Tag Archives: NOVA

New, Exceptional PBS DVDs that Demand to Be Watched and Owned

Now hear this: We missed the first season, but from now on, this Great Performances series will create sounds of music. With Now Hear This, Season 2, Scott Yoo, star violinist and conductor, is back for the second season of the celebrated music miniseries.

Join him for more unexpected stories of our greatest composers; more spectacular journeys through Europe, the US and Canada; more breathtaking photography, locations and sound; and more unforgettable performances from some of today’s leading musicians.


Human Nature, once again, proves that our DNA can determine attributes from eye color to medical predispositions. An extraordinary technology called CRISPR allows us to edit human DNA, possibly eliminating genetic diseases or choosing our children’s features. But how far should we go?


Keith Haring: Street Art Boy chronicles the life and career of international art sensation Keith Haring, who blazed a trail through the legendary art scene of ’80s New York and revolutionized the worlds of pop culture and fine art. Haring’s message targeted the underlying threat of violence, sexual exploitation and political oppression. His art was shown in over one hundred group and solo exhibitions during his lifetime and he continues to be celebrated today.
Haring moved to New York in late ’70s from Kutztown, Pennsylvania, and quickly immersed himself in New York City culture. Influenced by the sounds of punk rock and the emerging gay scene, he enrolled at the School of Visual Arts, where he became fascinated by semiotics. His serpents and monsters, sinister technology and fallen angels decorated New York City in the form of graffiti, and the people of New York took notice. With his newfound success, he was embraced by icons of 80s popular culture: Vivienne Westwood, Grace Jones and Malcom McLaren.

In 1986, Harding opened The Pop Shop in SoHo, a boutique that featured his artwork. Through his many collaborations and successes, Haring battled AIDS and died on February 16, 1990. His art was shown in more than 100 group and solo exhibitions during his lifetime and he continues to be celebrated as a major artist today, with works on display in exhibitions and museums around the world.


Who says you need brains to be smart? Extremely primitive life-forms called slime molds can navigate mazes, choose between foods, and create efficient networks—no brain required. New research on these organisms, which are neither plant nor animal, could help reveal the fundamental rules underlying all decision making.
Welcome NOVA: Secret Mind of Slime.

Slime molds look like something out of science fiction, but these primitive, forest-dwelling organisms are very real. Now, scientists from across the globe team up to put one particular species, the electric yellow Physarum polycephalum, to the test. Fueled by oatmeal, these brainless blobs spread out in weblike patterns to navigate mazes and create efficient networks. They can even learn to tolerate chemical obstacles to reach their next meal. Can these remarkable organisms, which are neither plant nor animal, redefine intelligence and decision-making?


The British Royal Family are the most well-travelled monarchy in history. The Queen alone has been around the world 42 times, clocking up over 1,000,000 air miles. (Think of her frequent miles!) Secrets of Royal Travel tells the inside story of the monarchy on the move, taking us inside some of the most famous and yet secretive transport in the world.

The conveyance of royalty, whether to Balmoral or Buffalo, by steam or by jet, has always had its own mysterious traditions and protocols. These two programs open the door to the private world of the Royal Train and the Royal Flight. With exclusive insight from the people responsible for looking after the Queen and her family as they travel Britain and the globe, this remarkable archive of unexpected stories offers a rare insight into the Royals. Join us as we climb on board the world’s most exclusive locomotive and take to the skies for the five-star luxury of the Queen’s Flight.


Peter Laurence is a political outsider who is very popular with the people. Fresh from a successful libel case against a journalist printing stories alleging corruption, he’s a man on the rise. But Peter has plenty of skeletons in his closet. And soon he discovers another . . . an illegitimate daughter serving a prison sentence. It’s a secret that could ruin him. And one, apparently, that his Prime Minister ) already knows.
A fascinating piece of television, with (Helen McCrory and Hugh Laurie starring.

Peter is a risktaker. With his career balanced on a knife edge, he pushes on fearlessly with his own, divisive brand of common-sense libertarianism. As he goes out on a political limb, his problems mount. His daughter uncovers his marital infidelity and his family threatens to implode. His charm and charisma can smooth over anything. But Peter may have ignored the consequences of his actions for too long. The journalist he humiliated in court is now on a mission, and this time Peter may not be able to talk his way out of it.


It’s February 1953, the first anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign. Little does she know she is about to be deployed in a secret plot to topple Iran’s democratic leader in favor of an all-powerful Shah. Planned by Britain’s MI6 and executed by America’s C.I.A., the Coup D’Etat follows will destroy Iran’s last democracy, the coup that follows destroys relations between Iran and the West.  The details are chronicled in The Queen and the Coup.

Most shocking of all, the truth about Her Majesty’s role will be hidden from the Queen herself, and even the all-powerful Shah who will be used by Britain and American to replace Iran’s last democratic Prime Minister. The coup will lead to political upheaval all over the Middle East for decades to come, eventually resulting in the Islamic Revolution of 1979 which will end the reign of the Shah, and British and American influence in Iran, inspiring countless other Islamist revolutions around the world.
Using newly declassified documents this film unravels this secret for the first time.


The First Alphabet
Where would we be without the world’s alphabets? Writing has played a vital role in the expansion and domination of cultures throughout history. But researchers are only now uncovering the origin story to our own alphabet, which may have gotten its beginnings in a turquoise mine thousands of years ago. From the shape of the letter A to the role of writing in trade and storytelling, discover how the written word shaped civilization itself.

How Writing Changed the World
Just as writing changed the course of human history, the evolution of paper and printing revolutionized the spread of information. The printing press kicked off the Industrial Revolution that fast-tracked us to the current digital age. But as the millennia-old tradition of penmanship falls out of favor, should we consider what might be lost in this pursuit of ever more efficient communication?

