‘Wild Kratts’ Second DVD Of 2018 Is “Twice As Nice” As The Year’s First Offering

Courtesy: PBSPBS Kids/Public Media Distribution

Over the course of the past six years, brother Chris and Martin Kratt have taken families around the world and taught fun and unforgettable lessons in biology, ecology, zoology and more through their hit animated series Wild Kratts.  The series has become one of PBS Kids’ biggest hit series since its debut, running now five seasons and a sixth very likely to be announced soon.  It has also led to the release of now 17 DVDs featuring the adventures of Chris, Martin and their friends Aviva (Athena Krakanis – Manifest, The Expanse, Low Winter Sun), Koki (Heather Bambrick – The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That, Doozers, Atomic Puppet) and Jimmy Z (Jonathan Malen – The Mist, Mean Girls, Charlie Bartlett).  From North America’s desert southwest to the depths of the Atlantic to the frozen far reaches of the Arctic and Antarctic and beyond, the Wild Kratts gang has time and again given audiences unforgettable adventures and invaluable lessons in every episode.  Now thanks to Public Media Distribution, two more of those episodes are available in the latest Wild Kratts DVD, Adventures on the African Savannah.  As that title notes, this time the brothers Kratt and company are in Africa.  The two adventures featured in the 55-minute DVD are enjoyable in themselves.  The lessons connected to the stories are also enjoyable for the whole family.  Considering that content, the DVD’s relatively affordable average price point proves to be money well spent.  When it is considered alongside said content, all three elements make Wild Kratts: Adventures on the African Savannah yet another enjoyable addition to any family’s DVD library.

Adventures on the African Savannah, the second of Public Media Distribution’s Wild Kratts DVD releases so far this year – the first, Madagascar Madness, was released April 10 – is another successful and enjoyable presentation from PMD and PBS Kids.  It is a collection that despite featuring only two episodes, every family will find welcome in their DVD library.  That is actually due in part to the stories themselves.  This time out, Martin and Chris (and their friends) take on a game of tag in the first episode, “The Food Chain Game.”  Of course, this is no ordinary game of tag.  This game involves Chris and Martin racing to the top of the Savannah’s food web by touching and turning into various different animals that roam the savannah.  They start at the bottom and work their way up, all the while learning about each creature’s strengths and weaknesses.  By the time it’s all said and done, Aviva has crafted a giant food web from Chris and Martin’s friendly competition that plays directly into the lessons, which will be discussed shortly.  In the second of the brothers’ adventures, Chris and Martin face off in another competition.  This time it’s a test to see which is the dominant animal – a rhino or an elephant.  However, at least one person wants to ruin the fun.  That person is the Kratt gang’s longtime foe Zack Varmitech (Zachary Bennett – Designated Survivor, Total Drama All Stars, Ranger Rob).  Zach, who is jealous of Aviva’s accomplishments uses his mini-bots to disrupt Chris and Martin’s suits so that they can’t finish their competition.  In an added effort to ruin the group’s fun, his bots also disrupt the Tortuga’s systems, trapping Aviva, Jimmy and Koki inside…at least temporarily.  Obviously the story has a happy ending with Zack being defeated once again.  How that happens won’t be given away here, but it will leave viewers laughing once again.  Of course, this story offers its own subtle biology lesson that adds to the story’s enjoyment.  Said lesson will be discussed along with the biology lesson included in the DVD’s lead story.  Keeping in mind the enjoyment offered through the stories themselves, it creates a solid foundation for the DVD’s presentation.  That foundation gives audiences plenty of reason in itself to add this DVD to their DVD libraries.  The noted lessons tied into the DVD’s presentation give families even more reason to add the DVD to their Wild Kratts collections.

The basic biology lessons incorporated into each story are easily accessible for viewers of all ages.  The lesson incorporated into the lead story is straight forward.  It teaches the interconnection of different organisms within a given food chain.  It’s just one example, but shows in a simple fashion, the depth and diversity that is possible in any given food chain.  At the same time, viewers also learn some interesting facts about the given organisms and animals featured within the given food chain.  What’s really interesting to note here is that the writers don’t try to hide the educational content here, unlike in other episodes in which said content is smartly woven into the story.  It’s right out front.  Yet somehow even with the content being right out there, the writers have still managed to keep the episode interesting both for grown-ups and children alike.  The writing staff is to be highly commended for that.  The lesson is a little bit more subtle in the second story.  It basically highlights the adaptations that make different animals fitted for various climates and territories.  For instance, the walrus is more fitted for cold climes while certain reptiles are definitely not suited for the savannah.  The strengths and weaknesses of the rhino and elephant are both pointed out in the long run, too.  It’s just interesting to see so much incorporated into one story and done so smoothly in the process.  It doesn’t make the educational content so outright, balancing very well with the story itself.    When this is considered along with the balance of educational and entertaining content in the DVD’s lead story, it makes the educational content that much more valuable to the DVD’s presentation.  While the stories and lessons are both key to the DVD’s whole, they are not its only important elements.  The DVD’s rather affordable average price point makes it that much more welcome in any family’s home DVD library.

