MLB, Shout! Factory Announce Word Series Sets Release Dates, Specs

Courtesy: Major League Baseball/Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Major League Baseball/Shout! Factory

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bats and balls have been put away for another season as the World Series has come to a historic end once again. While the start of the 2018 season is some six months away or so, Major League Baseball and Shout! Factory are giving audiences the chance to re-live the World Series on DVD and Blu-ray while they wait for the 2018 season in the form of the new World Series documentary and complete World Series set.

Major League Baseball and Shout! Factory will release The 2017 World Series documentary film and 2017 World Series Collector’s Edition: Houston Astros Tuesday, Dec. 5 on DVD and Blu-ray. the documentary presentation is presented on DVD/Blu-ray/Digital combo pack and follows the Astros’ unlikely post season run to baseball’s top prize, only months after Houston was decimated by mother nature. the story is told through the words of the Astros’ players and footage culled from the regular and post season including the team’s championship parade.

The eight-disc 2017 World Series Collector’s Edition: Houston Astros presents the seven-game World Series between the Astros and Dodgers as well as the team’s pennant-clenching win in the American League Central Series Game 7 at Minute Maid Park. As with MLB’s previous World Series collector’s sets, this set also includes a complete guide that includes the full stats and more for each of the series’ games, right down to the gametime weather and more. The games are also featured once again from the Astros’ radio network, the Dodgers’ radio network and in SPanish-language broadcast.

The 2017 World Series documentary runs 90-minutes and will retail for MSRP of $24.99 (DVD)/$34.93 (Blu-ray). 2017 World Series Collector’s Edition: Houston Astros runs 20 hours across its eight discs and will retail for MSRP of $59.99 (DVD)/$$79.97 (Blu-ray).
More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

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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MPI Media Group’s New Gerry Anderson Collection Is Imperfect But Entertaining

Courtesy: mpi media group/MPI Home Video

MPI Home Video this week unearthed a special new collection of material from Gerry Anderson, one of the legendary names from television’s early eras when it released the new two-disc collection The Lost Worlds of Gerry Anderson.  The collection presents to audiences what was essentially the evolution of Anderson’s work from supermarionation to live action.  The presentation of that evolution is the set’s most critical element.  As important as that collection proves to be, the set in whole sadly is not perfect.  It lacks any physical content guide in its packaging, leaving audiences to essentially have to memorize the material included in each disc.  That is a con that cannot be ignored here. Getting back to the set’s overall material, while a pro, it is both a pro and a con (but more pro than con).  That will be discussed later.  Each element is key in its own way to this collection’s whole.  All things considered, The Lost Worlds of Gerry Anderson proves to be a collection that while enjoyable, comes up just short in its first outing.

MPI Home Video’s brand new release of The Lost Worlds of Gerry Anderson is a relatively enjoyable first outing for this collection of Anderson rarities, but one that leaves room for improvement should it ever get another release.  The set’s main positive is its primary content.  Audiences get to see in the set’s main body, another attempt at a supermarionation series in the form of The Investigator alongside the live action series The Day After Tomorrow and Space Police.  There is also an attempt at an adult-oriented claymation presentation in the form of Dick Spanner, P.I.  There is even a very old almost Howdy Doody type presentation in Kandy, which is basically a show about a foolish koala.  Though some of the set’s presented material makes clearly obvious why it did not survive, other material such as Space Police leaves one wondering why it didn’t last.  The juxtaposition of the live action and animatronic material presented in the series’ pilot episode is exactly the kind of presentation that would go on to be used for decades by Japan’s Super Sentai series.  It would also end up being used in the Americanized version of that franchise, the famed Power Rangers franchise.  Keeping that in mind, such a show – even in just one episode – shows how far ahead of its time it was.  Simply put, it shows how ground breaking and innovative Anderson was even as he moved away from puppets to live action.

