PBS’ New Da Vinci Doc Paints An Interesting New Picture Of Leonardo

Courtesy: Public Media Distribution/PBS

Leonard Da Vinci is considered around the world to be one of the most important figures in the realms of art and science.  His paintings are revered as masterpieces.  His inventions are said to be creations of a genius mind.  However his inventions may in fact not be entirely his as is argued in a new episode of PBS’ hit history-based series Secrets of the DeadSecrets of the Dead: Leonardo The Man Who Saved Science, released on DVD early this month, examines the reality of Da Vinci’s contributions to the scientific community.  That reality is the most important part of the program’s presentation.  It will be discussed shortly.  The re-enactments used to help tell Da Vinci’s story are important in their own right to the program’s whole.  They will be discussed later.  The program’s pacing rounds out its most important elements.  Each item is important in its own right to the program’s whole.  All things considered, they make Leonardo – The Man Who Saved Science a secret worth sharing with lovers and students of science of all ages.

Secretes of the Dead: LeonardoThe Man Who Saved Science is a secret that should be shared with lovers and students of science of all ages.  Released earlier this month on DVD, it paints a picture of Da Vinci (yes, that awful pun was fully intended) that is rarely shown.  It uses new information found in Da Vinci’s own journals to reveal that inventions previously thought to be Da Vinci’s own creations likely were not entirely his.  Rather the program reveals Da Vinci likely took designs from other sources and enhanced them with his own specs.  Those designs included designs for the parachute, the tank and even catapult among so many other inventions.  This is such an intriguing revelation because Da Vinci has been considered a scientific genius responsible for so many of the world’s advances for centuries.  This revelation shows that while he obviously was a smart man, he might not have in fact been the full-on genius that he was previously thought to be.  That is not meant to mean he was not smart.  He clearly was very intelligent.  But the level of his contributions to the scientific community definitely needs to be re-evaluated as is evidenced in this program.  Interestingly enough, the changes that he seemingly made to the pre-existing designs is something that is done in companies worldwide to this day.  To that end, one could argue that Da Vinci’s approach is the model for so many major companies’ employees today.  To that end, one could argue that Da Vinci was a ground breaker in that avenue.  Keeping in mind all of this, the story at the center of this program and its related information ultimately proves to be the program’s most critical element.  It is just one of the program’s key elements.  The re-enactments used to tell the story are collectively just as important to its presentation as the story itself.

The story at the center of SOTD: Leonard The Man Who Saved Science is the cornerstone of the program’s overall presentation.  It sheds new light on Da Vinci and his contributions to the scientific community.  While clearly important to the program’s presentation, it is only one of the program’s key elements.  The re-enactments used to help tell the story are just as important as the story to the program’s presentation.  That is because they provide a full visual aid for audiences.  It serves to entertain audiences, much like so many other episodes of PBS’ hit series, at the same time that they are being educated.  The re-enactments are once again on the same level as those presented in the documentaries that once made History Channel so respected.  Audiences will enjoy seeing Da Vinci try to convince his assistant take a giant leap of faith with his parachute design early on in the program.  They will enjoy just as much, seeing the wheels spinning in his head as he examined another man’s plans as a young man, thinking how he could improve on them and watching him work on the designs throughout his life.  Between these and other moments, the re-enactments that are used throughout the course of this program add to the depth generated through the story.  They truly do make the story just as entertaining as it is educational.  To that end, they help make the program a success just as much as the program’s central story.  It is not the last of the program’s most important elements, either.  The program’s pacing rounds out its most important elements.

The story at the heart of SOTD: Leonardo The Man Who Saved Science and the re-enactments used to help tell that story are both important parts of the program’s whole.  That has been made clear in the discussions already noted here.  They are not its only important elements, though.  The program’s pacing is just as important to its whole as those previously discussed elements.  The nearly hour-long program’s pacing is to be applauded as it remains stable from start to finish.  It would have been very easy for the program to get muddled at so many points in the discussion on Da Vinci’s contributions to the scientific community.  The same applies to the discussions on his personal life, as it does focus on that aspect of his life, too.  Instead of letting that happen, it never allows itself to get stuck on either aspect.  This is important to note because that expert balance keeps the program moving forward solidly from start to finish.  The result is a program that will keep audiences engaged and entertained the entire time.  That maintained engagement and entertainment ensures even more retention of the material presented throughout and in turn assures even more audiences’ appreciation for the program.  That appreciation will lead audiences to agree once more that the program in whole is its own enjoyable addition to this year’s crop of new documentaries.

