Mercy me! PBS Distribution is leading fans of great TV to Mercy Street: Season 2, available on Blu-ray and DVD (and as a valentine) on February 14. The program will also be available for digital download.
What a small-screen saga! The critically-acclaimed Civil War-era drama takes place in the occupied city of Alexandria, Virginia, where allegiances blur, loyalties shift and the drama intensifies as the scope of the war pushes beyond Mansion House, the former hotel commandeered by northern troops to serve as a Union hospital.
The series follows the doctors, nurses and soldiers, as well as free, enslaved and contraband African Americans and other residents of the war-torn city, as they navigate the new world emerging from the most cataclysmic event in our country’s history.
Just how hot is the series? The first season of Mercy Street, that premiered in January 2016, reached a total audience of 14 million people. It is the second highest rated drama for the year to date on PBS, after Downton Abbey.
The second season picks up directly from the dramatic events at the end of the first season finale, continuing to explore life in the chaotic city of Alexandria, the complicated interpersonal dynamics of Dr. Foster, Nurse Mary and the Mansion House staff, the increasingly precarious position of the Green family and the changing world of the burgeoning black population. The second season will introduce a number of new elements, taking the viewer closer to the war and into the halls of Confederate power, all set against the intensifying war, starting with the Seven Days’ Battle and culminating with Antietam.
The new season also delves deeper into the lives of newly freed African Americans, exploring–among other areas–life in a contraband camp, where formerly enslaved African Americans are forced to confront horrific living conditions and disease, but also get a glimpse of freedom.
New actors and guest stars introduced in Mercy Street: Season 2 include:
· Patina Miller as Charlotte Jenkins, an educated contraband abolitionist activist who arrives in the first episode. A former slave who escaped to freedom years before through the Underground Railroad, Charlotte (a composite of numerous historical figures, most prominently Harriet Jacobs) offers education to other former slaves and helps with the sick who have contracted smallpox, which was epidemic during the Civil War.
· Brian F. O’Byrne as Allan Pinkerton, head of the Union Intelligence Service. The character is based on the real Allan Pinkerton, a Scottish emigrant and abolitionist who founded America’s first detective agency and successfully brought down some of the country’s most ruthless criminals.
·Bryce Pinkham as Major Clayton McBurney III, the new hospital chief.
· Lyne Renee as Lisette Beaufort, a stylish and bold Parisian who has a past with Dr. Foster and creates a stir in the hospital when she accepts a commission with the Union Army in medical visual documentation.
·Chris Wood as Captain Lance Van Der Berg, a handsome young Union captain lodging at the Green home when he strikes up a budding romance with Alice Green, who has ulterior motives for the courtship.
· William Mark McCullough as Larkin, a Confederate sympathizer in league with Jimmy Green, who helps formulate a plan to provide rebel fighters with munitions.
· Nyambi Nyambi as Caleb, a contraband who arrives at Mansion House Hospital searching for a particular woman.
It’s been called a “sobering early autopsy of a dying business”, this powerful and riveting documentary from filmmakers Mari-Lynn Evans and Jordan Freeman. Blood on the Mountain, available on DVD on February 21 from Virgil Films, helps explain some of the psychology behind its region’s economically embattled actors, whether they are beaten-down miners, unregulated companies or compromised state politicians.
Using interviews, archival clips and a timeline of headlines and news footage, this shocking in-depth investigation of the coal mining industry sheds light on the economic and environmental injustices that have resulted from industrial control in West Virginia. The film examines the harsh conditions of the coal industry and the haunting effects on the American workers. It is a documentary the American public needs to see.
Over the course of many years, the coal industry has transformed and impacted the development of coal. The need and appetite for coal and labor has placed a massive burden on many people including the workers and the land of Appalachia. Blood on the Mountain delivers a striking portrait of a fractured population, exploited and besieged by corporate interests, and abandoned by the powers elected to represent them. This documentary details the struggles of a hard-working, misunderstood people, who have historically faced limited choices and have never benefited fairly from the rich, natural resources of their land.
