Dinah Jefferies’ ‘Daughters Of War’ Succeeds Through Its Story, Transitions, Chapter Lengths

Courtesy: Harper Collins

World War II has, for ages, been the source of so many stories.  From real history to historical fiction, countless stories have come from the noted era.  Yet another tale from the “second great war” (so to speak) will come Tuesday from author Dinah Jefferies in her new historical fiction, Daughters of War.  Jefferies’ eighth novel, it will come more than a year after the release of her then latest novel, The Tuscan Contessa.  This latest offering is yet another wartime drama from Jefferies, much as with its predecessor, but different from the prior novel in its story.  This will be discussed shortly.  The story’s transitions work with the story itself to make for more appeal.  It will be discussed a little later.  The chapter lengths are also of note and will be examined later, too.  They round out the most important of the book’s elements.  When it and the other noted items are considered together, the whole makes the novel another work that will appeal to Jefferies’ established audiences and female readers in general.

Dinah Jefferies’ forthcoming novel, Daughters of War, is a presentation that is certain to appeal to her established audiences and to female readers in general.  The book’s appeal comes in part through its story.  The story in question follows three sisters – Helene, Florence, and Elise – as they navigate life together in the tiny, French town of Saint-Cecile during the waning months of WWII.  The sisters are living there after the war forced their separation from their mother, Claudette.  All three young women face their own trials and tribulations while living in what is apparently their childhood home.  Love is found and lost.  There is also tragedy added to the mix for the sisters.  This all happens over the course of the story’s first two acts, which run approximately 262 pages to be exact.  That makes up the story’s first half.  The story’s third act runs from there to its end and includes Helene working with her love interest, Jack, to help a Jewish woman escape from the Nazis’ clutches and get to Spain.  It also finally uncovers a dark secret about Claudette that while painful, helps bring Helene, Florence and Elise even closer together.  Not to give away too much since the book has yet to be released, but the secret in question involves the all too familiar dramatic plot element of forbidden love.  The story does have a happy ending, and part of that happy ending involves, of course, the end of the war.  All in all, the story is unique from that of Jefferies’ previous novel even with some similarities in mind between the stories.  Keeping that that in mind the story in whole plays out like something one might expect from one of so many direct-to-DVD wartime dramas or even some Hallmark Channel dramas.  In other words, this story, like so many from Jefferies, will appeal mainly to female readers, all things considered.  That is not to say that the story is bad by any means.  It just suffices to say that it is another work that Jefferies has aimed at her established female audiences and female audiences in general.  It is just one part of what will ensure those audiences’ engagement and entertainment, too.  The transitions between the chapters work with the story to add to that sustained interest.

The story’s transitions are so important to examine because they play their own key role in the story’s general effect.  From one chapter to the next, Jefferies does well to solidly end and begin each section.  Where one sister’s story ends momentarily, another’s begins (and in some cases continues) so fluidly from one chapter to the next.  Whether it be a brief cliffhanger that connects chapters or the simple, solid move from one portion of the story to the next, everything interconnects solidly and fluidly throughout the story.  The result is that from the story’s opening to its finale it never leaves readers feeling behind or even lost.  In other words, it keeps the story’s pacing moving that nicely, too.  Keeping that in mind, the transitions clearly play their own pivotal part to the whole of the novel.  They work directly with the story to ensure readers’ engagement and entertainment in their own way.  When this is considered along with the novel’s story, the two elements collectively give Jefferies’ audiences even more reason to keep reading.  Staying on the matter of the chapters, their lengths is also of note.

The chapter lengths are important because just as with the transitions, they play directly into the story’s pacing, too.  Readers will not that the chapters in this book are relatively short for the most part.  They are as short as four pages long and as long as 12 pages at the most.  Just as important to note is that even as the story reaches its midpoint, Jefferies does not just intentionally spread out that section’s chapter.  Rather, she finds the right points at which to lengthen specific chapters and at which to shorten others.  This may not seem like much on the surface, but the reality is that there are authors out there who will reach a certain point in their books and make those chapters extensively long while the majority of the other chapters are not as lengthy.  In the case of this novel however, the chapter lengths fit each portion of the tale fittingly.  Jefferies clearly did not just try to get to the climax and stretch it out for the sake of stretching it out.  Again, too many authors go this route with their novels, and it really gets annoying.  Any true bibliophile will agree with that.  She instead ensures that each chapter runs the right length for itself.  This helps keep readers engaged in its own right and further ensures their enjoyment.  All in all, audiences will find themselves moving through the story so solidly, leaving them feeling even better about themselves having read so much in the process.  By the time the story ends, readers will need a moment to realize they have reached the finale, but in the best way possible.  Again, this clearly is connected to the solid pacing just as much as the transitions themselves.  When the chapter lengths and transitions are considered along with the novel’s very story, all three elements make the novel in whole a good introduction to Jefferies and her works for some and an equally enjoyable offering for her established female audiences.

Dinah Jefferies’ forthcoming wartime drama, Daughters of War is a presentation that her established audiences and more casual female readers will find equally enjoyable.  That is due in large part to the novel’s story.  It is a story of survival in a time of great trials and tribulation, much as with Jefferies’ existing works.  It also incorporates plenty of romance for Jefferies’ noted female readers.  The whole does end with a happy finale despite everything that the sisters go through over the course of the story. The chapters’ transitions play in with the story to keep readers engaged.  They move solidly from one to the next, ensuring not to lose readers along the way.  They interconnect that well throughout the story and in turn also ensure the story’s pacing remains fluid.  Staying on that note, the chapters’ lengths also keep the story moving fluidly, only getting longer when really need be.  Otherwise, the chapters remain relatively short.  Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the novel.  All things considered, they make Daughters of War another offering from Dinah Jefferies that her established audiences will enjoy just as much as more casual readers.

