Category Archives: TV

Campbell Scott lends his vocal talent to the captivating “Arctic Wolf Pack”

At the very northern edge of North America is Ellesmere Island, where the unforgiving Arctic winds tear through the tundra, dipping temperatures to 40 below zero. Running through this shifting sea of snow and ice is one of the most hardened predators on the planet, the White Wolf.

But as the spring melt approaches, these roaming hunters must adapt to being tethered parents as new additions to the pack have just been born. With their herds of prey continuing to move, viewers witness a desperate race to keep up and bring back a kill to the hungry mothers and cubs. Traveling farther and farther away from their den each day puts these hunters and their children at risk in this fight for survival.

This captivating experience has been caught on NATURE: Arctic Wolf Pack (PBS Distribution). This documentary is narrated by Campbell Scott.

Meet Tyrus Wong, this pioneering artist and his impact on American art and popular culture

Tyrus Wong  has always been dear to us.

Make the “deer.”

People worldwide have seen the Disney animated classic Bambi and have been deeply moved by it, but few can tell you the name of the artist behind the film. Even fewer are aware of this pioneering artist’s impact on American art and popular culture. Until his death at the age of 106, Tyrus Wong was America’s oldest living Chinese American artist and one of the last remaining artists from the golden age of Disney animation. The quiet beauty of his Eastern-influenced paintings caught the eye of Walt Disney, who made Wong the inspirational sketch artist for Bambi. Filmmaker Pamela Tom corrects a historical wrong by spotlighting this seminal, but heretofore under-credited, figure.

Learn the truth, witness his genius, in American Masters: Tyrus (PBS Distribution).

Born in Canton (now Guangzhou), China, right before the fall of the Chinese Empire, Wong and his father immigrated to America in 1919, never to see their family again. The film shows how he overcame a life of poverty and racism to become a celebrated painter who once exhibited with Picasso and Matisse, a Hollywood sketch artist and Disney Legend.

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Previously unseen art and interviews with Wong, movie clips and archival footage illustrate how his unique style–melding Chinese calligraphic and landscape influences with contemporary Western art–is found in everything from Disney animation (Bambi) and live-action Hollywood studio films (Rebel Without a CauseThe Wild BunchSands of Iwo JimaApril in Paris) to Hallmark Christmas cards, kites and hand-painted California dinnerware to fine art and Depression-era WPA paintings. The film also features new interviews with his daughters and fellow artists/designers, including his Disney co-worker and friend Milton Quon and curators and historians of Wong’s work.

“FRONTLINE: Exodus: The Journey Continues” tells the intimate, firsthand stories of refugees and migrants caught in Europe’s tightened borders

Over one-and-a-half million refugees and migrants have smuggled themselves to the West since 2015, fleeing countries besieged by violence and poverty in search of safety and a better life. But the countries these refugees dreamed of reaching have changed.

FRONTLINE: Exodus: The Journey Continues is a stunning sequel to the  2016 documentary FRONTLINE: Exodus and tells the intimate, firsthand stories of refugees and migrants caught in Europe’s tightened borders, facing heightened nationalism and rising anti-immigrant sentiment. As this global migration and refugee crisis continues, with countries becoming less and less welcoming to those seeking refuge, this documentary is an eye-opening look at the evolving crisis that draws on footage filmed by the refugees themselves.

The program will be available on DVD April 17. The program is also available for digital download.

Hugh Bonneville offers a revolutionary new telling of the son of God in “Jesus: Countdown to Calvary”

Praise the Lord! Hugh Bonneville offers a revolutionary new telling of the story of an itinerant Jewish healer and preacher, who went from hero to victim in a single week, 2000 years ago, and ended up dead on a cross. In this documentary, Hugh Bonneville sets out to discover why that one execution, in a century when as many as 500 people were killed in a single day by the Romans, had such seismic, lasting and global impact, for better and for worse.

Jesus: Countdown to Calvary (Public Media Distribution) will be available on DVD April 24. The program is also available for digital download.