The film showcases the haunting and long term devastating impacts of coal mining that it will have its citizen and the planet. The film will inspire audiences to take action towards the many issues presented in the documentary.
Public Media Distribution continues dishing out tasty dishes. And DVDs. Now available: Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking: Season 4.
Nominated for an Emmy and James Beard Award, and winner of both Telly and TASTE Awards, the setis hosted by Pete Evans, Australia’s top celebrity chef. Follow Pete on a culinary journey across America as he teams up with the country’s most innovative chefs to source the finest regional ingredients and create a multi-course feast for friends.
In the two-disc Season 4, learn cooking tips and techniques from talented chefs, including Curtis Stone, Sean Brock, Andrea Reusing and Brian MaLarkay, and how you can interpret their flavorful dishes in your own kitchen. Watch as diners sit down to enjoy these spectacular meals hosted in unique places, from a majestic redwood grove and river oyster farm to a stunning ranch in the foothills of Montana and the deck of the USS Midway. You’ll want a seat at the table!
The episode descriptions are below:
Los Angeles, California–Curtis Stone & Francis Derby Chefs Curtis Stone of Maude restaurant and Francis Derby of The Cannibal restaurant join host Pete Evans to explore the culinary mecca of Los Angeles. From browsing the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market to Logan’s Gardens, the three collect their ingredients to prepare for an extravagant pig roast. Curtis makes a fresh peach mustard for his fennel-rubbed pig, which is paired with Francis’ spread of mixed charcuterie, raw vegetables and duck rillettes. It’s a picture perfect feast for a beautiful location in Silverlake, California.
Bozeman, Montana–Melissa Harrison & Eduardo Garcia Big Sky meets lamb in Bozeman, where chefs Melissa Harrison and Eduardo Garcia create dishes with rustic flair. Our host Pete Evans joins the chefs in the beautiful Montana terrain for trout fly-fishing and the three channel their wild side as they forage for natural and fresh ingredients. This Moveable Feast takes Chef Evans to the spectacular Willow Spring Farm in Montana, where Chefs Harrison and Garcia serve a mouthwatering whole roasted lamb on a spit.
Charleston, South Carolina–Mike Lata and Jason Stanhope Explore the culinary wonders of Charleston as you head toward the shore. Chefs Mike Lata and Jason Stanhope join the team as they venture into the water for shrimp and other seafood delicacies that make for a mouth-watering dinner. With oysters as an appetizer and Lata’s fish stew served with Stanhope’s rice and vegetables dishes, this meal will be one for the books.
San Francisco–David Barzelay and Brandon Jew Host Pete Evans takes us to Golden Gate Park with fellow chefs David Barzelay of San Francisco’s Lazy Bear and Brandon Jew of Mister Jiu’s. Our team will forage today, first for seaweed off Bodega Bay, then redwood bark for our cocktail. For their meal, they prepare steamed halibut and bone marrow and aged cheddar cheese with crudite. Their cross-cultural meal meets a rustic setting as they eat a beautiful dinner inside a Redwood grove.
Baltimore, Maryland–Duff Goldman & Bryan Voltaggio Pete takes on blue crab country when he joins chefs Goldman and Voltaggio. After gathering crabs from JM Clayton Seafood Company, the oldest crab-picking house in the U.S., the group visits the small specialty store of Hex Ferments to purchase the best sauerkraut in the area. Pete starts the feast with Thai-style deviled eggs with crab mayo and kraut, while Brian serves a true Maryland blue crab feast and the Ace of Cakes aces it with the classic Smith Island Cake for dessert. Get ready for the crab and cake feast of your dreams.
San Diego, California–Brian MaLarkey & Javier Plascencia Explore the culinary style of San Diego, where chefs MaLarkey and Plascencia create dishes with Mexican-Cali flair. Our host chef Pete Evans joins the chefs for visits to a Californian coffee roaster and the shores of San Diego to find perfect ingredients. We also embark on a trip to Catalina Offshore, one of the region’s premier seafood purveyors. Chef MaLarkey prepares a fantastic salad with grilled local sardines while Chef Plascencia impresses diners with a fantastic mole.
