The new year is a a mere fast forward away, but PBS Distribution has already a list of upcoming DVDs they are releasing that demand you to write “Save the Date” on your new 2017 calendar . . . and spend the you found in your money found in stocking hanging from the mantle.
Secrets of the Dead: After Stonehenge (Available now)
Three thousand years ago, the Egyptians were building the pyramids, but little is known about what was going on in Europe during this same time. Scholars have long believed that nothing nearly as advanced was happening in Britain. Could a new discovery prove historians wrong?
On the edge of Must Farm Quarry in an area southeast of Britain known as the Fens, archaeologists are uncovering the charred remains of a 3,000-year-old English settlement.
The program follows a team of archeologists, scientists, historians and specialists, as they shed new light on the ancient history of the western world. Perfectly preserved in mud, the prehistoric British Bronze Age Village–built at least one thousand years after Stonehenge–has been called the “British Pompeii.”
Because the site is so delicate, the experts have been working in secret inside the quarry. But now they are rushing to complete their work and map the site before the land is returned for its owner’s use. Have their findings forever changed what we know about life in Bronze Age Britain? What revelations about the villager’s lives can be gleaned from the cache of finds, unprecedented in number and quality, emerging from the marshy Fens?
NOVA: Treasures of the Earth (on sale January 3)
All around us is Earth’s bounty—spectacular mountains, Caribbean blue oceans and abundant, delicious food crops. But what we can see is only a part of the riches Earth provides. Its hidden assets are some of our most important natural resources and they have helped shape humankind.
The program is a three-part series that takes us on a journey deep inside the Earth to uncover the mysteries of how these treasures were created and explores how they have allowed humans to evolve and build great civilizations.
Projections of America (January 3)
During the darkest hour of WWII, a team of idealistic filmmakers hoped the power of the movies could reshape the world. Led by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Robert Riskin, the filmmakers created 26 short documentaries about American life shown to millions of people around the world. The films told stories of cowboys and oilmen, farmers and window washers, immigrants and school children, capturing the optimism and messiness of American democracy.
The gorgeously crafted films were idealized versions of what America could be, created by politically engaged filmmakers who while fighting tyranny abroad, wanted also to fundamentally change America itself. But 70 years later, the films have disappeared. John Lithgow narrates this story of war, idealism and the power of cinema. This emotionally charged story is told through rare and evocative archival materials, including pristine new transfers of the propaganda films themselves, interwoven with interviews with filmmakers, audience members, and film critics.
FRONTLINE: Confronting Isis (January 3)
One of the biggest foreign policy challenges America’s next president will face is the battle against ISIS. Where does the U.S.-led fight against the terror group stand today?
In the special, FRONTLINE correspondent Martin Smith travels to five countries with key roles in the anti-ISIS fight—Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Turkey—to report on successes, failures and challenges as ISIS loses ground in the region but strikes out with attacks abroad. Beginning with the fall of Mosul to ISIS in 2014, the program deeply examines two years of American-led efforts to defeat ISIS, taking viewers step-by-step through a number of initiatives involving different regional players. Smith gains rare access across the region and beyond. In the process, he finds a fundamental problem: At times, the White House’s narrow focus on defeating ISIS hasn’t always aligned with the top issues faced by America’s allies—om how to deal with Bashar al-Assad in Syria, to Saudi Arabia’s fears about Iran, to the war in Yemen, to the Kurdish-Turkish conflict.
Puppy Power (January 10)
This fun-filled DVD includes four puppy-packed Super Why! adventures. Join Woofster and the Super Readers for exciting adventures where they save other troubled pets, explore a comic book that Whyatt created called “The Missing Princess of Pet City,” and learn to concentrate by overcoming distractions! This collection of stories features tons of new furry friends and will inspire kids to go on reading adventures. Super Why! helps kids learn the fundamentals of reading through interactive storybook adventures. The program features a team of superhero characters with reading powers who jump into books to find answers to everyday preschool challenges.
AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: Command and Control (January 10)
A cautionary tale of freak accidents, near misses, human fallibility and extraordinary heroism, the program exposes the terrifying truth about the management of America’s nuclear arsenal and shows what can happen when the weapons built to protect us threaten to destroy us.
The film recounts, in chilling, minute-by-minute detail, the story of a deadly 1980 accident at a Titan II missile complex in Damascus, Arkansas. Through the first-person accounts of Air Force personnel, weapon designers and first responders who were on the scene, the film reveals the unlikely chain of events that caused the accident and the feverish efforts to prevent the explosion of a ballistic missile carrying the most powerful nuclear warhead ever built by the United States—600 times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.
On the evening of September 18, 1980, Airmen David F. Powell and Jeffrey L. Plumb were performing routine maintenance at the Titan II silo in Damascus, Arkansas. At the age of 21, Powell was considered a highly experienced missile technician; Plumb, who had just turned 19, was still in training. As the two stood on a platform near the top of the Titan II, a socket fell from Powell’s wrench, plummeted 70 feet and, shockingly, punctured the missile. A stream of highly explosive rocket fuel began pouring into the silo.
Nothing like this had ever happened to a Titan II before and the Air Force had no procedures in place to deal with the event. For the next eight hours, the leadership of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) frantically struggled to figure out how to prevent a massive explosion and retain control of the thermonuclear warhead—a weapon so powerful that it could destroy much of Arkansas and deposit lethal radioactive fallout across the East Coast.
A cautionary tale filmed in an abandoned Titan II missile silo in Arizona, Command and Control forces viewers to confront the great dilemma that the U.S. has faced since the dawn of the nuclear age: How do we manage weapons of mass destruction without being destroyed by them?
Odd Squad: The Movie (January 24)
Odd indeed! This is the first-ever movie from the Emmy-winning live-action PBS KIDS series from The Fred Rogers Company. When a rival agency called Weird Team, led by Weird Tom, arrives on the scene with a gadget that fixes any odd problem, Odd Squad suddenly finds it doesn’t have any cases to solve and goes out of business.
The agents close shop and go back to their lives as regular kids. Using math and teamwork, they soon uncover that Weird Team’s gadget isn’t actually fixing the problems around town, but only covering them up. Olympia and Otis join forces with Olive and Otto to stop Weird Team–and save the world from destruction!
MASTERPIECE: Victoria (January 31)
Jenna Coleman stars as the young Queen Victoria at the outset of her epic reign, which set the stage for an entire era that would be named in her honor. Scripted by bestselling novelist Daisy Goodwin, the series follows Victoria from her accession to the throne at age 18, through her education in politics, courtship and marriage, Victoria paints a portrait of a monarch who was raised to be the pawn of her powerful elders but who wasted no time in showing the empire who was in charge.
Goodwin imaginatively depicts what it was like for an ill-educated, emotionally deprived teenager to wake up one morning and find that she is the most powerful woman in the world. That it happened at all was practically a miracle. Victoria was queen only by virtue of ill luck and unfruitful marriages on the part of her uncles, who failed to produce legitimate heirs to the crown. Furthermore, her immediate predecessors were so disliked as kings that the institution of the monarchy seemed to be doomed.
Goodwin has been careful to stay faithful to the facts, while reading between the lines to fill in the gaps where the early Victorians were scrupulously silent. The result is a gripping historical pageant that reveals a side of Victoria that is at odds with her later reputation for prudery and a high moral tone.