Category Archives: TV

MHz gems are imported to the U.S. Think priests and liars, murder and betrayal and a French Ironsides

It’s worth the wait. On Tuesday, June 27, MHz Networks premieres the latest installments in the long-running Italian TV series, Detective Montalbano, A Nest of Vipers and According to Protocal. Both will be released Day-and-Date in the United States on its SVOD platform, MHz Choice and on its DVD imprint, MHz on DVD.

Based on the blockbuster crime novels by Andrea Camilleri, the episodes depict life in the fictional Sicilian town of Vigata–where the pace of life is slower, there are few cars and home cooking abounds. (Seconds are mandatory.)

Detective Montalbano (portrayed by Luca Zingaretti) heads the police department, solving crimes with his always loyal and sometimes effective police squad who find themselves crossing paths with housewives and fisherman, priests and liars, saints and Mafia dons. MHz Networks will also release the first two seasons of the French detective series, Caïn on DVD.  Bruno Debrandt stars as the wheelchair-bound Captain Fred Caïn who’s smarter, quicker and more mobile than most able-bodied people.

Detective Montalbano: Episodes 28 & 29
Murder, betrayal, office politics, temptation . . . it’s all in a day’s work for Detective Salvo Montalbano. With intuition and a cadre of police officers, Montalbano solves crimes in the fictional small city of Vigata. This work brings him across the paths of unforgettable characters who could only come from Sicily. He also wages a personal war with his own demons, which fight against his professional ideals and personal commitment to beautiful long-distance girlfriend, Livia. Yet there’s always time to indulge a long-standing flirtation with his ultimate temptress, Italian cuisine. The series is filmed in the ancient, sun-washed Sicilian city of Ragusa, and is based on the international best-selling mystery novels by Andrea Camiller.

A Nest of Vipers
A man arrives at his father’s home to find him dead, murdered with a shotgun while drinking coffee in the kitchen. With no sign of forced entry, it’s clear the victim knew his murderer. Finding locals with possible motives is easy, because he spent a lifetime exploiting young women and making enemies of fellow townspeople. Montalbano also discovers that the victim wasn’t just shot, but had been poisoned hours earlier. It’s as if two murderers had decided that night, independently of one another, to kill him.

According to Protocol A beautiful, beaten woman manages to drive herself to an apartment building, where she collapses and dies in the foyer. Her intent seems to have been to direct investigators to one of the building’s tenants. During the investigation – in which Ingrid and Livia meet for the first time–the team uncovers a world of vice and hypocrisy that leaves them all in shock. Montalbano also strikes up a friendship with his new neighbor, a retired judge haunted by the idea that true justice and objectivity may not be possible.

Caïn: Season 1 and Cain Season Season 2
In this darkly comic French crime series wheelchair-bound police captain Fred Caïn (played by able-bodied Bruno Debrandt) is quicker and more mobile than most able-bodied people. In his investigations, he spins circles around suspects and digs deep inside the darkest hidden corners of the human mind. A motorcycle accident caused by speeding and his own use of narcotics has left him unable to walk, but clear-eyed about criminality and motive. Image result for Cain Season 2 MHzHe’s left the drugs behind but a dark sense of humor remains, and his disdain for ‘bipeds’ can make him difficult to work with. He uses his disability to his advantage by breaking with convention and the law without an ounce of shame or trepidation. Only army veteran Lucie Delambre can handle him as a partner, and his friend and boss Jacques Moretti runs interference for him with the higher-ups. Set in Marseille, Caïn is a crime drama with a twist, a police procedural that focuses on psychology and the human being behind the criminal.   Season 1 includes: Jealousy Justice Judge and be Judged The Attacker Confusion Under The Skin Hostages Innocence

Season 2 includes: Suicide Ornella Cain and Abel, Part 1 Cain and Abel, Part 2 The Island Bad Boy Duels God, Caïn, etc…

New customers receive a free 30-Day Trial. For more information or to subscribe, go to www.mhzchoice.com.

The full list of MHz Choice premieres can be found here: MHz Choice Premiere Schedule.