Secrets of the Dead: Leonardo The Man Who Saved Science is an interesting and entertaining new look at the life and work of Leonardo Da Vinci.  It shows an important part of Da Vinci’s story that has rarely, if ever, been shown.  The re-enactments used to tell that important story deepen the story even more.  The solid pacing from start to finish puts the finishing touch to the program’s presentation.  Each element is important in its own right, as has been already been discussed.  All things considered, they make this episode of Secrets of the Dead its own enjoyable addition to this year’s crop of new documentaries.  It is available now and can be ordered direct online via PBS’ online store.  More information on this and other episodes of SOTD is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/SecretsPBS

 

 

 

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‘SOTD: Graveyard Of The Giant Beasts’ Is A “Giant” Hit

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

Giant menacing monster animals on the rampage are familiar fodder for sci-fi and horror fans. From the killer beasts that terrorized audiences in Universal’s classic creature features to killer reptiles and mammals that followed from other studios, they are the stuff of nightmares (and sometimes all out laughs).  However, some of those giant creatures might not be as much of a stretch as some might think after watching Secrets of the Dead: Graveyard of the Giant Beasts.  This eye-opening episode of PBS’ hit history-based series is a program that creature feature fans will appreciate just as much as those with any interest in the biological sciences.  That is due in no small part to the program’s story.  This will be discussed shortly.  The information presented throughout the story is just as important to discuss as the episode’s story.  It will be discussed later.  The program’s graphic illustrations used to help tell the story round out its most important elements.  Each element is important in its own right.  All things considered, Secrets of the Dead: Graveyard of the Giant Beasts proves to be a “giant” success.

Early this past January PBS released Secrets of the Dead: Graveyard of the Giant Beasts on DVD.  At the time, the most recent episode of the his history and science-based series was the most recent of the series’ episodes to be released on DVD.  Those who have yet to watch this episode will find that it will appeal to a wide variety of audiences.  That is due in part to its story.  The story follows a group of researchers examining the remains of two massive prehistoric predators—an alligator and a snake.  The researchers compare the massive beasts’ remains to those of their modern-day descendants to reveal just how immense the creatures were.  The revelation of each animal’s true size finds that some of the animals at the center of Hollywood’s classic creature features might not have been so far-fetched after all.  Sure, the snake and alligator discovered here were not the immense sizes of those on the silver screen.  They do prove to be pretty big, though.  Along the way, the program pits the two against one another in a battle of the beasts to find out which would win.  The result is just as shocking as the revelation that such giant creatures even existed.  The finding wouldn’t be possible without the information that is shared throughout the nearly hour-long program either.  That information is just as important to discuss as the story at the center of this episode of SOTD.

The story at the center of Secrets of the Dead: Graveyard of the Giant Beasts is in itself a key piece of the program’s overall presentation.  That is because it proves the creature features created during Hollywood’s golden age (and perhaps even more recently) might not have been such a stretch after all.  It is just one element that makes this episode such an interesting watch.  The information that is provided throughout the course of this program is just as important to its presentation as its story.  The key information provided throughout the program includes the revelation of the snake’s strike and killing ability despite its massive size.  Viewers will be shocked to learn that despite being so enormous, it had the ability to strike in the span of only a second before killing its prey.  Its crushing power is just as incredible to discover.  In the same vein, the ability of the mega croc to kill.  It makes one appreciate that the modern day descendants are nowhere near as huge as themselves even though they are still just as deadly in their own right.  As if this is not enough, the very fact that the investigation begins in a massive open pit coal mine that was a swamp millions will get people thinking and talking just as much.  The discussion on the discovery of a skeleton of a turtle that was as big as a car in that same location is just as interesting and certain to generate discussion.  These and so many other items revealed throughout the course of this episode of SOTD prove in whole why the program’s information is just as important to its whole as its story.  It is still not the last important element to discuss in examining this episode either.  The graphic illustrations that are coupled with the information round out the program’s most important elements.

The story at the center of Secrets of the Dead: Graveyard of the Giant Beasts and its information are both key elements to discuss in examining the program’s overall presentation.  They are not its only important elements.  The graphic illustrations that accompany the program’s information are important in their own right, too.  That is because they present a picture of what the Titanoboa and the mega croc are believed to have looked like when they were alive.  That visualization creates a new appreciation for their sheer size and how dangerous they must have been.  The visualizations provided through the graphic illustrations also paint a rich picture of what the open pit where the skeletons were found might have looked like in the creatures’ lifetimes.  Such a vivid contrast between the open pit and that lush landscape is impacting in its own right.  There are other ways in which the program’s graphic illustrations prove important to this episode’s presentation, but discussing each instance would take far too long.  Suffice it to say that when the program’s collective graphic illustrations are set against its breadth of information and its equally engaging story, the whole of those elements makes this episode of Secrets of the Dead a program that is its own “massive” hit and one of this year’s top new documentaries.