Davidson, North Carolina–Joe & Katy Kindred Pete heads to North Carolina to meet with the owners of the famous Kindred restaurant, chef Kindred and his wife Katy. The three visit the award-winning Noda Brewing Company–home of the Hop, Drop ‘n Roll IPA–and the family-run Newtown Farm for organic vegetables. Together, they make a beautiful lakeside feast, featuring classics like a crispy North Carolina oyster and shrimp roll, as well as pasta and clams. And, of course, no southern meal would be complete without a sweet dish like Katy’s strawberry shortcake spin.
Charleston, South Carolina – Sean Brock & Benjamin Dennis The program returns to Charleston, where chefs Brock and Dennis create some classic local dishes with all the Southern charm. Our host Pete Evans joins the chefs for visits to a South Carolina plantation, which produces some of the finest vegetables and rye in the area. We also embark on a trip to an innovative farm looking to feed and train the people of tomorrow and teach them to grow sustainable foods. Chef Dennis prepares a fantastic short rib and conch stew with classic southern grits, while Chef Brock roasts a pig with heritage greens and vegetables.
Topping, Virginia – Ryan & Travis Vroxton & Chef Dylan Fultineer Pete welcomes us to Virginia, where we meet skilled oystermen Ryan and Travi, as well as Fultineer. Dylan brings Pete to Sub Rosa, a bakery specializing in traditional breadmaking. Later, Ryan and Travis have the chance to show Pete the secrets to their trade as they head onto the water and harvest one of the tastiest oysters in the world. Together, they design a meal that combines southern barbeque with the sea in the Croxtons’ BBQ Oyster Fest, and Dylan cooks up a special lamb and oyster stew.
Outstanding in the Field–Chef Oliver Ridgeway Join our host Chef Pete Evans for Moveable Feast’s biggest feast of the season–an outstanding meal in the beautiful fields outside Sacramento, California. Our host visits Outstanding in the Field, a visiting chef-based, farm-to-table dinner experience, with Chef Ridgeway, who works with local farmers to create a delicious, fresh Moveable Feast.
Greenough, Montana–Chef Ben Jones & Rory Schepisi The program goes to a chuck wagon dinner in Greenough, Montana. Our host chef Pete Evans joins chef Jones, of Paws Up, and grilling master Schepisi, to experience a classic Montana barbecue. Chefs Jones and Schepisi take Evans on a tour of local farms to harvest honey and see how real Montana angus beef is raised. The chefs prepare a delicious meal featuring Montana beef in this quintessential Chuck Wagon dinner. This Moveable Feast even has our host on the move… on horseback!
Durham, North Carolina–Andrea & Brendan Reusing From rooftop to rain in North Carolina, host Pete Evans is joined by the Lantern restaurant co-founders and siblings Andrea and Brendan to create an amazing local feast. Our team visits the small Chapel Hill Creamery, known for its award-winning cheeses, and the sustainability-driven EcoFarm for its fresh, organic produce. With the ingredients they’ve gathered, they prepare grilled country pork ribs with a rhubarb relish; a warm kale salad with radishes, eggs, and a bacon dressing; and an appetizer of grilled Bibb lettuce with mozzarella and preserved lemon and spring onion dressing.
Washington, D.C.–Mike Isabella & Jennifer Carroll Go Greek in the U.S. capital with chefs Mike Isabella and Jennifer Carroll. Our host Chef Pete Evans joins the chefs in Washington, D.C. for a seafood extravaganza and to taste and learn about different varieties of smoked fish. We hit the original fish wholesaler to find high-quality seafood that is not only tasty, but good for the ecosystem! Chef Isabella wows with a simple and smoked mixed fish platter while Chef Carroll combines smoked salmon and blue catfish with marinated spring vegetables. It’s a feast fit for Zeus in Washington, D.C.