 

PBS Distribution about to serve a most tasty “American Masters: The Art of Craft,” the life and flavors of Jaqcues Pepin

Hungry for a special treat? Leave it to PBS Distribution who is about to serve American Masters: The Art of Craft on DVD. This culinary journey traces the life of Jaqcues Pépin, a young immigrant with movie-star looks and a charming Gallic accent, who elevated essential kitchen techniques to an art form to become one of America’s most beloved food icons. The delight goes on the table when it’s released June 6; the program will also be available for digital download.

The program traces his journey from his childhood in the countryside of wartime France, where his family’s tradition of running homegrown restaurants propelled him into an early culinary career.Image result for pepin jacques

At the age of 13, Pépin leaves home to begin a formal apprenticeship at the distinguished Grand Hôtel de l’Europe. His first break comes at 16, when, as the sole chef, he cooks the fireman’s banquet in the alpine resort town of Bellegarde, a success that results in his first newspaper photo op. “I start to realize that I could put some of myself in the food. It didn’t have to be exactly the way my mother wanted it to be,” says Pépin, recalling this pivotal moment in his life.

Nearly 17, Pépin moves to Paris, initially without a job, and eventually works at dozens of restaurants learning about classical cooking. He trains under Lucien Diat at the Hotel Plaza Athénée where the emphasis is on technique. Four years later, he is drafted into the Navy, but because his older brother is already on the front, Pépin is assigned to stay in Paris as a cook at Navy headquarters.

Now an accomplished chef, he is assigned to create special dinners for the top brass and becomes the personal chef for three French heads of state, including Charles de Gaulle. But Pépin understands that in the late ’50s, the cook, even if “first chef,” is really at the bottom of the social scale and viewed as the help. Not content cooking in French palaces; Pépin decides to move to the United States in ’59.

In New York, Pépin lands a job at Le Pavillon, the most influential French restaurant in the country, and soon meets the three people he calls the “Trinity of Cooking”: Craig Claiborne, food editor of The New York Times; James Beard; and Julia Child. In later years, he partners with Child on a television series, Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, for which he and Child win a Daytime Emmy in 2001.

While at Le Pavillon, Pépin is courted for the position of “first chef” in the new Kennedy White House, a position he turns down. Instead, he goes to work in the kitchens of Howard Johnson’s hotel and restaurant chain (1960–70) where he learns about mass production, marketing, food chemistry, and American popular food.

In 1974, a near-fatal car accident is the catalyst that pushes Pépin’s life in a different direction as writer, teacher, and ultimately a media star. With his early landmark books on the fundamentals of culinary craft, La Technique (1976) and La Methôde (1978), and television shows, Pépin ushers in a new era in American food culture.

An American citizen for more than half a century, at age 81, Pépin continues to crisscross the country teaching, cooking, speaking, consulting, and enjoying the celebrity generated by 14 television shows, nearly 30 cookbooks, and accolades including the French Legion of Honor, France’s highest honor.

Interviews with Pépin’s wife Gloria and daughter Claudine, culinary stars and media personalities including José Andrés, Daniel Boulud, Anthony Bourdain, Tom Colicchio, Rachael Ray, Marcus Samuelsson and Fareed Zakaria, offer insights about the man, who with his catchphrase “happy cooking” has always emphasized honesty of ingredients, simplicity of approach, and a joy for sharing food with loved ones.

The film is produced and directed by Peter L. Stein, a Peabody Award–winning documentary filmmaker who first started working with Pépin in 1989 as producer of what became Pépin’s landmark public television series Today’s Gourmet, and who went on to oversee seven seasons of cooking programs with Pépin in the ’90s.

 

“Mummies Alive” brings home everyone’s mummy . . . throughout 5,000 years

We want our mummy! And we will get her, along with her well-preserved relatives, in Mummies Alive (Public Media Distribution, LLC).   The series finds it home on DVD July 4.

Mummies Alive spans 5,000 years of history, with each of the six episodes focusing on one mummy, time travelers from the past and the most precious human link we have to our ancestors. By investigating their incredibly preserved remains and bringing them back to life through cutting-edge CGI, their stories and the secrets of past civilizations come to light.

