PBS Has “Dug Up” A Brilliant New Work In ‘AmEx: The Race Underground’

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

Mass transportation is one of the most important pieces of any metropolitan region’s infrastructure.  From the wheels on the bus to the wheels on the trolley to the wheels on the subway cars, moving the masses from place to place is just as important to any metro region and its neighbors as anything else.  So it only makes sense that eventually PBS would present a documentary on the history of one major mass transit method.  The last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television, it did just that earlier this week when it released to DVD American Experience: The Race Underground.  This lesson on the history of America’s subway systems will appeal to everyday audiences just as much as it will people who run America’s major metro regions.  That is due in no small part to its story.  This will be discussed shortly.  The information presented within the story is just as important to discuss as the story itself.  The transitions used to keep the program moving rounds out its most important elements.  Each element plays its own important piece in the program’s overall presentation.  All things considered, they make American Experience: The Race Underground another welcome episode of PBS’ hit history-based series and one more of this year’s top new documentaries.

American Experience: The Race Underground is a program that will appeal just as much to everyday audiences as it will the people who run America’s major metropolitan regions.  It is a presentation that those audiences will want to *ahem* race to see.  Yes, that awful pun was intended.  The story at the center of the program is just one of the elements that makes it such an interesting presentation.  A close, analytical viewing of this episode of American Experience reveals to be a two-part tale.  The primary story presented in this program shows, of course, the birth and evolution of America’s subway systems.  On another level, it presents a story of one man’s dream realized and denied.

The primary story presented in this episode follows the evolution of America’s subway system from a mere dream in Frank Sprague’s mind to one of the most revolutionary means of transportation (if not the single most revolutionary) at the time.  That in itself is its own intriguing history lesson.  The secondary story shows how Sprague’s dream has obviously become realized through the growing evolution of subway transportation across the country (and even across the world) yet denied because he never got the full credit he deserved for his invention thanks to one Thomas Edison.  That story, when coupled with the program’s main story, becomes the stuff of major Hollywood blockbusters.  The combination of those two stories into one whole is just one part of what makes this episode of American Experience such an interesting documentary.  The information that is presented within those stories is just as important to note in examining the program’s presentation as the stories themselves.

The stories that form the foundation of American Experience: The Race Underground are in themselves key to this program’s overall presentation.  That is because they make the program just as interesting as any major historically-based blockbuster ever churned out by Hollywood’s “Big Six” studios.  While they are critical to the program’s presentation, they are not its only key elements.  The information provided within the stories is what makes the stories so interesting.  One of the most intriguing pieces of information that audiences learn over the course of the episode’s nearly hour-long run time is that even after Sprague’s idea was finally taken on by the city of Boston, it didn’t just fly right through.  Instead, there was a lot of opposition from the city’s residents.  That created quite a rift between the city’s residents and its government.  Just as interesting to learn is that for many people, their opposition was based on puritanical religious beliefs.  For others, the opposition rose from concerns about where the city wanted to run the subway.  Even more interesting to learn is that if not for Sprague’s success with his experiment in Richmond, there’s no telling how long it would have taken for America’s first subway station to be developed or where.  So really, while Boston had the first subway system, Richmond should really take credit for being the true birthplace of American’s first subway system.  It’s like the battle between North Carolina and Ohio over which is the true birthplace of aviation.  This is all just the tip of the proverbial iceberg with this story’s information.  Audiences will be shocked to learn that despite the eventual success of the new subway system, Sprague’s dream ultimately was denied thanks to his company being bought out by none other than Thomas Edison.  That ultimately denied Srpague the fame and wealth that he could have had, and shows yet again how Edison profited off of someone else’s success rather than his own.  Between this revelation, the others already noted and so many others, it becomes clear why the information shared throughout this program is so important to its presentation.  When all of that information is coupled with the program’s two-part story, the end result is one that will most definitely keep audiences enthralled right to the end.  Interestingly enough, it still is not the last element to note in examining the program’s overall presentation.  The program’s transitions are just as important to note as its stories and its breadth of information.