Jane Fonda evil? Never, unless you ask those Vietnam vets. The 79-year-old actress lends her voice to the ever-youthful evil sorceress Shuriki in the small-screen Disney animated adventure Elena and the Secret of Avalor.
If you’ve been addicted to Fonda’s comedy-drama web television series Gracie and Frankie (co-starring her 9 to 5 co-star Lily Tomlin), you can see how the Avalor fuss began in the flick. And you can discover the secret behind the legend of Disney’s new Crown Princess.
Frozen in time and trapped inside the Amulet of Avalor for more than 40 years, Elena has finally found the one, brave princess who can set her free: Sofia of Enchancia. With help from magical flying Jaquins, spirit animal Zuzo and young wizard-in-training Mateo, Princess Elena must unite her people and battle Shuriki as she tries to reclaim her throne.
You will recognize many voices, especiallyAimee Carreroas Princess Elena and Ariel Winter as Sofia. This DVD is packed with laughs, new characters to cherish and heart, as well as four extra episodes, a music video and an exclusive Flying Jaquin mobile. What were you expecting, a Barbarella poster?
She has been distinctly referred to as “a redwood tree, with deep roots in American culture.” She is a woman who has gone out on many limbs to make the world a better, safer and more living place.
Dr. Maya Angelou led a prolific life. As a singer, dancer, activist, poet and writer, she inspired generations with lyrical modern African-American thought that pushed boundaries. Best known for her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, she gave people the freedom to think about their history in a way they never had before.
Her story is told in the marvelous American Masters: Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, making its national broadcast premiere on Tuesday, February 21 at 8 p.m. on PBS as a continuing celebration of part of Black History. The DVD of the documentary will also be available (from PBS Distribution) that same done, and will include bonus features. The program will also be available for digital download.
With unprecedented access, filmmakers Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack trace Dr. Angelou’s incredible journey, shedding light on the untold aspects of her life through never-before-seen footage, rare archival photographs and videos and her own words. From her upbringing in the Depression-era South and her early performing career (1957’s Miss Calypso album and Calypso Heat Wave film, Jean Genet’s 1961 play The Blacks) to her work with Malcolm X in Ghana and her many writing successes, including her inaugural poem for President Bill Clinton, American Masters: Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise reveals hidden facets of her life during some of America’s most defining moments.
The film also features exclusive interviews with Dr. Angelou, her friends and family, including Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Common, Alfre Woodard, Cicely Tyson, Quincy Jones, Hillary Clinton, Louis Gossett, Jr., John Singleton, Diahann Carroll, Valerie Simpson, Random House editor Bob Loomis and Dr. Angelou’s son, Guy Johnson.
American Masters: Maya Angelou: And Still I Risepremiered to critical acclaim at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. It won the Audience Award at AFI Docs and was featured at notable film festivals worldwide, including Full Frame, Sheffield, IDFA and Seattle, winning 17 awards on three continents, and has been nominated for an NAACP Image Award.
The show’s title comes from an Angelou poem:
“Out of the huts of history’s shame / I rise / Up from a past that’s rooted in pain / I rise / I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide, / Welling and swelling I bear in the tide. / Leaving behind nights of terror and fear / I rise / Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear / I rise.”
On Thanksgiving Day 1950, American-led United Nations troops were on the march in North Korea. U.S. Marine and Air Force pilots distributed holiday meals, even to those on the front lines. Hopes were high that everyone would be home by Christmas. But soon after that peaceful celebration, American military leaders, including General Douglas MacArthur, were caught off guard by the entrance of the People’s Republic of China, led by Mao Zedong, into the five-month-old Korean War.
Twelve thousand men of the First Marine Division, along with a few thousand Army soldiers, suddenly found themselves surrounded, outnumbered and at risk of annihilation at the Chosin Reservoir, high in the mountains of North Korea. The two-week battle that followed, fought in brutally cold temperatures, is one of the most celebrated in Marine Corps annals and helped set the course of American foreign policy in the Cold War and beyond. Incorporating interviews with more than 20 veterans of the campaign, American Experience: Battle of Chosin recounts this epic conflict through the heroic stories of the men who fought it.
