Category Archives: TV

A Trio of Must-See NOVA Programs, Now on DVD

Three new Nova programs, now on DVD, from PBS Distribution, all must-see viewing.

Nova: Thai Cave Rescue
In this program viewers will follow the dramatic rescue of the 12 boys and their soccer coach from the Tham Luang Cave in Thailand, where they had been trapped for 18 days. This program  features interviews with key people that were involved in the search and rescue and explains how the team became trapped in the cave.

After multiple failed attempts to find the boys and their coach, an international team of rescuers was called upon to find them and ultimately bring them to safety. Nova: Thai Cave Rescue is a stunning example of innovation, teamwork and human endurance in one of the most hostile environments on earth–a flooded cave.

Nova: Last B-24
Seventy-four years ago, an American B-24 Liberator bomber known as the Tulsamerican fell from the sky and disappeared beneath the waves of the Adriatic Sea. Seven crew members survived the crash and were rescued, three men were never found.

Seven decades later, the bomber was discovered by amateur divers, nearly 135 feet beneath the water’s surface at the bottom of the Adriatic Sea. A specialized group within the Pentagon, The U.S. Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) was alerted and quickly formed a specialized expedition team. Viewers join the Croatian Navy and some of the world’s leading underwater archaeologists as they investigate the wreckage and try to find remains of the lost crew members. Later the team of archaeologists joins a team of forensics experts as they work to identify the remains that are recovered from the wreck.

Nova: Operation Bridge Rescue
The Blenheim Covered Bridge in New York State is an icon of 19th century American engineering. Built in 1855, it was the longest single span covered bridge in the world, but in 2011 the bridge was destroyed by Hurricane Irene. The program follows a team of elite bridge builders and engineers as they faithfully reproduce the intricate timber structure under immense pressure—spring floods are coming and threaten to destroy the worksite.

Viewers then travel to China to witness traditional craftsmen restoring thousand-year-old covered bridges, all based on their ingenious frameworks of woven timber beams. These ancient bridges are the heart of their communities and allow for trade and worship in other villages, but typhoons are destroying these bridges as well. Viewers discover how Chinese artisans are keeping traditional skills alive to ensure the bridges survival.

PBS Distribution releases two exceptional “Nature” programs

When Nature comes a-calling, we go a-watching. PBS Distribution has released two new programs on DVD and digital from Nature. Both are must-sees!

Nature: A Squirrel’s Guide to Success
The squirrel family is one of the most widespread on Earth. There are almost 300 species of squirrel, those that can glide through the air, outwit rattlesnakes, and survive the coldest temperatures of any mammal. In this new eye-opening program viewers learn about the extraordinary abilities and secrets to success of these nut lovers. Some of the species featured include: the fox squirrel which can remember the location of 9,000 nuts, the gray squirrel whose jumps are the basis for new designs in robotics, and the Arctic ground squirrel, who, to survive the frigid winters of Alaska, hibernates by dropping its heart rate, breathing and body temperature.

Every two to three weeks the squirrel will shiver to warm itself. Viewers also see the world through the eyes of an orphaned red squirrel named Billy, as he grows up and develops all the skills he needs to be released back into the wild.

Nature: Dogs in the Land of Lions
Filmed over two-years, this program takes viewers into the heart of an African wild dog family, led by a mother called Puzzles. When her mate, Jigsaw is suddenly killed by lions, (the wild dogs’ ultimate enemy) she is suddenly left to raise two generations of pups on her own and without the help of a pack. In this deeply intimate portrayal of motherhood, viewers witness the loyalty and selflessness that sets wild dogs apart from other large, social carnivores.

Wild dogs have a willingness to sacrifice almost anything for their pack, a behavior wired into their DNA. As Puzzles’s young litter grows up, the pups provide some light-hearted moments while discovering the world around them, including new creatures, such as elephants, giraffes, and impala. Hopefully they will have the chance to encounter a hyena, their favorite form of entertainment – hounding and hazing hyenas whenever they get the chance. A year after Jigsaw’s passing, Puzzles and her young crew get a chance for revenge on the lions. Deciding to steal a fresh carcass that a few lions are feasting on, the pack stands their ground and enjoy a rare victory against their greatest enemy.