For the first time on television, world-renowned actor and Cambridge theology graduate, Hugh Bonneville reveals how a perfect storm of political intrigue, power struggles and clashing religious passions combined, in a single week, to cause the event that changed the world: the killing of Jesus.

Bonneville uses all the investigative and storytelling tools at his disposal to reveal the context, characters and chain of events behind  that tumultuous week. In the process, he finds that this is no dusty religious story, but a political thriller, shot through with intrigue, spin, conspiracy, power battles, betrayal and terror.

She is an important woman who remains unknown. Until now. Welcome “Victorian Rebel: Marianne North”

She is an important woman who remains relatively unknown, Until now. Smithsonian Channel’s Victorian Rebel: Marianne North remembers one of the most adventurous female explorers and botanists of all time in a story of obsession, tragedy and ultimately triumph in Victorian England. At a time when women barely left their parlor rooms, Marianne North’s daring documentation of the world’s rarest plants propelled her to the top of a male-dominated world. Facing down Amazonian mudslides, starvation in Japan, and delirium in the Seychelles, North left an astounding legacy complete with new discoveries and records of now extinct species.

The program tracks the footsteps of a feminist icon living at the height of the British Empire–reliving her jaw-dropping adventures and recognizing her unbelievable achievements in the face of adversity. It will be available on DVD from Public Media Distribution on April 10. The program is also available for digital download.

Actress and North-admirer Emilia Fox takes viewers to the awe-inspiring locations of some of North’s greatest moments. The film uses stunning drama reconstructions, as well as North’s personal memoirs, letters and paintings to retell her amazing story–one of a Victorian rebel who rejected marriage and social convention to lead a pioneering life of conservation and exploration.

PBS’ “Little Women” remake marches along with Angela Lansbury, Michael Gambon and Emily Watson

One of Louisa May Alcott’s most beloved novels is being adapted and remade again, this time for PBS. Save the date:  MASTERPIECE: Little Woman premieres on May 13 and May 20; the Blu-ray and DVD hit stores May 22. The program will also be available for digital download.

 Set against the backdrop of a country divided, the story follows the four March sisters on their journey from childhood to adulthood while their father is away at war. Under the guidance of their mother Marmee, the girls navigate what it means to be a young woman: from gender roles to sibling rivalry, first love, loss and marriage. Accompanied by the charming boy next door Laurie Laurence, their cantankerous wealthy Aunt March and benevolent neighbor Mr. Laurence, Little Women is a coming-of-age story that is as relevant and engaging today as it was on its original publication in 1868.

Little Women is one of the most-loved novels in the English language, and with good reason,” says writer and executive producer Heidi Thomas. “Its humanity, humor, and tenderness never date, and as a study of love, grief, and growing up it has no equal. There could be no better time to revisit the story of a family striving for happiness in an uncertain world.”

Heading the cast are Emily Watson as Marmee, the devoted mother of the four adolescent March girls; Michael Gambon as Mr. Laurence; and Angela Lansbury as the March family matriarch, Aunt March.

The March sisters—the “little women” of the title—feature newcomer Maya Hawke as the willful and adventurous Jo; Willa Fitzgerald as the eldest and most virtuous, Meg; Annes Elwy as the shy sister, Beth; and Kathryn Newton  as Amy, the youngest of the family.

Also appearing are Jonah Hauer-King  as Laurie, the loveable boy next door; Dylan Baker  as Mr. March, who is serving as a chaplain with the Union Army; Julian Morris as John Brooke, Laurie’s cultured and handsome tutor; and Mark Stanley  as the charming Professor Bhaer.

A celebration of family as much as it is a recognition of the challenges of growing up and forging an individual identity, the program remains relevant due to the universal themes at its core. Backed by a nearly all-female creative team, Thomas’ adaptation doesn’t shy away from tackling the darker, more complex emotions the March family experiences. Drawing from a novel that was well ahead of its time the show speaks to current issues as much as it does to the issues women faced at the turn of the 20th century.