The stories shared throughout the course of American Experience: The Race Underground and their companion information are both key pieces of the program’s overall presentation.  Both by themselves and together, they are certain to keep audience engaged from beginning to end.  While they are both clearly important in their own right to the program’s presentation, one cannot ignore the importance of the program’s transitions in keeping audiences’ attention, too.  The transitions used to advance the story are clear and concise from one segment to the next.  They are basic fade-ins and fade-outs. Their placement comes at all of the proper spots, too, never leaving audiences hanging at the end of any segment.  They aren’t hard fades, either.  Rather, they are smooth fades, and in turn make stopping and starting between segments so easy.  The thought put into those transitions adds one more layer of enjoyment to the program’s presentation.  When set against the program’s equally interesting stories and companion information, the whole of the elements makes this program one to which audiences will “race” themselves to watch.  They combine to make it a work that will “race” up any critic’s list of the year’s top new documentaries.

American Experience: The Race Underground is just the latest episode of PBS’ hit history-based series to be released so far in this still young year.  Even being so new to home release, it can be said that it is certain to “race” up any critic’s list of the year’s top new documentaries.  It 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

 

 

 

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PBS Announces Home Release Date For Upcoming ‘AmEx’ Mini-Series

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

Public Media Distribution will release a special American Experience mini-series on DVD this Spring.

American Experience: The Great War will be released on Tuesday, May 16th.  The six-hour event will be spread across three discs and will retail for MSRP of $34.99.  It can be pre-ordered online now via PBS’ online store at a reduced price of $29.99.

The mini-series follow’s America’s neutrality to its eventual entry into what was then known as “The Great War.”  It tells the story of the nation’s involvement from a variety of angles.  Those angles include the experiences of African-Americans, Native American Code Talkers, Latino soldiers, suffragists and others.

The program also examines the leadership of then President Woodrow Wilson as he led America during the world’s first major global conflict.  This angle also examines how the nation’s entry in to the war led to one of the biggest crackdowns on Americans’ civil liberties in the nation’s history along with other items.

American Experience: The Great War premieres on PBS stations nationwide on Monday, April 10 and runs through Wednesday April 12.  Each of the mini-series’ two-hour episodes will run from 9 p.m. ET to 11 p.m. ET.  Audiences should check their local listings for variations in those times.

A trailer for the upcoming event is streaming online now here.  More information on this extended episode of American Experience is available online now along with all of the series’ latest news and more 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 news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

PBS Presents The History of America’s First Subway System In New ‘AmEx’ Episode

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

Public Media Distribution has announced it has another new episode of PBS’ hit history-based series American Experience due out later this month.

American Experience: The Race Underground will be released on Tuesday, February 28.  Based on the book by author Doug Most, this episode of American Experience takes audiences back in time to one of the most important eras of the nation’s transportation history—the advent of Boston’s first subway system.

Boston was America’s most crowded city during the 1800s, with almost 400,000 crammed into a downtown region of less than a single square mile.  More than 8,000 horses filled the streets, pulling people around the city.  Between the nuisance of their waste, the general crowding and noise caused lots of problems.

Frank Sprague changed everything when he developed the first model for a modern subway that rivaled that of London.  It wasn’t without its detractors, either.  The subway would eventually be constructed, and lead to the construction of subway systems in New York and Philadelphia, revolutionizing transportation in some of America’s biggest cities.

This episode of American Experience follows the story of how Sprague’s revolutionary idea laid the groundwork for what has become a primary means of mass transportation in those and other cities.  The hour-long program will retail for MSRP of $24.99 and can be pre-ordered online now via PBS’ online store at a reduced price of $19.99.  It is also available in a bundle pack with Most’s book for $31.99.

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

‘Command And Control’ Is An “Explosive” New Episode Of ‘American Experience’

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

On September 18, 1980 America narrowly escaped what could have been one of the worst nuclear disasters that it has ever experienced when a Titan II ballistic missile exploded in its silo in Damascus, Arkansas.  PBS recently profiled the near catastrophic event in a new episode of its history-based series American Experience titled American Experience: Command And Control.  This two-hour program is a visualization of author Eric Schlosser’s book by the same name.  It is a powerful presentation, too that is certain to keep its audiences enthralled just as easily as any big screen action thriller.  That is due in part to its story, its most important element.  The information that is provided within the story is just as important to note as the story itself in examining the program’s overall presentation.  The program’s dual presentation rounds out its most important elements.  Each element plays its own important part in the program’s presentation.  All things considered, they make this episode of American Experience a documentary that is certain to command and control any critic’s list of the year’s top new documentaries.