As if the live action and other material is not enough for audiences, there is even a documentary style presentation in the form of Blue Skies Ahead.  This short presentation takes audiences on a jaunt across Europe, showing its key locations while also advertising for Blue Cars bus lines.  It is very much in the same vein as the old color newsreels that audiences might see today on Turner Classic Movies, showing Anderson’s ability to make legitimate nonfiction programming just as much as his abilities in the fiction realm.  Considering this along with the discussion on the featured fiction material included in the set, it becomes clear why the set’s material is so critical to the set’s overall presentation.  It is not the set’s only critical element, though.  The lack of a physical content guide is a negative that cannot and should not be ignored.

Opening up the set’s standard-sized case audiences will note that there is no sign of a content guide anywhere inside or outside the case.  On the surface, this might not seem overly important.  On a deeper level though, it is very important.  There might be those out there who are at least somewhat familiar with the material, but maybe haven’t seen it in decades.  They would be nearly on the same level as those who have not yet seen these presentations.  Keeping that in mind, having a content guide would have made for a solid introduction (or re-introduction) for audiences to that material before they play either of the set’s discs.  Not having that introduction makes for a somewhat uneasy introduction, and in turn detracts from the set’s presentation to a point.  Thankfully, it is the set’s only truly impacting negative.  The Space Police test footage, while perhaps a bit too extensive, presents its own positive to the set’s presentation.

The Space Police test footage included in The Lost Worlds of Gerry Anderson is for all intents and purposes little more than bonus material.  It takes audiences behind the scenes of the featured episode “Star Laws.”  Throughout the course of the footage, audiences see that the scenario presented in the final product was not the only considered scenario.  Nor were the actors in that final product the only actors who had test screenings.  The comparison of the two scenarios and the actors is key because it adds to the appreciation for the final product.  The scenarios presented in the test footage show that that material was just too campy even despite some impressive animatronic and prosthetics work with the aliens.  Even the lead actors presented in the test footage were a bit over the top cheesy in their presentation.  Keeping that in mind, the presentation used in the final product proves to be much more fitting for the show, even being a cop drama.

At the same time that the show’s test footage proves integral to this set’s presentation, it also is somewhat disappointing in just how much test footage is shown.  So much of the material takes place in an alleyway scene, and shows time and again the actors handling the same scenario.  There is also a bevy of in-car test footage with the lead actors that honestly gets boring after a while.  All of this material honestly could have (in this critic’s eye) been cut back, and should have for that matter.  Considering this, the intrinsic value of the test footage shows the importance of Space Police to Anderson’s career, and its place within its genre.  However, it is too much of a good thing even in its use of comparing scenarios and actors.  With this in mind, the test footage included in this set is both a positive and a negative.  When it is set alongside the set’s primary material, the whole of that material becomes a presentation that is enjoyable, but honestly leaves something to be desired in the end.  That is not to say that it is a total loss, but there is room to grow if this set is ever re-issued or if it is ever included in another Anderson collection.

The Lost Worlds of Gerry Anderson is an interesting new collection of rarities from the famed figure’s career.  It shows a part of his career that has rarely if ever been seen thanks to the primary material presented in its lead disc.  The lack of a content guide of any sort is a detractor for this collection, though.  It takes away from the overall presentation and viewing experience, but does not make the presentation a total loss.  The bonus Space Police test footage adds back what is taken away by the lack of a content guide thanks to the insight that it adds to that one episode.  At the same time, there is such an abundance of that test footage that it really feels like overkill and should have been shaved back.  Each element noted here is important in its own right to this set’s whole.  All things considered, they make the set a collection that while not a total loss, one that leaves room for growth in the next Gerry Anderson collection.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other titles from mpi media group and MPI Home Video is available online now at:

 

 

 

Websitewww.mpimedia.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/MPIMediaGroup

 

 

 

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‘The Talk’ Will Have Audiences Of All Races Talking

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

Race and traffic stops.  The two matters have been prominent in the public eye in recent years thanks to stories of interactions between police and the public going very wrong.  What led those interactions to go bad is still being discussed nationwide to this day both in the media and in other arenas.  Because the issue has remained such a hot button topic, Public Media Distribution and PBS tackled the topic this past April with the powerful new documentary The Talk: Race in America on DVD.  The roughly two-hour program focuses on the clear rift that continues to divide America’s law enforcement community and the people who said community is supposed to protect and service.  It does this by presenting a series of segments that examine what has formed that rift.  Those segments form the foundation for this presentation and will be discussed shortly.  The discussions raised in each of the segments strengthen that foundation and will be discussed later.  The program’s pacing rounds out its most important elements.  Each noted element is important in its own right to the program’s presentation.  All things considered, they make The Talk: Race in America a program that is certain to have everyone talking for a very long time.

