‘Milk Street: Season 1′ Will Leave A Relatively Good Taste In Viewers’ Mouths

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

Chris Kimball, former host of PBS’ hit cooking series Cook’s Country and America’s Test Kitchen has had quite the journey since 2015. From leaving both series to facing a lawsuit from the heads of one of the series to even facing controversy over the very name of his new show, Kimball has had a lot on his proverbial plate, no pun intended. Even through it all, he apparently managed to weather the storm and return to television late in 2017 with his new series Milk Street. Now thanks to Public Media Distribution and PBS, audiences can own the first season of this new series for themselves on DVD. Released on 2-DVD box set January 30, this 13-episode debut season presents Milk Street as an interesting new effort from Kimball and everyone else behind the show. That is due in part to the show’s presentation. It will be discussed shortly. One thing that detracts from the series’ debut season is the lack of printable recipes, but is luckily for its sake, the only negative to this presentation. The dishes that are presented round out the program’s most important elements. Each element is important in its own way to the season’s overall presentation, as will be pointed out in the coming discussion. All things considered, they make the debut season of Milk Street a good start for this new venture from Kimball and company.

The debut season of Christopher Kimball’s new cooking series Milk Street proves over the course of its thirteen episode run to be a good start for the show. That is evidenced in part to the series’ very presentation. Audiences familiar with Cook’s Country and America’s Test Kitchen, the series that Kimball formerly fronted, will note that the series, in its presentation, takes the best elements of those series and mixes them with some new elements while also eliminating other elements for a whole new, interesting format. In regards to the best elements is the fact that Kimball once again serves only in a host role in this series, which is how the prior series were presented. The cooks were the real stars, and that is the case again here. Speaking of those cooks, Kimball has a new crop of cooks this time out, giving those new faces their own chance at making names for themselves. Also of note are the product and taste test segments. Unlike the segments in Kimball’s previous series, he handles those segments himself here. Instead of focusing on a number of products and comparing them — which is what those segments did (and that is not to talk garbage about them, either) — Kimball takes his time to focus on one item and one item only, making the most of the time for each segment. Love the approach or hate it, it is an interesting new approach. Also new to this series is the fact that instead of just talking about dishes before the segments, Kimball actually introduces the dishes with actual in-kitchen segments in other parts of the world. It’s as if Kimball and company merged elements of A Chef’s Life and Bizarre Foods With Andrew Zimmern just without the really disgusting looking foods presented in the latter series to create this segment. It’s an interesting new take on a familiar approach. Even the studio segments have a whole new take with Kimball and company letting viewers know they are working in front of a studio audience. That was something, on the previous series, that was only made obvious during the taste test segments, so it is another interesting new approach taken here to break down that wall right off the bat. Considering the mix of the old and new presented here, it becomes obvious that Milk Street‘s presentation will appeal to longtime fans of Kimball’s previous series and his new venture. Keeping that in mind, it proves in whole why the general presentation is so important to this first outing for Milk Street. For all the good that the series’ presentation presents, its home release is not without at least one negative. That negative is the seeming lack of printable recipes.

In going through all 13 episodes of Milk Street‘s first season, it appears that none of the dishes presented are complimented with printable recipes. Instead, audiences who want to get the recipes for themselves have to go online to get them. This might not seem overly important on the surface, but when examined on a deeper level, it becomes clear why this is in fact very important to note. In seemingly placing the recipes online only, odds are they will only be available for a certain amount of time. That is because after a while they will have to be purged to make way for other recipes. This in turn creates a certain sense of urgency, and maybe not everyone who watches a series such as this even has access to the web. That makes having the recipes available to print from disc that much more important. It allows audiences to choose and print recipes on their own time. Keeping this in mind, seemingly not having the recipes available on disc does in fact prove pivotal to the presentation of Milk Street’s first season on DVD. It goes without saying that it definitely detracts from the season’s presentation on disc. Hopefully when and if a second season is produced and released, this will be amended, being the only major negative, but still a key negative. As much as it takes away from the season’s presentation, it is not enough to make it a fail. As a matter of fact, speaking of the recipes, the dishes that are featured this season are very similar to those presented in Cook’s Country and ATK. This familiarity rounds out the most important of the season’s elements.

The dishes that are presented throughout the course of Milk Street‘s first season are critical to its presentation because they are so easy to make by and large. This is something else that Kimball has brought over to this venture from his previous series. At the same time, they’re not just average, pedestrian dishes, either. From Fluffy Olive Oil Scrambled Eggs to Lemon-Buttermilk Poundcake to Georgian Chicken Soup (the country Georgia, not the state) to Shrimp in Chipotle Sauce and beyond, the dishes are easily made any night of the week as long as the ingredients can be found. By and large, they can be found with relative ease, too, considering the variety of grocery stores that are out there nowadays. What’s more, the dishes come from so many different nations. There are dishes from Mexico, the United States, Japan, Spain, The Middle East (Israeli Hummus in that case), Thailand, and again Georgia among so many other countries. In other words, this series presents audiences with dishes that they otherwise might not have ever tasted or tried to cook without making them inaccessible or too hard for the everyday cook. That is something that has continued to make ATK and CK hits with their fans, and is certain to resonate with fans who have come along for the ride in this series. Keeping that in mind, it becomes clear why this element is just as important to the presentation of Milk Street: Season 1 as its very presentation and even the issue with the seeming lack of printable recipes. Each element, as has been pointed out, plays its own important part to this series’ debut season. All things considered, this series debut season will not leave too much of a bad taste in viewers’ mouths. It is available now and can be ordered direct via PBS’ online store. More information on Milk Street is available online now along with all of the series’ latest news and more at:

Website: http://www.177milkstreet.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/177MilkStreet

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Cook’s Country Season 7 Another Great Fit For Any Foodie And Lover Of The Culinary Arts

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS will release the seventh season of its fan favorite cooking series Cook’s Country tomorrow.  The series’ seventh season is another delectable treat for any foodies and lovers of the culinary arts out there.  Much like its “sister series” America’s Test Kitchen, the central aspect of this season’s success is that it continues to make the food the star instead of the hosts.  And also just as with that series, it also offers the same content as that series, proving once more that cooking is a science rather than just standing over a hot stove.  Rounding out this latest release’s success is the fact that every one of the dishes features throughout the season are also presented with their own printable recipes.  Each of the factors noted by themselves play their own important part in the enjoyment of Cook’s Country: Season 7.  Collectively, all three factors make this latest collection of episodes one more delectable season of one of television’s top two cooking series.  The other top candidate:  That’s right.  It’s America’s Test Kitchen.

Cook’s Country and America’s Test Kitchen are the top two cooking series on television today.  That is merely the opinion of this critic.  It is not a statement by the numbers.  Though, it would be interesting to see the numbers for both of these hit PBS series.  Getting back on topic, one of the reasons that Cook’s Country—much like its “sister series”—has remained so popular among audiences now seven seasons in is that it makes the food the star, not the hosts.  Far too many of the cooking shows on the likes of Food Network, Travel Channel, Fox, and Cooking Channel make the people the stars.  A cooking show shouldn’t be about the people.  It should be about the food.  Thank goodness this series has stuck to that constant now seven seasons in.  And the food is definitely mouth-watering to say the least.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all featured here.  From the rise and shine “Impossible” Ham-and-cheese pie to the Grilled Cowboy-Cut rib eyes and Grilled Caesar Salad for lunch to the Slow-Cooker Baked Ziti for lunch, there are plenty of tantalizing dishes for audiences of all tastes.  There are even some great desert recipes in the form of the Strawberry Pretzel Salad, Italian Cream Cake, and Summer Berry Pudding.  There are plenty of other recipes from which audiences will find their favorite(s).  Regardless of which recipe(s) audiences pick, the vast selection and styles show the respect that the series’ hosts and heads have for food and its role in the world.  It’s just one way in which this season continues the long-held tradition of Cook’s Country to make the food the star of the show.  And that continued tradition is just one part of why audiences will appreciate the series’ seventh season in its DVD release.

The long-held tradition of making the food the star rather than the hosts is a big part of what has made Cook’s Country and its “sister series” hits among audiences for so many years.  Just as important to the enjoyment of Cook’s Country: Season Seven is the focus on food’s history and its educational importance.  This is another long-held tradition that has made Cook’s Country just as much of a hit as ATK.  Audiences learn how different ingredients and chemicals interact with one another in each episode.  They also learn little tidbits along the way that make this season just as interesting as the series’ previous seasons.  One example of those tidbits is the importance of using room temperature milk versus cold milk in making homemade cinnamon buns.  There’s even some history tossed in throughout various episodes.  One of the more interesting pieces of history that audiences will learn is that the New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp actually uses no barbecue sauce at all.  It in fact uses spices and butter among other elements.  Host Christopher Kimball and his co-cook in that episode explain where the misleading name came from.  It’s a pretty interesting little lesson.  And it’s just one more example of why the educational content of Cook’s Country: Season 7 makes this season another wonderful collection for any foodie and lover of the culinary arts.

The combination of educational content and focus on food rather than people makes Cook’s Country: Season 7 well worth the watch by any foodie and lover of the culinary arts.  As enjoyable as the pair makes this season’s episodes, there is still one aspect of this box set worth noting that makes it enjoyable.  That final factor is the inclusion of a full set of printable recipes.   Every dish presented in this double-disc set is accompanied by its own printable recipe in .pdf format.  So all a person needs to print them out is Adboe Reader.  This is important to note in that audiences don’t get this with ATK‘s home releases.  There are some recipes in its home releases.  But they rarely include every recipe for audiences to try themselves.  Cook’s Country: Season 7 is the exact opposite.  Audiences can print out any of the recipes or all of them and start up their very own cookbook (or expand said cookbook).  That way, audiences can try out any of the recipes from this season for themselves whenever they want.  This aspect together with the show’s continued educational content, and its focus on food rather than people, makes Cook’s Country: Season 7 whole.  It makes this set another great addition to the home library of any foodie and lover of the culinary arts.