Secrets of the Dead: Graveyard of the Giant Beasts is one of the “biggest” episodes that the hit history and science-based series has produced in recent memory.  That is proven through a story that reveals truth is just as interesting as fiction (or even stranger).  The information that is shared throughout the program is just as interesting and engaging as the story.  The graphic illustrations that are incorporated into the program round out its most important elements. They drive home just how big the Titanoboa and the “mega croc” were, and get audiences really thinking about the contrast of their sauna-like swamp home and the open pit mine that took its place millions of years later.  Each element is an important part of the program in its own right.  All things considered, they make this episode of Secrets of the Dead–once again—a giant hit and one of this 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 Secrets of the Dead is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/SecretsPBS

 

 

 

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PBS Takes Audiences To Africa In New Episode of ‘Nature’

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

PBS will take audiences into the wilds of Africa later this month in a new episode of its hit wildlife series Nature.

PBS Distribution will release Nature: GiraffesAfrica’s Gentle Giants.  The hour-long program will be released December 20 exclusively on DVD.  The program takes new meaning this year with the recent news of the creatures’ potential fates.

The program follows research conducted by Dr. Julian Fennessy Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation as he studies the decline in the giraffe population and attempts to help protect a group of the giants.

Fennessy’s work isn’t without its dangers.  The film follows him as he travels to Ethiopia’s border with war-torn Southern Sudan to collect DNA samples from giraffes for his species analysis.

His research is responsible for the recent revelation that there are four distinct species of giraffes – the northern giraffe, southern giraffe, reticulated giraffe and Masai giraffe.

As Fennessy searches for one group of giraffes by helicopters, gunfire aimed at the chopper in which he rides forces quite the change in schedule.  This and much more is presented throughout the course of the program.

Nature: GiraffesAfrica’s Gentle Giants will be released on DVD December 20.  It will retail for MSRP of $24.99 but can be pre-ordered now at a discounted price of $19.99 via PBS’ online store.

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

 

 

 

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature

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Twitter: http://twitter.com/PBSNature

 

 

 

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PBS Distribution To Release New ‘Nature’ Episode Next Month

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution/WNET

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution/WNET

PBS Distribution will release a high flying new episode of its hit wildlife series Nature next month on DVD and Blu-ray.

Nature: Super Hummingbirds will be released on Tuesday, Nov. 22.  The program examines the “super powers” that make hummingbirds one of the most incredible species of bird in the world.

The program is Emmy-winning filmmaker Ann Johnson Prum’s (Hummingbirds: Magic in the Air, An Original DUCKumentary, Animal Homes) second film focusing on hummingbirds.  The program focuses on new discoveries about hummingbirds.

Those new discoveries include how hummingbirds actually manage to drink nectar from flowers so quickly, and what allows them to survive in settings that are otherwise uninhabitable for other creatures.

For the first time ever, audiences will also get to see in this documentary how hummingbirds mate (meaning some parental discretion may be advised for younger viewers), lay eggs, fight, and even raise families.

The hour-long program opens with the research of Dr. Alejandro Rico-Guevara explaining how hummingbirds are able to lap up nectar at 20 times per second.  This is done through the use of a clear feeding tube and a real flower.  The flower contained the same amount of nectar found in a real bloom.

High speed macro photography reveals the birds’ secret; a secret that audiences will discover for themselves when they order the episode for themselves.

Dr. Christopher Witt and his team of researchers are also presented in this episode as they uncover the secret to hummingbirds’ ability to survive at altitudes where oxygen is 40 percent more scarce than at sea level.  Experiments conducted with the birds revealed a very stunning connection between the birds’ hemoglobin and their ability to survive at those high altitudes.  Research also revealed a connection between the birds’ ability to fly at high speeds and their ability to capture extra oxygen as they fly and breath.

The program’s final segment audiences are taken to the rainforests of Costa Rica where Dr. Marcelo Araya-Salas and researchers from Cornell University have spent seven years studying the mating habits of hummingbirds.  The group filmed more than 2,000 hours of footage in its research and caught the first footage of hummingbirds mating in that footage.

The whole thing ends with a life cycle of the hummingbird, from nest building, to parenthood to the first flight.

Nature: Super Hummingbirds originally premiered on PBS stations nationwide on Oct. 13.  It will be available on DVD and Blu-ray on Nov. 22 and will retail for MSRP of $24.99 on DVD and $29.99 on Blu-ray.  It can be pre-ordered now at a reduced price of $24.99 (Blu-ray) and $19.99 (DVD) now online at PBS’ online store.

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

 

 

 

Website: http://pbs.org/wnet/nature

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/PBSNature

 

 

 

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.

