Two New ‘Nature’ Docs On The Way This Month

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution/WNET

PBS Distribution will release two new episodes of its hit wildlife series Nature on DVD this month.

NatureA Squirrel’s Guide To Success is scheduled for release Jan. 22.  The episode delves into the world of squirrels, examining just a handful of the roughly 300 species that exist today, such as the fox squirrel, Arctic ground squirrel and the red squirrel.

Audiences learn about the abilities and adaptations that have helped squirrels survive for eons in their various environments over the course of one hour. Those abilities and adaptations include, but are not limited to, being able to glide through the air, the ability to make astounding leaps and extensive memory.

NatureA Squirrel’s Guide To Success will retail for MSRP of $24.99, but can be pre-ordered now at a reduced price of $19.99 via PBS’ online store.

 

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution/WNET

NatureDogs in the Land of Lions is scheduled for release Jan. 29.  Filmed over the course of two years, the program follows a family of African dogs. The family is led by the mother — named Puzzles — after her mate — Jigsaw — is killed by lions, the African dog’s biggest enemy.  The moving presentation of motherhood and family loyalty exhibits what sets wild dogs apart from other large, social carnivores.

NatureDogs in the Land of Lions will retail for $24.99, but can be pre-ordered now at a reduced price of $19.99 via PBS’ online store.

More information on these 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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History, Military History Buffs Alike Will Appreciate ‘SOTD: Hannibal In The Alps’

Courtesy: PBS

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/SecretsPBS

 

 

 

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‘SOTD: Scanning The Pyramids’ Is A Rare Miss For PBS

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

The Great Pyramid of King Khufu is one of the most well-known and talked about landmarks around the world.  Known as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Great Pyramid has hidden so many secrets for centuries. So many methods have been used to try to decode the pyramid’s secrets, but so many mysteries still remain.  This past April, PBS presented a new program about the most recent efforts to uncover and answer some of those mysteries in a new episode of its hit history-based series Secrets of the Dead titled Scanning The Pyramids.  The story of those efforts is interesting, though honestly, does pose at least one problem.  It will be discussed shortly.  The visualizations and footage used to help tell the story do help at least to a point.  They will be discussed later.  The program’s pacing rounds out its most important elements.  That’s especially considering the other elements noted here.  Each element is important in its own right to this program.  All things considered, the noted elements make Secrets of the Dead: Scanning the Pyramids worth at least one watch.

Secrets of the Dead: Scanning The Pyramids is an interesting new addition to the rich history of PBS’ hit history-based series.  While not the series’ best offering, it is worth at least one watch.  That is due in part to the episode’s story.  The story starts out focusing on the efforts of a group of researchers to uncover and solve the mysteries of king Khufu’s Great Pyramid, but soon thereafter turns to the methods used to uncover one mystery in question – a single opening on the pyramid that had previously gone unnoticed.  Along the way, there’s a bunch of discussion on particle science and how it was used to determine that apparently there was something behind the entrance.  The thing is that there was no real answer as to what was behind the entrance.  To that end, this episode proves in the long run to just be another focus on the latest efforts to solve another mystery that remains unsolved.  What’s more, all the talk of particle physics and how they play into the efforts to figure out what may or may not be behind that entrance might go over most viewers’ heads and instead keep the attention of a very limited audience.  Along with all of this in mind, considering that the story focuses on the efforts to solve one mystery of one pyramid, the program’s title is not exactly fitting, either.  Rather, it is somewhat misleading.  Pyramids probably should have been reduced to the singular Pyramid instead of the plural in hindsight.  Keeping all of this in mind, the story at the center of Secrets of the Dead: Scanning the Pyramids proves to be worth at least one watch, but sadly proves in the end to be its own mystery even being worth one watch.  While the program’s story is somewhat problematic to its presentation, its footage and visualizations do help – to a point – to keep viewers engaged.

The footage and visualizations help keep viewers engaged as much as they do because they tend to help illustrate the importance of the methods.  For instance, watching the research of what the particle hits can do to help reveal what might be inside the pyramid shows how far research methods have come and what those methods can reveal.  On the same note, seeing the research team actually hard at work inside and outside the pyramid, working to get everything in place shows how important the project is to all involved.  There is even 3D technology of sorts used in the process.  That visualization alone is sure to leave viewers in awe while the internal and side scans of what is believed to be inside the pyramid will interest even the most novice of  Egyptian history buffs.  Keeping this in mind, the footage and visualizations do their own important part here to keep audiences watching.  They, collectively, are not the only important element that keeps viewers engaged.  The program’s pacing puts the final touch on the program.