The average price point of Adventures on the African Savannah is $5.19, not counting taxes.  Adding tax, that price probably rises to almost $6.00 if not barely more than that. Considering the amount of entertainment and education that this DVD offers, even with just two episodes (at 55 minutes), that honestly is a rather affordable price.  It’s money well spent to entertain and educate children while also bringing the whole family together in the process.  That is something of which this country needs more – family togetherness.  That’s especially the case considering how television is in itself ripping families apart more and more because of content aimed at specific audiences.  Keeping all of this in mind, the DVD’s average price point is the proverbial cherry on top for its  presentation.  It is not a bad price to pay, even with tax, for that togetherness, education and entertainment.  To that end, this second Wild Kratts DVD offering this year is another welcome addition to any family’s Wild Kratts DVD collection.

Public Media Distribution’s second Wild Kratts DVD of the year, Adventures on the African Savannah, only boats two episodes from the hit animated series, but despite that, those two episodes offer audiences of all ages plenty to appreciate.  That is evidenced in part through the stories that make up the body of the DVD.  The lessons tied into the stories are expertly balanced in their presentation.  That balance shows the amount of time and thought put into each story’s writing overall.  The writers, again, are to be commended for such attention to detail.  The DVD’s rather affordable price point makes that content extra valuable and the DVD that much more worth the purchase in turn.  Keeping all of this in mind, all three elements join to make this DVD a presentation that will lead the whole family to want to join the Kratt brothers on their African Savannah adventures again and again.  It is available now and can be ordered direct via PBS’ online store.  More information on the DVD is available online along with lots of printables, activities and more now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://pbskids.org/wildkratts

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

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‘Ready Jet Go!”s Debut DVD Is A Great Early Halloween Treat For The Whole Family

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

The dog days of summer are officially here, and while its unbearably hot out there right now, it won’t be long now before fall sets in.  With the return of fall also comes the annual return of the official start of the holiday season, Halloween.  Many people refuse to accept that Halloween opens the holiday season, but it does.  In anticipation of Halloween’s return, PBS Distribution is getting families everywhere in the holiday spirit a little early with the upcoming release of Ready jet Go!’s debut DVD, Ready Jet Go!: Jet’s First Halloween.  Set for release August 28, this single disc episode collection is another fun Halloween offering for the whole family.  That is due in no small part to the stories featured in the collection.  They will be discussed shortly.  The lessons tied into the stories also play collectively into the DVD’s presentation and will be discussed a little later.  The DVD’s average price point rounds out its most important elements.  Each element noted here is important in its own right to the whole of Ready Jet Go!: Jet’s First Halloween.  All things considered, they make this DVD a presentation that is a great early Halloween treat for the whole family.

PBS Distribution’s debut Ready Jet Go! DVD Jet’s First Halloween is a great early Halloween treat for the whole family.  That is due in no small part to the stories that make up the DVD’s main body.  The story of Jet’s first Halloween is the collection’s central story.  This story follows Jet and his parents as they celebrate Halloween for the very first time on Earth.  From learning about carving jack-o-lanterns to dressing up and crafting a haunted house, Jet and his family have lots of fun in their first holiday experience.  This is all despite Mitchell’s efforts to figure out what the Propulsion family is really up to.  There’s even a “witch” riding a broom in front of the red “harvest” moon as an added treat for Jet and his friends.  If that’s not enough family friendly fun, audiences also get to see Jet and his friends try to dig to the center of the Earth in ‘Digging Earth.’  The group even uses Sydney’s favorite comic book character, Commander Cressida as motivation.  Viewers of all ages will enjoy watching to see how deep the kids can go.  ‘Mindy’s Mystery,’ which is in fact the parent episode to ‘Digging Earth’ – both episodes are from the series’ debut season along with ‘Jet’s First Halloween’ – follows Jet and his friends as they try to figure out what sweet aroma is keeping Mindy awake at night.  The answer is surprising to say the least.  Mitchell also has his own problem as he’s trying to figure out what bright light is keeping him awake.  Given, the latter pair of episodes is not Halloween-themed, but are still enjoyable in their own right, and in turn, add to the DVD’s overall presentation.  They also present lessons that add their own enjoyment to the DVD’s presentation, too.

The lessons tied into the DVD’s stories are so enjoyable in part because of how subtly they are written into the stories.  It’s obvious to older audiences that they are there.  However, their addition to the stories is just subtle enough that younger viewers won’t even know they’re being educated while also being entertained.  Case in point, the lesson in the DVD’s title episode on why the moon turns red.  Viewers will be interested to learn about how the sun’s light is dispersed, leading to the red coloring. What’s more, learning about the moon’s rotation in relation to that of the Earth after the fact helps deepen that understanding even more.  The geology lesson connected to ‘Digging Earth’ and the dual astronomy/botany lesson tied into ‘Mindy’s Mystery’ show the reach of the show’s educational content. This is another positive to note. Simply put, the lessons are so well balanced with the stories themselves that audiences get plenty of education and entertainment all at the same time.  Interestingly enough, some of the lessons, even parents might not know.  To that end, it adds to the importance of the lessons since parents might get educated just as easily as children.  Keeping this in mind, this DVD offers plenty for audiences to appreciate in terms of the content.  They are not the only positives to note in examining the DVD’s whole  Its average price point is just as notable.