 

Put down the Kindle. Switch off Netflix. Here are four must-see PBS programs

We hear about important programs being released on DVD by PBS Distribution, and we must share the news.
Rise of the Rockets (NOVA)
An explosion of private companies is sparking the development of new technologies and lowering costs to bring space closer than ever. And at the same time, NASA is returning to crewed spaceflight with gusto, building a rocket more powerful even than the storied Saturn V to take us far beyond Earth.

Will today’s optimism prove prescient, or nothing more than hype and wishful thinking? As costs come down and rockets with new capabilities come online, a new generation is reaching for the cosmos, daring to dream big and yearning to go farther, in greater numbers than ever before.
Watch for it May 7.


In The Next Pompeii, NOVA joins investigators as they hunt for clues hidden beneath the surface of Italy’s lesser-known volcano Campi Flegrei, and assesses the risk of a new and potentially devastating eruption. The program also follows historians and geologists as they discover the latest evidence of Pompeii’s fiery destruction, unpacking the chain of events that led to the ancient world’s most notorious disaster.

What lessons does the tragedy of Pompeii hold for Naples’ citizens, who may face a mounting threat from the unseen forces beneath their feet?
Watch for it May 14.


The Roman emperor Nero is considered one of history’s greatest criminals, a cruel, insane and brutal ruler. His name has become synonymous with evil, and he stands accused of killing his step-brother, his wife, and his mother, as well as burning Rome to the ground for his own artistic inspiration. But are these stories true? Can they be proven?

Recent research, modern interpretations of historical sources, and new discoveries cast a different light on the accusations levelled at the Roman emperor. The Nero Files investigates Nero’s reign with the help of criminal psychologist Thomas Müller, using “cold case” methodology. Did history get it wrong? Was Nero a far better ruler than he’s ever been given credit for?
Watch for it May 14.


In the aftermath of the brutal wars that decimated Yugoslavia in the early 1990’s, former Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic was accused of genocide and other war crimes—including the massacre of more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys in the town of Srebrenica in July 1995—considered the worst crime perpetrated on European soil since World War II.
The Trial of Ratko Mladic (Frontline) chronicles the horror.
After 16 years on the run, Mladic was apprehended and brought to The Hague to stand trial before the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal, the biggest and only truly international war crimes tribunal since Nuremburg.

In the two-hour special Frontline goes inside the historic five-year trial, with unprecedented, behind-the-scenes access to the prosecution and defense teams, as well as to witnesses from both sides who came to present evidence.
The Trial of Ratko Mladic provides haunting insights into a war criminal’s motives, and the genocide he commanded his troops to carry out—as well as an intimate look at the victims left behind, who remain haunted by what their families endured. It tells an epic story of justice, accountability and a country trying to escape its bloody past.
Watch for it May 28.


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.

New PBS series, “NOVA: Wonders”, hits high notes

NOVA: Wonders is a fresh, lively series that makes complicated concepts accessible while taking a deep dive into the scientific process. Each episode poses a big scientific question and takes viewers along on a journey to explore how far we’ve come in our quest for answers, and how we’ve managed to get here. Among the intriguing topics pondered are the secret language of animals, what’s hidden in the human body, the artificial intelligence technologies that could rival and surpass the abilities of the human mind, the controversial power to engineer life in a lab, and the mysteries of the universe.

The program travels to some unexpected places to look for answers—including deep underwater, where humpback whales are essentially playing a game of “telephone” across the world, with pods teaching each other new songs; deep beneath our skin, where trillions of microbes are living in our bodies; deep below the earth, in mines where researchers are trying to detect elusive dark matter particles; deep into space, where astrophysicists are hunting for signs of extra-terrestrial life, and more.

Three young scientists serve as enthusiastic guides and science communicators. Talithia Williams is a mathematician and statistician who also applies data models to the human body and the environment. She is joined by co-hosts Rana el Kaliouby, a computer scientist developing emotion recognition technology used in artificial intelligence, and André Fenton, a neuroscientist studying the biology of memory. All three set-up the inquiry, demonstrate key aspects of the challenges facing scientists, and ask provocative questions about research carried out on the winding paths of uncertainty and the unknown.

“The Day The Dinosaurs Died” investigates the greatest vanishing act in the history of our planet

Reflecting NOVA’s unparalleled 44-year-old commitment to long-form science programming, this installment examines the latest evidence surrounding one of the greatest mysteries in Earth’s history–the sudden extinction of the dinosaurs.  Through interviews, footage of scientists working at sites around the world and stunning digital recreations of events from 66 million years ago,  NOVA: The Day the Dinosaurs Died vividly brings to life the compelling scientific inquiry around this epic catastrophe.

PBS Distribution releases the program on DVD March 20.  It is also available for digital download.

At the end of the Cretaceous Era, after 170 million years of dominance, more than 700 species of dinosaurs disappeared from the fossil record virtually overnight.  In the 1980s, the hypothesis emerged that an asteroid impact was the catalyst.  But the supporting evidence, including the exact nature of the global chain reaction an asteroid impact may have initiated, has been slowly emerging over decades.  The Day the Dinosaurs Died details the efforts of scientists to flesh out what happened in the days and weeks after the asteroid impact.  Will they find the smoking gun that provides definitive proof?

The program visits an unprecedented, multidisciplinary scientific expedition to drill into the Chicxulub Crater site off the coast of Mexico, the leading suspect for the impact site.   It also travels to South Dakota, Argentina and other sites where paleontologists hunt fossils.  Finally, the program visually reconstructs the hell on earth–tidal waves, dust clouds, sudden mountain formation– that wreaked global havoc and doomed the dinosaurs.