The Talk: Race in America is one of the most powerful programs that PBS and Public Media Distribution have presented to audiences in a very long time.  This roughly two-hour program — which addresses the clear rift between the police and the people that they are charged with protecting and serving — offers plenty to talk about, including its overall presentation.  Over the course of its two-hour run time, the program tackles the topic through a handful of segments addressing some headline-making incidents between police and the public.  The incidents include the case of Tamir Rice, who was fatally shot in 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio; the fatal shooting of Michael Brown the same year; the fatal police shooting of Oscar Ramirez in Los Angeles, CA in 2015 and other high-profile cases.  Those stories make up only one side of the story addressed in the program’s segments.  The segments that make up the program’s second hour allow law enforcement their time to show why law enforcement officers act (and react) the way that they do, even admitting that there are issues that need to be addressed with those actions and reactions.  From there, the program addresses training efforts being undertaken by law enforcement agencies nationwide to reduce those instances including in-house video training scenarios that discourage a shoot now – ask questions later mentality among officers.  Simply put, the segments presented here show, in a fully unbiased fashion just how very serious the issue of race relations still is today between the police and the public.  They show that this is an issue that must be publicly addressed and not brushed under the carpet.  They also show that the issue of rogue law enforcement officers must be addressed just as aggressively.  Keeping all of this in mind, the segments that make up the body of this program form a solid foundation for the documentary.  They are collectively not the program’s only key element.  The discussions raised in each segment are just as important to its overall presentation as the stories told throughout the segments.

The discussions presented throughout the course of The Talk: Race in America are critical to the program’s presentation because they show that efforts are being made on both sides of the badge nationwide to address the rift addressed through the program’s segments.  Viewers hear from law enforcement officials, community activists, and even celebrities to show that for all of the black and white (literal and metaphorical) that exists in that rift, there are also shades of grey.  There are those people on both sides who do in fact want that rift to be mended and who are working to close that gap.  Law enforcement officials discuss during their time the efforts that (as already noted) are being taken to train their own to de-escalate situations.  They also discuss the uncertainty of interactions that leads many officers to be so tense.  On the other side, there are those noted activists who organize public discussions with law enforcement officials that allow both sides to talk.  The program also includes a discussion by a minority couple who is teaching their son about the two sides so that he won’t become the next statistic one day, showing that maybe, just maybe, there is hope for the future.  At the same time, the couple also proves once more in its discussion that the tensions between police and minorities must continue to be addressed if that hope is to grow.  These discussions and so many others build on the foundation formed by the program’s segments and in turn show not only their own importance, but the importance of the program in whole that much more.  Even with their importance clearly displayed here, it can’t be said that the discussions are the last of the program’s most important elements.  The program’s pacing rounds out its most important elements.

The pacing of The Talk: Race in America is a critical part of the program’s whole because of its direct connection to the program’s segments and discussions (I.E. its overall content).  Considering that this program covers so much ground over the course of two hours, its pacing could have easily led audiences to fast forward through parts, ultimately making it a matter of what could have been.  Luckily though, that was not the case here.  From beginning to end, the segments and related material were balanced expertly both in terms of time and energy including even the segments’ transitions.  The attention to even the most minute details such as the transitions — and even the topics’ connections — ensures audiences’ engagement from beginning to end.  That ensured engagement will in turn lead viewers to see for themselves the importance of the program’s unbiased approach and the discussions connected to each segment.  That, in turn, will lead those viewers to agree to the importance of The Talk in whole to America and will most certainly leave viewers talking among themselves long after it ends.  The Talk: Race in America is available now.  It can be ordered online direct 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 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.