The series kicks off with The Gunslinger Mummy, nicknamed “Sylvester”, whose preserved remains and eerily life-like face are on display in the Ye Olde Curiosity Shop in downtown Seattle. According to one legend, he was an American Wild West cowboy, killed 120 years ago in a saloon shootout. He’s got what appears to be a bullet hole in his stomach, but using CT imaging technology and state-of-the-art virtual autopsy techniques, investigators piece together a new and surprising story; one involving a notorious con man, the sideshow circuit, and a lesson on how to turn a buck using the myth of the Old West. But as the color is restored to his sunken cheeks and his ancient eyes open, scientific investigation and computer animation reveal the most likely and surprising truth about Sylvester’s last moments.

Buried in a Bog: In 2003, the police were twice called to the peat fields of the Irish midlands to examine mangled corpses unearthed from their peaty graves by the claws of peat-harvesting machines. Found within three months of each other and a mere 16 miles apart, these two bodies had evidently met with extremely violent ends before being buried in the bog.  Despite their incredible states of preservation it quickly became clear that they were long dead – possibly thousands of years old–and that an archaeological, rather than criminal investigation, was in order.

Ötzi the Iceman (below) was discovered frozen on a mountain glacier in the Italian Alps. This episode re-opens one of the oldest cold cases in human history by examining a Neolithic murder victim buried under ice for more than 5,000 years. Chilling events are reconstructed, and the latest forensic and scientific techniques are employed to expose Europe’s ancient, violent past. Samples taken from his stomach reveal his last meal. A copper axe found with his body may rewrite the history books, and wounds discovered on his hand and back suggest a violent death.Image result for Ötzi the Iceman

 Another mummy, The Inca Maiden, believed to have been 14-years-old at the time of her death, was found buried near the top of a 22,000-foot volcano in South America. A CT-scan will try to solve the mystery of how she died and what she was doing at 22,000 feet. The Inca Maiden is a stunningly preserved mummy, the best-preserved mummy in the world, and today she is kept in a specially-designed cryogenic chamber at a museum in Argentina. The extreme environment guaranteed her preservation, but did it also kill her? As the secrets of a lost civilization are revealed, shocking clues point in a more sinister direction and provide an unprecedented emotional and intimate look at the tragic life and death of this young girl, below.Image result for The Inca Maiden,

The Pharaoh’s Secret peels back the wrappings on a mysterious, mutilated pharaoh. Using the latest forensic techniques, investigators unearth a violent story of conquest and rebellion that laid the foundations for Ancient Egypt’s golden age.

Hero of Herculaneum: This investigation looks into a forgotten chapter from the volcanic destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Three hundred mummified skeletons were found buried in ash, including the body of a man armed to the teeth and carrying a huge cache of gold and silver. Who was he? What was his role in the disaster? How did he die? For the very first time, his story is told.

PBS serves up two fascinating documentaries on DVD, just in time for the July holiday

Food, glorious, food. What better way to celebrate incredible edibles than on July 4, the holiday that offers the independence to choose among so much delish dishes? PBS Distrubtion comes into action with the DVD being released that day.

“What fish should I eat that’s good for me and good for the planet?” That’s the question bestselling author and lifelong fisherman Paul Greenberg sets out to answer. As part of his quest to investigate the health of the ocean—and his own—Greenberg spends a year eating seafood for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s a journey that’s brought to life in Frontline: The Fish on My Plate produced by Neil Docherty, David Fanning and Sarah Spinks. The documentary will be available on DVD July 4; the program will also be available for digital download.

The program chronicles Greenberg as he works on his upcoming book, The Omega Principle—and consumes more than 700 fish meals in hopes of improving his health through a dramatic increase in his Omega-3 levels.

With people worldwide consuming more seafood than ever, Greenberg also explores questions of sustainability and overfishing, traveling to Norway, where modern fish farming was invented; Peru to witness the world’s largest wild fishery; Alaska, where 200 million salmon can be caught each year; and Connecticut to visit a sustainable ocean farming pioneer who is trying to transform the fishing industry.

On the wild side, Greenberg finds that not everything is as it seems: At America’s largest seafood trade show, American wild salmon is labeled as a product of China. Why? Alaskan salmon is shipped frozen to China, thawed there to be deboned and filleted, and then refrozen to be shipped back to American supermarkets.