Cook’s Country: Season 7 is available now on two-disc DVD bo set.  It can be ordered direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=46781986&cp=&sr=1&kw=cooks+country+season+7&origkw=Cook%27s+Country+Season+7&parentPage=search.  More information on this and other seasons of Cook’s Country is available online at:

Website: http://www.cookscountry.com

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

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.

A Haunting: The Television Series Is One Wonderfully Fright-Filled Box Set

Courtesy: Timeless Media Group/Shout! Factory/Discovery Channel/Discovery Communications/Destination America

Courtesy: Timeless Media Group/Shout! Factory/Discovery Channel/Discovery Communications/Destination America

Halloween is a little over a week away. Many stores have already stored away their Halloween decorations and have replaced them with their Christmas decorations. Others are even already pumping the annual stream of Christmas music over their speakers. It’s sad. But worry not Halloween lovers. Timeless Media and Shout! Factory have not fallen victim to that trend just yet. Timeless Media and Shout! Factory released A Haunting: The Television Series last Tuesday. This nine-disc box set is a good fit for any fan of the paranormal whether on Halloween or any other time of the year. The main reason for that is that it has compiled the series’ first six seasons into one complete set. The inclusion of the series’ first six seasons in one place is its own positive in that it means not having to hunt from box to box for one episode or another. It just means hunting through one full box. This is only one positive to this set. Another positive to the box in whole is that one box versus multiple boxes saves space on anyone’s DVD rack o in said persons’ cabinets (depending on which one a person uses). And last but hardly least of all worth noting of this set is the stories themselves. What examination of this set would be complete without a look at the stories that make up the set? They offer plenty of frights for audiences. This is the case both on Halloween and any time of the year. Together with the box’s packaging and its associated factors, the stories included in this set complete the box and make it one that anyone looking for a good scare will appreciate whether it be on Halloween or any other time of the year.

A Haunting is one of the more interesting paranormal series on television in recent years. Unlike its counterparts on Syfy, LMN, and Travel Channel, it never seemed to really fit in with the other programs on Discovery or even Destination America. Yet somehow it has continued to maintain a healthy fan base. It has gone on to see a number of episode compilations released throughout the years as well as stand-alone single season sets for said fan base. Now, fans have been rewarded for their loyalty to the series with this complete nine-disc set that encompasses the series’ first six seasons. Having all six previously released seasons put into one complete set is a reward as those single-season stand-alone sets and compilation discs are not easy to find. Now audiences won’t have to hunt for each one. They can have all six previously released seasons in a single box. Those that do have any of said previous releases will appreciate this set as having all six seasons in one set also means no more fumbling through their other boxes for one episode or another. They need only open the box and flip through the discs to find their favorite episodes. It’s a major positive and possibly the most important to the box set in terms of what does and doesn’t work about it.

Timeless Media and Shout! Factory’s newly released A Haunting: The Television Series succeeds so strongly primarily because of the inclusion of all six of the series’ previous seasons in one box. Their inclusion means no more hunting in stores, online and through DVD racks for one season or another. It’s all right there in one box set. Having everything in one single box set is a positive not just for the content but also for the matter of space, speaking of DVD racks. Any number of stand-alone compilation discs has been spawned from A Haunting. And each of the series’ previous seasons have been released as stand-alone sets, too. All of those compilation discs and stand-alone seas sets take up a lot of room on DVD racks. Now audiences can trade in all of those noted releases in favor of this ergonomically packaged nine-disc set. All nine discs that make up the series’ previous seasons are here. They have been packaged in exactly the same fashion as other releases from Timeless Media and Shout! Factory. That packaging means has become the standard seemingly across the board. However not every company out there utilizes that standard even today, believe it or not. It’s sad. Thankfully fans of A Haunting don’t have to worry about that. It’s one more reason that the partnership between Timeless Media and Shout! Factory has made both leaders in home releases of TV series and movies. And it’s one more reason that audiences will appreciate this latest release from their partnership.

The overall packaging of A Haunting: The Television Series and the inclusion of the series’ full six season run—prior to its now seventh season airing on Destination America—couple to make the box set even more enjoyable for audiences than it would have been in lacking one factor or the other. As important as those factors are, the stories that make up each season are just as important if not more so. Without interesting and gripping tales of terror, there would be nothing to watch. In “Hungry Ghosts,” audiences are taken to Japan where an American family is haunted by ancient spirits when the family moves into a posh new home upon the father accepting a high-ranking position in his company. “Nightmare Upstairs” sees an Arkansas family scared out of its house when it is revealed that it is haunted by demons and possibly evil incarnate itself. Viewers are also taken to Ireland for a heart wrenching story about a house haunted by the spirit of a murdered child in “A Haunting in Ireland.” These are just a few of the terror-filled tales that make up A Haunting’s six-season run in this set. There are far more tales from which viewers can choose their own favorite(s). Needless to say, having so many stories to take in, there are plenty of frights to be had. And after watching the stories that make up A Haunting: The Television Series, audiences might not be going to sleep anytime soon. Some might even find themselves checking under their beds and even turning on that night light when they go to bed. Who knows? There might…or might not….be something there….Or maybe they’re all just stories. Audiences can choose for themselves when they purchase A Haunting: The Television Series for themselves. It is available now on DVD and can be ordered direct via the Timeless Media website at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tentpoles/timeless-media-group. More information on this and other releases from Timeless Media is available online now at:

Website: https://www.shoutfactory.com/tentpoles/timeless-media-group

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Timeless-Media-Group/358391474233364

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.