Nature: Raising The Dinosaur Giant Will Be A Giant Hit With Dinosaur Lovers Of All Ages

Courtesy:  PBS/PBS Distribution

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

A few years ago, a farmer in Argentina was hunting for one of his sheep when he stumbled upon one of quite the surprising find. What the farmer found was the tip of a giant fossil bone sticking out of the ground. It was just the first of what became a massive excavation that unearthed some 200 other bones. The bones in question belonged to a group of plant-eating dinosaurs, or herbivores, that had previously been unknown. Now thanks to PBS and PBS Distribution audiences will get to learn about the find and the dinosaurs, which have yet to be named in a special new episode of its hit wildlife series Nature titled Raising The Giant Dinosaur.  The program is presented in partnership with BBC Earth.  It will be available Tuesday, April 26th.  This latest episode of Nature is a wonderful watch for audiences of all ages and interests, in both the living room and the classroom.  The central reason for this is the story at the center of the episode.  It presents the story of the dinosaur’s discovery and the process undertaken to remove its bones and reconstruct its skeleton so as to better visualize just how enormous it was.  The special effects that are used to help resurrect the creature so to speak are just as notable in the program’s overall presentation.  Audiences actually get to see the titanosaur come to life one element after another before their eyes as well as see how the dinosaur’s bones (and possibly those of other titanosurs) got to their final resting place.  Simply put, the CG is used in the utmost moderation here.  Because of this it actually adds to the program’s positives.  It is not the program’s last notable element either.  Its collective editing and pacing rounds out its presentation.  Together with the program’s central story and its minimalist use of computer graphics all three elements come together to make NatureRaising The Dinosaur Giant another impressive episode of PBS’ hit wildlife series.  They also combine to once more show why PBS remains today the very last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television.

NatureRaising The Dinosaur Giant is yet another impressive episode of PBS’ hit wildlife series.  Yes, one would think that being about a dinosaur discovery this episode would be better suited as an episode of NOVA.  But it technically is about an animal, thus making it a fit albeit an intriguing one, for this series.  That is evident in part due to its story.  The story follows researchers’ efforts to uncover the skeleton of what is now known to be the biggest dinosaur species ever discovered to date.  Along the way host and narrator Sir David Attenborough reveals that the remains found were not just of one of the species but of at least seven separate dinosaurs, all of that same species.  He also takes viewers to a massive breeding ground for the dinosaurs, even showing respect for the creatures as he replaces a piece of egg shell that he discusses with one of the researchers studying the new species of titanosaur.  There is even a discussion during the course of the story’s presentation on how the bones ended up where they did.  It is presented in fully scientific fashion eventually coming to one final conclusion that will leave viewers just as surprised as the very revelation of the dinosaur’s size.  There is much more that could be discussed in terms of what makes the program’s story so interesting.  Viewers will be left to discover all of that remaining material for themselves when they order the DVD from PBS’ online store.  Of course it is just one part of the program that makes it well worth the watch. The program’s use of CG is just as important to note as its central story.

The story at the center of NatureRaising The Dinosaur Giant is an important part of the program’s whole.  However it isn’t the only important part of the program’s presentation.  The elements used to tell the story are just as important as the story itself.  In the case of this episode the CG elements that are used are the most notable.  The CG is used very minimally throughout the course of the episode’s roughly hour-long run time.  It is used to illustrate the theories of how the dinosaurs’ bones reached their final resting place and the sheer immensity of their nesting grounds, and most importantly to bring the dinosaur to life beyond just its skeleton.  As Attenborough discusses each aspect of the dinosaur’s makeup, a different part of it is revealed.  It starts with the dinosaur’s skeleton.  From there, Attenborough discusses the connection between the its size and its ability to pump enough blood throughout its body.  So its circulatory system is then added to the dinosaur’s skeleton.  Eventually audiences get to see the dinosaur in its full glory even to the point of seeing it with its skin, completely in tact.  Simply put those behind this episode of Nature kept its CG limited to only the important parts of the program whereas it would have been so easy to go full-on CG.  So it is nice to see that they didn’t.  That extreme moderation, when set alongside the episode’s central story, double the reason for educators and audiences in general to see this episode of Nature.  Even with the importance displayed by each element they still are not the episode’s only important elements.  The program’s collective pacing and editing combine to present the last of the program’s most important elements.