When it comes to farmed fish, things aren’t much more clear-cut: In Norway, the world center for farming America’s favorite fish, the Atlantic salmon, Greenberg finds a “salmon war.” The country’s fjords are festooned with farms, profits are huge, and growth expectations are high—but there is fierce criticism from environmentalists who complain the farms create more sewage than the entire human population of the country, that they spread disease, and that escaped farmed salmon are polluting the genetics of dwindling wild stocks.

Plus, a parasite, the sea louse—which feeds off the blood of the salmon—multiplies exponentially in the farms, and then infects entire fjords. This has led the government to halt the industry’s growth until the louse can be restrained.

In the program, Greenberg charts the industry’s efforts to accommodate its critics and search for solutions—visiting a “green” fish farm just south of the Arctic Circle, and discussing proposals for a genetically modified salmon that will be grown in tanks out of the ocean.

The Fish on My Plate isn’t just the story of one man’s journey. It’s a must-watch documentary for any consumer who cares about both his or her own health, and the health of the planet.

The three-part program Hungry for Food delves into the physics , chemistry and biology that creates each bite of food we take.  Dr. Michael Mosley (below) and botanist James Wong celebrate the physics, chemistry, and biology hidden inside every bite.

Image result for hungry for food Dr. Michael Mosley

Together Mosley and Wong travel the world and take over the UK’s leading food lab as they deconstruct favorite meals, taking viewers inside the food, right down to the molecular level.

The documentary will also  be available on DVD July 4; the program will also be available for digital download.

Descriptions of each of the episodes included on the DVD are listed below:

We Are What We Eat
Michael and James explore how the chemicals in our food feed and build our bodies. The world is full of different cuisines and thousands of different meals. Yet when they’re reduced to their essence, there are actually just a handful of ingredients that our bodies absolutely need from our food to survive. These essential molecules come in a series of familiar sounding groups–carbohydrates, fat, protein, vitamins and minerals–but Michael and James discover plenty of surprises as they seek to understand exactly why each class of molecule is so important for the way our bodies work.

This is food taken to its fundamentals. By using the latest imaging techniques and incredibly detailed specialist photography, Michael and James offer a whole new way of thinking about the relationship we have with our modern diet.

A Matter of Taste
Michael and James explore how the marriage between chemistry and biology is the root of all the sensations, tastes, and flavors that we enjoy in our food. Michael begins by deconstructing a Thai meal. Its effect on the tongue can be reduced down to just five tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and the less well-known umami. Umami is the most recently discovered of all the tastes. It’s a Japanese word that translates as ‘pleasant savory taste.’ By the end of their journey through flavor, they reveal that taste if far more than just being delicious–it’s a matter of survival.

Food on the Brain
Michael and James explore the effect of Food on the Brain. The brain is one of the greediest organs in the body in terms of the energy it needs to run. It influences our diet by generating the cravings we all experience. The food we put in our mouths has a very direct effect on all the grey matter lurking above. And the brain does something rather ingenious with all this sensory input. We all have a series of interconnections in our brains called the reward pathway. This allows us to make pleasant associations between the food we eat, who we eat it with, and where we eat it–and these feelings keep us coming back for more.

 

 

Has the federal government overstepped its authority? “American Patriot” says yes

Drawing on deep access to key people on all sides of the battle, Frontline: American Patriot (PBS Distribution) investigates the standoffs that propelled the Bundy family into the national spotlight and the crosshairs of the federal government. With “Patriot” groups that rallied to the Bundys’ cause surging to levels not seen in decades, the film also reports on what’s next for the family and the wider movement around them. The riveting documentary will be available on DVD June 13; the program will also be available for digital download.

 

The effort traces the Bundy family’s story as ranchers in the high deserts of Nevada, grazing cattle for generations on federal land and ultimately going to war against the government.

Now, their fight has become a lot bigger.

What began as one family’s dispute with the government over grazing fees has reinvigorated a national movement of self-styled militias and “Patriots.” They believe the federal government has overstepped its authority, strayed from its founding principles, and is filled with agents they are duty-bound to oppose. They call themselves Oath Keepers, Constitutional Sheriffs, sovereign citizens, Three Percenters. And while each group has its own cause, they rally under the same banner: opposition to federal overreach.