The PBS Distribution documentary will be available on DVD on January 24; the program will also be available for digital download.
The events that led to the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir started five months earlier when Korea unexpectedly became the battleground for the first hot conflict of the Cold War. Split across the middle at the 38th parallel in the political settlement that followed World War II, the Korean peninsula had solidified into separate states by 1950.
The two new governments symbolized the rising struggle between the world’s dominant political ideologies: democracy and communism. The Soviet Union and Mao Zedong’s new Communist China supported North Korea while South Korea had the backing of the United States and other Western democracies. This balance of power held until June 25, 1950, when North Korea led a surprise attack against South Korea and quickly overran most of the Korean peninsula.
The United Nations Security Council approved a resolution to end the hostilities in Korea and authorized the United States military to lead a multi-national force against North Korea. President Harry Truman told the world that the United States would take “whatever steps were necessary” to contain Communist expansion in Korea. This included the possibility of unleashing nuclear weapons on China. Fears of World War III filled the news.
Under the command of General Douglas MacArthur, American-led forces had turned back North Korea’s aggression. MacArthur then set his sights on quickly pushing north to the Chinese border and reuniting the country under democratic rule. On the eve of MacArthur’s final offensive, the First Marine Division was strung out on a single 78-mile-long supply route leading to the Chosin Reservoir.
Mao Zedong had won a long and deadly civil war a year earlier and united China under the communist flag. When MacArthur’s UN forces threatened his border in the fall of 1950, Mao decided to act. By late November 1950, tens of thousands of Chinese soldiers had quietly infiltrated North Korea and surrounded MacArthur’s forces. On the night of November 27, Mao sprung his trap at the Chosin Reservoir.
The worst of the Chinese onslaught landed on the forces encamped in the hills around the Chosin Reservoir—the First Marine Division, under the command of General Oliver P. Smith, and a small, attached Army unit. Night after night, Mao’s army swept down from the hills and attacked the vastly outnumbered American troops.
The only hope for the surrounded men was to fight their way back to the coast, a perilous journey into the teeth of a subarctic winter, through tens of thousands of Chinese soldiers waiting in the high ground above the single road out. For the next two weeks, General Smith’s men fought brutal battles against the Chinese in some of the harshest conditions American forces had ever experienced. Dead bodies, frozen in grotesque and contorted shapes, littered the battlefield. Finally, 14,000 surviving troops made their way back to safety.
The carefully staged withdrawal succeeded and also inflicted devastating losses on the enemy. Two Chinese divisions were entirely destroyed, and an estimated 40,000 Chinese soldiers were killed.
Thousands of North Korean refugees were also fleeing south, many trailing the column of Marines. Nearly 100,000 refugees were part of the massive evacuation of American and UN troops out of North Korea.
Petula Clark sang about the reasons going downtown. After all, a visit “can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares.” That was then. Fast forward a decade or so, and the music and energy about to explode in the ’70s punk underground electrifies the coming-of-age drama London Town (IFC Films). Featuring a stunning performance by Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Joe Strummer of the legendary band the Clash, the film comes to DVD from IFC Films on February 14.
Think of this as a musical valentine.
When 15-year-old Shay (portrayed by Daniel Huttlestone) hears the music of the Clash for the first time, it’s a revelation, opening up a new world of social consciousness and anti-establishment defiance beyond anything he’s known in his dead-end London suburb. After his father is injured in a work accident, Shay takes over driving his cab and one fateful night, picks up none other than Joe Strummer (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), the lead singer of the Clash. Drawn into the heart of the city’s burgeoning punk scene, Shay forges two relationships that will change his life, falling in love with rebellious cool girl Vivian (Nell Williams) and finding and unexpected connection with the Clash’s electrifying frontman.