The story at the heart of Nature: Raising The Dinosaur Giant and its minimalist use of CG are both key elements in the program’s overall presentation.  While both elements are undeniably important to its presentation they are not its only important elements.  Its collective pacing and editing are just as important to the program as its story and special effects.  The program’s pacing is so important to note because the program covers so much ground (or uncovers in this case.  And, yes that bad pun as fully intended).  From figuring out how the dinosaur and its fellow titanosaurs ended up at their final resting place, to figuring out how the bones go together to figuring out the dinosaur’s diet and more there is a lot that is presented over the course of the program’s near hour-long presentation.  Thankfully the program offers just enough time to each element of the story; so much so that viewers will never feel lost.  In regards to the program’s editing, it is obvious that Attenborough covered a number of topics in each area of the program’s presentation both figuratively and literally.  Over the course of the program, it is clear in his attire that he didn’t just visit the place and record one little part.  He did a lot in terms of narration and more.  The end result, thanks to those that assembled the final product, is a presentation that moves seamlessly and fluidly from beginning to end even as each different topic is tackled.  The fashion in which the shots of Attenborough next to the dinosaur’s skeleton were edited together is just as impressive.  They fully capture the creature’s size versus that of humans.  Although, in comparison to the likes of say the diplodocus, which lived in the end of the Jurassic era, there might be some discussion there.  The largest ever found Diplodocus, which is a sauropod, just like the unnamed titanosaur was found to be roughly 171 feet long (longer than a football field) and a little more than 26 feet high.  The titanosaur found in 2014 however, was about 130 feet long and 66 feet tall.  Though, it did weigh quite a bit more—77 metric tons—than the noted biggest diplodocus ever found.  Even with this in mind, it could be argued that this titanosaur was the biggest dinosaur on earth at the time of its existence (the Cretaceous Period) but not of all time.  But that is a discussion for another time.  Getting back on the subject, just seeing its size, thanks to the work of those that edited the final project, serves to drive home just how massive the unnamed dinosaur was.  It’s just one of so many in ways in which the editing behind this episode of Nature proves to be such an enjoyable watch.  Together with the program’s pacing, its story, and its minimal use of special effects (which far too few shows across the board do) it rounds out the program’s noted positives and shows one last time just what makes it a program that is sure to impress dinosaur lovers of all ages and types.

Nature: Raising The Dinosaur Giant is a program that will impress dinosaur lovers of all ages and types.  The central story presented in this episode is one that uncovers an introduces one of the biggest dinosaurs to ever walk the earth.  And it does so in a fashion that is accessible to a wide range of viewers thanks to its topic and the approach to said topic.  The program’s minimal use of CGin comparison to the over-the-top amount used by certain other networks (which will remain unnamed here)—is just as important to the presentation.  That is because it shows the ability of those behind the program to tell an enthralling story without having to overdo it so to speak.  The collective pacing and editing incorporated into the program rounds out its positives.  Even with so much material to discuss, the pacing never leaves viewers feeling lost.  The editing does much the same.  It seamlessly ties everything together and solidifies the program’s place as one of this year’s top new documentaries.  That is the case even with the discussions that may well be raised in comparing the newly found titanosaur to other sauropods.  Nature: Raising The Dinosaur Giant will be available Tuesday, April 26th and can be ordered online direct via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=88167686&cp=&kw=nature+raising+the+dinosaur+giant&origkw=nature+raising+the+dinosaur+giant&sr=1.  More information on this and other episodes of Nature is available online now at:

 

 

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/PBSNature

 

 

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Audiences Will “Find” Plenty To Like About Finding Your Roots’ Third Season

Courtesy:  PBS/PBS Distribution

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

Later this month PBS and PBS Distribution will release the third complete season of PBS’ hit hybrid series Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr.  The latest installment of this series, it boasts plenty of positives that are not weighed down even with its one lone con—its lack of an episode guide.  That will be discussed later.  In regards to its pros the central pro is its list of celebrities featured throughout this season make up just one of the set’s pros.  The list of celebrities featured in Season Three spans the entertainment universe.  This will be discussed shortly.  The history presented behind each celebrity is the finishing touch to this season.  Together with the season’s featured episodes, these two pros cannot be outweighed by the set’s one lone con.  Keeping that in mind Season Three in whole still proves to be just as welcome in any home setting as any classroom setting.  It could be argued that despite financial support from a certain genealogy website the program refuses itself to be come just a glorified advertisement for said website (unlike a certain other similar program on another network).  But that goes without saying.   Keeping all of this in mind, the third season of Finding Your Roots With Henry Lous Gates, Jr. serves to prove once again why PBS remains the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming.

The third season of PBS’ Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is another impressive and enjoyable installment of the hybrid history/genealogy-based series.  Compared to its counterpart over on TLC (and other potential counterparts) the series continues to stand out proudly.  The central reason for this is again its featured guests.  Yet again the series featured guests from across the entertainment universe.  That broad list of guests includes: Sean Combs and LL Cool J (both music stars), entrepreneur Richard Branson, actors Neil Patrick Harris, Bill Hader, Keenan Ivory Wayans, Maya Rudolph, and Juliana Margulies (actors), Soledad O’Brien and Bill O’Reily (news personalities), John McCain and Gloria Steinem (politicians), Jimmy Kimmel and Bill Maher (entertainers), Norman Lear (author/writer), activist Shonda Rimes, and so many others.  There are even famed architects interviewed for this season of Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr..  Simply put, once again this standout series has once again covered as much ground as possible in its guest list.  This is nothing new for the series, either this far into its run.  It shows a valid attempt to spread the wealth so to speak as much as possible and hot have any bias towards one group or another regardless of profession, gender, or ethnic background.  It’s nice to consider and just one part of what makes this season of Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. On a related note, the reactions of some of Gates’ guests are just as important to this season as their inclusion.