Over the past several years, many of these “Patriots” have answered the Bundys’ call, taking up arms to defend against what they see as government infringement of their rights as American citizens. In 2014, armed men faced down the federal government at the Bundy ranch when agents came to impound their cattle. In the end, the federal agents backed down. Then, last year, armed “Patriots” again joined Ammon and Ryan when they occupied a federal wildlife preserve in Oregon to protest the imprisonment of fellow ranchers, the Hammonds, who were convicted of starting fires on federal lands. Last October, Ammon, Ryan and five other supporters were acquitted of federal charges relating to the occupation. A trial for the remaining defendants is scheduled to begin next month.

 American Patriot and the accompanying written and audio story helps audiences to understand the Bundys, their fight and the people who have rallied to their cause.

‘Secrets of the Dead: Nero’s Sunken City’ takes a riveting look at Roman Beverly Hills

Beneath the turquoise waves of the Bay of Naples lies an extraordinary underwater archeology site, the ancient Roman city of Baiae. From the first century to the third century AD, Baiae was the exclusive playground for the rich and powerful among Rome’s elite. What made Baiae such a special place? What really went on there? And why did it disappear?

For the first time, an international team of scientists, archaeologists and historians is meticulously mapping the underwater ruins and piecing together evidence that could provide answers to these questions in the riveting documentary Secrets of the Dead: Nero’s Sunken City. The DVD will be available on May 9; the program will also be available for digital download.

While some of Baiae’s ruins remain intact on land, more than half of this coastal city is submerged under water. These underwater ruins are three times the size of those in Pompeii. Archaeologists have found a network of roads, miles of brick walls and villas with rich marble floors, and splendid mosaics. But what they haven’t found are any identifiable public buildings, no forum, temple or market place.

The remains consist of one vast luxury villa after another–a Roman Beverly Hills–with elaborate spas and water features, marble statues inspired by Greek art, ponds for farming fish and more. The villas were like mini-cities. No expense was spared to create these seaside vacation homes where barges floating in the bay were the site of raucous parties.

More than any other emperor, Nero was infamous for his hedonism and Baiae was his escape. Here, he could indulge in his sadistic fantasies. But Baiae was more than a place of opulence, the Las Vegas of its day. It was also the site of some of the most treacherous political dealings of ancient Rome with Emperor Nero and his enemies hatching deadly plots against each other.

What lengths was Nero willing to take to gain his Aunt Domitia’s villa? What plans did Gaius Calpurnius Piso, a wealthy nobleman, have for the emperor as he vacationed at his villa?  What scheme did Nero devise in Baiae to end the power struggle with his mother?

In the fourth century AD, seismic activity caused half of Baiae to sink into the bay. Located 150 miles south of Rome, Baiae remains one of the least explored places in the Roman Empire. Until now.

‘Viva Puerto Rico’ documents the work of three conservationists restoring the island’s most endangered species

Manatees, parrots and turtles, oh my! There are important conservation efforts underway in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to protect its endangered native wildlife from extinction on land and sea. Once home to ancient rainforests that covered the Caribbean island when Columbus first landed in 1493, centuries of development have impacted Puerto Rico’s rich natural resources. By 1900, only five percent of its rainforests remained, causing a major loss of habitat.

Nature: Viva Puerto Rico (PBS Distribution) follows the work of three conservationists and the ways in which each is trying to restore populations of the island’s most endangered species:  the Puerto Rican Amazon parrot, Leatherback turtle and the manatee. The documentary  will be available on DVD May 16; the program will also be available for digital download.

The film states that there was a time when only 13 Puerto Rican Amazon parrots were left in existence. But wildlife biologist Jafet Vélez-Valentín, who manages the Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Program, has devoted his life to increasing their numbers. He and his team run a captive breeding program for these rare birds at an undisclosed location in the rainforest. They have developed techniques to improve the number of chicks that hatch. They employ exercise training for the juveniles to build up their wing muscles and increase their ability to fly long enough to evade predators in the wild. The episode documents the release of Vélez-Valentín’s largest ever flock, composed of 24 parrots, into El Yunque National Forest increasing the wild population by 10%.