Devotees of the original novel will relish the book’s indelible scenes in this MASTERPIECE production: the cruel fate of Jo’s manuscript, Amy’s accident on the ice, Meg’s first ball, Beth and the forbidden piano, the pickled limes affair, and many other cherished episodes in a journey to a bygone time.

Although modern society would be disorienting in the extreme to the March sisters, Thomas notes that even today “girls are still confused about their desires and their desirability, and the passage from innocence to experience is more turbulent than ever.”

“We need hope, and we need empathy,” Thomas adds. “We need laughter, and we need catharsis, we need joy and inspiration. Little Women gives us all of these things.”

Ann Curry explores important issues with dignity and grace in “Well Meet Again”

Ann Curry spices up important issues. That’s one of the reasons we love We’ll Meet Again (PBS Distribution), her program that explores some of history’s most dramatic events through the personal stories of those who experienced them and brings together people whose lives intersected at pivotal moments. Executive produced and reported by  Curry, each episode reveals the powerful bonds forged among people who now, against the odds, have the chance to reunite with someone who transformed their life.

The tides of history can disrupt lives, throwing strangers together or tearing loved ones apart. We’ll Meet Again reveals these moving personal stories of hope, courage and love: From a Vietnam War baby desperate to find the American father she last saw 40 years ago to the military chaplain who helped a stranger through the trauma of 9/11, from a Japanese-American girl interned in 1942 who never forgot the classmate who helped her during her darkest hours, to civil rights workers whose lives were forever changed by the deep relationships they formed in the ’60s South.

The program takes viewers on a journey of hope, searching for clues in marriage records and war and immigration documents, and combing archives to reunite those separated by time and distance.

“This series helps people separated by conflict, war and humanitarian disasters find each other again and reveals untold stories of courage, survival, friendship and even love,” says Curry. “This is human history—not from the point of view of kings or politicians or generals—but of everyday people on the front lines of massive events they have no way to control. Their stories tell us something about what we are made of.”

Episodes include:

“Children of WWII”
Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the U.S. entered World War II. Two children whose lives were forever changed by the war search for lost friends. Reiko, a Japanese-American woman sent to an internment camp as a child, hopes to find the classmate who stood by her in the face of anti-Japanese sentiment. Peter, who fled the Nazis with his parents in 1938, searches for the family who befriended him in the last refuge open to the German Jews: the Shanghai Ghetto.

“Rescued From Mt. St. Helens”
When Mount St. Helens erupted on May 18, 1980, 57 people were killed and hundreds more injured. Volcanic ash was scattered across 11 states. In this episode, two people who survived the disaster reveal how the experience influenced their lives. Mindy, a trainee scientist whose inspirational team leader was killed by the blast wants to find his family to let them know he saved her life. Sue hopes to find the brave helicopter pilot who risked his own life to rescue her.

“Lost Children of Vietnam”
The war in Vietnam may have ended in 1975, but its impact lingers in countless lives today. Two children who became refugees after the war tell their stories. Tina, born in Saigon, searches for the American father she last saw more than 40 years ago, and Nam hopes to find Gary, the Texas cowboy he met as a 12-year-old refugee and who inspired his dream of coming to America.

“Heroes of 9/11”
During the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, DC, strangers were thrown together in unimaginable situations. Patrick, a businessman visiting New York, searches for Emily, the photographer’s assistant who comforted him after the collapse of the World Trade Center. Timothy, a military chaplain plunged into chaos at the Pentagon, hopes to thank the fellow chaplain who gave him the courage to carry on.

“Freedom Summer”
During the civil rights movement of the 1960s, Fatima, a teenager from New York, volunteered to register voters in Louisiana. Now, she returns to the South, hoping to find Thelma, the daughter of her host family, whose courage in the face of racism was unforgettable. Sherie searches for Lefty, the charismatic civil rights activist whose commitment to nonviolence inspired her own lifelong involvement with social justice causes.