The average price point of Ready Jet Go!: Jet’s First Halloween is only $5.98.  That price was reached by averaging the DVD’s price from America’s four biggest retailers – Target, Best Buy, Amazon and Wal-Mart – and PBS’ own online store.  Adding taxes (and not counting shipping), that still puts the DVD’s average price at just over $6.00  Considering the amount of entertaining and educational content presented throughout the DVD’s 55-minute run time, that is not a bad price at all.  Considering that this content is family friendly – meaning parents would be safe leaving kids to watch it themselves or parents could watch with their kids – it suffices to say that this is roughly $6.00 well-spent.  Keeping all of this in mind, Ready Jet Go!: Jet’s First Halloween proves to be a great early Halloween treat for the whole family from PBS Distribution.

PBS Distribution’s debut DVD from its hit animated series Ready Jet Go!: Jet’s First Halloween is a great early Halloween treat for the whole family.  That is due, as noted, in part to the family friendly stories featured in each episode.  The stories will have the whole family laughing and fully engaged from start to end.  The lessons included as part of each story do just as much as the stories themselves to keep viewers engaged.  The DVD’s price rounds out its most important element.  Each element noted here is important in its own way.  All things considered, they make the DVD – again – a great early Halloween treat for the whole family.  It will be available August 28 in stores and online.  It can be pre-ordered online via PBS’ online store.  More information on the DVD is available online along with printables, activities and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://pbskids.org/readyjetgo

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

 

 

 

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PBS Distribution’s New ‘Arthur’ DVD Is A Welcome “Present” In Any Family’s Home DVD Library

Courtesy: PBS Distribution

Later next month, PBS Distribution is bringing fans of PBS Kids’ hit series Arthur a special new present in the form of the series’ new DVD, Arthur: D.W. and the Beastly Birthday.  The DVD’s release will come nearly a year after the special first aired on PBS Kids—Aug. 2, 2017.  Why PBS would wait this long to release the DVD is anyone’s guess.  That aside, it proves to be a presentation that the whole family will enjoy.  That is due in part to the story at the center of the DVD’s main feature and its companion story.  This will be discussed shortly.  The bonus companion episode included in the DVD adds its own touch to the DVD’s presentation.  Its average price point rounds out its most important elements.  Each element is important in its own way, as will be discussed here.  All things considered, they make Arthur: D.W. and the Beastly Birthday a new Arthur DVD that was well worth the wait.

PBS Distribution’s new forthcoming Arthur DVD, D.W. and the Beastly Birthday is a DVD that was well worth the year-plus wait.  That is proven in part to the story at the center of center of the DVD’s main feature.  The story takes a page from the famed children’s book Where The Wild Things Are.  In the case of this story, it’s D.W.’s birthday, but Arthur doesn’t want to get pulled into the annual celebration.  That’s because every year, Arthur has to do everything that D.W. wants.  So he gets her a card, not realizing it’s for a boy, and then goes to a show at the planetarium with his classmates as an excuse to avoid her birthday party.  However, while he’s there, the Earth goes through a wormhole, aging everyone except for Arthur’s class by four years.  Of course, the whole thing is a dream sequence, just like D.W.’s trip to Ukubonga, where Arthur’s friends happen to look just like the creatures from the aforementioned book.  Both brother and sister learn their own valuable lesson in the process, obviously.  What’s really interesting to note, in a deeper examination, is that considering this story, one could even argue that the classic Jimmy Stewart classic movie It’s A Wonderful Life was a partial influence, considering the whole thing happens as a result of two dream sequences – the realization of what life would be like, etc.  Keeping in mind the dual influences in this story, and the story that results from those influences, what audiences get here is a story that will entertain audiences of all ages and also ensure said viewers’ engagement.  Sure, it’s not fully original, but there is enough originality here that it makes the story stand easily on its own merits.  To that end, the story at the center of the DVD’s main feature is reason enough in itself for this DVD to be in any family’s home DVD library.  It builds a strong foundation for the DVD’s presentation.  The companion episode Arthur’s Birthday strengthens that foundation even more.