The warm tropical waters surrounding Puerto Rico are home to five threatened native species of sea turtles. Carlos Diez is a world-renowned turtle conservationist whose research on the Hawksbill turtle led to an international trade ban on its shell. Diez documents the key evidence needed to make the legal case to protect a crucial nesting site of the endangered Leatherback turtle from potential development at Dorado Beach. At night, a female Leatherback emerges from the sea to dig her nest two feet down in the sand, then lays about 80 eggs. Two months later, the last of the hatchlings are seen at sunrise making a mad dash to the ocean to evade capture by sea birds. Diez then presents his testimony in court along with other members of the community and the judge decides the fate of the beach.

The final story takes place at the Manatee Conservation Center where Dr. Antonio (“Tony”) Mignucci and his team care for, treat, and rehabilitate injured and stranded marine mammals. The film focuses on Mignucci’s efforts to prepare two juvenile manatees for a return to the sea. Before that happens, they will need to weigh at least 600 pounds each and be in good health.

With only 700 manatees left in the Puerto Rican waters, it is hoped the two manatees, a male and female, will also breed when they are released. When it’s time to transport the pair to a fenced off area of a bay to allow them time to acclimatize, the Center receives all kinds of help from the National Guard, Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, the police, and dozens of volunteers. In three months, the gates to the sea pen will open to allow the manatees to head into the ocean. As for the island’s rainforests, more than 60 percent are starting to recover as conservation awareness and efforts continue to be adopted by the people of Puerto Rico.

Was Leonardo da Vinci a true renaissance man . . . or a fraud?

His notebooks contain plans for hundreds of inventions, including the machine guns, diving suits, construction cranes, robots and flying machines that would be created hundreds of years later. Was Leonardo da Vinci a genius? A prophet who anticipated the modern age by 500 years? Or was there another explanation?

The answer can be found in Secrets of the Dead: Leonardo, the Man Who Save Science. Da Vinci is, of course, best known as one of the world’s greatest artists. At his death in 1519, he was famous for such masterpieces as the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. But he was more than a painter: He was also a musician, writer and showman. In the pages of his notebooks, written in a secretive reverse script, and unpublished for more than 400 years, we discover yet another Leonardo, the man of science.

Secrets of the Dead: Leonardo, the Man Who Save Science (PBS Distrbution) will be available on DVD May 2; the program will also be available for digital download.

One of the many inventions attributed to Leonardo is the parachute. But did he actually invent it? In 1968, researchers discovered sketches from the studio of 15th-century Italian inventor Mariano do Jacopa, known as Taccola, which were similar to Leonardo’s study for such a device.

Taccola, who was 70 years older than Leonardo and died the year before Leonardo was born, was an engineer of the early Renaissance and among the first to use drawings as a design tool. But just as Leonardo copied from him, Taccola’s idea is copied from a Muslim inventor, Abbas Ibn Firnas.

The program features drawings of da Vinci’s most famous ideas and inventions, some of which trace their original creation to ancient Greece while others were a product of the scientific inventions of the golden age of Islamic learning. Leonardo never affirmed that his projects came from his original ideas.

Is Leonardo just a copycat?  Or, as the program suggests, did he, in reinventing ancient technology, spark a renewed interest in scientific experimentation lost in Europe during the Dark Ages until the Renaissance. “Dealing with a problem or understanding a phenomenon for him meant to see how it is related to other phenomena,” says Fritjof Capra, historian of science. “In this way, I think, he generated what we now call the scientific method, and he single-handedly created the scientific method.”

 As one of PBS’s ongoing limited primetime series, Secrets of the Dead is a perennial favorite among viewers, routinely ranking among the 10 most-watched series on public television. Currently in its 16th season, Secrets of the Dead continues its unique brand of archaeological sleuthing and employing advances in investigative techniques, forensic science and historical scholarship to offer new evidence about forgotten mysteries. Secrets of the Dead has received 10 CINE Golden Eagle Awards and six Emmy nominations, among numerous other awards.

 

Climate change doesn’t exist? Only idiots believe that. Welcome to “Wild Weather”

Climate change doesn’t exist? Then catch PBS Distribution’s Wild Weatheon DVD. Weather: It’s big, it’s beautiful–and it’s wild.