AT&T, Audience Network To Air Andy Grammer Live Event Friday

Courtesy: S-Curve Records

Andy Grammer is getting a special new live concert event.

AT&T and Audience® Network will feature Andy Grammer live Nov. 10 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on DIRECTV Channel 239 and U-Verse Channel 1114.  The live event, which is in support of his forthcoming third album The Good Parts, will also be broadcast on DIRECTV Now.

Pre-orders for The Good Parts are open now.  The album is currently set for release Dec. 1.  Two of the its songs – ‘Fresh Eyes’ and ‘Smoke Clears’ – are streaming online now in full.

Friday’s one-hour concert event was shot on location in Los Angeles, CA in 4k and features a number of Grammer’s biggest hits so far from his two full length studio recordings and various EPs.  After the concert, Grammer will sit down with Audience Network’s Audience Music host Ted Stryker for a one-on-one interview.

Friday night’s concert event is just one of a number of chances for fans to take in Grammer’s live show.  His current tour schedule sees him performing live this Sunday, Nov. 12 in Shippensburg, PA; Dec. 16 in Orlando Florida; Jan. 12, 2018 in Santa Barbara, CA and many other dates.  The tour’s schedule is noted below.

Catch Andy Grammer on tour in the following cities:
DATE
LOCATION
VENUE
SUN
11/12
Shippensburg, PA
Shippensburg University w/ Jesse McCartney
SAT
12/16
Orlando, FL
Autonation Cure Bowl & Andy Grammer Pre-Game Concert
FRI
1/12
Santa Barbra, CA
The Granada Theatre
WED
3/14
San Francisco, CA
The Fillmore
THU
3/15
Los Angeles, CA
The Belasco
FRI
3/16
Santa Ynez, CA
Chumash Casino
SAT
3/17
San Diego, CA
House Of Blues
MON
3/19
Portland, OR
Wonder Ballroom
TUE
3/20
Vancouver, BC
Vogue Theatre
WED
3/21
Seattle, WA
Neptune Theatre
FRI
3/23
Salt Lake City, UT
The Depot
SAT
3/24
Englewood, CO
Gothic Theatre
SUN
3/25
Kansas City, MO
Madrid Theatre & Café
TUE
3/27
Minneapolis, MN
Music Hall Minneapolis
WED
3/28
Milwaukee, WI
Turner Hall Ballroom
FRI
3/30
Indianapolis, IN
Deluxe at Old National Centre
MON
4/2
Toronto, ON
The Phoenix Concert Theatre
TUE
4/3
Detroit, MI
St. Andrews Hall
THU
4/5
Nashville, TN
Cannery Ballroom
FRI
4/6
Atlanta, GA
Variety Playhouse
SAT
4/7
Charlotte, NC
The Underground
MON
4/9
Ridgefield, CT
Ridgefield Playhouse
FRI
4/13
Boston, MA
Paradise Rock Club
SAT
4/14
New York, NY
Irving Plaza
SUN
4/15
Philadelphia, PA
The TLA

More information on Grammer’s upcoming live dates, album and more is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://andygrammer.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/andygrammer

 

 

 

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.

New ‘Odd Squad’ DVD Shows Again Why Series Is One Of PBS Kids’ Best Series To Date

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Kids/Public Media Distribution

PBS Kids’ hit series Odd Squad recently got a new home DVD release, and this latest 4-episode collection of episodes from the Fred Rogers Company-run series is yet another enjoyable presentation that any family will welcome into its home.  That is due in part to the episodes that make up the DVD’s body.  They will be discussed shortly.  The stories presented within the episodes play their own crucial part in the DVD’s overall presentation.  They will be discussed later.  The lessons taught in each of the episodes put the final touch to the DVD and will be discussed later, too.  Each element noted here is important in its own right to the DVD’s whole.  All things considered, they make Odd Squad: Villains The Best Of The Worst yet another enjoyable offering from a series that is one of PBS Kids’ most standout series to date.