History Detectives Impresses Again With Its Special Investigations

Courtesy: PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS has proven time and again in recent years that it is the last bastion of truly worthwhile educational programming.  While History Channel, Discovery Channel, and others of their ilk have continued to fall victim to their heads’ lust for reality TV programming, PBS has held its guns and stood its ground, becoming the gold standard for educational programming.  One show that has helped to make PBS the gold standard is its fan favorite series History Detectives.  PBS recently released a new History Detectives special to DVD titled History Detectives: Special Investigations.  Not that PBS needs it at this point, but this DVD is more proof of why the series is such a fan favorite and why PBS continues to help make PBS the leader in quality educational programming.  Audiences, whether they be new to the series or are more familiar with it, will appreciate that the series delves into some of history’s greatest mysteries in this new special.  That’s a change from its normal format.  Those that are less familiar with History Detectives will appreciate that it uses a rather familiar format in investigating each of the special’s mysteries.  And last but hardly least of all, in none of the cases studied in this special does the team try to prove or disprove any theory set forth.  The team merely investigates the facts and leaves the rest up to viewers.  When audiences take into consideration all three of the factors noted here, they will agree that this DVD proves once more why History Detectives is one of the best series on television for educators and lovers of history, and why PBS remains today the gold standard in quality educational programming.

History Detectives is one of PBS’ best programs.  It is a favorite among educators and lovers of history.  The main reason for this is that it presents history at its purest.  It has never attempted to over-glorify history and make it sexy for the sake of eyeballs to put it bluntly.  It takes the road far less traveled today in comparison to programs on the likes of History, Discovery, Destination America and others under those corporate umbrellas.  This latest release from History Detectives proves why that approach has–and continues to–make it a fan favorite.  Normally, History Detectives focuses on the history behind items and documents owned by ordinary people.  This time though, it turns the focus to a pair of history’s greatest mysteries and a couple that while not as well-known are just as interesting.  The two more well-known of the mysteries presented here center on famed band leader Glenn Miller and Jimmy Hoffa.  The lesser known of the mysteries presented here focus on the river boat Sultana and on a group of servant girls from Texas.  The study on Glenn Miller is exactly what audiences expect.  It examines the possible fate of the famed band leader.  The findings from the study are pretty interesting to say the least.  That’s because they leave just as many questions as answers.  Unlike the study on Miller, the study on Hoffa isn’t what audiences might think.  Instead of focusing on his fate–as so many do–this episode focuses on who might have been responsible for his disappearance.  The findings here are just as eye opening as the theories concerning where he may be.  Some may be surprised to learn that apparently Hoffa even had a link to none other than President Richard Nixon.  That’s just one of many rather interesting facts that audiences will learn from this episode. As if this isn’t enough, the episode centering on the riverboat Sultana brings up thoughts of the Maine and its controversy.  It might event raise thoughts of the Titanic disaster.  And the story centering on the murders of the young Teas servant girls will engage audiences just as much.  As should be evident by now, these stories by themselves more than make History Detectives: Special Investigations worth the watch by any educator or history lover in general.

The stories that make up History Detectives: Special Investigations are by themselves more than enough reason for audiences to check out this new DVD.  The manner in which the team approaches each investigation is another reason that audiences will appreciate this special.  Whether or not they are familiar with this series, audiences will recognize the manner in which the team approaches each case.  It is a formula that was once used in Discovery’s Mythbusters before the team of Kari, Grant and Tory was let go.  The only difference is that unlike Mythbusters, the show’s heads and hosts don’t try to make the investigations sexy for the sake of eyeballs.  It’s a welcome breath of fresh air.  It proves that history doesn’t have to be sexy to be interesting.  It’s just one more way that this latest release from PBS and History Detectives prove the value of both collectively.

The cases presented here and the manner in which each one is investigated together make History Detectives: Special Investigations solid proof of why this series is so belived by fans and why it makes PBS so invaluable to audiences today.  While both of the factors noted here play their own important role to the enjoyment of this presentation, there is one more aspect of this DVD that makes it so enjoyable for audiences.  That last aspect is the fact that within the course of the investigations, at no point does the team of Wes Cowan, Kaiama Glover, and Tukufu Zuberi try to prove or disprove any of the theories around which each case centers.  Rather they merely investigate each case, presenting the facts as they find them.  The rest is left up to audiences to decide for themselves.  In the case of Glenn Miller’s disappearance, audiences are left with a strong probability in terms of what might have actually happened.  But because his body was never recovered, audiences are still left to decide for themselves if the facts gathered actually lead to anything solid.  And in the case of Hoffa’s disappearance, audiences are left just as much to decide for themselves if the mob actually played a role in his disappearance or if in fact Nixon himself might have played a role.  The team never tries to actually say yeah or nay in the end.  They just gather the information needed to make educated guesses in each case.  Such approach serves to make each case all the more enthralling that each already was to begin with.  The end result is a special that leaves audiences wanting History Detectives to investigate some of history’s other major mysteries between its regular investgations.