The guests that are featured in this season of Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. are important in their own right to the season’s overall presentation.  The reactions on the part of Gates’ guests are just as important as the guests themselves appearing on the show.  Those that watch through the season’s ten episodes will notice that some of Gates’ guests are truly moved and curious about their roots more so than others.  Rappers LL Cool J and Sean Combs are just two of those that are most visibly interested and moved in their interviews.  Just watching their facial gestures and listening to their reactions, it’s clear that they had a genuine appreciation for Gates’ work and that of those with whom he worked.  Celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich and author Azar Nafisi are also visibly intrigued and moved by the revelation of their families’ histories as were Dustin Hoffman and Mia Farrow.  That isn’t to say that any of the season’s featured celebrities were not appreciative of the research done to reveal their histories.  But some guests’ reactions were more visible than others.  On the surface this doesn’t seem overly important.  But on another level, that visible reaction helps establish a connection for viewers.  That is because in most cases, the guests’ roots are quite humble, just like those of most viewers more than likely.  Considering this, the reactions of Gates’ guests are, while minor on the surface, just as important as the guests themselves.  The guests featured in Season Three and their interaction with Gates both do plenty to make it enjoyable for audiences.  As important as they are to this season there is one factor tied in to both that takes away at least a certain amount from the season’s presentation.  That factor is the season’s lack of an episode guide.

The latest season of PBS’ Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. gives audiences plenty of reason to watch through all ten of its episodes.  That is visible through its once again vast array of guests and their equally vast reactions to the revelation of their families’ histories.  While both of these elements are plenty of reason in themselves to watch this season of Finding Your Roots they also tie in to the season’s one con.  That con is the season’s lack of an episode guide.  Unlike certain other imitator shows out there that try to copy this show’s format, this series doesn’t just focus on one guest per episode.  It focuses on anywhere from two to three per episode.  So having an episode guide of any sort would have been very good here considering this.  Season One came with an episode guide printed on the back of its case.  This critic will admit to not knowing if Season Two came with an episode guide of any sort.  Even having the comparison between just the two seasons, it can be said that having the episode guide included in the standalone set is a clear positive.  Without that guide, audiences are left to try and memorize which guests (episodes) appear on which of the set’s three discs.  On the surface this might seem minor.  But it does save time for audiences regardless of whether or not audiences already saw the episodes in their original broadcasts.  Keeping this in mind, the lack of an episode guide in this season does prove problematic in its own right.  Luckily though, it isn’t enough of a con that it ruins this season’s overall presentation.  The history behind the guests’ families couples with the guests and their reactions to more than make up for the lack of an episode guide this season.

The third season of Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. offers audiences plenty of viewing pleasure through its featured guests and their reactions to the revelations of their families’ histories.  They more than make up for the set’s one clear con, its lack of an episode guide.  They are not the set’s only pros.  The family histories that are put on display are just as important to the season’s presentation as the guests and their reactions to their family histories.  The family histories of Bill Maher, Bill O’Reilly, and Soledad O’Brien are clear examples of that importance.  Audiences learn through their family histories that apparently despite being white, Irish immigrants did not exactly receive what would be considered a warm welcome.  Rather many were treated as second class citizens.    This is so interesting because the Irish that settled in the U.S. came here to escape things like the Irish Potato Famine as well as religious persecution and other issues.  Even the view of the Irish for the jobs that they took was anything but positive.  It shows blacks and Asians weren’t the only groups that were discriminated against in America’s youth.  Viewers will be just as interested to learn in celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich’s interview the trials faced by her family during World War II as a result of Italy’s role in the conflict.  It’s interesting to learn that even innocent Italians who did not support Mussolini suffered just because they were Italian.  Even more interesting is that they suffered not at the hands of the dictator but at the hands of other Europeans that fought him and his forces.  It is no wonder that Bastianich is so moved in her interview especially considering what she did and didn’t already know about her family’s history.  As if that isn’t enough, audiences also learn that LL Cool J’s love of boxing actually has roots in his family history in his interview.  He apparently didn’t even know that himself until his interview, either.  And Senator John McCain learns that he isn’t the only member of his family that had ever been a POW.  And actress Juliana Margulies’ interview revealing her father’s role in Alka-Seltzer’s famous “Plop, plop-Fizz, fizz” campaign is sure to generate its own share of discussion.  Gates says that her father is responsible for the jingle.  However that has been debated by some groups.  There are those that allege not he but Tom Dawes, of The Cyrkle, was the man responsible for the jingle, and that Margulies’ father was an executive at the agency that came up with the jingle.  It would definitely be interesting to learn who in fact was truly behind that jingle whether it was her father or Mr. Dawes.  Again regardless of who really was responsible, this point of Margulies’ interview makes her family history just as interesting to discover as that of any of the season’s other featured guests.  All things considered the histories that are revealed throughout Season Three make for their own share of interest in this season.  Together with the season’s spread of guests and their reactions to their respective family histories all three elements give audiences plenty to appreciate about the season’s presentation even with the season’s lack of an episode guide.  That lack does take away at least a little bit from the season’s presentation.  But with everything else that goes into the season it isn’t enough to ruin the season’s presentation.  All things considered Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr.: Season 3 proves in the end to be yet another installment of PBS’ hit hybrid history/genealogy-based series that will be just as welcome in home setting as in classroom settings.