The companion episode included in D.W. and the Beastly Birthday, Arthur’s Birthday strengthens the DVD’s presentation even more as it presents its own birthday-themed story that boasts its own identity separate from that of the DVD’s main feature.  Taken from very first season of Arthur, this story sees Arthur having to navigate some difficult waters when it turns out that Muffy is having her birthday party on the same days as his.  The problem comes when Muffy announces that anyone who doesn’t come to her party isn’t her friend anymore.  Obviously the whole thing has a happy ending after a compromise is made.  That lesson about compromise is in itself key to the episode’s whole from which the whole family will benefit in taking in.  Add in the fact that this episode comes from the series’ debut season and that not even one season of the hit series has been released to DVD or even Blu-ray in whole to this day from PBS Distribution, and the episode proves even more ,a present in itself for audiences. Maybe PBS’ people will read this and take this to heart.  A lot of people would like to see this series start getting proper full season releases from PBS Distribution.  That aside, just having this episode included as a thematically complimenting piece is a bonus.  Having a piece of the series’ origins adds to its positive.  Having noted all of this, the bonus birthday episode is still not the last of the DVD’s positives.  Its average price point rounds out its most important elements.

The average price point of Arthur: D.W. and the Beastly Birthday sits at $6.24.  That price was obtained using the DVD’s listing at PBS’ online store and online listings from Target, Best Buy and Amazon.  It didn’t seem to be listed at Wal-Mart’s online site.  Even with this in mind, a 70-minute presentation between the two features at $6.24 is not a bad price at all.  It’s actually quite affordable.  And considering that 70-minute run time, it’s a price that will more than pay for itself as families will enjoy the DVD time and again whether together or if younger viewers watch by themselves.  To that end, the DVD’s average price point proves truly critical in its own right to the DVD’s whole.  When this is considered along with the content in the features and the features themselves, what audiences get here is a DVD that, again will is a welcome present in any family’s home DVD library whether on birthdays or other days.

PBS Kids’ new Arhur DVD, D.W. and the Beastly Birthday is a welcome present for any family whether on a birthday or other day of the year.  That is due in part to the DVD’s main feature, which entertains audiences while presenting some valuable life lessons.  Much the same can be said of the DVD’s companion Season One episode, Arthur’s Birthday.  That episode is also a welcome look back at the history of Arthur since the series still has yet to get a proper full-season release from PBS Distribution.  The DVD’s fully affordable average price point proves to be another positive to the DVD.  Each element is key in its own way to the whole of this DVD.  All things considered, they make Arthur: D.W. and the Beastly Birthday a welcome present for the whole family whether on a birthday or any other day.  It will be available August 14.  more information on this DVD is available online now along with plenty of games, printables, activities and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://pbskids.org/arthur

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

 

 

 

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Viewers Of All Ages Will Enjoy “Diving” Into PBS Kids’ Debut ‘Nature Cat’ DVD

Courtesy: PBS Distribution/PBS/PBS Kids

PBS Kids’ animated series Nature Cat is one of the network’s newest shows with now just two seasons under its belt.  The series’ second season officially wraps in just two weeks on July 16 with the show’s new “movie” The Return of Bad Dog Bart.  In the short time that the series has been on the air, it has also quickly become quite popular among audiences.  It’s become so popular, in fact, that early last month (June 5 to be exact), it saw the release of its debut DVD, Onward & Pondward.  The DVD’s title is a toss of the hat to Nature Cat’s catch phrase — “Onward and yonward!” – and also hints at the DVD’s central theme, that of all things water.  That theme and the connection of said theme to the DVD’s seven (technically six episodes, as the final episode is a two-part episode) forms the foundation of the DVD’s presentation.  The lessons tied into the stories are collectively just as important to discuss as the stories, and will be discussed a little later.  The disc’s pricing rounds out its most important elements.  Each element plays into this debut DVD offering from Nature Cat in its own way.  All things considered, they make Onward & Pondward a fully successful first effort and hopefully just the series’ first collection.

Onward & Pondward, the debut DVD offering from PBS Kids’ hit animated series Nature Cat is a fully successful first collection of episodes from said show.  Hopefully it is just the series’ first episode compilation, too.  The stories featured in this collection are, collectively, a big part of the DVD’s success.  By and large, the episodes – all of which are lifted from the series’ first season — follow the DVD’s water-themed title with each tale taking Nature Cat and his friends Hal the dog, Squeaks the mouse and Daisy the bunny on new, unique adventures each time.  “Welcome to Vernal Pond’ takes Nature Cat and company to a pond that appears every spring and is gone by fall.  In that span of time, dozens of creatures use the seasonal pond to spawn, including salamanders, toads and even fairy shrimp of all things.  “Puddle Pool Party” takes the group to a special pool party, only to find out that it can only happen under a certain circumstance – a circumstance that leads to an easily accessible lesson about the water cycle, which will be discussed later.  “Stream and Shout” takes Nature Cat and his friends on a journey to find where streams start and end (making for another easily accessible lesson) while “Swamp Thing” is a fun story that families will enjoy especially on Halloween while also learning yet another key lesson.  “There’s Gold in Them Thar Hills” finds the group panning for gold in a stream (again, the water link is there, although it’s slightly lesser than the other episodes).  “Earth Day Today” links the water theme as the group tries to retrieve a water bottle floating in a river.  Again, it is a loose connection, but a connection nonetheless.  That episode’s companion, “Earth Day Every Day” doesn’t touch on the water theme, but being that it is part of the overall Earth Day episode, it gets the pass.  Keeping that in mind, it’s good to see here that the episodes in general follow that noted central theme while also making their lessons just as original and accessible.  It creates a solid foundation for the DVD’s presentation.  The lessons tied into the stories strengthen that foundation even more.