Next to PBS’ History Detectives, the only other history based series on television today that present any real value anymore are Travel Channel’s Mysteries at the Museum and History’s American Pickers.  While both series offer their own value to audiences, History Detectives still comes in first.  Special Investigations is more proof of that.  The cases and the team’s approach to each case more than make this series a joy for viewers.  The fact that it never really sets out to prove or disprove any theory, but rather simply investigates each one makes these episodes even more enthralling.  Altogether, all three factors together make this collection of investigations one that every educator and lover of history should have in their own personal collection.  It is available now on DVD and can be ordered direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=38349276&cp=&sr=1&kw=history+detectives+special+investigations&origkw=History+Detectives+Special+Investigations&parentPage=search.  More information on this release and all of the latest news from History Detectives is available online at:

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

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

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.

Weird Creatures Is Weird, Wild Fun

Courtesy:  PBS/itv

Courtesy: PBS/itv

Everybody knows the names of Steve Irwin and Jack Hanna.  Now nature lovers can add one more name to the list of famed nature show hosts.  That man’s name is Nick Baker.  This young Brit hosts his own show on Britain’s itv called Weird Creatures with Nick Baker.  One part Wild Kratts and one part Crocodile Hunter, this series is aimed at much the same audiences as those shows.  So the question is what sets this series apart from its contemporaries?  The primary aspect of Weird Creatures with Nick Baker that sets it apart is that host Nick Baker comes across as being much more akin to Ghost Adventures host Zak Bagans than Hanna or Irwin in terms of his personality.  That is likely because of his seemingly young age.  Also worthy of note in this series is that unlike other nature series, episodes aren’t cut even if Baker and company don’t find the creature for which they are searching.  Regardless of whether or not their intended “target” is found, Baker and company still discuss other creatures that are discovered along the way.  So audiences are still introduced to any number of animals throughout each episode.  Lastly, audiences will appreciate from Weird Creatures with Nick Baker the fact that instead of just showing footage of country’s from which given animals originate, he and his crew actually travel to said regions.  The manifest function here is that not only are audiences treated to animals that they had never known about, they also get a glimpse of different regions of the world due to Baker’s globe hopping.  All of these factors and others show why this nature series stands out as one that today’s younger viewers will love to watch.

The first aspect of Weird Creatures with Nick Baker that audiences will appreciate in watching its first season (or “series” as it’s called by the Brits) is that while Baker obviously knows his stuff, he doesn’t try to be like contemporaries Jack Hanna and the late Steve Irwin.  Rather, he has his own “edge” about him so to speak.  He comes across as being looser about everything that he does than Hanna or Irwin.  He just doesn’t come across as being like Hanna or Irwin.  Even in his look, he will appeal more to younger viewers than to those that perhaps grew up watching those that came before him.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either.  That “edge” and younger look mixed in with an obvious love for and full understanding of his subjects could potentially influence younger viewers to take an interest in biology, zoology, and their associated sciences.  And what parent today could argue against their child or children gaining new interest in said subjects and careers? Exactly.  This is merely the starting point for what makes the show’s first season enjoyable.

Host Nick Baker’s peronsality, his look, and his love for and understanding of his subjects is the starting point for what makes the first season of his show enjoyable.  The adventures on which he and his crew embark are another part of what makes this first season enjoyable, too.  Just like Baker himself comes across as being unorthodox to a point, so do the episodes contained in Season One.  So many nature shows typically broadcast on American television feel spit-shined for lack of better wording.  Audiences are left feeling with American nature shows like their hosts magically find their “target “ animals in each episode.  And they seem so proper.  Weird Creatures with Nick Baker is the antithesis of said programs.  Even if Baker and company don’t find the animals for which they are searching, they still present to their viewers other animals that might not have ever been introduced to viewers.  And as in the case of the Pink Fairy Armadillo, this does indeed happen.  They never do find one in the wild.  But they are lucky enough to meet an Argentinian woman that keeps a stuffed Pink Fairy Armadillo in her home.   They almost don’t manage to find a Basking Shark, either in another episode.  But the weather and mother nature cooperate just enough to the point that they finally get to see one up close in said episode’s final minutes.  It’s nice to see this more “raw” feel from a nature show than something more spit shined and broadcast ready.