Daughters of War is scheduled for release Nov. 16 through Harper Collins.  More information on this and other titles from Harper Collins is available at:

Website: https://harpercollins.com

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PBS Shares Another Important WWII Story In New “AmEx” Episode

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

PBS and Public Media Distribution are set to share another new story from World War II with the masses next week.

The story in question is that of the development of a once top secret tech that helped the Allies win the war, and it comes in the form of American Experience: the Secret of Tuxedo Park.  Set for release next Tuesday, Jan. 16 on DVD and Digital HD, the 55-minute program tells the story of the development of the first radar.

The story starts in the fall of 1940, when Hitler’s forces were preparing for an all-out assault on Britain.  America was still neutral at this point in the war, but British Prime Minister Winston Churchill knew American help was needed to prevent the Nazis from advancing.  He sent a small group of scientists to the United States, who then met with Wall Street tycoon — and himself a scientist — Alfred Lee Loomis.

The two sides met at Loomis’ private laboratory at Tuxedo Park, just outside of New York City.  Loomis used his connections and his finances to help develop the first working radar, which would ultimately play a critical role in the Allied forces’ defeat of the Axis powers.

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

Based on author Jenny Conant’s book Tuxedo ParkA Wall Street Tycoon and the Secret Palace of Science That Changed The Course of WWIIAmerican ExperienceTuxedo Park will retail for MSRP of $24.99, but can be pre-ordered at a reduced price of $19.99 via PBS’ online store.  It can also be ordered as a bundle with Conant’s book at a price of $32.99.  Audiences can view a trailer for this episode online now here.

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


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

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Cohen Media Group Announces ‘Churchill’ Home Release Date

Courtesy: Cohen Media Group

Cohen Media Group is bringing the hard-hitting World War II historical drama Churchill home next month.

Churchill will be released Oct. 3 on DVD and Blu-ray through the independent movie studio.  The movie stars actor Brian Cox (The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Identity, Braveheart) as Britain’s beloved Prime Minister Winston Churchill as he led the nation through the war.

In the case of this movie, audiences watch as Churchill wrestles with himself over whether or not to take part in the invasion of Normandy, considering the result of the World War I Battle of Gallipoli.  That battle saw more than 500,000 soldiers die in the line of duty.

In considering whether or not to join the operation, Churchill also finds himself at odds with U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower (played here by John Slattery—Mad Men, Captain America: Civil War, Iron Man 2) and British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery (played here by Julian Wadham—The English Patient, War Horse, Exorcist: The Beginning).  Churchill’s wife Clementine (played here by Miranda Richardson—Dance With a Stranger, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Sleepy Hollow) ultimately helps Churchill as he comes to terms with his decision after the intervention of King George VI in discussions between the leaders.

Churchill is rated PG.  It will retail for MSRP of $30.99 on Blu-ray and $25.99 on DVD.  The 105-minute main feature will be accompanied by a selection of bonus features.

More information on this and other titles from Cohen Media Group is available online now at:




Website: http://www.cohenmedia.net

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/cohenmediagroup




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Aesthetic Issues Are Not Enough To Sink ‘Hell Below’

Courtesy: Smithsonian Channel/Public Media Distribution

Smithsonian Channel officially released its latest World War II documentary Hell Below earlier this week.  The two-disc collection focuses warfare waged from below the waves throughout the war.  It is not the network’s first time focusing on WWII submarine warfare, but it is still enjoyable in its own right, even despite its negatives.  The stories that are told over the course of the documentary’s two discs are collectively the documentary’s primary positive.  This will be discussed shortly.  While the stories do plenty to keep audiences engaged over the course of the documentary’s 360 minute (six-hour) run time, the documentary is not perfect.  It suffers from a pair of negatives, too, the most significant of which is the lack of an episode listing anywhere inside or outside the set’s box.  This will be discussed later and is hardly the set’s only negative.  While the set does suffer from some negatives, it is not a total loss, as already noted in regards to its featured stories.  The re-enactments, used to help tell the featured stories add to the stories.  That being the case, they are key in examining the set’s presentation, too.  Each element is important in its own right to the set’s presentation.  All things considered, they make Hell Below a program that is worth at least an occasional watch by history buffs and more specifically WWII history buffs alike.

Hell Below, Smithsonian Channel’s latest WWII feature presentation, is a program that history and WWII history buffs alike will appreciate.  They will agree in watching it, that it is a history-based program that is worth at least one watch.  That is due in part to the stories that are presented throughout the course of its six-hour run time.  The stories focus on some of World War II’s most significant submarine conflicts including conflicts in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters.  From the Allies fighting against German U-Boats to Allied subs fighting German and Japanese ships (and even saving allied troops), the stories tell a variety of intriguing pieces of the war’s history.  Audiences will be shocked to learn how Native American POWs were inadvertently shot and killed by American sea men after a German ship carrying them was sunk and the lack of fallout from that event.  Just as interesting to learn is the story of the American sub Harder in the episode “Destroyer Killer.”  This underdog story of sorts follows the crew of the Harder as it rescued allied commandos from Japanese clutches and survived multiple Japanese attacks en route to and from a covert surveillance mission. The sub’s sad fate following its return to its Australian base adds even more depth to the story.  The surprising story of two allied convoys’ escape from multiple U-Boat attacks in another episode is yet another truly interesting piece that will keep audiences enthralled. Between those episodes and the others not noted here, the stories in whole prove to be the most important overall element to Hell Below’s overall presentation.

