Category Archives: TV

“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.

The harrowing journey of Sudan, the last male of his sub-species, the Northern White Rhinoceros, is told in “The Last Rhino”

Meet Sudan, the last male of his sub-species, the Northern White Rhinoceros. NATURE: The Last Rhino (PBS Distribution) tells his harrowing journey through the international cast of characters who have been involved in Sudan’s life, from when he was snatched as a calf from his mother’s side in war-torn Central Africa, to his captivity as a prized exhibit in a cold, concrete zoo behind the Iron Curtain while poaching devastated his kind to extinction back home.

Now at 43 years old and half-blind, Sudan is living out his days under 24-hour armed guard, on a protective sanctuary in Kenya. As his kind nears its last hour, scientists and animal experts turn to technology in a race to save the Northern White Rhino before it dies out forever.

PBS Distribution brings the first two seasons of “Unforgettable” to DVD. We promise the show is unforgettable!

It’s a series that remains unforgotten. Yes, it’s that good.

PBS Distribution will be releasing the first two seasons of Masterpiece Mystery!: Unforgotten on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD. Two stone-cold cases of murder test the wits of crime-solving duo Detective Chief Inspector Cassie Stuart and Detective Sergeant Sunny Khan, played by Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar in two seasons of the critically acclaimed UK crime series.

Save the dates: Unforgotten Season 1 will be available on DVD and Blu-ray April 24; Unforgotten Season will be available on DVD and Blu-ray May 15. Both programs will also be available for digital download.

The Telegraph (London) called Unforgotten’s opening episodes “the gateway to a labyrinth of absorbingly interconnected lives,” adding that Walker and Bhaskar portray “two of the most credibly ordinary cops currently on the TV beat.”

The Australian (Sydney) singled out screenwriter Chris Lang as “a cunning master of parallel plotting. Compelling stuff.” And The Independent (London) lauded the remarkable supporting cast of “unforgotten and unforgettable actors.”

Joining Walker and Bhaskar is Peter Egan, who appears in both seasons as Cassie’s father and Tom Courtenay, who won a best supporting actor BAFTA for his role in the series. Also appearing in Season 1 are Gemma Jones, Trevor Eve, Cherie Lunghi, Bernard Hill, Hannah Gordon and Ruth Sheen.

Guest stars in Season 2 include Badria Timimi, Mark Bonnar, Lorraine Ashbourne and Rosie Cavaliero.

Season 1 opens with a human skeleton found beneath a basement. The remains could be centuries old—or four decades, as comes to light upon further investigation of the crime scene. Cassie and Sunny eventually discover the victim was a young man, Jimmy Sullivan and his nearly-disintegrated pocket diary leads the detectives to a list of names that may hold the key to solving the murder.

The list of names includes Sir Phillip Cross (Eve), a mobster who bribed his way into the aristocracy; Father Robert Greaves (Hill), a beloved vicar with a dark secret; Lizzie Wilton (Sheen), a reformed skinhead; and Eric Slater (Courtenay), an elderly, disabled bookkeeper taking care of his wife, Claire (Jones) who is suffering from dementia. They all lead very different lives, but something links them, something that explains Jimmy’s final resting place and the torture marks found on his bones.

Season 2 starts innocently enough with a routine river dredging operation. When the scoop brings up a soggy, old suitcase, the workers open it and find a corpse sealed up so long that the tissues have turned to a soapy substance. Gruesome forensic work identifies the victim as David Walker, a businessman missing for twenty-five years.

Cassie and Sunny locate Walker’s wife, Tessa Nixon (Ashbourne), now remarried. A hard-bitten DI herself, Tessa reminds her fellow police officers that “sixty-three percent of all murder victims are killed by their partners.”

“You’ll be thinking that, won’t you?” she says. “I would be.”

But Cassie and Sunny have other suspects to consider. A pager found with Walker’s remains leads them to Sara Mahmoud (Timimi), a Muslim teacher who wishes she’d never heard of David Walker. Other clues connect Walker with Colin Osborne (Bonnar), a gay attorney in the process of adopting a young girl with his partner; and Marion Kelsey (Cavaliero), a harried nurse in a children’s cancer ward.

The puzzle pieces won’t fit together—until, as The Telegraph admiringly notes, Cassie has an inspiration that climaxes in “the perfect ending.”