That Baker and his crew make the best of some difficult situations serves to make his show even more enjoyable when set next to his personality as a host.  There is still one last factor to look at that makes the show work, though.  That last factor is the exotic locales to which Baker and company travel for each episode of the show.  Again, one can’t help but compare Weird Creatures… to the likes of certain other nature based programs past and present in terms of its travel factor.  So many other nature based shows only present file footage of animals in their natural habitats.  And even the creature specific Animal Planet series River Monsters is limited in showing the areas to which its host travels.  This series on the other hand openly displays the regions to which the crew travels.  What they are doing is promoting interest in not only animals but in geography, and other natural sciences.  It does so much without even trying too hard.  And it is the final piece of Season One that makes it complete and complete fun for audiences.  It is available now and can be ordered direct from the PBS online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=19453476&cp=&sr=1&kw=weird+creatures+with+nick+baker&origkw=Weird+Creatures+with+Nick+Baker&parentPage=search.  More information on this series is available online at http://www.facebook.com/Weird.Creatures.With.Nick.Baker. 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 Pick blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Teachers, Viewers Will Appreciate America’s National Parks: An Eagle’s View

Courtesy:  Mill Creek Entertainment

Courtesy: Mill Creek Entertainment

Mill Creek Entertainment’s America’s National Parks: An Eagle’s View is a fitting presentation for any high school biology or geography class.  The sixty-four minute feature finishes what was started with the company started some time ago with its separate National Parks Blu-ray series by taking viewers back through the nation’s park system not from the ground, but from the air.  The trip starts in the Northeast in the Acadia National Park before heading south to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and then into the Everglades National Park before heading west to the Voyageurs National Park.  The journey doesn’t stop there, either.  Audiences are taken all the way through each of the nation’s parks through the Midwest and West on their journey.  The cross country journey is only a portion of what audiences will appreciate about this latest video post card from Mill Creek.  The footage shot through each park is comparable to anything that Travel Channel or Discovery Channel once released in their heyday.  And unlike so many nature based documentaries churned out the narrator doesn’t overpower the stunning aerial shots of each major park.  At a time when America’s National Parks System is closed due to the government shutdown, this aerial tour of those parks couldn’t be more valuable.  Perhaps when the time comes the government re-opens for business, this feature could even serve as inspiration for some viewer’s next vacation.  Even if not, it serves to establish a new respect for one of this nation’s greatest assets and the need to protect them.

America’s National Parks: An Eagle’s View is a fitting presentation both in the classroom and in the living room.  It is an invaluable tool for those individuals teaching both biology and geography.  It is an especially useful visual aid for those teaching high school level geography classes. It will help to better connect with the concepts being taught about a given region of the country.  A teacher might be discussing the specific physical makeup of the Badlands National Park, the Everglades, or a specific mountain range.  Said teacher can simply put on this feature, select the chapter for the given region being discussed, and allow students to take in for themselves exactly what is being discussed.  It will help to truly put into perspective what makes the given region so impressive and important.  In turn, it will potentially help students gain a whole new appreciation for this nation’s parks.

Geography teachers will certainly find use for America’s National Parks: An Eagle’s View in their classroom.  In the same vein, biology teachers can potentially find use for this feature in their classrooms, too.  Just as each national park has a different physical makeup, so does it have different ecosystems.  With its forested hills and valleys, Yosemite is said to have at least three different regions from its basin all the way up to its highest peaks.  This means that it supports a large variety of animals.  By direct contrast, Death Valley National Park is arid and barren.  So it would suffice to say that it probably doesn’t have much life.  These and all of the other parks offer a wonderful starting point on the different ecosystems that span the country from one coast to the other, again proving the value of the feature in the classroom.

The value of America’s National Parks: AN Eagle’s View should be clear to viewers by this point.  The footage shot for this feature is impressive to say the least.  It is a good piece for those that perhaps haven’t picked up the previous National Parks features released on Blu-ray by Mill Creek Entertainment.  It’s just as valuable for every day viewers, especially at a time when this nation’s National Parks System has been closed thanks to the government shutdown.  Since the parks are currently closed, it serves as a cheap way to travel to those parks without having to spend the money or the stress to get there.  The footage presented here captures all of the major highlights of each park.  And whenever the time should come that the parks re-open along with the rest of the government, it could serve as a starting point for those trying to choose their next vacation spot.  From the mountains and forests of Yosemite, to the waterfalls, hot springs, and geysers of Yellowstone, to the snow-capped mountains of the Great Smoky Mountains, there is so much from which to choose and so much worth protecting so that others can one day experience its beauty.  Understanding and appreciating that all starts with this latest nature based documentary from Mill Creek Entertainment.  It is available now and can be ordered direct from Mill Creek Entertainment at http://www.amazon.com/National-Parks-Exploration-Eagles-Blu-ray/dp/B00BUWD77U/ref=sr_sp-atf_image_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1381420113&sr=1-1&keywords=America%27s+National+Parks%3A+An+Eagle%27s+View.  More information on this and other releases from Mill Creek Entertainment is available online at http://www.millcreekent.com and http://www.facebook.com/MillCreekEnt.  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.