The stories that are presented over the six-hour course of Hell Below are critical to the program’s presentation.  That is because from one to the next, the stories will keep history buffs, WWII history buffs and audiences in general enthralled with the stories of the Allies’ determination to defeat the Axis powers.  While the program’s featured stories are undeniably important to its overall presentation, the program is not perfect in its home release.  It does suffer from a handful of issues, not the least of which is the issue of its episode guide.  Audiences will be saddened to discover that the program’s episodes are listed only on the program’s menu.  In other words, audiences are forced to play the discs and virtually memorize which episodes are on which disc in order to know which is where.  There is no episode guide inside or outside the box even as an insert.  It may seem like a minor element about which to be concerned, but the reality is that having something as minor as an episode guide makes choosing which episode(s) to watch much easier and more enjoyable.  To that end, being forced to choose episodes only by playing the program’s discs detracts greatly from the program’s presentation in its home release.

On another level, the redundancy of the CG sequences and even some of the re-enactments takes away even more from the program’s presentation.  From one episode to the next, it seems like the same CG sub is shown attacking the same CG ship right down to the ships being hit by the same torpedos.  The same applies when the subs surface and dive.  Obviously this was a cost cutting measure.  That is understandable.  But the reality is that the Allied and Axis subs did not look exactly the same.  By presenting the same sequences over and over again, it presents the image that the subs all looked the same.  To that end, cost cutting might not have been such a good move.  Hopefully those behind this program (and Smithsonian Channel’s executives) will take this into account with the network’s next WWII documentary.

The lack of an episode guide for Hell Below and the redundancy of its CG sequences do much to detract from its overall presentation in its new home release.  The lack of an episode guide makes choosing episodes more trouble than it should be.  The redundancy of the CG sequences is takes away from the program’s aesthetic value on the surface.  That is because seeing the same sequences from one episode to the next eventually gets boring.  On another level, it raises a concern about presenting historical accuracy in regards to the design of the Axis and Allied ships and subs.  Considering all of this, these negatives greatly detract from the program’s overall presentation.  However, those negatives are not so great that they make the program wholly unwatchable.  The re-enactments that are used to tell the featured stories, while at times redundant themselves, add to the stories’ interest.  The actors enlisted to portray the crews of the subs and ships are to be applauded for their work on camera.  The tension on their faces and the very immediacy in their actions drives home the importance of the real crews’ efforts to defeat the Axis subs.  It truly serves to pull audiences even more into the story, even with their occasional redundancy, too.  Yes, even some of the re-enactment sequences are recycled in these episodes.  Luckily though, that recycling is not as common as the recycling of the episodes’ CG sequences.  Keeping this in mind, the re-enactments used to bring the stories to life prove to be another key positive to Hell Below’s home presentation.  When it is set alongside the positive of the program’s featured stories, the two do just enough to make up for the program’s negatives.  This in turn makes the program worth at least an occasional watch by history and WWII history buffs alike.

Hell Below, Smithsonian Channel’s latest venture in to the history of WWII, is an offering that is worth at least an occasional watch.  History and WWII history buffs alike will enjoy watching it every now and then thanks to its gripping stories and the re-enactments that are used to tell those stories.  The lack of an episode guide inside or outside the two-disc set’s box detracts from the program’s presentation to a point.  The same can be said of the redundancy in the stories’ CG sequences.  While the program is not perfect, the positives do just enough to make up for the negatives, thus making the program, again, worth at least an occasional watch.  It is available now and can be ordered online direct via PBS’ online store.  More information on this and other Smithsonian Channel programs is available online now at:




Website: http://www.smithsonianchannel.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/SmithsonianChan




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New WWII Doc Presents Stories From The War Below The Waves

Courtesy: Smithsonian Channel/Public Media Distribution

Public Media Distribution and Smithsonian Channel are partnering to bring audiences some rarely told tales from World War II this spring.

Hell Below will be released on DVD on Tuesday, April 8. The six-part series presents stories of the war below the waves throughout World War II. It starts in 1940 as Hitler’s U-Boats start attacking allied convoys in the Atlantic and the Allies’ response to the attacks.

The series’ second segment, “Hitler’s Revenge,” begins in December 1941.  Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Karl Donitz, German Commander of U-Boats, looks to capitalize on the chaos that ensued with what was dubbed Operation Drumbeat.  He orders five German subs to sail to New York Harbor and launch an attack there, which they did with some success.

The impact of the attacks on Pearl Harbor and New York are presented in the series’ next segment, “America Fights Back.”  This segment shows America’s efforts to transform its sub fleet from patrol vehicles to predators.  The effort is fraught with danger, too, as is evidenced in this episode.

The segments listed here are just part of the story presented in Hell Below.  The series has three more episodes for audiences to take in, including a gripping story about a June 1944 effort by an Allied sub crew to save Allied commandos in Japanese-held Borneo and an equally powerful story about the USS Tang that will keep audiences just as engaged.

The six segments that make up the body of Hell Below span almost five hours on two discs.  The double-disc set will retail for MSRP of $29.99.  It can be pre-ordered online now via PBS’ online store at a reduced price of $24.99.

