanoes. Originally having aired Oct. 4, 2017, this roughly hour-long program is an interesting look at what is just one of history’s most cataclysmic eruptions. It is a story that is certain to engage and entertain audiences just as much as those flash-in-the-pan big screen flicks without worrying about being forgotten. This will be discussed shortly. Considering that the program focuses on just one volcano in particular, its title is of course, a little problematic. Even as problematic as it is, it is not enough to make the program unwatchable. It’s just something of an annoyance that was obviously overlooked. It will be discussed later. Staying on the matter of the program’s aesthetic elements, its cinematography and editing give audiences just as much reason to watch as the story itself. They will be discussed later, too. Each element noted here is important in its own way to the whole of NOVA: Killer Volcanoes. All things considered, this episode, while perhaps somewhat reminiscent of previous, similar programs from PBS, still is its own “hotly” (yes, that pun was intended, too) entertaining and engaging program.

NOVA: Killer Volcanoes is an interesting new addition to PBS’ rich history of programs centered on what is easily one of Earth’s most stunning and awe-inspiring geographical features. While not the first doc of its kind from PBS, the story at the center of this episode of NOVA is an original, giving audiences plenty of reason in itself to watch this doc. The story follows a group of researchers as they try to find the volcano (or volcanoes) responsible for a cataclysmic event that happened in the 13th Century. It was an event that impacted life around the world, even causing countless deaths because of its impact on global weather patterns. The lengths to which the researchers go — including traveling to a far-flung corner of the world — and the research and efforts undertaken in that process, coupled with the mystery at the heart of the story makes this overall story one that is just as engaging as any major Hollywood disaster flick, if not better. That is a telling statement, showing once more the value of PBS’ programming. It is programming that easily holds its own against so much mainstream material, and stands the test of time at that. Keeping this in mind, it becomes clear why the story at the center of NOVA: Killer Volcanoes is so important to its whole. While the program’s story overall forms a solid foundation for its presentation, it’s a story that doesn’t entirely match up with the program’s title.

The title of this episode of NOVA is Killer Volcanoes. However, the focus of the whole program is the search for just one killer volcano. Given, the whole search starts by trying to figure out which of the world’s many volcanoes was the one responsible for the cataclysm at the heart of the story, but once the specific location of the volcano is pinpointed ,the search turns to one volcano in particular. Not to give away too much, but the volcano in question doesn’t even exist today. The surprise in that revelation is another key piece of the story. Getting back to the issue of the title, very fact that roughly 90 percent of the story is spent focusing on the Indonesian volcano in question, the program’s title really does not fit here. In defense of the program’s creative heads, maybe the thinking was to point out that killer volcanoes could be anywhere in the world. Even with that in mind though, the program should have focused more on the other, more briefly noted, cataclysmic eruptions. That being the case, either re-naming the episode or simply titling it Killer Volcano instead of Killer Volcanoes would have been more fitting in the case of this episode of NOVA. Having discussed all of this, the title of Killer Volcanoes does take some points away from the episode, it is hardly enough to make the program unwatchable. It’s just something that really should be taken into account with future episodes of NOVA (and even with PBS’ other programs). The collective cinematography and editing exhibited throughout the program do just as much as the program’s story to keep audiences engaged and entertained.

From start to end of this episode of NOVA, audiences are treated to so many sweeping shots of the Indonesian islands and their volcanoes. The visuals of the tropical landscapes and the volcanoes that gave rose to the islands is in itself more than enough reason to watch. Viewers will be amazed by the wide aerial footage (and related editing of that footage) of the crater left by the suspect volcano. The work put in by the camera crews and editors is certain to leave viewers in awe. The timing of each stunning shot is a tribute to the effort put in by those responsible for the program’s editors. Just enough time is spent in each shot to keep viewers engaged. One could even argue that something as simple as the timing of the skeleton footage in companion to the footage of the volcanoes early on has its own impact, too. Between moments such as those noted here and so many others, the overall cinematography and editing proves itself to be just as critical to this program’s presentation as the program’s central story. When those elements — the story, cinematography and editing — combine into one, they prove NOVA: Killer Volcanoes to be its own “hotly” entertaining and engaging doc.