Odd Squad is one of PBS Kids’ most standout series to date.  Along with the likes of Where in the World is Carmen San Diego, The Magic School Bus, Curious George and so many others throughout PBS’ history, this series makes learning fun while also entertaining with its original adventures.  The series’ latest DVD release VillainsThe Best of the Worst­ is takes four of those adventures – ‘Now You Don’t See Me,’ ‘The Briefcase,’ ‘Flatastrophe’ and ‘Puppet Show’ — and compiles them for a nearly hour-long experience that proves just as much as its predecessors why this series is so beloved.  The episodes are all lifted from the series’ first season, and while not presented in the same chronological order as they were in their original broadcasts, still give audiences a clear look at the show’s growth over time in terms of its writing.  Speaking of the show’s writing, the stories at the episodes’ centers play their own important part in the DVD’s overall presentation.

The stories at the center of this collection’s episodes are critical to the DVD’s presentation because of their originality and the balance of their educational and entertaining elements.  From one episode to the next, neither the stories’ educational nor its entertaining material ever overpowers the other.  Audiences never feel at any point that the show is forcing education down their throats.  At the same time, the agents’ adventures are never so outlandish (even as interesting as they can be) that they make themselves beyond watching.  There are programs out there on other networks that are in fact that outlandish, not to name any in particular.  However, they are there.  Luckily, this show’s adventures are not at that level.  Keeping this in mind, the educational and entertaining elements that combine to form each episode prove collectively form the cornerstone for the DVD’s foundation.  Building on that cornerstone are the lessons tied into each episode.

The lessons tied into each of the DVD’s episodes all center on basic math skills.  From telling time in ‘Puppet Show’ and ‘Now You Don’t See me’ to basic, elementary level geometry in ‘Flatastrophe’ to understanding weight balances in ‘The Briefcase,’ the lessons taught in these episodes are easily accessible for Odd Squad’s target audiences.  This is thanks, again, to the work of the series’ writers.  Case in point is the method that Olive and her partner use to find Ms. O’s hidden briefcase in ‘The Briefcase’ after The Shapeshifter steals and hides it in a warehouse.  The agents have to balance items to figure out which object is Ms. O’s briefcase in disguise.  In ‘Flatastrophe’ the agents teach young audiences about cubes and squares while trying to stop the villain Fladam from flattening every cube in the city.  It’s a simple story that makes teaching the story’s basic geometry lesson just as easy.  It’s one more example of the importance of the lessons incorporated into the episodes’ stories.  The writers make the lessons the crux of each story, thus making it feel more like audiences are being entertained than educated.  Kudos are in order for the writers here just as much as for the stories’ originality.  Considering this and the importance of the episodes all being culled from one season, it becomes clear in examining all of these elements that there is plenty to appreciate in the DVD.  That appreciation also leads audiences to agree that this new Odd Squad DVD another enjoyable offering from what is one of PBS Kids’ best series to date.

PBS Kids’ latest Odd Squad DVD Villains The Best of the Worst is not the first of the series’ DVDs to see a home release.  It is however yet another enjoyable addition to the already long list of the series’ DVDs that proves once again why the series is one of the network’s best series to date.  That is due in part to an episode list that pulls entirely from the series’ lead season.  While not in the same chronological order as in their original broadcasts, the episodes still go a long way in showing the show’s growth over the course of that season.  The stories at the center of the featured episodes are entertaining without being overly outlandish, unlike is the case with so many children’s programs out there today.  The lessons tied into the stories are not only part of the stories, but are easily accessible because of how they are tied into the stories.  Each element is important in its own way to the DVD’s whole.  All things considered, the noted elements make Odd Squad: VillainsThe Best of the Worst another enjoyable offering from what is one of PBS Kids’ best series to date.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered online direct via PBS’ online store.  More information on Odd Squad is available online along with games, activities, printables and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://pbskids.org/oddsquad

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

 

 

 

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.

AT&T Audience Network Presents Prophets Of Rage Concert Event Tonight

Courtesy: Fantasy Records

AT&T Audience Network is bringing audiences a special live event from Prophets of Rage tonight.