More information on this and other programs from Smithsonian Channel is available online now at:




Website: http://www.smithsonianchannel.com

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Twitter: http://twitter.com/SmothsonianChan




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PBS’ New WWII Doc Another Important Addition To Iwo Jima’s Story

Courtesy:  PBS/PBS Distribution

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

February 19th, 2016 marks seventy-one years since the beginning of the battle for Iwo Jima. What remains today one of World War II’s most infamous battles, it lasted for roughly forty days and claims hundreds of lives on both the American and Japanese side. It also marked the beginning of the end of the way in the Pacific. Last December PBS and PBS Distribution released a new retrospective on the battle in the form of Iwo Jima: From Combat To Comrades. While the DVD may have been released late last year, the upcoming anniversary of the nearly two month-long battle is a fitting presentation as the world remembers the sacrifices made not just by the Americans that served and fell but those that were forced to serve on the Japanese side. That’s right. Believe it or not not every Japanese soldier wanted to fight as has already been noted in the movie Letters From Iwo Jima. That is echoed here, too in this program’s presentation. Speaking of the presentation, it is the central element that makes Iwo Jima: From Combat To Comrades worth the watch. The interviews and footage that are used to tell the program’s story are collectively just as important as the story itself. The program’s editing rounds out its most important elements. Between the interviews and vintage footage of the battle for Iwo Jima, Rob Goubeaux, ACE, is to be commended for his work. Thanks to his work, the interviews, footage and more seamlessly interweave and tell a story that like so many others helps maintain the memory of those who served and the importance of the conflict. Together with the program’s main story and the elements used to tell the story, all three pieces combine to make Iwo Jima: From Combat to Comrades a piece that every military history buff should see at least once and that every member of the military past and present will appreciate.

Iwo Jima: From Combat To Comrades is not the first profile of the battle for Iwo Jima that has ever been released on the subject in question. This aside, it is still a presentation that history buffs and military history buffs will appreciate just as much as America’s military personnel past and present. This is especially the case as the seventy-first anniversary of the nearly two month-long conflict nears. That is made clear through the program’s central presentation. The roughly hour-long presentation recollects the events that unfolded from February 19th to March 26th, 1945. It explains in no uncertain terms that despite the popular belief, the raising of the flag atop Mount Suribachi was not the end of the conflict. In fact, it clearly states that fighting went on well after the flag was raised. That is just one part of the program that makes its story such an interesting watch. There are first-hand stories told by those that were there about the events that unfolded throughout the conflict. From one American soldier grabbing a flamethrower and clearing out seven pill boxes to one Japanese soldier’s story of gratitude for being saved by an American Marine rather than killed and much more there are plenty of stories that audiences will enjoy and appreciate throughout. For all of the interest raised by the program’s numerous stories they are just part of what makes the program’s central story so interesting. The message of peace and humanity that lies at the very heart of everything is what is most powerful here. Throughout the program the survivors on both sides continually echo the message that they were all human and the feelings about the lives that were lost on both sides. The desire of the previously noted Japanese soldier to thank the Marine who saved him is just one way in which the message is exhibited. One of the men on the American side notes in his story that we are all human and that because of this, there was really no reason for the fight. The varied stories of men who gave their lives and the emotions felt by those that survived and had to return home drives that message home even more so. Whether for those moments or for the many others noted throughout, the overlying message of peace and humanity that is presented here makes the program’s central story one that will stick with audiences just as much as any other story of Iwo Jima and/or any other of World War II’s conflicts. Together with the stories themselves the whole of the program’s central story shows clearly why it is such an important part of the program’s whole.

The story that lies at the heart of Iwo Jima: From Combat To Comrades is unquestionably an important element in its overall presentation. The elements that are used to tell the story are just as important to the program as its story. The elements in question are interviews from those that fought at Iwo Jima, vintage footage of the conflict, and footage of the most recent reunion of those men. The interviews, as already noted, include interviews not only with American forces but at least one Japanese soldier who showed that not every Japanese soldier wanted to be involved in the ongoing fight against America. He echoes the story presented in Letters From Iwo Jima that in fact many Japanese soldiers were in fact forced to serve because of the Emperor. He clearly states that he did not care about the view that the Japanese had about being taken by American forces. He didn’t even consider it being taken. Rather he called it being saved and was wholly grateful for being saved. One of the most interesting of the interviews from the American side involved a Marine explaining the difficulty in returning to everyday life after being discharged. He notes he couldn’t return to normalcy because of what he went through while other men didn’t come back. It is such a painful and telling statement; a statement that the military should have been paying better attention to its men even that long ago and that PTSD is obviously nothing new. The footage of the men fighting and dying on Iwo Jima drives that message home even harder. The footage of the survivors’ latest annual reunion is just as powerful. It shows just how few of those survivors remain today and thus the importance of maintaining the memory of both the men who served and the conflicts in which they served. Altogether the combined interviews and footage effectively tells even more stories from the battle for Iwo Jima. They also serve to help drive home even more the program’s overlying message about the need for peace. It’s just one more way in which the program shows itself to be another important watch both for military and history buffs and for military personnel past and present.

The story that lies at the center of Iwo Jima: From Combat To Comrades and the material used to tell the story are both key to its presentation. As important as both elements are to the program in whole, the work of editor Rob Goubeaux, ACE is just as important to the program. Goubeaux took director/producer Carol L. Fleischer’s calls and assembled that footage and interviews seamlessly. The interviews are lined up expertly with footage old and new alike for the clearest story possible. They also combine to have quite the long-lasting emotional impact on audiences. The expertise exhibited in Goubeaux’s work also serves in turn to exhibit Fleischer’s focus and attention to detail and that of her fellow producers Lori Mason Frye, Arnold Shapiro, Tetsu Uemura, and Seigo Samura. Thanks to their combined efforts the end result is a presentation that while not the first program ever presented about Iwo Jima, is still one that every history buff and military history buff will appreciate just as much as military personnel past and present.