NOVA: Killer Volcanoes is a “hotly” entertaining and engaging and engaging program that will easily appeal to any lover of the earth sciences. That is the case even with the program bearing a title that doesn’t exactly fully fit the episode. That is thanks in no small part to a story that is just as gripping as any major Hollywood disaster flick. The collective cinematography and editing exhibited throughout the program does just as much to keep viewers engaged and entertained as the story itself. Each element is important in its own way to the whole of this program’s presentation, as has been explained here. All things considered, they are certain to keep viewers completely engaged and entertained throughout the roughly hour-long program. Keeping this in mind, this episode of NOVA is sure to appeal to every student and lover of the earth sciences. it is available now and can be ordered online direct via PBS’ online store. More information on this and other episodes of NOVA is available online now at:

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

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/novapbs

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

New ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’ DVD Box Set Coming Next Week From PBS

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

March is a big month in the history of Fred Rogers.  Early this month, the world marked what would have been the legendary TV personality’s 90th birthday.  This month, the 50th anniversary of his beloved series Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood was also recognized with a new star-studded documentary.  Next Tuesday, March 27, the celebration of the man and his series continues with the release of another new release, Mister Rogers’ NeighborhoodIt’s a Beautiful Day Collection.

The four-disc, 32-episode collection runs a total of 928 minutes.  The episodes featured in this new collection include: “Ups and Downs of Friendship,” “Families Come In Different Shapes and Sizes” and many others.  The set’s full episode listing is noted below.

Episodes featured on the DVD include:

Helping Children Know What to Expect at School

Creating with Friends is Different than Playing Alone

Play is the Work of Childhood

Respecting All Living Creatures

Opera Day

Ups and Downs of Friendship

Learning about Rules and Limits

Appreciating the People Who Came Before

Food and Love Go Hand in Hand

Music As a Way to Express Feelings

Families Come in Different Shapes and Sizes

Celebrating Big and Little Things

Lots of Different Things for Play and Pretending

Each Person is Unique – Yet We All Have Much in Common

Being Kind to Ourselves and Others

Nobody Knows What You’re Thinking Unless You Tell Them

Games Can Be Fun, But Not If You’re Left Out

Recycling and Other Ways to care for Our Planet

Learning to Take Care of Yourself

Trying on Different Roles

We All Have Art Inside of Us

Understanding Concepts of Up and Down

The Strength of Love – Even Through Angry Times

Appreciating our Uniqueness

Some Things Change…Some Things Stay the Same

Needing Help and Giving Help

Feeling Good About Who We Are

Encouraging Generosity and Gratitude

Strengths and Limitations, Abilities and Disabilities    
Wondering and Asking Questions

Enjoying Books and Recognizing Symbols

Valuing All Kinds of Art

Mr. Rogers’ NeighborhoodIt’s A beautiful Day Collection will retail for MSRP of $19.99, but can be pre-ordered online now at a reduced price of $14.99 via PBS’ online store.  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

 

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 “Finds” More Success With The Fourth Season Of ‘Finding Your Roots’

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

PBS’ hit family history-based series Finding Your Roots has, over the course of its now four seasons on television, become one of television’s most significant series with the presentation of various celebrities’ humble family roots. Late last year — Dec. 19 — the series’ fourth season wrapped with profiles of Amy Schumer and Aziz Ansari’s family histories, and its fifth season is said to already be in production. While audiences wait for the premiere of Season Five, they now have the series’ fourth season to enjoy any time they want as Season Four was released on DVD early last month. This latest entry in the series’ run is another interesting offering that is certain to keep audiences engaged while also leaving audiences wanting to learn more about their own families’ histories. That is due in part to the guests featured in this season. This factor will be discussed shortly. While the guests clearly form the season’s foundation — and a solid foundation at that — they collectively lead to the season’s one negative, the lack of an episode guide other than on disc. As always, this might not seem overly important on the surface, but even as an aesthetic element, is important to the season’s overall presentation. To that end, it is something that cannot be ignored in examining this season’s presentation. It is, luckily, the season’s only negative. Its other positive is the collective information shared through each interview. That includes not only the celebs’ family histories, but the additional history to which each family’s history is connected. Each element is important in its own way to the whole of this season’s presentation, as will be pointed out throughout this review. All things considered, Finding Your Roots: Season Four proves to be another engaging and entertaining entry for the series.