Considering that this episode of Secrets of the Dead runs roughly 55 minutes and the amount of information shared over that course of time, the program’s pacing proves solid from start to end.  It would have been so easy for the program to get bogged down in its discussion on solar particles hitting Earth and their impact on the team’s research, but thankfully that didn’t happen here.  It would have also been easy to get bogged down in the pyramid’s many mysteries, but even that element was balanced with the program’s other elements, leading to just as much insurance of viewers’ engagement.  All things considered, each segment and every bit of information compliments the prior quite well.  The result is a program that moves fluidly from one element to another, thus keeping viewers at least partially watching, and more so if they are they program’s key audience.  When this is considered alongside the importance of this program’s visualizations and footage, the two elements do just enough to make this program worth at least one watch since the program’s story proves so problematic.  Keeping all of this in mind, Secrets of the Dead: Scanning The Pyramids proves in the end to be a program that, while not the series’ best entry, still worth at least one watch.

Secrets of the Dead: Scanning the Pyramids is an interesting addition to the rich history of PBS’ hit history-based series.  Its story shows that it is definitely aimed at a very specific target audience.  That’s rare for this series, too.  Thankfully, the program’s footage and visualizations couple with its pacing to do just enough to keep viewers engaged at least to a point that they make up for the story’s problems.  Keeping all of this in mind, while this program ultimately proves to not be the best entry from Secrets of the Dead, it is still worth at least one watch.  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 Shows Even Other Animals Can Be Rebels In New Three-Part “Nature” Episode

Courtesy: PBS

Truth is, more often than not, stranger than fiction, and that is just as true when it comes to the animal kingdom as in any other aspect of life.  Audiences will see that for themselves firsthand this summer when PBS Distribution releases PBS’ new Nature documentary Natural Born Rebels on DVD.

NatureNatural Born Rebels is currently scheduled to be released on DVD June 5. The 159 minute (2 hours, 39 minutes) documentary presents to viewers some animals whose behavior seems so unbelievable, yet is very real.  That includes a crab that can’t help stealing, a chimpanzee who rules his group with an iron fist and even a rather amorous prairie dog.  As audiences will learn throughout the three-part series, these are just some of the surprising yet very real behaviors that animals display, too.

Over the course of the program, researchers reveal to viewers that these behaviors may be the key to survival in the animal kingdom.  NatureNatural Born Rebels will retails for MSRP of $24.99 and can be pre-ordered at a reduced 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

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/PBSNature

 

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PBS Follows Hannibal’s Journey Across The Alps In New Episode of ‘Secrets Of The Dead’

Courtesy: PBS

Hannibal’s journey along the Alps along with his forces is one of the most talked about stories from history.  Throughout the ages, no one has been able to definitively say which path the infamous General took en route to Rome.That is until now.

PBS delves into that story in a new episode of its hit history-based series Secrets of the Dead.  Originally aired this past April, it is currently scheduled to be released on DVD June 5.  The roughly 50-minute program follows a group of researchers as the group works to tell once and for all how Hannibal — with his 30,000 troops, 15,000 horses and 37 war elephants — managed to cross the Alps in just 16 days en route to his attack on Rome.

Secrets of the DeadHannibal in the Alps will retail for MSRP of $24.99, but can be pre-ordered now at a reduced price of $19.99 via PBS’ online store.  A trailer for this episode of Secrets of the Dead is streaming online now here. 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

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

PBS “Finds” More Success With The Fourth Season Of ‘Finding Your Roots’

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

PBS’ hit family history-based series Finding Your Roots has, over the course of its now four seasons on television, become one of television’s most significant series with the presentation of various celebrities’ humble family roots. Late last year — Dec. 19 — the series’ fourth season wrapped with profiles of Amy Schumer and Aziz Ansari’s family histories, and its fifth season is said to already be in production. While audiences wait for the premiere of Season Five, they now have the series’ fourth season to enjoy any time they want as Season Four was released on DVD early last month. This latest entry in the series’ run is another interesting offering that is certain to keep audiences engaged while also leaving audiences wanting to learn more about their own families’ histories. That is due in part to the guests featured in this season. This factor will be discussed shortly. While the guests clearly form the season’s foundation — and a solid foundation at that — they collectively lead to the season’s one negative, the lack of an episode guide other than on disc. As always, this might not seem overly important on the surface, but even as an aesthetic element, is important to the season’s overall presentation. To that end, it is something that cannot be ignored in examining this season’s presentation. It is, luckily, the season’s only negative. Its other positive is the collective information shared through each interview. That includes not only the celebs’ family histories, but the additional history to which each family’s history is connected. Each element is important in its own way to the whole of this season’s presentation, as will be pointed out throughout this review. All things considered, Finding Your Roots: Season Four proves to be another engaging and entertaining entry for the series.

The fourth season of PBS’ hit family history series Finding Your Roots is yet another engaging and entertaining entry for the series. It is an offering that is certain to not only engage and entertain audiences, but potentially have them doing more research on their own family histories. That is due in no small part to the guests who are featured throughout this season. The guest list this season includes celebrities from the worlds of television, movies, music and sports and people from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. That variety includes NBA superstar Carmelo Anthony, veteran actor William H. Macy, political strategist Ana Navarro and so many others. Simply put, the guests featured this season are black, white, Latin American and so many others. As a matter of fact, one of the biggest surprises that is revealed is that comedian Fred Armisen, another of the season’s featured guests, is in fact Korean by descent despite being American by birth. That is information that will be discussed later. Getting back to the matter at hand, this reaching into so many avenues of the entertainment world yet again, and presenting guests of so many ethnic and cultural backgrounds is another way to promote America’s diversity. It’s nothing new for the series. It creates its own interest for this season, and while it does plenty to make this season interesting and entertaining, it also leads to the season’s one negative, its lack of an episode guide outside of the discs’ main menu.