Iwo Jima: From Combat To Comrades is not the first program to ever focus on the battle for Iwo Jima. Any number of programs centered on Iwo Jima have been released since its end. Even with this in mind it is still no less interesting for history and military history buffs and for military personnel past and present. That is thanks in large part to the two-part presentation that lies at its center. That presentation not only tells another angle of the conflict’s story but also the importance of peace and humanity. The elements that were used to present both portions of that presentation are just as important to the program. They include interviews with both Americans and Japanese men who fought in that fateful conflict. The program’s editing rounds out the program’s presentation. It connects the story and all of its core elements for an hour-long experience that audiences of all types will want to see at least once. It also serves to show the work put in by the program’s producers and director. The end result of those efforts is a presentation that while not the only presentation on Iwo Jima to ever be released, is still one that is worth at least one watch. It is available now on DVD and can be ordered direct via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=78873156&cp=&kw=iwo+jima+from+combat+to+comrades&origkw=Iwo+Jima+From+Combat+to+Comrades&sr=1. More information on this and other titles from PBS is available online now at:

Website: http://www.pbs.org

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WHV Finally Gets One Right With Its New Peanuts Collection

Courtesy: Warner Home Video

Courtesy: Warner Home Video

This Thanksgiving, Blue Sky Studios and 20th Century Fox will team up to bring audiences the first-ever big screen Peanuts adventure that (go figure) is simply titled The Peanuts Movie. Personal opinions aside, it is interesting to note that as the movie’s debut nears, so is Warner Brothers’ home entertainment division–Warner Home Video (WHV)–stepping up its re-issues of the classic Peanuts TV specials. Already released this year WHV has re-issued Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown. Officials with WHV have also announced that the organization will also release Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don’t Come Back) and He’s a Bully, Charlie Brown along with the company’s new compilation set Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection. The latter of the trio is currently planne for a nationwide release on Tuesday, September 15th. Though, interestingly enough it has already been released through Target likely via a special deal between the retailer and the people at WHV. For those that were not lucky enough to pick up the dual-disc collection in its original release via Target will be pleased to add it to their personal collections. The main reason that audiences will be pleased to add it to their collections is its featured specials. It features eleven classic Peanuts TV specials that while previously released on one platform or another are now collected into this much more ergonomic collection. This will be discussed at more length shortly. Another reason that the collection proves so interesting and worth the purchase is the material presented within each special. Audiences actually get to hear an adult talk for the first time ever in one special (She’s A Good Skate, Charlie Brown). And while most audiences are familiar with the classic Peanuts holiday specials, some will be surprised that there is another holiday special of sorts that is just as deserving of attention in the form of What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown? This special is a deeply moving Memorial Day special that will impact viewers of all ages. Last of note in regards to this collection’s positives is that classic hand-drawn animation style. The old school style of artwork is yet another example of what once made animated features truly animated and in turn truly entertaining. Each noted element shows in its own way that Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection is a surprising new release from WHV. It would be nice to think that maybe it marks the beginning of WHV finally moving in the right direction after having slid in the wrong direction for the past couple of years or so. One can only hope. Even if it is just a random diamond in the rough from the once powerhouse studio, it proves through all three noted elements together, to be one that any Peanuts fan will happily welcome into his or her home DVD library.

Warner Home Video has been noticeably declining over the course of the past two years or more. That is evident through every one of its releases both for families and for select audiences. Said releases have shown that someone(s) at WHV apparently did not and does not care about providing audiences with quality home releases. For all of the problematic releases that WHV has put out in stores over the past couple of years or so, finally a random diamond in the rough from WHV will be released very soon in the form of the new Peanuts collection Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection. This collection of TV specials includes eleven classic Peanuts TV specials that some of which were nominated for Emmy Awards while certain others actually received the coveted trophy. It should be noted that all eleven of the specials featured in this new double-disc collection have each previously been released via one platform or another. Some have been released on VHS while others have previously been released on DVD. Others have even been issued and re-issued on one platform then another. Despite this, some viewers out there might not have been lucky enough to add one, another or more of the featured specials up until this point. That being the case, all eleven specials show collectively to be of the utmost importance for all viewers. That is because more than likely among the legions of Peanuts fans around the world few to any likely have all of the included specials.

The inclusion of each of its specials in one collection is good for Peanuts fans everywhere in large part because having them all in one place means just that. It means that for the first time ever each one of the specials has been finally released on one platform on which all audiences can watch them. No one is left behind. On another level, for those that had one or more of the specials in question from their previous releases can finally eliminate those platforms (or at least most of them if they own the original VHS copies of said specials). That will ultimately lead to saved space for many fans on their respective DVD racks. Again, this might not apply for every Peanuts fan. But it will definitely apply to many fans. And that being the case, it makes the collection’s ergonomic factor that much more important to the whole of its success and enjoyment.