American Experience: Command And Control is the first great documentary of 2017.  This two-hour program is certain to command and control any critic’s list of the year’s top new documentaries all year.  That is due in no small part to the story at the center of the program.  The story at the center of this program follows the events that unfolded on September 18, 1980.  It follows the events almost hour-by-hour from the events ahead of the near catastrophe to the fallout (no pun intended) that followed from the event.  It is right up there with some of the biggest action flicks of the 20th century.  In fact, being a real life event and not overly embellished by Hollywood writers, it is even more enthralling. Speaking of Hollywood blockbusters, the story’s transitions are just like something that would be used in a major Hollywood production.  It is a minor element, but even as small as it is, it does so much to keep viewers entertained and engaged in the story.  It should also be noted that the story includes a rather scathing indictment of the military and its protocol as the story is told.  That indictment comes direct from those involved in the event.  It also presents a warning about the dangers of nuclear weapons and relying on nuclear buildup as it provides a history on the nuclear weapons accidents that happened before the Damascus accident.  It should be noted that considering the discussions that are raised by those involved in the accident, not every viewer will want to watch this story because of their views.  But those who are not so set in their ways will enjoy and appreciate this story and all of its elements.  Speaking of those elements, they lead into another important piece of the program’s whole, its information content.

The story at the center of AE: Command and Control is in its own way a key piece of the program’s presentation.  It is a story that is just as engaging as any Hollywood blockbuster of its kind, if not even better.  It is just one of the program’s key elements. The information that is presented throughout the story is just as important to note as the story itself.  Audiences learn over the course of the program’s two-hour run time that the 1980 incident was just one of a number of accident that had happened since the end of World War II.  There is mention of the H-Bomb incident in North Carolina and other accidents that happened before and after.  At the story’s end, audiences learn that between the Damascus incident and others, thousands of incidents had been reported by the military but not made public.  It is even revealed here that the Air Force tried to cover up the Damascus incident, which luckily didn’t turn out to be as bad as it could have been, but still could have been.  Thousands of people could have died not just in Arkansas but across the country had it been worse.  That the military didn’t initially tell the public about what was happening as it happened is understandable to a point.  It is also very troubling considering how bad the situation could have been and how many lives could have been lost.  Audiences also learn of how poorly the men involved in trying to stop the incident were treated by the military after the event as part of the presented informational content.  It probably wasn’t the first time the military has done its officers so wrongly, and definitely not the last time it has ever acted so wrongly toward those who wear the assigned uniform.  Between those revelations and other items presented throughout the program, audiences will find that the information presented throughout this program is indeed just as important to its presentation as its story.  It is not the last important element to note, either.  The program’s dual presentation rounds out its most important elements.

The story at the center of AE: Command and Control and the information that makes up the story are both key elements to the program’s presentation.  That is because of their ability to keep viewers engaged, informed, and entertained.  They combine make the program just as gripping as any big screen presentation crafted by any Hollywood screen writer.  As important as they are to the program’s presentation, they are not its only important elements.  PBS Distribution presents the program in both a standard hour-long presentation and a full two-hour presentation.  Why PBS Distribution would even go that route is anyone’s guess.  Perhaps that has to do with its use at certain levels in high school and beyond.  It is possible maybe younger high school-age viewers would only have an attention span for an hour-long presentation while older audiences would be more apt to sit the entire two-hours.  It would be interesting to find out why exactly the company went this route.  Regardless, giving audiences the option of the program’s hour or two-hour-long presentation is certain to be beneficial in one way or another depending on the setting in which each is used.  When this is set alongside the program’s story and its rich depth of information, it rounds out the program’s most important elements.  It joins with them to show once and for all why this program is such an interesting watch.  It is a piece that students and lovers of military history and history in general will appreciate.  All things considered, it is a program that will command and control any critic’s list of the year’s top new documentaries.