A Haunting Season Five Offers Fans Ten More Frightful Episodes

Courtesy:  Timeless Media Group/Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Timeless Media Group/Shout! Factory

Paranormal shows are quite popular right now across the television spectrum.  Bio channel is frontloaded with paranormal shows including: Celebrity Ghost Stories, My Ghost Story, The Haunting Of, and re-runs of Psychic Kids just to name a few.  Travel Channel has Ghost Adventures.  Syfy has Ghost Hunters and Haunted Collector. At one point, the network even had Ghost Hunters International.  That show was short-lived, though.  And at one point, A&E had Paranormal State.  That show ran for five seasons before being moved to Bio Channel and re-run.  And even Discovery Channel for some time had its own show in A Haunting.  It lasted for roughly four seasons on the network before pulled it and it was moved to Discovery’s digital “sister station”, Destination America.  The show aired its fifth season on Destination America after having been off the air for five years.  Now fans of this show can watch all ten episodes from Season Five any time they want thanks to Shout! Factory and Timeless Media Group.

For those that have never experienced this show, it is one of the scarier of the crop of paranormal programs out there today.  So what is it that makes A Haunting stand out?  Let’s start with the most obvious of factors.  It isn’t a reality show.  That eliminates Paranormal State, Psychic Kids, Ghost Hunters (and its spinoff), Ghost Adventures, and Haunted Collector.  To a certain extent, one could also argue that The Haunting of would be eliminated, too.  Having eliminated all of those, that leaves just My Ghost Story and A HauntingMy Ghost Story seems somewhat hokey with its re-enactments.  Sure, A Haunting uses re-enactments and interviews, too.  But the production values of the re-enactments in A Haunting are far more professional.  The re-enactments are so well done that they play out like something straight out of a horror movie.  Because of that, it is so much easier to suspend one’s disbelief and be pulled into these stories of ordinary individuals that have been affected by or have encountered something which they cannot explain.  In turn, it is so much easier to be scared regardless of whether or not one believes in the unexplained.

Each professionally re-enacted story told by the ordinary individuals is the main key to the success of this show in scaring its audiences.  The stories are so well told through the course of each episode that even those that don’t believe will find themselves not wanting to watch any of the chill inducing episodes alone or in the dark.  Through the course of the 2012 season, audiences are introduced to a family in Winston-Salem, North Carolina that was at one point, haunted by the spirit of a civil war soldier that had been killed in battle.  Viewers are also introduced to a family whose story doesn’t exactly have a happy ending.  The family in question ends up moving out of its house because an evil spirit is not just haunting the house, but also physically assaulted one of the young ladies in the family.  It becomes so brazen that it lays down in one of the girls’ beds right next to her solely to terrorize her.  The visualization of this evil spirit and the actress’s reaction will frighten any viewer with even the strongest constitution.      

One can tell by now just how scary the episodes contained within A Haunting: The 2012 Season is.  There is still another factor that must be noted about this set that audiences will appreciate.  That factor is the double-disc set’s packaging.  Timeless Media Group, being associated with Shout! Factory, it is no surprise that the discs contained in the case for this season both have their own space within the case.  Shout! Factory was one of the first companies to actively start packaging its multi-disc sets in more ergonomic packaging.  This set is no different.  All ten episodes on both discs are kept safe in their case as one disc is placed in its own spot on one side of the case, while the other is on the other side of the case.  This preserves the quality of the discs as it prevents them from becoming scratched up unlike say, the packaging method for Syfy’s Ghost Hunters season sets.  The discs in those sets are packed one on top of another with no regard for the discs’ safety.  This makes the new set of episodes from A Haunting that much more worth the money for those that are fans of the paranormal sciences and paranormal programming in general.  A Haunting: The 2012 Season is available now in stores and online.

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Bagans, Khans’ Electronica Album A Standout Electronica LP

Courtesy:  Zak Bagans Entertainment

Courtesy: Zak Bagans Entertainment

Necrofusion is one of the most interesting releases in the world of electronica today.  The product of the partnership between Ghost Adventures host Zak Bagans and artist Praga Khan has resulted in an album that is as interesting as it is eerie.  The combination of Praga Khan’s music with segments of the Ghost Adventures episodes surprisingly works quite well.  They combine for a release that can’t fully be taken in from a single listen.  One of the most intriguing of this compilation’s songs would have to be ‘Poor Pearl.’  Country artist Bobby Mackey joins in with a little country twang that expertly contrasts the eerie mix of techno and the story of what happened to young Pearl.  According to the story in the song, the young woman was murdered, and her head was used as a sacrifice for a rather nefarious purpose.  Add that story in to the music and Zak’s vocal segments, and listeners are presented with a song that is both scary and enjoyable at the same time.

‘Poor Pearl’ is followed by an equally interesting song in ‘Sing For Me.’ Zak is talking to a spirit in this song who he is trying to get to sing for him.  The spirit does make contact with him, too.  It’s a little bit difficult to make out exactly what the spirit in question is saying to him without any sort of captioning that is done on the show.  But it’s that attempt to make out what the spirit is saying that makes this another of the album’s more interesting songs.  Of course, the musical backing of Praga Khan once again played its own role here.  Khan’s mastery of the craft shows yet again, making for another song that could equal the work of any other electronic artist out there today.