The fourth season of PBS’ hit family history series Finding Your Roots is yet another engaging and entertaining entry for the series. It is an offering that is certain to not only engage and entertain audiences, but potentially have them doing more research on their own family histories. That is due in no small part to the guests who are featured throughout this season. The guest list this season includes celebrities from the worlds of television, movies, music and sports and people from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. That variety includes NBA superstar Carmelo Anthony, veteran actor William H. Macy, political strategist Ana Navarro and so many others. Simply put, the guests featured this season are black, white, Latin American and so many others. As a matter of fact, one of the biggest surprises that is revealed is that comedian Fred Armisen, another of the season’s featured guests, is in fact Korean by descent despite being American by birth. That is information that will be discussed later. Getting back to the matter at hand, this reaching into so many avenues of the entertainment world yet again, and presenting guests of so many ethnic and cultural backgrounds is another way to promote America’s diversity. It’s nothing new for the series. It creates its own interest for this season, and while it does plenty to make this season interesting and entertaining, it also leads to the season’s one negative, its lack of an episode guide outside of the discs’ main menu.

Omitting an episode guide might not seem like an important factor in the overall presentation of a box set, but it is in fact far more important to note than many might think. That is because of the number of guests (and by connection, information) presented throughout the season. The season’s total guest count sits at 27, with the majority of its episodes featuring three guests each. Episodes 1, 8 and 10 are the only episodes of the 10 total episodes to feature only two guests. Keeping this in mind, not having a physical episode guide leaves viewers to have to go through each disc manually or just go to Wikipedia for an episode listing. That takes extra time that viewers likely won’t like having to take. So again, while this aesthetic element might not seem all that important, it reduces the ease of choosing an episode/episodes to watch. The last time that the series seemed to have included an episode list was the series’ first season. Since then, there has seemed to be no sign of an episode list printed anywhere on the seasons’ cases, taking away at least some points for general effect. Luckily though, that once again lack of listing is not enough to make this season a fail by any means. It’s just one thing that really should be taken in to consideration for re-addition beginning with next season. Keeping that in mind, there is one more positive that should be noted here: the information shared throughout each episode.

The information that is revealed about each guest’s family history is so important because it reminds audiences that while these people are celebrities, their roots are just as humble as anyone else’s. That, in turn, makes the guests more relatable to viewers, and — coming full circle — makes the program that much more engaging and entertaining. Audiences will be surprised to learn that one of William H. Macy’s ancestors was one of a group of people who originally bought Nantucket Island and that The Tonight Show drummer/The Roots founding member Questlove’s roots go back to the last slaves to ever come to America aboard the slave ship Clotilda. Just as interesting to learn is that Ana Navarro and Carmelo Anthony’s famil histories involve stories that sound like something right out of a soap opera. As noted previously, Fred Armisen’s family history, which reveals that his family’s roots reach all the way back to Korea, is interesting in its own right. It’s just one more family history that is certain to keep viewers enthralled. Of course the histories are not the only interesting information shared throughout this season. The deeper histories presented alongside those family histories adds even more interest to the season.

As Armisen learns his family’s history, he (and viewers) learn about the mistreatment of the Koreans by the Japanese during and before World War II. This is another little-known piece of history that history buffs (and especially WWII history buffs) will appreciate. Gates’ interview with Lupita Nyong’o reveals the military element of her family’s past. This leads to a brief but concise history of Kenya that is sure to be the start for another lesson. Navaro’s family history leads to a brief discussion on the conflicts in Nicaragua and Cuba while interviews with Larry David and Bernie Sanders reveal the pair’s connections through their Jewish roots. Between these lessons and so many others presented through the guests’ family histories, audiences get even more to appreciate in each episode, historically speaking. When those history lessons are coupled with the guests’ own family history lessons, the whole of the two elements proves completely why the information shared throughout this season is just as important to its presentation as its guest list. That list, together with the information, makes this season well worth the watch, even without a printed episode list. Taking this into consideration, Finding Your Roots: Season Four proves to be another solid entry in the series’ run and one of this year’s top new box sets for grown-ups.