American Experience: Command and Control is a work that students and lovers of military history and history in general will appreciate.  It is a work that is certain to command and control any critic’s list of the year’s top new documentaries.  That is due to its wholly engaging story.  The story presented here is just as enthralling as any major Hollywood action thriller with a similar plot.  Being that it is real life, it is even more enthralling than those movies.  The information that makes up the body of the program adds even more depth to the viewing experience.  It will educate audiences and potentially shock them at the same time.  That is because of the revelations that are made throughout the program.  That audiences are given the choice to watch the program in its abbreviated, hour-long presentation and its full two-hour theatrical presentation makes the experience even more engaging.  Each element plays its own important part to the program’s presentation.  All things considered, they make this episode of American Experience a program that will command and control any critic’s list of the year’s top new documentaries.  It is available now on DVD.  It can be ordered online now via PBS’ store both by itself and in a bundle pack with Schlosser’s book.  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 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 Bringing ‘Odd Squad: The Movie’ Home Later This Month

Courtesy: PBS Distribution/PBS/PBS Kids

Courtesy: PBS Distribution/PBS/PBS Kids

Things are going to get a little bit “odd” for lots of families later this month thanks to PBS Distribution.

PBS Distribution will release Odd Squad: The Movie Jan. 24 exclusively on DVD.  It marks the first time that the movie has ever been released since airing late last year on PBS Kids stations nationwide.  In its biggest adventure yet, the Odd Squad has to deal with a new group of problem solvers called The Weird Team.

The Weird Team is led by Weird Tom (Jack McBrayer—30 Rock, Despicable Me, Wreck-It Ralph) and has a gadget to solve any problem.  This forces the Odd Squad to call it quits and go back to their normal lives.  However, a discovery about that gadget leads the Odd Squad’s down time to be short-lived.

Instead of fixing problems, The Weird Team’s gadget only covers up problems instead of fixing them.  When this is revealed, the Odd Squad has to team back up to save the world from utter destruction.  Audiences can view a trailer for the movie online now here.

Odd Squad: The Movie will be released Jan. 24 exclusively on DVD.  It will retail for MSRP of $6.99.  More information on this and other Odd Squad DVDs is available online now along with games, activities and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://pbskids.org/oddsquad

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

 

 

 

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PBS Taking Audiences Back To Mercy Street Next Month

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

PBS Distribution is headed back to Mercy Street this winter.

Mercy Street: Season 2 will be released on Tuesday, Feb. 14.  It will be released on DVD (MSRP $39.99) and Blu-ray (MSRP $49.99).

The hit Civil War serial drama’s second season picks up right where its first season left off in its debut season, starting with the Seven Days’ Battle and ending at Antietam.  Audiences are also taken along for the ride as Dr. Foster, Nurse Mary and the Mansion House Staff try to balance their personal and work lives.

The show’s writers didn’t forget about the Green Family in Season Two, either.  The Green family is back again, and the growing black population in Alexandria comes into play in Season Two, too along with so much more.

While many familiar faces return for Season Two, a number of new faces come into the series, story, too.  Patina Miller (Pippin, Madam Secretary, the Hunger Games – Mockingjay: Part 1 & 2) debuts in Season Two as former slave turned abolitionist Charlotte Jenkins.

Brian F. O’Bynre also makes his debut in Season Two.  He comes on board as abolitionist Allan Pinkerton, based on the real-life Allan Pinkerton.  Pinkerton is also head of the Union Intelligence Service.

Also debuting in Mercy Street’s second season are Bryce Pinkham (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, The Heidi Chronicles), Lyne Renee (Of Kings and Prophets, Strike Back, The Hippopotamus), Chris Wood (The Carrie Diaries, Vampire Diaries), William Mark McCullough (Underground) and Nyambi Nyambi (Mike & Molly).

The cast returning for the series’ second season includes Mary Elizabeth Winstead (BrainDead, 10 Cloverfield Lane, The Returned, The Spectacular Now), Josh Radnor (How I Met Your Mother, Liberal Arts, Disgraced), Gary Cole (Veep, The Good Wife, Enterourage) and many others.

Audiences can view a trailer for the second season of Mercy Street online now here.  Fans can pre-order Mercy Street: Season Two online now via PBS’ online store at a reduced price of $34.99 (DVD) and $44.99 (Blu-ray).  More information on Mercy Street is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.pbs.org/mercy-street

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/MercyStreetPBS

 

 

 

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.