The episodes presented in Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection show clearly why they are within themselves quite important to the whole of the collection. Examining the episodes on a closer level, ther writing shows to be just as important to the collection as the episodes themselves. In examining the specials’ writing it becomes clear why they were either nominated or in some cases even won an Emmy. That is most evident through the surprisingly moving special What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown. This sequel of sorts to Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don’t Come Back) follows Charlie Brown and company on their departure from France. Along the way, the Peanuts gang happens to arrive at Normandy and the site of the Allied landing on D-Day. The history lesson provided by Linus upon their arrival is unbiased and moving all at the same time. The writers don’t pull any punches here, revealing that the Allied attack on Normandy was in fact anything but perfect. Linus notes in his lesson that weather conditions had ruined the mission so much that Allied commanders even considered pulling back. That is a lesson that sadly very few history teachers and professors alike will teach in the classroom. So it is nice to have that historical truth noted in a special that is aimed at younger viewers.

In another of the collection’s episodes, She’s A Good Skate, Charlie Brown, audiences actually get to hear an adult speak for the first (and probably only)time in the history of the Peanuts TV specials. The adult in question is Peppermint Patty’s teacher. She continuously calls on Patty as Patty continues falling asleep in class thanks to her early morning skating practice. Yes, skating. That is another reason that the writing in this special proves so notable. Anyone that knows their Peanuts history knows that Peppermint Patty is more of a tomboy than a girly girl. Heck, she was even voiced by males in a number of the specials. So having Patty taking part in a sport that is traditionally more aimed at females than males shows a completely opposite side of Patty and to the Peanuts universe in whole.  It is a change that all audiences will agree now in the 21st century is a welcome change.  It shows that it’s okay for a girl to be girly and one of the boys.  Simply put, it really serves to defy those strict, standard gender roles established by society.  Whether or not that is the reason that it at least received an Emmy nomination, it is one more reason that the writing behind this special stands out so strongly as one more part of the whole of the collection’s writing.

Why, Charlie Brown, Why? is perhaps the strongest evidence of the importance of the writing behind the collection’s featured episodes. This episode tackles the issue of cancer. On a more specific level, it tackles the issue of childhood cancer and the impact of cancer on both the victim and his or her friends and family. Its story centers on a young girl named Janet who is diagnosed with leukemia. It just so happens that she is friends with Linus and the rest of the Peanuts gang. Though, Linus is the main character of this story. That side element of the story’s writing will be discussed shortly. Sticking on the main topic, the manner in which the writers tackled the subject is hugely worthy of applause. It was handled with the utmost gentility and in a fashion that also made the topic accessible even for much younger viewers. That in itself makes this special more than just a special. It is special in every sense of the word. It’s just one aspect of the special’s writing that makes it so notable among the others included in this set. The fact that Linus was made the story’s central character makes it even more worth the watch. It’s not the first time that Charlie Brown took a back seat to his Peanuts pals. But it is one of the most successful episodes that featured someone other than Charlie Brown at the center of the story. That is especially the case as audiences see Linus actually lose his cool in a very rare instance. He loses it when another child makes fun of Janet for having lost her hair right in front of him. Audiences will find themselves cheering Linus on and even doing so with the slightest tear in their eyes. That rare moment really exemplifies the pent-up feelings that not only children feel in a situation such as that presented here, but grown-ups, too. So for that reason too, the writing behind Why, Charlie Brown, Why? shows even more the importance of the episodes’ writing in whole in examining the set in whole. It is just one more example of the importance of the writing within each of the set’s episodes. The writing within each of the remaining eight specials shows in its own way why the writing in whole is so important to the episodes’ enjoyment and the success of the set in whole. And together with the episodes themselves, both elements together make a strong argument why every Peanuts fan should have this new collection in his or her own home DVD library. They still are just part of the whole of the collection’s positives. Last of note is the animation style within each episode.

Both the episodes featured throughout the body of Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection and the writing within each special makes for plenty of reason for Peanuts fans to appreciate this latest collection of Peanuts classics. Of course what examination of such a classic collection would be complete without mention of the specials’ animation style. Every one of the specials featured as part of Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection was drawn by hand. That means that endless hours were spent bringing to leave each and every second of each special. Now being that each special runs roughly in the range of about twenty minutes (or just a little more in some cases), the math adds up to quite a bit of time spent on bringing each special to life for broadcast. That says a lot when these specials are compared to the largely CG presentations out there today that try to claim themselves as being animated. They are animated in name only. These specials show everything that was once great about true, animated features. Each one of the specials boasts a similar look. But there are also minute details within each special that set them apart. Audiences that have eagle eyes will catch that minutia. The same can’t be said of today’s CG creations. It really gives these classic specials a real soul and heart. Together with the episodes’ impressive writing and the episodes themselves all three elements come together to make Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection a clear must have for any real devoted Peanuts fan.

Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection is a must have for any real Peanuts fan. That is the case whether or not said fan already owns any of the specials presented here on their original release platforms. The collective writing presented within each of the collection’s makes the episodes and the collection in whole even more enjoyable. The standout animation style presented across each of the collection’s specials rounds out the presentation. It reminds audiences by comparison of what once made animation so great. The animation is original. Even the upcoming Peanuts Movie that is due out this Thanksgiving doesn’t entirely hold up to that style of animation despite the efforts of those behind the movie to make it look like the classics on which it is based. Each element in itself proves to be an important part of the collections’ whole. Altogether they make Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection a collection that any true-blooded Peanuts fan would himself or herself be honored to have in his or her home DVD library. Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection is available now exclusively in Target stores nationwide. It will allegedly be available nationwide in other stores beginning Tuesday, September 15th. More information on this and other upcoming Peanuts releases is available online now along with the latest Peanuts news at:

Website: http://www.peanuts.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/snoopy

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.