Through being forced to take care of his family, his friendship with Strummer and his relationship with Vivian, Shay passes some important milestones on his way to adulthood.Propelled by a blistering soundtrack that bounces from the Clash to the Ramones to Buzzcocks, London Town captures the sound and spirit of a scene that shook the world. And lives on still.
The IFC Films theatrical release co-stars Natascha McElhone and Dougray Scott. It features the classic music not just of the Clash but of such other major artists as the Ramones, Buzzcocks, the Stranglers, Toots and the Maytals, Willi Williams and Stiff Little Fingers. It was an official selection of the BFI London Film Festival and the Los Angeles Film Festival.
It’s certainly a hot topic: The coldest and snowiest places on earth pose a challenge to anyone visiting such locations as the Arctic Circle or Antarctica, but what about the year-round animal population? How do they cope for many months with life in these frozen wonderlands where temperatures can plummet to as low as minus 50 degrees?
In Nature: Snowbound: Animals of Winter (PBS Distribution), Gordon Buchanan, a wildlife cameraman used to filming in frigid lands around the globe, explains how creatures like the wolf, Arctic fox, bison, reindeer, lynx, weasel, polar bear, penguin, Weddell seal and woolly bear caterpillar adapt to their surroundings or employ clever tactics to survive in these extreme climates. The documentary will be available on Blu-ray and DVD on February 7; the program will also be available for digital download.
In the opening segment, Buchanan is seen calmly stroking the thick coat of a wolf in Norway’s Polar Park where wolves have grown up with humans. He shows how the wolf’s fine hairs provide much needed insulation, while its longer, outer hairs repel snow and water. Also helping to reduce a wolf’s heat loss, despite its paws being in constant contact with ice and snow, is an ingenious adaptation: An image displayed on a thermal camera illustrates that as a wolf’s warm blood flows down its leg, it cools down. This means only cold blood stays within the paws and all the warm blood can remain within the body.
The Arctic fox however has a different solution to keeping warm during the winter months: its thin brown summer coat undergoes an amazing transformation to one that is white, very fluffy and 200 percent thicker, the warmest coat of all arctic mammals.
The film also cites hibernation as another cold weather strategy practiced by several animals including the brown bear, ground squirrel, and polar bear. Buchanan explains that even though a female polar bear’s heart rate drops dramatically in hibernation and she doesn’t eat or drink and relies solely on fat reserves, she can still give birth during this time. The cubs are kept warm by her body heat and grow quickly due to their mother’s extremely fatty milk. The wildlife cameraman is on hand as tiny twin cubs crawl out of their winter den to explore the outside world.
Possessing super senses gives other animals an edge when it comes to successfully hunting prey during the big freeze. Buchanan describes how a lynx can use its keen vision to spot a mouse 80 yards away or the benefits a reindeer has with ultra violet vision. He also remarks on how the great grey owl employs its super sensitive hearing to detect the movement of mice or voles beneath two feet of snow. Similarly, a young Arctic fox can pick up the faint sound of lemmings under the snow. To nab its unseen victim, the fox performs a special pouncing technique known as mousing. Buchanan says foxes align their pounce to the earth’s magnetic field in order to pinpoint the right spot for the kill. The film concludes with the remarkable metamorphosis of the Arctic woolly bear caterpillar that spends most of its life frozen stiff during the winter months and miraculously thaws itself in the spring, as if rising from the dead.
Whether it’s undergoing a physical adaptation, using super senses, employing clever tactics to gain the advantage, or just being built for frigid conditions, these animals of winter not only subsist, but thrive in some of the coldest places on earth.
PBS Distribution will be releasing a DVD that has been dubbed being called “an urgent wake-up call” about the national threat posed by Alzheimer’s disease. Many know the unique tragedy of this disease, but few know that Alzheimer’s is one of the most critical public health crises facing America. The powerful documentary Alzheimer’s: Every Minute Counts illuminates the social and economic consequences for the country unless a medical breakthrough is discovered for this currently incurable disease.
Save the date: The documentary will be available on DVD February 21; the program will also be available for digital download.