The third season of PBS’ Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is yet another welcome addition to PBS’ hit history/genealogy-based series.  The central reason for this is the season’s vast spread of guests.  The featured guests come from a wide variety of professional and ethnic backgrounds.  And they are relatively well-balanced in regards to the ratio of male to female.  Their family histories and reactions to said histories add even more interest to each episode.  Even the lack of an episode guide this season isn’t enough to detract from those pros.  Because it isn’t, the end result of the season’s presentation is a ten-episode run that proves to be just as welcome in the living room as it is in the classroom.  It will be available Tuesday, April 12th and can be ordered online direct via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=85849896&cp=&sr=1&kw=finding+your+roots+season+3&origkw=Finding+Your+Roots+Season+3&parentPage=search.  More information on this and the first two seasons of Finding Your Roots is available online now along with all of the series’ latest news at:

 

 

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

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/HenryLouisGates

 

 

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PBS’ New Nature DVD Is One Of The Series’ Best Episodes So Far This Year

Courtesy:  PBS/PBS Distribution

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

Every year thousands of students at schools across the country are taught that humans are at the top of the evolutionary ladder. They are taught that humans sit atop that ladder because of their ability to differentiate right from wrong, to feel emotions, and so many other reasons. However anyone that has watched PBS’ hit wildlife series Nature knows that humans may very well not be the top of the evolutionary chain. Now PBS has proven this yet again with the new Nature episode Natural Born HustlersNature’s Best Con Artists. This new episode of Nature will be available on DVD tomorrow, March 8th. This episode is yet another “wildly” engaging presentation. It is another presentation that proves why Nature is television’s best wildlife series and why PBS is the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television. The main reason for this is the breadth of information that is shared over the course of the program’s roughly three-hour run time. Just as important to note of the program is the fact that it is clearly divided up into three separate segments. This includes not just internally but in terms of its menu, too. That will be discussed later. Last but hardly least of note in this episode of Nature is its cinematography. The venues chosen for the feature are stunning to say the least and the animals often times exotic. The way in which it was all captured makes it all worth the watch. Each element is in its own right important to the program’s overall presentation. Altogether they make Nature: Natural Born HustlersNature’s Best Con Artists one of the series’ best episodes so far this year and yet more proof of why the series is television’s best wildlife series. It also serves to once again show why PBS remains today the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television.

Nature: Natural Born HustlersNature’s Best Con Artists is one of the best episodes of Nature that PBS has turned out so far this year. That says quite a bit considering the quality episodes that have already been turned out so far this year. It shows this in a number of ways, the main one being the breadth of information shared throughout the episode. Over the course of its roughly three-hour run time viewers learn about the different methods that animals use for offense, defense, and for the survival of their respective next generations. Audiences will be surprised at times and shocked at others to learn about the ways in which they do that. From disruptive camouflage to sexual dimorphism (essentially the animal kingdom’s version of cross dressing, only genetically) to sleight of hand (yes, even magic so to speak) animals use a number of methods in order to survive in their given ecosystems. Audiences will be shocked to learn that some animals even resort to criminal behavior of sort in order to survive. For instance, sea otters will use what is called “ransom behavior” in order to obtain food. It is exactly what it sounds like. The males will actually kidnap young otters in order to make their mothers come for them. The mothers will then come and drop food that they have found thus allowing the males to steal said food. There is also a bird in Africa that cons other birds by acting as a watch-out for them and building their trust that viewers will learn about. Think that’s bad? Well how about kangaroos in Australia? It turns out that some kangaroos will actually resort to cheating in order to avoid conflict with larger male kangaroos. And according to the presentation, the females often even let the smaller males inseminate them. And in the realm of crustaceans apparently size does matter to some female crabs as viewers will learn. That will be left for viewers to find out for themselves along with all of the other cons that animals around the world use in order to survive. All things considered here, the cons that animals use for their survival are numerous. What’s more they show an extremely high level of intelligence; much higher than most humans might have otherwise thought. Whether one is a student of the biological sciences or just a lover of all things animals, audiences of all types will find plenty here by which to be surprised and shocked. Keeping that in mind, audiences will agree in watching this program that its wide expanse of information is more than enough reason to watch the program. It isn’t the only reason that audiences will want to see this episode of Nature, though. The program’s separation both internally and in its menu is another reason for viewers to pick up this episode of Nature.