Nature takes simple ingredients like wind, water and temperature and transforms them into something spectacular and powerful. This documentary reveals exactly how it does it. The only way to truly understand the weather is to get inside it. This program features scientists from around the globe who are creating their own weather in an attempt to examine the secret processes at work.

 

Scientists such as Dr. Nigel Tapper of Monash University (Australia) tries to create his own massive dust storm so he can examine the microscopic moments when dust particles begin to bounce high into the stratosphere. Engineers Jim Stratton and Craig Zehrung from Purdue University,  use a high powered “vacuum cannon” to fire homemade hailstones at over 500 mph. It sounds like fun, but their work has a serious purpose: to discover whether hail is actually stronger than ordinary ice.

Meanwhile Walter Steinkogler of the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF in Davos, Switzerland, is trying to find out how something as light and delicate as snow can travel at 250 m.p.h when it’s in an avalanche. His solution is to start an avalanche of his own in an attempt to see the secret snowballs he believes are hiding beneath the powder cloud.

Dr. Kazunori Kuwana from Yamagata University, Japan has spent the last 10 years trying to capture the rare moment that can turn a bushfire into a formidable fire whirlwind. Here he fulfills a lifelong ambition by starting a 10-meter high fire whirl of his own.

American meteorologist Reed Timmer, together with a bizarre tornado-proof armored car called “The Dominator 3,” is attempting to do something that no-one has ever done before: fire a flying probe right into the heart of a tornado.

As Reed explains, “near the base of the tornado is one of the biggest mysteries of tornado science and it’s also the most important to understand because those are the wind speeds that cause all the destruction.” The show follows Reed and his team on their groundbreaking mission.

Meanwhile Dan Morgan of the U.K.’s Cobham Laboratories creates lightning bolts in his lab to try and measure the destructive power not of lightning, but of thunder. Although we think of thunder as merely the sound of lightning, it is actually a powerful destructive force of its own. In a world-first, Wild Weather makes it possible to actually see thunder for the first time.

Wild Weather  is a fresh and informative documentary featuring a series of ambitious, surprising and revealing experiments that will change the way you think about weather forever.

The DVD goes on sale May 2; the program will also be available for digital download.

“Frontline: Exodus” explores first-hand stories of refugees and migrants seeking better lives

The horrors continue. They are not dreams, but real-life nightmares that remain embedded on our minds with profound grief. Since 2011, millions of people have fled their homes in Syria and other countries besieged by violence, helping to fuel Europe’s largest migration crisis since the end of World War II.

Frontline: Exodus (PBS Distribution) explores the epic, first-hand stories of refugees and migrants as they make dangerous journeys across 26 countries seeking safety and better lives. The program draws on camera and smartphone footage filmed by refugees and migrants themselves–from inside a sinking dinghy on a route across the Mediterranean Sea where thousands have died, to the tents and fires inside Calais’s notorious “Jungle” camp. The riveting documentary is available on DVD; the program will also be available for digital download.

Through its harrowing access and intimacy, the program vividly exposes a shadow-world of human traffickers exploiting the crisis for profit, how countries are handling the influx of people, and the challenges and choices these refugees and migrants face every day.

“Anyone can become a refugee,” says Hassan, a former English teacher who fled his home in Damascus, after he says he was beaten by government forces. “It’s not something which you choose, it’s something that happens to you.”

Hassan’s journey is one of several at the heart of the program. Viewers will also hear the stories of:

  • Isra’a, a young Syrian girl who fled Aleppo with her family, including her disabled sister, after a missile destroyed their home.
  • Ahmad, who fled Syria when his village was invaded by Islamist extremists, and who is trying to reunite with his wife and young daughter.
  • Alaigie, a young Gambian man whose father recently died, and who dreams of reaching Italy and lifting his brothers and sisters out of poverty.
  • Sadiq, who fled Afghanistan to escape the Taliban, and now wants to start a new life in Finland.

Together, their stories paint an indelible portrait of this global crisis, and what it means to be a refugee.

“I am a refugee, I am just like you, I have a family, I have dreams, I’ve got hopes,” says Ahmad. “I just want a peaceful life away from violence.”