“Who Killed the Fonz?” is a delightful, clever reinvention of the leather-clad TV series

Happy days are here again. At least on paper And especially in Who Killed the Fonz? (Simon & Schuster, $26), in which James Boice offers a clever reinvention of the legendary TV show, Happy Days.

The book imagines what happened to Richie Cunningham (who now goes by Richard) and the rest of the gang twenty years after the show left off. Only this time ’round, instead of a world of drive-in movie theaters and soda shops, readers are drawn into a gritty 1980s noir as Richard tries to uncover the truth about the mysterious death of Arthur Fonzarelli.

book cover

It’s October 1984, and Cunningham is having a really bad day. Having achieved some early success as a screenwriter in Hollywood, the now forty-something Richard hasn’t written a script anyone wants to buy in years.

Later that same day he gets a phone call with even worse news. His best friend from childhood back in Milwaukee, back when everyone called him Richie, is dead. Arthur Fonzarelli. The Fonz. Lost control of his motorcycle while crossing a bridge and plummeted into the water below. Two days of searching and still no body, no trace of his trademark leather jacket.

Richard flies back for the memorial service, only to discover that Fonzie’s death was no accident—it was murder. With the help of his old pals Ralph Malph and Potsie Weber, he sets out to catch the killer. Who it turns out to be is shocking. So is the story’s final twist.

When Richard travels back to his Wisconsin hometown for the memorial, he quickly finds himself drawn into a mystery surrounding his late friend—whose death may not have been an accident after all. In a time when reboots are all the rage, the fast-paced and nostalgic Who Killed the Fonz? is an ingenious twist on a beloved classic.

Who Killed The Fonz? imagines what happened to the characters of the legendary TV series Happy Days twenty years after the show left off. And while much has changed in the interim—goodbye drive-in movie theaters, hello VCRs—the story centers around the same timeless themes as the show: the meaning of family. The significance of friendship. The importance of community.

Author James Boice captures the bighearted charm of the original Happy Days, while expertly weaving in darker elements and more serious themes, like the challenge of staying connected to one’s roots and what happens when you leave home behind.

Vivian Howard’s “Final Harvest” is a mighty tasty treat

Even the closing of an era can be awfully tasty. In The Final Harvest (PBS Distribution), the series finale of A Chef’s Life, host and best-selling author Vivian Howard prepares a farewell feast of epic proportions. After five seasons of the Emmy and Peabody-winning series, only a handful of dishes remain on Vivian’s bucket list. She tackles them all with the help of some friends along the way in this spectacular series finale.

The Final Harvest features some of the show’s most beloved personalities along with a series-worth of memorable flashbacks. Vivian’s parents, Mrs. Scarlett and Mr. John, share intimate moments and reveal how Vivian’s success has changed their family, and most importantly, made them proud. Vivian’s husband Ben reveals an unexpected tenderness when describing the impact of the series on his family and community. A fitting sign-off to the series, friends new and old take a seat at A Chef’s Life final harvest table, bringing to a close this extended love letter to eastern North Carolina.

The series, like no other, takes viewers on a heartwarming and compelling journey to meet unsung farmers, home cooks, and chefs, and simultaneously elevates quintessential Southern dishes to new modern classics.

 

Star-studded cast follows the greatness of “Poetry in America”

Poetry in America(PBS Distribution)gathers personalities from all walks of life to interpret, explore and debate 12 unforgettable American poems. Show host and Harvard professor Elisa New meets with athletes, poets, politicians, musicians, architects, scientists, actors, and entrepreneurs to experience and share the power of poetry in this visually dazzling series.

The program follows Carl Sandburg to Chicago and Emily Dickinson to Amherst. Along the way notable personalities like actor Cynthia Nixon, former Vice President Joe Biden and world-famous architect Frank Gehry share their reflections on poems from Gwendolyn Brooks to Allen Ginsberg to Nas. Highlights include sports superstar Shaquille O’Neal reading “Fast Break” by Edward Hirsch and musician Herbie Hancock and former President Bill Clinton sharing their thoughts on Langston Hughes’ “Harlem.”