Omitting an episode guide might not seem like an important factor in the overall presentation of a box set, but it is in fact far more important to note than many might think. That is because of the number of guests (and by connection, information) presented throughout the season. The season’s total guest count sits at 27, with the majority of its episodes featuring three guests each. Episodes 1, 8 and 10 are the only episodes of the 10 total episodes to feature only two guests. Keeping this in mind, not having a physical episode guide leaves viewers to have to go through each disc manually or just go to Wikipedia for an episode listing. That takes extra time that viewers likely won’t like having to take. So again, while this aesthetic element might not seem all that important, it reduces the ease of choosing an episode/episodes to watch. The last time that the series seemed to have included an episode list was the series’ first season. Since then, there has seemed to be no sign of an episode list printed anywhere on the seasons’ cases, taking away at least some points for general effect. Luckily though, that once again lack of listing is not enough to make this season a fail by any means. It’s just one thing that really should be taken in to consideration for re-addition beginning with next season. Keeping that in mind, there is one more positive that should be noted here: the information shared throughout each episode.

The information that is revealed about each guest’s family history is so important because it reminds audiences that while these people are celebrities, their roots are just as humble as anyone else’s. That, in turn, makes the guests more relatable to viewers, and — coming full circle — makes the program that much more engaging and entertaining. Audiences will be surprised to learn that one of William H. Macy’s ancestors was one of a group of people who originally bought Nantucket Island and that The Tonight Show drummer/The Roots founding member Questlove’s roots go back to the last slaves to ever come to America aboard the slave ship Clotilda. Just as interesting to learn is that Ana Navarro and Carmelo Anthony’s famil histories involve stories that sound like something right out of a soap opera. As noted previously, Fred Armisen’s family history, which reveals that his family’s roots reach all the way back to Korea, is interesting in its own right. It’s just one more family history that is certain to keep viewers enthralled. Of course the histories are not the only interesting information shared throughout this season. The deeper histories presented alongside those family histories adds even more interest to the season.

As Armisen learns his family’s history, he (and viewers) learn about the mistreatment of the Koreans by the Japanese during and before World War II. This is another little-known piece of history that history buffs (and especially WWII history buffs) will appreciate. Gates’ interview with Lupita Nyong’o reveals the military element of her family’s past. This leads to a brief but concise history of Kenya that is sure to be the start for another lesson. Navaro’s family history leads to a brief discussion on the conflicts in Nicaragua and Cuba while interviews with Larry David and Bernie Sanders reveal the pair’s connections through their Jewish roots. Between these lessons and so many others presented through the guests’ family histories, audiences get even more to appreciate in each episode, historically speaking. When those history lessons are coupled with the guests’ own family history lessons, the whole of the two elements proves completely why the information shared throughout this season is just as important to its presentation as its guest list. That list, together with the information, makes this season well worth the watch, even without a printed episode list. Taking this into consideration, Finding Your Roots: Season Four proves to be another solid entry in the series’ run and one of this year’s top new box sets for grown-ups.

Finding Your Roots: Season Four is yet another solid entry into the hit celeb/history-based series. The guest list presented this season is just one part of what makes it such a strong new offering. The dual history lessons presented on the guests’ families and the connected world histories prove that even more. When these two elements are joined together, they make the lack of an episode listing anywhere on the box an element that, while it can’t be ignored, not enough to ruin the season’s presentation. It is a nuisance, but not an overwhelming issue. With that in mind, this season’s presentation overall is such that the season is not only another solid entry to the series, but one of this year’s top new box sets for grown-up audiences. It is available now and can be ordered direct via PBS’ online store. More information on Finding Your Roots‘ fourth season is available online now along with all of the series’ latest news at:

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

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

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

PBS Presents One Of Aviation History’s Most Important Moments In New ‘NOVA’ Episode

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

PBS and Public Media Distribution are taking audiences on an epic journey next month with the release of another new episode of NOVA.

NOVAThe Impossible Flight will be released on DVD April 10. Having originally premiered on PBS Jan. 31, 2018, this episode follows the journey of the Solar Impulse II as it made its round-the-world journey, using only the power of the sun to keep it going.  The plane’s March 2015 journey was the culmination of a 13-year project meant to show the potential for renewable energy sources.

The two-hour program will retail for MSRP of $24.99, but can be pre-ordered no at a reduced price of $19.99 via PBS’ online store.  Audiences can see the episode’s trailer now here.

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

 

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/novapbs

 

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.