Finding Your Roots: Season Four is yet another solid entry into the hit celeb/history-based series. The guest list presented this season is just one part of what makes it such a strong new offering. The dual history lessons presented on the guests’ families and the connected world histories prove that even more. When these two elements are joined together, they make the lack of an episode listing anywhere on the box an element that, while it can’t be ignored, not enough to ruin the season’s presentation. It is a nuisance, but not an overwhelming issue. With that in mind, this season’s presentation overall is such that the season is not only another solid entry to the series, but one of this year’s top new box sets for grown-up audiences. It is available now and can be ordered direct via PBS’ online store. More information on Finding Your Roots‘ fourth season is available online now along with all of the series’ latest news at:

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

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

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

PBS Presents One Of Aviation History’s Most Important Moments In New ‘NOVA’ Episode

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

PBS and Public Media Distribution are taking audiences on an epic journey next month with the release of another new episode of NOVA.

NOVAThe Impossible Flight will be released on DVD April 10. Having originally premiered on PBS Jan. 31, 2018, this episode follows the journey of the Solar Impulse II as it made its round-the-world journey, using only the power of the sun to keep it going.  The plane’s March 2015 journey was the culmination of a 13-year project meant to show the potential for renewable energy sources.

The two-hour program will retail for MSRP of $24.99, but can be pre-ordered no at a reduced price of $19.99 via PBS’ online store.  Audiences can see the episode’s trailer now here.

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

 

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

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/novapbs

 

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 Taking Audiences Back To The Pyramids In A New Episode Of ‘Secrets Of The Dead’

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

PBS and Public Media Distribution are bringing home another episode of PBS’ hit history-based series Secrets of the Dead.

Secrets of the DeadScanning the Pyramids will be released April 3.  It will be released exclusively on DVD.  This new episode of SOTD follows the first scientific expedition of the pyramids authorized by the Egyptian government in the last 30 years.  The expedition is conducted by the investigative team known as Scan Pyramids, which consists of members from around the world — particle physicists, thermal imaging experts, and 3D tech experts.

The organization uses its talents and tools in this episode to explore and map the pyramids over the course of two years.  Those searches resulted in some new discoveries including some previously undetected chambers in the Great Pyramid of Khufu — chambers previously undetected since the Middle Ages.  Audiences can view a trailer for the episode now here.

Secrets of the DeadScanning The Pyramids will retail for MSRP of $24.99, but can be pre-ordered now at a reduced 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://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/SecretsPBS

 

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.

‘AE: The Secret Of Tuxedo Park’ Is A Good Introduction To A Much Bigger Story That Needs To Be Told

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

Alfred Lee Loomis is one of the most important figures from World War II. While he might not have been a four-star general, a politician or even an accomplished soldier, his story is still one that deserves to be told. It is one of a man with a great scientific mind and drive but who was also very flawed. Late last month, PBS and Public Media Distribution brought home that story on DVD in a new episode of its hit history-based series American Experience, The Secret of Tuxedo Park. That story forms the foundation of the episode’s presentation. It will be discussed shortly. The interviews that are used to help tell the story build on that foundation to strengthen it more. The program’s pacing and transitions couple to round out the most important of the program’s elements. Each element is important in its own right to the whole of the episode. All things considered, they make American Experience: The Secret of Tuxedo Park another WWII story that will appeal just as much to WWII history buffs as it will to history buffs in general.  That is the case even though the program in whole turns out to not be entirely what audiences might expect.

PBS’ profile of Alfred Lee Loomis and his contributions to the Allied forces during World War II, American Experience: The Secret of Tuxedo Park, is a presentation that will appeal just as much to WWII history buffs as it will to history buffs in general. That statement is proven in part through the story at the center of the program. One part bio and one part historical presentation, this dual-part story follows Loomis’ life while also using that as a basis to explain what made him and his work so critical to the war effort. Audiences learn over the course of the story’s almost hour-long presentation that while Loomis was indeed a great scientific mind, and did quite a bit for the Allies, he was also quite the flawed individual. He was barely there emotionally for his sons and also unfaithful to his own wife. At the same time, his drive to develop technology for the military, audiences will learn, is awe-inspiring. The revelation that Loomis realized after the fact that he preferred working in science to law is just as intriguing. It shows to audiences that — in a roundabout way — we each have a purpose and that sometimes the revelation of that purpose comes when we’re not looking for it. Between that revelation and the story to which it is connected, audiences get an interesting presentation in this aspect. It does leave some question as to whether the program was properly titled, considering the amount of bio info that was incorporated into the program, but that aside, the whole of the story still makes the program one that is thankfully no longer a secret to history buffs across the board. It is only one part of what makes this program appealing to history buffs of all types. The interviews that are used to help tell Loomis’ story give it more depth.