The 12 American poems explored in Season One show viewers the lasting power of poetry. The 12 poems explored are “I cannot dance opon my toes,” by Emily Dickinson; “Fast Break” by Edward Hirsch; “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden; “Hymmnn and Hum Bom!” by Allen Ginsberg; “Skyscraper” by Carl Sandburg; “Harlem” by Langston Hughes; “Musée des Beaux Arts” by W.H. Auden; “Shirt” by Robert Pinsky; “To Prisoners” by Gwendolyn Brooks; “The Gray Heron” by Galway Kinnell; “N.Y State of Mind” by Nas and “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus.

“Secrets of Britain’s Great Cathedrals” gives unprecedented access behind the walls of these spectacular buildings

Britain’s ancient cathedrals and abbeys reflect the country’s turbulent history through their significant heritage and architectural grandeur. Fans of the hit and multi award-winning show Downton Abbey are sure to enjoy Secrets of Britain’s Great Cathedrals (PBS Distribution), an eight episode program that explores cathedrals and abbeys found throughout England and Wales showing their legendary facades and soaring interior spaces, revealing secrets many may not know.

In the eight episodes of the series viewers are given unprecedented access behind the walls of these spectacular buildings, and are given incredible insight into the most influential cathedrals, abbeys and bishop’s palaces in the country. Featuring interviews with historians and experts, this program” take viewers on a 1,500-mile journey from the north to the south, and across the length of Wales exploring these magnificent architectural structures.

Secrets of Britain’s Great Cathedrals explores some of the greatest buildings in the U.K., including York Minster which is the largest cathedral in Britain and Canterbury Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in England, and mother church of the worldwide Anglican communion. Two other buildings viewers get a rare glimpse at are St. Paul’s Cathedral, where they learn why cathedrals are called ‘fabric’ and explore the cathedral’s memorial book which includes the names of American soldiers who lost their lives in WWII, including legendary swing band leader, Glenn Miller. Westminster Abbey is also explored as viewers learn that it is one of the most important Gothic buildings in the country and why it is called a Royal Peculiar. Many other magnificent buildings are explored throughout the eight episode series where secrets are revealed and important information is discussed.

“Jamestown” follows the lives of three women who make the journey of a lifetime for a new life in 17th century America

PBS Distribution kicks the new year into high gear with the highly-anticipated release of Jamestown Season 1 & 2 on DVD on January 29.  From the producers of Downton Abbey, this exciting and dramatic series follows the lives of three courageous, dynamic women who decide to leave their dark pasts behind in England, and make the journey of a lifetime across the ocean for a new life in 17th century America.

In Season 1 viewers are taken back to 1619 Jamestown, Virginia. For 12 years, it has been populated only by men, but the settlement is shaken up when the first women, including Alice (played Sophie Rundle), Verity (Niamh Walsh) and Jocelyn (Naomi Battrick), land in this breathtaking wilderness. The settlement is on the brink of change summoned by the arrival of a new governor who brings new laws that cause power struggles not only within the town, but also with the native inhabitants, the Pamunkey. While love triangles, bitter rivalries, and fierce competition cause conflict for the residents, ultimately, they are bound together by their resolute will to survive and thrive in their new lives.

Season 2 brings viewers back to Jamestown where Alice, Verity, and Jocelyn are continuing their lives. The colony is thriving and tobacco plantations are starting to provide the wealth they promised. As births, deaths, and broken marriages start to compound, the settlers find themselves again in the midst of new adventures, as a kidnapping, new rivalries, and a traitor threaten to disrupt the peace. New romantic connections are made, desires repressed, and even the purest of loves will be tested. The power of politics will impact the entire community, as the battle for supremacy continues.

FRONTLINE explores two important issues on two important PBS programs

PBS Distribution has released two important FRONTLINE programs on DVD.

FRONTLINE: The Pension Gamble
America’s public pension is in a multi-trillion-dollar hole but who’s to blame? Marcela Gaviria, Martin Smith and Nick Verbitsky go inside the volatile fight over pensions playing out today in Kentucky. The trio investigates the role of state governments and Wall Street in driving America’s public pensions in debt. The documentary presents the Blue Grass state’s crisis and how, as the legislative session drew to a close in March of 2018, State Republicans tried a last-minute move to pass a new bill that addressed the failing public pension systems. That move then led to a public outcry.

FRONTLINE examines how Kentucky’s once thriving pension system is now one of the worst in the nation. The program expands upon broader consequences for teachers, police, firefighters and other public employees everywhere.