‘Caillou Goes For The Gold’ Deserves Its Own Medal

Courtesy: PBS Distribution

Courtesy: PBS Distribution

The weather outside is frightful for most of the country right now, so the fire is definitely so delightful.  No, this critic doesn’t want it to just snow.  However, since there’s no place to go since most events happen during spring and summer, PBS Kids has a way for families to keep their kids entertained.  That resource is the latest DVD release from the network’s kid-friendly series Caillou, Caillou Goes For The Gold.  Originally released late last July, this DVD is just as useful in cold weather months as during the summer.  That is due in part to the episodes’ underlying theme.  This will be discussed shortly.  The lessons that are taught within each episode are just as important to note here as the episodes’ underlying theme.  The bonus material included with the DVD rounds out its most important elements.  Each element is important in its own right to the DVD’s presentation.  All things considered, these three elements together make Caillou Goes For The Gold its own gold medal winner.

When PBS Distribution released Caillou Goes For The Gold late last July, the company’s intent was to tie the DVD in to the 2016 summer Olympics.  That’s all good and fine, but even now six months later, the DVD has proven to be just as important for families to watch as when it was originally released.  That is due in part to the episodes’ underlying theme. The episodes were all sports-related as the DVD was, again, meant to tie in to the Olympics.  But in the bigger picture, each episode serves to support the push for physical activity.  Whether running in a race, learning karate, swimming or other activities, each episode promotes physical activity of some sort.  Obviously outdoor physical activity is difficult while old man winter has his icy grip on the nation.  But there are facilities out there that boast heated, indoor pools and indoor walking/running tracks.  There are even indoor batting facilities where young people can go to learn to hit a ball.  Heck, there are even bowling centers in almost every city across the country.  Considering the multitude of opportunities for families to get out and get active even in colder months, that underlying theme that runs through each episode makes this DVD a win by itself.  It is just one of the elements that gives the DVD such a solid score, too.  The lessons that are taught within each of the featured episodes are just as important for audiences to note as the episodes’ underlying theme.

The underlying theme of physical activity’s importance runs through all 11 episodes featured in Caillou Goes For The Gold.  While that theme is hugely important to the DVD’s presentation – since it gives plenty of inspiration for indoor activity even in cold months – it is not the DVD’s only important element.  The lessons provided within each episode are just as important to note as that underlying theme.  Young audiences are taught the importance of focusing on play rather than winning in the disc’s opening episode, “Everyone’s Best.”  “Caillou’s Big Kick” teaches an equally important lesson about perseverance in its short segment.  As if that isn’t enough for audiences, “Caillou’s Mini-Marathon” encourages families to get out and get active together and for children to try something that might be difficult.  Between these lessons and the lessons presented in each of the disc’s other episodes, it becomes clear in watching each program why their incorporated lessons are just as important as their underlying theme of physical activity’s importance.  Even with both elements in mind, they are only two of the key elements to note in examining this collection’s overall presentation.  The bonus material included with the disc rounds out its most important elements.

Caillou Goes for the Gold presents plenty of reason that it will earn its own awards through the underlying theme that runs through each of its 11 episodes.  The same can be said when placing the episodes’ separate lessons in place of their underlying theme.  While both elements are undeniably important to this collection both by themselves and collectively, they are only two of the disc’s key elements.  The bonus material that is included with the DVD is just as important to note in examining this collection’s presentation as its underlying theme and its lessons.  The bonus material in question comes in the form of three bonus activities that drive home both that underlying theme and lessons.  The first of the bonus activities encourages parents to hold backyard races in which the “contestants” can win ribbons.  The second activity is essentially a homemade ring toss game, and the third is a relay race that not only encourages physical activity but also teaches letter recognition for preschoolers.  It scores double for touching on not one but two different areas.  Each lesson is a positive in its own right.  Parents and educators alike will agree they are a wonderful bonus to this DVD’s viewing experience.  When they are set against the episodes’ lessons and their underlying theme, all three elements join to make the DVD well-deserving of its own award.

Caillou Goes For The Gold has been available in stores and online for about six months since its release in late July, 2015.  While the collection has been available for half a year, that does nothing to lessen its importance even now in the colder months of the New Year.  Its underlying theme promoting physical activity is a good start for discussions on physical activity among children and parents/educators before finding ways to get active indoors.  The lessons that are presented in each episode add even more depth to the disc’s presentation.  The bonus material included inside the disc’s case rounds out is most important elements.  Each element is important in its own way to the disc’s overall presentation.  All things considered, they make this collection a medial winner for every family whether in the year’s colder months or its warmer months.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered online direct via PBS’ online store.  More information on this and other Caillou collections is available online along with games, activities and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.caillou.com

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

 

 

 

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.