There are more than five million Americans with Alzheimer’s disease. Because of the growing number of aging baby boomers, and the fact that the onset of Alzheimer’s is primarily age-related, the number of Americans with Alzheimer’s is projected to rise by 55% by 2030; by 2050 the Alzheimer’s Association estimates the total number could explode to nearly 14 million.
This “tsunami” of Alzheimer’s will not only be a profound human tragedy, but an overwhelming economic one as well. Because of the length of time people live with the illness and need care, it’s the most expensive medical condition in the U.S. Future costs for Alzheimer’s threaten to bankrupt Medicare, Medicaid and the life savings of millions of Americans. It is estimated that if the number of patients increases as projected in the years ahead, the costs to care for them will exceed $1.1 trillion.
With power and passion, the program weaves together the sobering statistics about Alzheimer’s, expert commentary and compelling personal stories filmed around the country that represent previews of the future happening today.
The dreaded day comes Friday, but we found a great new PBS Distribution two-disc DVD that trumps it all: 16 for ’16: The Contenders. The multi-part documentary features candidates in the most contentious and compelling political campaigns of the last 50 years and includes interviews with candidates and their inner circles that offer unexpected human moments and new insights into political battles for the U.S. presidency.
Each part in the program features two candidates whose stories appear vastly different on the surface but share common elements that changed the outcomes of campaigns and the course of history.
16 for ’16: The Contenders will be available on DVD January 24; the program will also be available for digital download.
The program kicks off with one such unlikely pair: 1972 presidential candidate Shirley Chisholm, the first black American and first female to run for the country’s top post, and Senator John McCain, who ran against George W. Bush in the 2000 primaries and against Barack Obama for the presidency in 2008. Despite extraordinarily different backgrounds, Chisholm and McCain both ran as plain-spoken outsiders. Chisholm’s slogan, “Unbossed and Unbought,” was underscored by a grassroots approach that saw her teams collecting cash in the streets, while McCain’s image as an outspoken maverick often led him to speak off-the-cuff.
The show depicts game-changing moments in both campaigns: Chisholm’s betrayal by a friend in the House of Representatives who, at the last moment, decided he would not officially nominate her; and a revealing off-camera show-down between McCain and George W. Bush just prior to a live debate.
The second part revisits the campaigns of former Vermont Governor Howard Dean and conservative insider Pat Buchanan—men of two divergent perspectives who were seen as insurrectionists within their own parties. Dean provided a voice for furious Democrats who opposed the war in Iraq and brought “participatory democracy” innovations to his campaign, such as the introduction of Internet fundraising that is now a standard part of campaigns.
Buchanan—a so-called “paleo-conservative” insider who served several American presidents and advocated a strong move rightward for the Republican Party—ran twice for the Republican presidential nomination (1992 and 1996) and on the Reform Party ticket in 2000. Despite the strategies, scripts, data analysis and marketing that went into these campaigns, it was, again, the human moments that led to their unpredicted outcomes. For Dean, it was the excitement (and problematic acoustics) that gave rise to his infamous, campaign-imploding “scream.” For Buchanan, who had barely recovered from heart surgery at his first convention in 1992, a decision to go off the party script and detail his concept of a “cultural war” for the soul of America resulted in a speech that many believe divided Republicans and propelled Bill Clinton to the White House.
Pairings for the balance of the series include: Mitt Romney and Michael Dukakis; Gary Hart and Jesse Jackson; Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan; Ross Perot and Ralph Nader; Geraldine Ferraro and Sarah Palin; and George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Featured alongside the candidates, their families and their friends are a who’s who of campaign managers, observers and Washington, D.C., insiders such as Susan Estrich, Karl Rove, Donna Brazile, Karen Hughes and dozens more. Through background stories of groundbreaking campaign moments, fatal missteps, behind-the-scenes insights and lessons learned by each candidate, the series explores deeper questions such as “Can a positive campaign be a winning campaign?” and “Should a single misstep define a campaign and a candidate?”
Petrucelli Picks the best in books, music and film . . . and then some