Anchor Bay To Release New WWII Drama This Spring

Courtesy:  Anchor Bay Entertainment/Amplify Releasing

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment/Amplify Releasing

World War II is known today as one of the worst conflicts in human history. The destruction caused by the war and the war’s human cost was devastating to say the least. We have that knowledge thanks to those that survived and through extensive documentation both on paper and film. The combination of these elements has in many cases been translated into some of the most powerful and memorable stories of all time. Stories like that of Oskar Schindler, General George S. Patton, Jr., the battle of Midway, and the crew of the famed Memphis Belle are just some of those countless yet powerful stories that have come from one of the world’s worst conflicts. Now this spring, Anchor Bay Entertainment and Amplify Releasing will add another equally powerful story to those ranks when it releases the human drama Against The Sun.

Against The Sun will be released on DVD Tuesday, May 5th. The movie follows the story of three U.S. Navy airmen that crashed in the Pacific in the early days after America entered the war. After crashing in the middle of the Pacific without any food, water, or possible chance of help, pilot Harold Dixon (Garret Dillahunt—Deadwood, 12 Years a Slave, No Country For Old Men), bombardier Tony Pastula (Tom Felton—the Harry Potter franchise, Get Him to the Greek, Rise of the Planet of the Apes), and radioman Gene Aldrich (Jake Abel—Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, The Host, The Lovely Bones) must come together to survive. The trio faces not just the dangers of the open sea but its own emotional struggles, too as it floats thousands of miles from land. If this sounds familiar, it should. An equally well-known story is that of the crew of the U.S.S. Indianapolis, which was sunk by a Japanese sub, leading to the greatest loss of life at sea in U.S. Naval history. The 900 survivors of the sinking faced very similar challenges. Their story was turned into a made-for-TV movie in 1991 titled Mission of the Shark: The Saga of the U.S.S. Indianapolis. There is also a major motion picture centered on the ship in the works that will star Nicholas Cage. Getting back to Against The Sun, it will include a handful of bonus material including a behind-the-scenes featurette, a piece on the movie’s costuming, the movie’s special effects and more. The full list on bonuses is noted below:

  • A Behind-The-Scenes Look
  • A Plane Takes Flight
  • Starving at Sea
  • Working on Water
  • F/X: On Set and Off
  • Blisters, Burns, and Bites
  • Dressing The Part

Against The Sun will be available on DVD Tuesday, May 5th. It will retail for MSRP of $22.98. Its run time is ninety-nine minutes. More information on Against The Sun and other titles from Anchor Bay Entertainment is available online now at:

Website: http://www.anchorbayentertainment.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Anchor_Bay

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.

Educators, History Lovers Alike Will Enjoy History Channel’s New WWII Documentary Set

Courtesy:  A&E Home Video/History Channel

Courtesy: A&E Home Video/History Channel

History Channel’s new military documentary 75 Years of WWII is scheduled to be released this week.  The double-disc documentary is another nice addition to the library of any military history buff out there. Unlike its partner documentary, 100 Years of WWI was somewhat mistitled, the title of this feature actually works to a point.  That is because it actually takes into account the start of WWII in Europe, rather than from the point of the United States’ entry into the war.  So it is actually factually correct.  Another reason that audiences will appreciate this program is that while it does not present the depth of documentaries such as WWII in HD and Vietnam in HD, it is a good starting point for any discussion on World War II especially for any military history class or even history class in general.  And last but not least of all worth noting is the packaging for the double-disc presentation.  That packaging alongside the program’s content and smart title work together to make 75 Years of WWII another welcome addition to the library of any teacher, professor, or history lover in general.

The very first aspect of 75 Years of WWII that makes this latest set from History Channel work is its title.  Most audiences take far too often for granted the title of a given box set, movie, etc.  But the title of this release is quite important.  It is actually so important because this September marks the 75th anniversary of the start of WWII.  That is the 75th anniversary of the start of the war in Europe, not since America joined the war.  So it is a factually correct title.  Some might ask why this matter.  It matters in that unlike so many DVDs out there already, it doesn’t end up misleading audiences.  On another level, that factual certification also serves in itself as the basis for its own history lesson that is broadened quite well by History Channel’s other recent World War II documentary, WWII in HD and the network’s other WWII-based series, one of which sees a two-part episode included on this disc.  That inclusion plays its own part in the overall success of this set, too.

As subtle as it is, the title of 75 Years of WWII is an important piece of the whole that makes this latest release from History Channel enjoyable for history lovers, teachers, and military history lovers alike.  It is a subtle yet important starting point for any discussion point on World War II whether in the classroom or the living room.  Just as important as the presentation’s title is the actual content contained on the set’s two discs.  The material included on this presentation may not be as in-depth as History Channel’s previously released WWII box set WWII in HD.  However, it does collectively offer its own share of in-depth information making for even more solid starting points for many more discussions on the history of World War II.  It all begins with the two-part special D-Day in HD on the set’s first disc.  More than likely, this was chosen as the world stopped and observed the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the end of World War II this year.  It’s a fitting starting point for viewers considering the timeliness of the set’s release.  Disc II is anchored by the two-part Battle 360 episode that focuses on the U.S.S. Enterprise and its role in the battle of Guadal Canal.  There is also a short feature on the Top 10 most important pieces of military hardware that were developed over the course of World War II. This ties directly into History Channel’s previously released programs World War II from Space and 100 Years of WWI, which focused primarily on the military tech developed in World War I, rather than the war’s history.  The Germans, Japanese, and Americans are all featured in this countdown, from land to sea to air.  It’s a fitting finishing piece for a grouping of content that any history lover, military history lover and educator will appreciate.