The interviews included in the story are important to the program’s presentation because of the additional background that they add to the story. Those interviews include discussions from one of Loomis’ wives as well as historians and various academics. Loomis’ wife reveals to viewers the true depth of just how much he disliked having his private life being interrupted. She explains that when he saw the couple’s picture in the newspaper following their wedding, he told her it would be one of only two times that she would ever have her face in the paper. The other, as she notes, would be at her death. That statement alone is quite telling about who and what Loomis was. One of the historian interviews illustrates even more the type of person that Loomis was as it is revealed that he was so driven, he used one of his own sons for one of his experiments. The experiment in question was a sleep study of sorts that strived to examine sleep cycles and their connection to the world. That he welcomed his son’s willingness only as a test subject might make some dislike Loomis even more. That is especially when viewers found out what Loomis did to his son as part of his experiment. It leaves one feeling even more torn about Loomis because while it was laudable that he cared about defeating the Axis forces, the things that he did and the person that he was made it seem as if on a personal level, he only cared about himself. This feeling is heightened as another interview reveals the lengths to which he went to be able to marry his second wife — a marriage that came about as a result of an affair with another man’s wife. Even as the story ends and audiences are presented through the interviews, the revelation of Loomis’ comfort with how his career ended, leaving viewers again feeling so torn about him. Needless to say, the information provided via the story’s accompanying interviews noted here, and that not noted here, makes Loomis’ story all the more engaging when coupled with the basic information provided through the narration. When they join together, the interviews and narration develop a story that is certain to keep viewers enthralled from beginning to end. It still is not the last of the program’s most important elements. Its collective pacing and transitions are critical in their own way to the program’s presentation, too.

The pacing and transitions of AE: The Secret of Tuxedo Park are key to keeping viewers engaged because of the amount of ground that is covered over the course of the program’s run time. As has already been noted, this program is more than just a story about the development of the first radar during WWII. It is a story about the man who helped to develop radar at his “RAD Lab” and his life both at and away from work. That means that a lot of time and thought had to be taken to keep everything fluid between the two stories. Thankfully, that time and thought was taken in assembling the program. Just enough time was spent on each item from one to the next, preventing the program from getting bogged down in itself. Between the clear impact of Loomis’ childhood on his adult life to his own view on the privacy that comes with a personal life and more, audiences get a thorough story here and one that sets itself up as an introduction for hopefully a more in-depth look at the radar that would serve to help the allies defeat Nazi Germany and the Japanese forces. That is really what was expected from this documentary. What was presented was less that and more the story of how it came to be. If that more in-depth presentation is ever crafted, it is sure to be an even more engaging program. Even with that in mind, the program presented here is still engaging in its own right, and one that will still appeal to history buffs across the board.

American Experience: The Secret of Tuxedo Park is an interesting introduction to the story of the development of the military’s first radar and its use in winning WWII. While not as in-depth as the program’s title leads one to expect it to be, it is still an engaging presentation about the man who developed the radar, both in regards to his work and personal life. That is due in part to that two-part story. Audiences get in this story a vivid portrait of the brilliant but flawed man who developed what would go on to be one of the Allies’ “secret weapons.” The interviews that are incorporated into the presentation add even more interest to the story because of the additional insight that they offer. The collective pacing and transitions throughout the program puts the finishing touch on the program. Each element is important in its own right to the whole of this program. All things considered, they make it a good introduction to the much bigger story of the radar and its impact on the Allies’ war effort. American Experience: The Secret of Tuxedo Park is available now and can be ordered online direct via PBS’ online store. 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/AmericanExperiencePBS

Twitter: http://twitter.com/AmExperiencePBS

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 reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.