The one-hour event will air at 9 p.m. ET via DRECTV NOW on DIRECTV Channel 239 and on AT&T U-Verse Channel 1114 as well as on-demand.  The event features live footage of the group — comprised of Rage Against The Machine members Tom Morello, Brad Wilk and Tim Cummerford Public Enemy front man Chuck D. and Cypress Hill front man B. Real – performing at various festivals worldwide.

The festival performances featured in tonight’s special include the Festival Vive Latino in Mexico (March 18, 2017), Hellfest 2017 in France (June 18, 2017), Maximus in Buenos Aires, Argentina (May 6, 2017) and Louder than Life Festival in Louisville, KY (Oct. 1, 2017).  The concert footage includes performances of the band’s own new material alongside well-known Rage Against The Machine songs.

The live footage presented throughout tonight’s concert event is only part of what audiences have to anticipate.  The group sits down with AT&T Audience Network concert series host Ted Stryker (no relation to the Airplane character) later in the evening to talk about their motivations for coming together and crafting their new music.

Along with the live performances expected to be featured tonight on the AT&T Audience Network, Prophets of Rage is also giving audiences a handful of chances to catch it live on the road.  It wraps its current U.S. tour this Saturday, Nov. 4 at Ozzfest in San Bernadino, CA before heading overseas for a European tour that launches Nov. 10 in Paris France.  The band’s full tour schedule is noted below.

 

DATE
LOCATION
VENUE
SAT
11/4
San Bernardino, CA
Ozzfest
FRI
11/10
Paris, France
Le Zenith Paris
MON
11/13
London, United Kingdom
O2 Forum Kentich Town
WED
11/15
Dusseldorf, Germany
Mitsubishi Electric Halle
THU
11/16
Tilburg, Netherlands
O13

 

Prophets of Rage’s debut self-titled album is available now in stores and online via Fantasy Records.  More information on the album, the band’s live schedule and more is available online along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://prophetsofrage.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/prophetsofrage

 

 

 

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.

‘Endeavour: Season 4′ Lives Up To PBS’ “Masterpiece” Moniker

Courtesy: itv/Public Media Distribution/PBS

Early this past September, Public Media Distribution released to American audiences the fourth season of PBS’ hit British import Endeavour.  The latest season of the phenomenal crime drama is yet another successful release for both itv and PBS that shows once again why this series easily bests any American crime drama on television today.  That is proven in part to the writing in more than one way.  This will be discussed shortly.  The work of the series’ cast cannot be ignored in examining this latest of the series’ installments.  It will be discussed later.  Last but definitely not least of note in examining this season’s recent home release is its bonus material.  It, like the season’s writing and acting, plays its own important part to the whole of the season’s presentation.  All things considered, the fourth season of Endeavour proves to be yet another entertaining offering from one of the U.K.’s top crime dramas.

Endeavour: The Complete Fourth Season has been available to American audiences for almost two months, having been released Sept. 5 via Public Media Distribution.  For those who perhaps have not yet had the opportunity to view this latest installment in the ongoing series, it goes without saying that it is another enjoyable effort for the series.  That is due in no small part to the work of the series’ writers.  This applies both to the stories featured in this season and to the series’ interweaving subplots.  All four of this season’s episodes give something totally different from one to the next.  The season premiere, for instance, is easily comparable to the story at the center of the hit 19999 Denzel Washington/Angelina Jolie crime blockbuster The Bone Collector.  At the same time, a comparison to author Dianne Setterfield’s novel The 13th Tale in the story, too (not to give away too much of the plot).  The second episode, ‘Canticle’ plays directly off of the summer of love for its central story.  Even with this in mind, it still manages to make itself an intriguing story nonetheless.  ‘Lazaretto,’ the season’s penultimate episode, changes things up yet again by taking place almost entirely in a hospital ward as Morse tries to find out why occupants of one bed keep dying.  The answer plays out almost like something right out of today’s headlines (again, not to give away too much).  There is even a nice, action packed police foot chase complete with gunfire for action fans.  The season finale, ‘Harvest’ centers around a body found during an archaeological dig. The killer may or may not be connected to a pagan ritual held near a power station.  It is yet another story that stands easily on its own feet separate from its counterparts in this season.  That distinct identity of the season’s stories is but one part of what makes the season’s writing stand out so much.  The writers’ ability to balance the stories with their underlying, interweaving subplots strengthens the writing even more.