The album peaks at just the right point in ‘Dead Awaiting.’  The mix of heavy guitars, strings and electronics alone make for a song that as with the previously noted pieces stands out.  Add in the vocal segments of Zak asking a spirit about what happens when we die makes this far more than just an eerie track, but a song that is the best of the album.  The song opens very quietly with a guitar and piano.  Listeners then hear Zak asking the spirit in question about what happens after death.  He asks why the spirits come to him.  It’s the tone and delivery of this question combined with the sudden addition of a much heavier guitar part that makes the song that much more powerful.  By contrast, the strings set against the guitars add to the song’s power.  They help to make this the album’s highest point.

Necrofusion boasts far more than just three good songs.  There are far more that fans of electronica and Goth style sounds will appreciate.  For instance, there is the full on hit of ‘Demonator’, the creepy album opener, ‘In My Dungeon’, and ‘Good and Evil’ that listeners will love, too.  Whether for any of these or the album’s other songs, anyone who is a fan of Ghost Adventures or of electronica will find something to cheer about with this album.  It’s available now in stores and online.

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Syfy Brings Fans More Ghostly Tales In Ghost Hunters Season 7 Part 1

Courtesy: Big Vision/Syfy/Image Entertainment

Paranormal shows are some of television’s most popular programming today.  Travel Channel has Ghost Adventures.  Bio Channel has re-runs, still, of Paranormal State.  It also has new episodes of My Ghost Story, and Celebrity Ghost Stories, among others.  It also recently started up another semi-paranormal show called The Unexplained.  Even the CW has its own paranormal drama, simply called Paranormal.  The list goes on and on.  If there’s one show among the masses that stands out right now, it’s Syfy’s Ghost Hunters.  The hit show has even spawned its own spinoff, International Ghost Hunters.  The original recently wrapped the first half of its eighth season.  Its second half is expected to run sometime this Fall.  While fans wait for the second half of Season Eight to premiere, they can enjoy the first half of Season Seven.

Ghost Hunters Season Seven Part 1 is available now on a four disc DVD set via Big Vision, Syfy, and Image Entertainment.  Season Seven sees TAPS head down to New Orleans to check out an allegedly haunted old mint.  Also in Season Seven Part 1, TAPS heads up to Michigan to investigate the Mission Point Resort at Mackinac Island.  And in one of the most interesting episode from Season Seven, TAPS is called to Pearl Harbor to investigate reports of hauntings there.  This episode is actually a two-part episode.

In its trip to New Orleans, the TAPS team is asked to investigate reports of paranormal activity at the old U.S. Mint there.  The team meets security guard Jimmie Jackson, who tells them his story of seeing an entity who is believed to be William Mumford.  Mumford was hanged at the Mint after he took down an American Flag that had been raised there in place of a confederate flag.  The team spends the night in the mint, investigating reports of moaning from what was believed to be Mumford’s mother, crying over her son’s hanging, as well as other phenomena.  In the end, TAPS founder Jason and Lead Investigator Grant (who would later leave in the show’s eighth season) say that there’s no way to say for sure if the Mint is indeed haunted.  The little evidence that they managed to collect was inconclusive and that they would have to come back another time for another investigation to see if it really is haunted.

While it produced a little bit more information and evidence, TAPS’ investigation of the Mission Point Resort wasn’t entirely conclusive, either.  The team haunts for a figure known as “Harvey” who it turns out wasn’t named Harvey.  Though there really was a figure at the resort (which was previously a school) who had committed suicide.  “Harvey’s” real name is kept confidential.  It’s revealed that “Harvey” had actually committed suicide during the Winter and his body wasn’t discovered until the following Summer.  The team does record the sound of what sounds like a little girl while investigating the building’s theater.  This investigation reveals enough evidence that the team is convinced the resort is indeed haunted.

Perhaps one of the most haunted sites that the TAPS team has ever investigated is the Pacific Aviation Museum at Pearl Harbor.  The team goes to investigate the museum’s Hangar 37 and Hangar 39.  While there, the team hears a lot of noises that sound like people running.  One of the team members yells “bullets” a few times, which seems to cause whatever or whoever was there to take off running.  There is even the sound of running on one of the hangars’ catwalks.  At one point, the team even captures what seems to be a figure on one of the catwalks.  The evidence isn’t fully revealed until an episode after as the team is called back from Hawaii to investigate claims of a little girl being haunted by multiple spirits.  But there is little doubt, considering knowledge of paranormal activity, Hangar 37 and 79 are in fact haunted, along with most of Pearl Harbor.  Fans can find out what the evidence from the investigation reveals by picking up Season Seven Part One.

As interesting as the episodes in Season Seven Part One are, there is one glaring black eye to this set.  That black eye is its packaging.  The discs are stacked one on top of each other, rather than being given their own spots inside the slim case.  What stacking the discs potentially does is increase the chances of the discs getting scratched, thus reducing the life of the discs.  Hopefully when the second half of Season Seven is released, this is something that will be fixed.  If not, then perhaps it will be fixed in its eighth season.  Other than that, this is a set that any paranormal fan will enjoy watching.  It’s available in stores and online.  It can be ordered online at http://www.nbcuniversalstore.com/syfy/index.php?v=syfy

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