FRONTLINE: The Facebook DilemmaIn this new program, FRONTLINE conducts a year-long investigation into the social media platform and takes a look at the genesis of Facebook, which was to create a more open and connected world. However, the company has failed to protect millions of users’ data and has fallen prey to the proliferation of “fake news” and disinformation. These mounting crises beg the question: Is Facebook more harmful than helpful?

FRONTLINE: The Facebook Dilemma uncovers that as the social media giant grew, there were few limits on what content was being posted – and the company allocated insufficient resources to enforcing its guidelines – leaving that in the hands of the public.

Using dozens of original interviews and rare footage, the program shows how Facebook faced claims of misuse while becoming an unprecedented global player. It shows the company’s role sowing division worldwide and the challenges facing the social media platform. The documentary also finds that multiple warnings about the platform’s negative impact on privacy and democracy were eclipsed by the company’s relentless pursuit of growth – and its users’ data.

“Frontline: Left Behind in America” takes an in-depth look at Dayton, Ohio

In the decade since the Great Recession, many American cities and towns have bounced back. But for some small and mid-size cities that were once hubs for innovation and manufacturing, economic recovery has remained elusive. Frontline: Left Behind in America asks why and is an in-depth look at one such city, Dayton, Ohio, as its citizens continue to fight for economic revitalization ten years after the financial crisis.

The DVD will be available on DVD on November 20. The program is currently available for download from iTunes and Amazon.

Gripping and powerful, this documentary chronicles the lives and struggles of Dayton’s working poor as they chase the American dream in the new American economy. As director Shimon Dotan  and correspondent Alec MacGillis of ProPublica explore in the film, Dayton was once the epitome of industry and ingenuity in the American heartland—“the Silicon Valley of its age,” author Mark Bernstein tells the documentary team, a birthplace of aviation and a center of the automotive industry.

Although Dayton’s job market has recently seen a resurgence, the jobs coming back to the city aren’t the high-wage jobs that used to be there–and the poverty rate in Dayton has reached 34.5 percent, or nearly three times the poverty rate nationwide.

In addition to the economic downturn, the city has also been hit hard by the opioid epidemic. By early 2017, county coroner Dr. Kent Harshbarger was seeing so many overdose deaths that he was worried Montgomery County, which includes Dayton, would end up leading the nation in fatal opioid overdoses per capita.

 But despite the obstacles, many Dayton citizens are taking matters into their own hands—and focusing not just on surviving, but thriving.

The program is the intimate story of one Rust Belt city’s struggle to recover in the post-recession economy—and an up-close look at how that struggle presents a challenge to us all.

” The Obama Years: The Power of Words” is a must-see documentary

Over eight years, President Obama delivered more than 3,500 speeches and statements–officially ending his era with a farewell address in Chicago. His speeches ranged from redefining patriotism, candidly addressing race relations, inspiring hope and healing, and turning divisive moments into an opportunity for national unification.

But which are the moments that history will remember?  The Obama Years: The Power of Words (Public Media Distribution), narrated by actor and producer Jesse Williams, tells the story of Barack Obama, “writer in chief,” and takes viewers inside the defining moments of his political career through the prism of his most memorable speeches.

The program examines how President Obama used “the bully pulpit” by looking at six benchmark speeches–as a brash young state senator and as a president grappling with turbulent times in the face of chaotic events.  Some were the result of careful planning and intensive writing; others were written under extraordinary pressure, often with Obama doing much of the writing, in the wake of unexpected events. When tragedy strikes, the President has a tremendous responsibility to comfort the nation.

For each highlighted speech, the program gives viewers behind-the-scenes stories of the President and his process, how he and his core group worked to develop the messages, expert commentary comparing the speeches to those of other presidents, and analysis of the power–and limits–of the bully pulpit to shape events. The program features insights from eminent historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and Douglas Brinkley and key members of Obama’s inner circle, including senior advisor Valerie Jarrett, Chief Strategist David Axelrod, and speechwriters Jon Favreau and Cody Keenan. Smithsonian curator Harry Rubenstein of the National Museum of American History, Rep. John Lewis, and Clark Judge, speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan, are also among the featured interviews.