As noted already, the stories included in this DVD present lessons that are both accessible for young viewers and are original from one to the next.  The term “original” means here that they don’t repeat from one episode to the next.  Case in point, the lesson presented in the DVD’s opening episode, “Welcome To Vernal Pond.”  This episode is essentially a story that teaches a basic biology lesson about ecosystems.  The very use of the seasonal pond in itself explains that ecosystems can exist seasonally.  On the slightly deeper level, it teaches about the animals that live within the given ecosystem.  In the case of the vernal pond, the seasonal pond was used by toads, ducks, salamanders and even fairy shrimp.  The shrimp themselves are good to note in that most adults (this critic included) probably have never heard of them.  Apparently they do in fact live in vernal ponds, and are even eaten by birds (in this case, likely ducks).  So to that end, including these tiny creatures might catch older viewers’ interest just as much as younger viewers and could, in turn, lead to family research.  In other words, it could be a catalyst for family learning and by connection, family togetherness.  Considering this, having such a seemingly simple lesson that clearly has a farther reach shows quite clearly the importance of the stories’ lessons.  It is just one way in which the lessons prove so important.  “Puddle Pool Party” presents an accessible lesson about the water cycle through the use of Squeaks’ attempt to have a pool party.  When it’s found that the puddle she saw was gone, this leads to the discussion about evaporation and condensation, and how the two are key parts of that cycle.  It’s a great and easily accessible lesson that is sure to stick with the series’ young viewers thanks to fun and easy way in which it is explained.  The geology lesson presented in “There’s Gold In Them Thar Hills” – one has got to love how the show’s writers used that old-time phrase for the episode’s title – centers on Squeaks’ discovery of gold in a stream.  This leads everyone to return to the stream to pan for even more gold.  At first, they find what’s known as “fool’s gold,” and determine it to be so because of certain classifications.  Those classifications are in fact the lesson.  They tell the difference between real and false gold.  Of course, it leads to the fun story that finds Nature Cat having to get the gold back from Ronald in the process.  Yes, it has a happy ending.  But again, the originality and accessibility of the lesson presented here shows yet again the importance of the stories’ lessons.  The lesson about waterways presented in “Stream & Shout,” the lesson centered on swamp life in “Swamp Thing” and the equally key lesson about ecology in the two-part Earth Day episode each show in their own ways, too, the importance of the stories’ lesson.  They cannot be ignored in discussing that importance.  When they are considered along with the lessons more directly noted here, the whole of the lessons proves without doubt the importance overall of the lessons tied into each episode’s story.  When the stories and lessons are joined together, they make for plenty of reason for elementary educators and families alike to own this DVD.  Of course they still are not the DVD’s only positives.  Its relatively affordable average price point also proves to be a positive.

Using the nation’s four major retailers – Target, Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Amazon – alongside PBS’ own pricing, the average price point of Nature Cat: Onward & Pondward proves to be approximately $9.70.  That makes the unit price approximately $1.39 per episode.  Given, that’s a little more expensive than the cost of PBS Kids’ recently released Dinosaur Train DVD, Meeting New Friends, but is still relatively affordable at under $10 overall.  The noted unit price for one episode is less than the cost of a single-night DVD rental from Redbox, by comparison.  That shows how affordable this DVD is in the bigger picture.  As if that isn’t enough positive, buying this DVD also supports PBS.  That is more than enough reason for any family that values education and entertainment to own this DVD.  When all of this is considered along with the lessons, which are clearly valuable for a young person’s education (and entertainment), and the entertaining stories themselves, the whole of the elements makes Onward & Pondward a DVD into which any family will want to dive.  Yes, that terrible pun was fully intended.

Onward & Pondward is a wonderful first home offering from PBS Kids’ animated series Nature Cat.  It is an offering that audiences familiar and not so familiar with the show will all enjoy.  That is proven in part through seven stories that stand out from one another in their originality and that entertain audiences of all ages in the process.  The lessons tied into the episodes are just as engaging as the fun, family-friendly stories.  They strengthen the foundation of the DVD’s presentation even more.  The DVD’s relatively affordable average price point puts the finishing touch to the collection.  Given, even when tax is added, the price point does top $10, but only barely.  To that point, seven episodes at only $1.39 per episode is affordable.  This cannot be denied.  When this is considered along with the entertainment and education offered through the disc’s 88-minute run time, one can’t deny that this first home Nature Cat release is a successful debut DVD from the series.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered online direct via PBS’ online store.  More information on Onward & Pondward is available online now along with plenty of Nature Cat activities, games, printables and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://pbskids.org/naturecat

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

 

 

 

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PBS’ New ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’ Box Set Will Make Every Day Beautiful For Every Family