The vast amount of information provided in Nature: Natural Born HustlersNature’s Best Con Artists is more than enough reason for audiences to see this episode of Nature. It is hardly the only reason for audiences to add this episode to their home DVD libraries. The program’s segmentation both internally and externally it is separated out rather than presented as one extended three-hour episode. The first segment presents the cons that animals use in order to evade predators. The second turns the tables and shows how predators fool their prey. The third and final segment shows the cons that animals use in order to ensure the survival of the next generation of their species. Audiences will be glad to know that should they start on the first or second segment neither segment will auto run the next segment once it is over. This is helpful for audiences whether in a classroom setting or a living room. It gives each segment a fully defined start and end versus leaving audiences feeling that they will miss anything in those programs that run continuously. Said programs do sadly exit. And audiences will agree just how aggravating said programs can be because of that continuous structure. What’s more narrator Kevin Draine gives a clear transition at the end of all three programs, setting up the second and third segments clearly and even rounding out everything at the end of the episode’s final segment. Some will take this aspect of the program for granted. But in the grand scheme of things such clear and precise separation of segments both internally and externally makes for a viewing experience that is certain to keep viewers engaged from beginning to end of each segment. It is one more way in which this episode of Nature proves itself to be one of the series’ best episodes so far this year and why, again, PBS is the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television.

Both the information presented in Nature: Natural Born HustlersNature’s Best Con Artists and the episode’s structure are key to its overall presentation. Both play their own important part in ensuring that audiences will remain fully engaged in the program from one segment to the next. Of course they are not the only elements that make this episode such a hit for the series and for PBS. The program’s cinematography rounds out its most notable elements. Over the course of the program’s three-hour run time audiences are taken from the cities of North America to the jungles of South America and even to different African countries well beyond. It takes audiences to nearly every corner of the globe, even beneath the waves of the Great Barrier Reef to examine how sharks use camouflage to hunt their prey. Each journey presents beautiful footage of the presented regions. There are stunning aerial shots that take viewers over waterfalls and jungles at some points. At others audiences are presented with equally breathtaking undersea footage of different aquatic ecosystems and back on land of the African plains just to name a few examples. Regardless of which region and ecosystem is displayed it can be said that those behind the lens captured footage that will leave viewers transfixed thanks to the rich colors of the given regions and the equally powerful juxtapositions of the animals to their surroundings. That is just the tip of the iceberg, too. The footage of the animals themselves is just as impressive. Audiences actually get to get up close to a lizard to discover how it keeps itself from casting a shadow in order to hide itself from predators in one segment. In another audiences actually get to stand (figuratively speaking) along with researchers as they watch how capuchin monkeys react to the sound of invaders. And as it sits, waiting to strike its prey viewers even get to see an orchid mantis at work. These are just a few more examples of how this episode of Nature’s cinematography plays a role in the episode’s overall presentation. It is an important part, too needless to say. It also rounds out the episode’s most important elements. Together with the program’s broad swath of information and its clear and precise segmentation, all three elements work together to show yet again why this episode of Nature is one of its best episodes so far this year. They also work together to prove yet again why PBS is the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television.

Nature: Natural Born HustlersNature’s Best Con Artists is one of the best episodes of Nature’s best episodes to be turned out so far this year. This is thanks in large part to the breadth of its sometimes surprising and sometimes shocking information about animal behaviors. The information in question shows that despite what people want to think humans might not be the top of the evolutionary ladder. That is because their cons show quite a bit of intelligence—an almost human level intelligence (not always for good, either). It is something that will most certainly keep viewers engaged from beginning to end. The program’s segmentation both internally and externally is just as important to its presentation. They are clear and precise both within the episode and in the episode’s menu and in turn are just as certain to keep viewers fully engaged. The program’s cinematography rounds out its presentation. Between the footage of the different ecosystems and the animals that inhabit said ecosystems, those behind the lens are to be hugely applauded for their work. If for no other reason than the cinematography audiences will want to see this three-part episode of Nature. Each element, as it can be seen now, plays its own important part in the presentation of Nature: Natural Born HustlersNature’s Best Con Artists. Altogether they make Nature: Natural Born HustlersNature’s Best Con Artists one of the best episode of Nature to be turned out so far this year and even more proof of why PBS remains the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television today. It will be available Tuesday, March 8th and can be ordered direct online via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=85258466&cp=&kw=nature+natural+born+hustlers&origkw=nature+natural+born+hustlers&sr=1. More information on this and other episodes of Nature is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/PBSNature

 

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.