Audiences will note in watching this season that while the central stories are solidly entertaining in their own right, they are not the only stories featured throughout the episodes.  From one episode to the next, the writers make sure to not forget the Thursdays’ anxiousness over their daughter Joan as well as Endeavour’s personal struggle with himself over his feelings for her.  Given, it is a serial element, but the writers at no point ever allow this element to overpower the season’s central standalone stories.  That balance gives fans of serials and standalone series alike something to anticipate and appreciate.

As if the stories presented within each of this season’s episodes are not enough for audiences (and their balance with the episodes’ secondary stories), the writers’ ability to keep audiences guessing right up until the end of each episode proves to be yet another way in which the writing proves so critical.  The stories put in just enough red herrings and twists to keep viewers completely engaged right to each story’s end without leaving viewers confused.  When this is considered along with the already discussed elements in the season’s writing, it becomes wholly clear why the writing is so critical to the season’s overall presentation.  It is only one part of what makes this season so engaging.  The work of the series’ cast is once again just as notable as the work of the show’s writers.

The series’ cast – most notably lead stars Shaun Evans and Roger Allum – is top-notch once more in this season. This especially the case as Endeavour and Thursday raise personal matters in each story.  Thursday becomes a powerfully sympathetic character as he tries to cope his daughter’s disappearance. Allum’s handling of Thursday’s emotional struggle makes these moments so powerful, even in their simplicity.  In the same breath, his stress at trying to fill in for Chief Superintendent Bright late in the season is just as engaging.  It is another way in which the writers develop Thursday’s character even more this season and another example of Allum’s expert acting chops.

Evans’ acting chops are just as notable as those of Allum this time around.  The way in which he handles’ Morse’s continued dedication to his job alone will keep audiences engaged.  His reaction at discovering the result of his Sergeant’s exam clearly exemplifies this.  His reaction at finally locating Joan (there again is that secondary story aspect) is just as moving and will keep viewers just as engaged as his handling of Morse’s casework.  When the work of the series’ supporting cast and extras is added alongside the work of Allum and Evans, the whole of the cast’s work does plenty to add its own share of engagement and entertainment to this season, showing in whole why the cast’s work is just as important as the work of the series’ writers.  It is not the last of the season’s most notable elements.  The bonus material that is included in the season’s home release is the last of those elements.

The bonus material included in Season 4’s home release includes a group of behind-the-scenes featurettes that discuss a handful of items.  From the series’ look as it applies to the era in which the season is set (the late 1960s) to Evans discussing his take on his character and on Morse’s relationship with Joan Thursday to Evans even taking a shot at being a cameraman behind the scenes, audiences are given quite the insight into how this season came to life.  Viewers will appreciate the discussion on the sets and costumes in “Making Endeavour in Oxford” because it shows the efforts taken to recreate 1960s Oxford.  Evans’ discussions on Morse and Morse’s relationship with Joan adds even more to that one underlying subplot that runs throughout all four episodes, adding even more interest to this season.  When that interest is joined with the interest created through the cast’s work and that of the series’ writers, the whole of those elements makes this season of Endeavour some of the show’s best work to date.

The fourth season of itv’s Endeavour is some of the series’ best work to date.  Even at only four episodes, this season offers audiences plenty to appreciate including the extensive work by the series’ writers.  The ast’s work adds even more interest to this season.  The bonus material included in the season’s home release outs the finishing touch to the season.  Each element is important in its own right to the season’s home presentation. All things considered, they make the season in whole another fully engaging offering from what is one of the U.K.’s best crime dramas.  It is available now and can be ordered online direct via PBS’ online store.  More information on this and other PBS Masterpiece series is available online at:

 

 

 

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