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

It’s hard to believe, but this past February marked 15 years since beloved television figure Fred Rogers passed away.  When he died on February 27, 2003, the world lost a man who was more than just a TV personality.  For so many audiences the world over, he was that father figure (and in other cases even grandfather figure) that maybe was lacking in said household.  He was that reassuring voice that was needed in tough times of all kinds and just as much the caring one in the happy times.  So it goes without saying that his passing left everyone wondering if there would ever be a figure like him again or even a show such as his again.  Part of that concern was answered in September 2012 when PBS and PBS Kids debuted Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, which was basically an updated, animated take on its source material from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.  Even with the success that the said series has continued to have now six years later, many audiences continued to wonder if said source material would ever see the light of day on home release.  PBS’ officials heard those continued calls for the series’ release, and finally, early last month, they responded with the network’s first-ever collection of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood episodes in the form of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: It’s A Beautiful Day Collection.  The four-disc, 30-episode collection is not the first time that the series has ever seen a DVD release.  The Fred Rogers Company released quite a number of the series’ episodes on their own standalone DVDs in 2010.  That release format was problematic, though, and makes this collection’s episode selection all the more important.  It will be noted shortly.  The inclusion of the printed episode guide inside the case is another key element to discuss in examining this release.  The quality of the footage in its transfer to DVD rounds out this set’s most important elements.  Each element does so much to make this collection work.  All things considered, they make Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: It’s A Beautiful Day Collection a box set that will make every day beautiful for viewers, and hopefully just the first collection of episodes from this beloved series.

PBS’ first ever Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood DVD box set It’s A Beautiful Day Collection, is a box set that will make every day beautiful for viewers.  What’s more, it is hopefully just the first proper collection of episodes from the decades-long family friendly series.  Part of what makes this recently released collection such a positive product is its collection.  It presents 30 episodes from the series’ second run between 1979 – 2001.  “Second run” is noted as it was originally run on PBS between February 19, 1968 to February 20, 1976 before taking time off and then returning to television in 1979.  That 30 episode presentation is but a drop in the proverbial bucket for this collection, considering the series’ total episode count of 912 (including specials).  However, considering that the series’ episodes were previously released on standalone DVDs via The Fred Rogers Company (and that said approach clearly didn’t prove too successful) having even 30 episodes in one collection proves to be a successful approach for PBS.  What’s more, if PBS decides to continue releasing more sets in the same fashion over time, it will give the company something to release for years to come that will also assuredly be welcomed in every household across at least America.  As an added bonus, one of the episodes included in the mix in this debut set is none other than the series’ black and white premiere episode.  Reaching so far back and including so many other episodes shows the lengths that those behind this set’s creation went to make sure it paid proper tribute to Fred Rogers’ legacy while also making sure audiences were entertained and engaged.  To that end, this portion of the set’s presentation – its breadth of featured episodes – proves to be definitely a key piece of its whole. In direct connection, the set’s printed episode guide is just as integral to the set’s presentation.

The episode guide is printed on the inside front and back of the set’s box.  It includes a brief but concise description of each featured episode’s story.  As has been noted with other box sets from PBS (and other companies) this may seem a minor aesthetic element on the surface.  However, including even this element plays so much into the set’s overall viewing experience.  That is because it provides a starting point in deciding which episode to watch, and in turn, can and does save time on deciding which episode to watch.  This is especially important to note considering all that children go through on a daily basis.  It helps make quicker and easier, the choice of how to best approach given situations.  Kudos are in order for those behind the set’s creation for including this guide.  The only down side to the whole matter of the episode guide is that the season and episode number itself is not included.  Of course that one is just a want more than a need.  However, for those interested in the series’ history, having that included in the episode guide would have made enjoyment of the series’ history that much deeper.  That is, after all, considering that this collection focused on one part of the series’ run rather than the whole of its run.  Even with that in mind, it would be wrong to say its lack detracts any from the set’s overall presentation.  It would have just been nice to have had that included.  Keeping in mind both of the noted elements, do plenty to make this box set a welcome offering from PBS.  Both alone and collectively, they are not the set’s only key elements.  The quality of the footage in its transfer rounds out the set’s most important elements.

One need watch only a handful of the 30 episodes included in Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: It’s A Beautiful Day Collection to notice the quality of the footage in its transfer.  It looks and sounds quite impressive from one episode to the next.  It’s obvious in taking in this set that at least some work had to have been done in terms of cleaning up the footage.  The video does retain some of that grainy look from the original episodes’ broadcasts, yet it isn’t so prominent that it takes anything away from the viewing experience.  Rather it adds a certain sense of nostalgia to that experience.  Much the same can be said of the episodes’ audio quality.  It might not seem like much on the surface, but viewers will note that they don’t have to adjust the volume at any point.  Anyone who has ever dealt with that issue will agree that it is so annoying.  To that end, it is nice to not have to deal with that issue here.  It ensures even more, viewers’ entertainment and engagement.  When it is considered along with the enjoyment brought by the episodes themselves and the episode guide to lead the way, the whole of all three elements makes Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: It’s A Beautiful Day Collection a welcome addition to any family’s home entertainment library.  Keeping that in mind, it easily makes a case to be considered for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new family DVD/BD box sets.