Both the content included on 75 Years of WWII and its very title are key to the set’s overall presentation and enjoyment.  As important as both factors remain, there is still one remaining factor that audiences should consider when purchasing the double-disc set.  That remaining factor is the set’s packaging.  There are only two discs in this package.  But both discs are placed on their own spindle inside the case.  Disc one is placed on its own insert inside the case while disc two has been placed on a spindle on the back inside portion of the case.  This protects the discs from one another all while making them easily accessible.  The end result is a pair of discs that audiences will be able to enjoy time and again for years to come.

The packaging used to house the discs in 75 Years of WWII rounds out History Channel’s new presentation.  Together with the set’s equally important content and factually accurate title, the three factors noted here make 75 Years of WWII an even more welcome addition to any classroom or living room.  It can be ordered online now direct from History Channel’s online store at http://shop.history.com/detail.php?p=577134&SESSID=a067958912a6f2c2d1ab21dca48b384a&v=history.  More information on this and other titles from History Channel is available online at http://www.facebook.com/History and http://www.history.com.  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.

D-Day’s Sunken Secrets Is Another Important Chapter In The History Of WWII

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS’ NOVA: DDays Sunken Secrets is another invaluable program for anyone that has any interest in the history of World War II or in military history in general.  As informative as the program is, one can’t help but note that it perhaps could have benefitted from a different title.  That’s because most of the program focuses more on the operations of Operation Overlord than on the sunken remnants of the Normandy invasion.  That isn’t to say that that moment in time is completely avoided.  But it doesn’t focus on that aspect near as much as one might be led to believe by the program’s title.  That aside, it is still an interesting piece of World War II history that adds yet another chapter to one of the biggest operations in military history that might otherwise not have been known by some.  And that’s just the beginning.  Audiences will be interested, too to discover that the program’s narrator is himself a WWII veteran who was also there on D-Day.  And last to note is the use of vintage footage against modern video of Normandy today to help illustrate the story of what happened on D-Day and the days that followed.  Each factor plays its own important role in the overall success of this presentation.  Together, they make a program that while perhaps improperly titled, still is an important story that needed to be told.

The first aspect of NOVA: DDays Sunken Secrets the fact that it reveals another chapter of sorts to the story of the D-Day invasion.  It reveals a part of that history that might not have otherwise been known.  Everybody knows about the initial invasion by Allied forces.  And sometimes discussed by historians is the immense planning that led up to the invasion.  However, many might not know that then general Ike Eisenhower actually wrote a letter taking full blame for the operation should it fail.  Interestingly enough, whether or not the initial operation actually failed comes up between a military veteran and a military historian.  The true irony is that the veteran, when posed with the question actually says that in his own view, the operation did in fact fail.  He notes that it failed in that the men that took the beachhead went without the air coverage or the planned naval coverage, either.  Add in changing tides, much like at Dieppe, and the argument is made that while Allied forces eventually took the beaches of Normandy, the operation was still a failure at least in its planning.  That argument actually makes sense.  Had those men had the planned coverage, it is possible that casualties would have been far fewer among Allied forces.  Just as interesting to note is that German U-boats were still patrolling the waters off of France’s coast even after the initial invasion, which led to its own share of sinkings.  There was also the failure of the “floating tanks” and much more discussed throughout the course of the program’s near two-hour runtime.  All of that and more will definitely keep audiences watching and wanting to learn more about what really happened on D-Day and the days that would follow.  It is but one part of what makes NOVA: DDays Sunken Secrets another important addition to the vast history of World War II.

Another important factor to consider in the overall success and enjoyment of this episode is the use of an actual WWII veteran as the program’s narrator.  For that matter, the use of a veteran that fought at Normandy makes it especially interesting. Peter Thomas narrates the program. And while he does quite the job in his role, it is obvious that he does at times become somewhat choked up as he carries out his duty. It could very well be this critic’s own interpretation. But it certainly sounds like he does in fact choke up at times. If that is the case, it’s a welcome change from every documentary out there. It actually adds a certain realism to the program that is sadly lacking in those other programs out there. It adds a more human element for lack of better wording. That human element will pull in viewers even more and lead them to feel at least a modicum of the emotion felt by those that served on that fateful day. It’s one more impressive touch to this program that makes it another invaluable addition to the library of any lover of military history or history in general.

The use of an actual WWII vet that fought on Normandy and the inclusion of even more information on the history of that groundbreaking operation both are key to the overall enjoyment of NOVA: DDays Sunken Secrets. The final aspect of the program that audiences will appreciate is the inclusion once again of actual footage filmed as Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy. Just as much, audiences will appreciate the use of video illustrations outlining the movements of both Allied and German forces before and after the initial landing and battle to reclaim the beachhead. Viewers will be amazed at the CG recreation of the Allied forces’ man-made harbor and how it worked with the waters off the French coast. The bridges that were created were an engineering feat far ahead of their time. So, even those with an interest in engineering and construction will find something to like about this episode of NOVA. It’s the final touch to another overall impressive albeit slightly mis-titled piece of World War II history.

NOVA: DDays Sunken Secrets is available now on DVD. It can be ordered direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=34895296&cp=&sr=1&kw=d+day&origkw=D+Day&parentPage=search. More information on this and other episodes of NOVA is available online at http://www.facebook.com/NOVAonline, http://twitter.com/novapbs, and http://www.pbs.org/nova. 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.