 “Coming Out”
For decades, gay Americans did not have equal protection under the law; many faced prejudice, possible imprisonment and rejection from their families and society. Two stories of the struggle for acceptance are told in this episode. Tom longs to find Maria, the friend he trusted with his secret and who saved him from brutal electroshock conversion therapy in the ’60s. Paul, who was University of New Hampshire student body president in 1973, searches for Wayne, who organized the first gay student organization on campus. Wayne’s courage to take the fight to court against overwhelming opposition from the state’s conservative governor changed Paul’s life and ultimately helped him accept his own sexuality.

“South Park” continues to amuse, shock and offend . . . thank you Trey and Matt!

Who would ever think that TV’s animated (mis)adventures that riddle South Park would last longer than Liza Minnelli’s career?

Come on down to South Park with all-new, uncensored episodes from the show’s incredible 21st season!  Join Cartman, Kenny, Stan, and Kyle as they take on the opioid epidemic, experiment with water bears, dig into the underbelly of social media, and go to war with Canada.

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Own all 10 episodes from South Park: The Complete Twenty-First Season  on either Blu-ray or DVD.   Save the date: The fun hits shelves June 5.

Each two-disc set also includes never-before-seen deleted scenes and season commentary by SP creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.  The Blu-ray set additionally includes #SocialCommentary on all episodes.

Another reason PBS brings out the beast in us . . . witness “NATURE: Animals With Cameras”

We could say that PBS Distribution programs being out the beast in us.

Go where no human cameraman can go to witness a new perspective of the animal kingdom. NATURE: Animals With Cameras journeys into animals’ worlds using custom, state-of-the-art cameras worn by the animals themselves. Capturing never-before-seen behavior, these animal cinematographers help expand human understanding of their habitats and solve mysteries that have eluded scientists until now. The DVD will be available April 24.  The program will be also available for digital download.

Wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan (Nature: Snowbound: Animals of Winter) and a team of pioneering animal behaviorists join forces to explore stories of animal lives “told” by the animals themselves. The cameras are custom-built by camera design expert Chris Watts to fit on the animals unobtrusively and to be easily removed at a later point. From this unique vantage point, experience the secret lives of nine different animal species. Sprint across the savanna with a cheetah, plunge into the ocean with a seal and swing through the trees with a chimpanzee.

The one-of-a-kind sequences captured by the animals include several on-camera firsts. The cameras allowed for newborn meerkats to be shown in their burrow for the first time ever, as meerkat pups don’t emerge from the burrow until they reach three weeks of age. In the Atlantic Ocean, an unborn devil ray is shown kicking inside its mother’s stomach—a phenomenon never before captured on film.

 The program visits eight countries and features three different species per episode.

“Secrets of the Dead: Scanning the Pyramids” solves a 4,500-year-old mystery

The secrets the dead reveal!

Following the publication of Nature‘s article acknowledging the greatest discovery in Egypt’s Khufu pyramid for more than 1,000 years, Secrets of the Dead: Scanning the Pyramids (PBS Distribution) unveils the adventure behind this revelation in this new documentary. The only one of the Seven Wonders of the World still standing, the Great Pyramid of Khufu has fascinated people for centuries. Tracing the origin of the legends of secret chambers hidden in the heart of the pyramid, the program shows what lies within, solving a 4,500-year-old mystery, by following the first scientific mission in 30 years to be authorized by the Egyptian government to examine the pyramids of Egypt.

Passionate about ancient history, the global team of Scan Pyramids consists of particle physicists, experts in innovation and 3D technologies, and engineers in thermal imaging from Egypt, France, Japan and Canada. For more than two years, they explored every corner of the pyramid, using non-invasive technologies including infrared cameras, 3D scanners and cosmological particle detectors located inside and outside the monument. Their search detected unknown cavities in the Great Pyramid of Khufu for the first time since the Middle Ages. Viewers are able to witness Scan Pyramid’s adventures and successes in this extraordinary scientific and historical journey through time and space that led to this historic discovery.