PBS’ recently released Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood DVD box set – the network’s first true official release from the timeless series – is a collection that is sure to make any family’s day “beautiful.”  It is also a collection that definitely deserves a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new family DVD/BD box sets.  That is proven in part through an extensive 30 episode presentation that spans almost 40 years of the show’s run.  The quality of the footage in regards to its audio and video adds even more enjoyment to the viewing experience.  Each element is important in its own right, as has been noted here.  All things considered, it is a welcome first effort from PBS for this series, and hopefully not the only one. It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this box set is available online now along with Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood activities, printables, news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://pbs.org/rogers

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

 

 

 

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History, Military History Buffs Alike Will Appreciate ‘SOTD: Hannibal In The Alps’

Courtesy: PBS

The journey of Carthaginian General Hannibal Barca along the French Alps en route to his conquest of Rome, which included 30,000 troops, 15,000 horses and 37 war elephants, is one of the most talked about stories in history.  While the perilous journey has been well documented and talked about over the course of thousands of years, one thing has not been known about that fateful journey is how exactly he and his forces made it across the Alps.  That is until now.  PBS delves into that story in a new episode of its hit history-based series Secrets of the Dead.  Originally aired this past April, the roughly 50-minute program follows a group of researchers as the group works to tell once and for all how Hannibal and his forces managed to cross the Alps in just 16 days en route to the noted attack.  The story of the team’s research, which lies at the center of this episode of SOTD, is its cornerstone, and gives viewers more than enough reason to watch.  While the story of the team’s research on Hannibal’s journey goes a long way toward making this doc well worth the watch, it is missing at least one key element – the answer as to why Hannibal took his chosen path.  It is a minor detail, but still would have added even more depth to the story.  It will be discussed later.  The program’s overall pacing rounds out the program’s most important elements.  It will also be discussed later. Each noted element is important in its own right to the whole of Secrets of the Dead: Hannibal in the Alps.  That will be proven through a discussion on each topic.  All things considered, the noted elements make this episode of SOTD one that will interest military history aficionados and history buffs in general.

Secrets of the Dead: Hannibal in the Alps is a fully engaging new episode of PBS’ hit history-based series.  It is a presentation that is certain to appeal just as much to military history aficionados as it is to students and lovers of history in general.  That is proven in part through the story at the center of this program.  The program’s central story focuses on researchers’ efforts to determine which route Hannibal Barca took with his troops over the French Alps in order to attack Rome.  Over the course of the program’s roughly 50 minute run time, viewers learn that the records of Hannibal’s perilous journey were indeed true.  They also learn the route in question.  What’s more, viewers learn that General Barca and his forces had not one, but at least four different routes from which to choose to get through the intimidating mountain range.  That is a little tidbit that is rarely if ever taught about Hannibal’s journey in schools.  It adds its own depth to the story, and in turn makes the story that much more interesting.  There is also ground research that proves in the long-term that route as well as an interesting revelation about why the war elephants were chosen in the first place.  Hint: It had to do with their feet and their ability to adapt to the weather.  That’s all that will be given away there.  There is even note of the losses incurred over the journey because of its danger.  That note is shared as one member of the research team follows the exact path taken by Hannibal thousands of years ago.  Yes, one of the team actually traces Hannibal’s path.  That is a key addition to the story, too.  Between that addition and everything else shared throughout the story, viewers get here, a presentation that is certain to keep military history buffs and history buffs in general completely engaged from start to end.  That being the case, it forms a solid foundation for the program.  Of course for all that the story presented here does for the program, it is lacking in one key area – the question of WHY Hannibal chose the path that he chose.

The question of why Hannibal chose the path that he chose is answered to a point at the presentation’s finale.  However, the answer isn’t necessarily an answer as it is more or less one of the team speculating than actually stating known fact.  In defense of those behind this program, maybe not enough information has ever been available as to why Hannibal chose the most difficult route possible.  Though, if said information is or has been available, then one is left scratching one’s head as to why this topic was not covered as part of the overall discussion on Hannibal’s journey.  That’s especially important to note because the program does note that the other paths that Hannibal could have taken were much easier than the one that he opted to take.  Regardless of whether or not the information was available to the researchers, the fact that the program largely ignores this key question detracts from the program’s viewing experience – not enough that it makes the program unwatchable, but it certainly would have been nice to at least have someone say that the noted question was researched, but no information was recorded in reference.  With any luck, maybe another episode of SOTD will focus more directly on that question so as to put the finishing touch to the story that was so sadly lacking here.  Moving past this, the doc’s sole con, the program’s pacing rounds out the program’s most important elements, and it does so to its own positive end.

Given, Hannibal’s journey through and over the Alps took only 16 days.  Maybe that is why he took the most difficult route.  Maybe it was the shortest route, albeit the most difficult.  Getting back on track, this program goes into quite a bit of depth as it shows the efforts to determine which route Hannibal took through the Alps.  There is even the noted tracing of Hannibal’s route.  Keeping that in mind, there is a lot of ground covered here both literally and figuratively speaking.  Even as much ground is covered here, at no point does the program ever get ahead of viewers or leave them lost.  Rather, just enough time is spent on each portion of the research with just the right emphasis on each element to keep the doc moving forward solidly.  Coming full circle, that solid pacing ensures each portion of the program gets its own share of attention.  The end result is pacing that does just as much good for the presentation’s whole as the story itself.  In reality, both elements work hand in hand.  When they are coupled, they make Secrets of the Dead: Hannibal in the Alps a presentation that, again, will appeal easily to history and military history buffs alike.

Secrets of the Dead: Hannibal in the Alps is a strong new episode of PBS’ hit history-based series.  It is a presentation that is certain to reach plenty of audiences especially now that it is available on DVD.  That is proven in part through the story of the research team’s efforts to figure out how Hannibal and his forces made their way through the French Alps en route to their attack on Rome.  The pacing of the story ensures even more, viewers’ engagement.  When those two elements are joined, they do plenty to make up for the lack of one key element – the answer to the key question of why Hannibal decided on his specific route.  Each element is important in its own right to the whole of Secrets of the Dead: Hannibal in the Alps.  All things considered, it serves as another reminder of why Secrets of the Dead is one of PBS’ best series and why history and military history buffs alike will appreciate the program.  Secrets of the Dead: Hannibal in the Alps is available now.  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

 

 

 

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‘Endeavour: Season 5’ U.S. Release Date Announced

Courtesy: itv/PBS Distribution

itv’s hit crime drama Endeavour wrapped its fifth season this past March, and now Season 5 is coming home for the series’ American audiences.

Public Media Distribution will release Masterpiece Mystery!Endeavour Season 5 July 10.  It will be released on DVD ($39.99) and Blu-ray ($49.99).  In the fifth season of the international hit series, it’s 1968, and turmoil is brewing inside and outside the Cowley Police Station.

As Endeavour Morse takes a new recruit named Fancy (Lewis Peek — PoldarkCurse of the PhoenixDartmoor Killing) under his wing, his current partner, Thursday (Roger Allam — V For VendettaPirates of the CaribbeanOn Stranger TidesThe Wind That Shakes The Barley) is considering retirement.  Organized crime is also on the rise in Oxford, causing plenty of concern for Morse and company.

Season 5 opens with an auction of a famed Faberge Egg at Lonsdale College.  It catches the attention of an international thief — and in turn, the police — upon the report of a failed burglary.  That case turns to an even bigger investigation into a serial killer.  Along the way, Morse ends up taking the aforementioned Fancy under his wing, but not entirely willingly.

In ‘Cartouche,’ the second of Season 5’s episodes, a horror movie filming in Oxford crosses with the investigation into the poisoning of a former detective sergeant as Morse and Thursday are led to a theater in their investigation.  It just so happens that the theater is hosting the stars of that horror film at a special event.  Things take an even more unexpected turn when the theater’s organist is also poisoned, leading the movie’s stars to think an Egyptian  curse is to blame for the poisonings.  The reality though, is much darker.

‘Passenger,’ the season’s third episode follows Endeavour as he investigates a woman’s disappearance, fearing it may be linked to a cold case involving the death of a teenager killed years ago.  Thursday meanwhile, is investigating a truck hijacking that is believed to have been linked to organized crime in the city.

The death of a model following a photoshoot on an army base lies at the center of the season’s fourth episode, ‘Colours.’  Things get even more complicated when Sam Thursday — the son of Morse’s partner — is implicated in the model’s death, leading him to be sidelined.  DS Jim Strange takes Thursday’s place during the investigation.  Tensions rise between the pair during the investigation, especially after a second model is found dead and more secrets are revealed.

‘Quartet,’ the season’s fifth episode, is a turning point for Morse and Thursday as Thursday decides to step away and work more from home following an investigation into an attempted assassination.  While the investigation into the assassination attempt is halted, Morse wants to keep investigating, leading him deeper into the underbelly of Oxford than ever before, and revealing even more secrets than ever thought.  Thursday meanwhile, has to face his own issues as he works from home.

The season’s finale continues the turning point in Morse and Thursday’s working relationship after Thursday’s brother returns suddenly.  Meanwhile, Morse is investigating  a case at a school involving the disappearance of a teacher and the appearance of a body.  The discovery leads Morse to question who he can and cannot trust.

While audiences will have to wait until July 10 for Season 5 to be released on DVD and Blu-ray, the wait for its American television premiere is much shorter.  Season 5 is currently scheduled to premiere on PBS stations nationwide June 24.  Audiences can view a full season trailer for Season 5 online now here.

Season 5 is spread across three discs on each platform with a total run time of 540 minutes.  It can be pre-ordered online now via PBS’ online store at reduced prices of $34.99 (DVD) and $44.99 (Blu-ray).  More information on Endeavour is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/shows/endeavour

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/masterpiecepbs

 

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