Masterpiece: Poldark, the rip-roaring TV drama called “swoon-worthy” by the Los Angeles Times returns for a fourth season of action-packed episodes, starring Aidan Turner as the roguish Ross Poldark and Eleanor Tomlinson as his fiery partner, Demelza. In Season 4, it’s 1796, and to defend Cornwall and those he loves from an empowered George, Ross must play the political game on a journey that takes him to the nation’s capital and into new perils.
Send in the clowns! And elephants and trapeze artists and jugglers and, of course, the ring master.
American Experience: The Circus (PBS Distribution) is a four-hour, two-part documentary exploring the colorful history of this popular, influential and distinctly American form of entertainment. A transformative place for reinvention, where young women could become lion tamers and young men traveled the world as roustabouts, the circus allowed people to be liberated from the roles assigned by society and find an accepting community that had eluded them elsewhere.
Drawing upon a vast and richly visual archive, and featuring a host of performers, historians and aficionados, The Circus brings to life an era when Circus Day would shut down a town, its stars were among the most famous people in the country, and multitudes gathered to see the improbable and the impossible, the exotic and the spectacular.
The program begins with the history (Part One) of the first one-ring show at the end of the 18th century in Philadelphia when the circus met the disapproval of the religious. In a society that valued sobriety and hard work, a wide-eyed day peering at half-naked aerialists amid shifty circus workers was frowned upon. Soon, circuses began to add elaborate menageries of exotic animals including lions, hippos and elephants, and “human oddities” from across the globe—rebranding themselves as “educational” experiences to concerned communities. Once the infamous showman and huckster P. T. Barnum transformed the trade in 1871, he and his partners created the largest touring show in existence.
The program continues (Part Two) as James Bailey takes his circus to Europe on a five-year tour. When the show paraded through British streets for the first time, throngs of people turned up to watch—and the scene was repeated in towns across Europe. Upon returning the circus tour to the U.S. the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey merged, creating a moving town of more than 1100 people, 735 horses, nearly 1000 other animals and 28 tents.
Featured were some of the most storied circus performers in history, including the famed aerialist Lillian Leitzel; May Worth, who stunned audiences by somersaulting on horseback; and big cat trainer Mabel Stark. In an era when women were still fighting for the right to vote, women circus performers stepped to the forefront of the suffrage movement.
For more than a century, the circus had brought daily life to a standstill. Shows took over rail yards. Parades clogged Main Street. Acres of billowing canvas appeared mirage-like on the outskirts of town. And then, when day broke, the miracle had vanished. Equestrians, sideshow performers, clowns, roustabouts, an enormous collection of curious beasts—all became just figments of a glorious dream.
Save the date: On November 6, PBS Distribution releases Native America, a new series from Providence Pictures, that weaves history and science with living indigenous traditions. The series brings to life a land of massive cities connected by social networks spanning two continents, with unique and sophisticated systems of science, art and writing. Made with the active participation of Native American communities and filmed in some of the most spectacular locations in the hemisphere, the program illuminates the splendor of a past whose story has for too long remained untold.
Narrated by Robbie Robertson (Mohawk and member of the famed rock group The Band), each part of Native America explores Great Nations and reveals cities, sacred stories and history long hidden in plain sight. In what is now America’s Southwest, indigenous people built stone skyscrapers with untold spiritual power and transformed deserts into fertile fields. In upstate New York, warriors renounced war and formed America’s first democracy 500 years before the Declaration of Independence, later inspiring Benjamin Franklin. Just outside of Mexico City, the ancient city of Teotihuacan is home to massive pyramids built to align with the sun and moon. On the banks of the Mississippi, rulers also raised a metropolis of pyramids and drew thousands to their new city to worship the sky. And in the American West, nomadic tribes transformed a weapon of conquest—the horse—into a new way of life, turning the tables on European invaders and building a mobile empire.
The producers of the program were given remarkable access to Native American communities, going behind the scenes at special events, including a pilgrimage to ancestral ruins at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, a trek across lost territories in the American West and an investiture ceremony for a chief in the Pacific Northwest, surrounded by cedar totem poles and centuries of tradition. Numerous Native American musicians provided music for the series and tribal members and descendant communities, whose ancestors built this world, share their stories, revealing long-held oral traditions as the thread that runs through the past to these living cultures today.
Want to go on an inspiring journey across the U.S., exloring and celebrating the wide-ranging diversity of immigrant traditions and cuisines woven into American food and culture? Welcome to No Passport Required (PBS Distribution), available on DVD October 30.
Chef Marcus Samuelsson—co-owner of New York’s critically-acclaimed Red Rooster Harlem—embodies America’s extraordinarily rich cultural diversity. Born in Ethiopia, raised in Sweden, and a proud resident of Harlem, he’s inspired by this global background to infuse his culinary experiences with diverse elements of music, history, culture and the arts. Today, he is a celebrated award-winning chef, restaurateur, author, philanthropist and food activist.
From Detroit, where Marcus meets Middle Eastern immigrants who call the city home, to the Ethiopian community in Washington, D.C., the programshowcases how food can bring Americans—old and new—together around the table. In New Orleans, Marcus learns how Vietnamese culinary traditions have fully integrated into the fabric of the city, taking center stage with long-established French and African influences. In New York, he’s shown how the Indo-Guyanese culture thrives in a small enclave of Queens, and how this one community has taken the best of its Indian and Caribbean roots and incorporated those influences into its customs and cuisine. In Chicago, Marcus heads to the city’s Mexican neighborhoods and discovers their impact on the area’s food and cultural landscape. Then in Miami, he meets with members of the proud local Haitian community.
Find out when PBS Distribution releases The Amazing Human Body. This new series, presented in partnership with the BBC, explores the human body as viewers have never seen it before! Using cutting-edge graphics, the program reveals the surprisingly beautiful biological processes that keep humans alive.
Save the dates: The show is available on Digital September 20 and DVD September 25.
Discover the ingenious ways your body develops, adapts, and endures. How does your brain communicate with your body in order to help you learn new skills? What is the connection between a teenager’s craving for fatty foods and sudden growth spurts? And how does cell regeneration allow an octogenarian to compete in a grueling triathlon and live to tell the tale? Case studies from across the globe showcase the dazzling secret science of the human body.
A child prodigy in Phoenix demonstrates the brain’s ability to prioritize mental development over physical growth, a chilling dip in an icy lake reveals how shivering might just save our lives, and low-level torture in a London laboratory highlights the way our bodies block pain. Witness the fascinating and finely tuned systems that keep your body motoring – and the scientists guessing.
PBSPBS will air the third installment of the classic Lucy Maud Montgomery story of a free-spirited teenager on Prince Edward Island, Anne of Green Gables– Fire and Dew, on Sunday, September 23, 2018, at 7:30 p.m. The program will be available on DVD and for digital download from PBS Distribution on September 18, 2018. The first two installments of Anne of Green gables will also be available in a two-set DVD collection on September 18.
In the program, Anne Shirleymoves to Charlottetown and is overwhelmed by her new surroundings, difficult classes at teacher’s college and a deepening romance with Gilbert. At the same time, Matthew and Marilla deal with health and financial difficulties that jeopardize their lives at Green Gables. After Anne graduates, she must make an important decision, whether to move back home or continue on to University. Anne then must handle the loss of someone deeply special in her life and just when all seems lost, she discovers the dark cloud over her life has a silver lining.
The third installment, written and directed by John Kent Harrison, will once again star critically acclaimed actor Martin Sheen as Matthew Cuthbert, along with the return of Ella Ballentine as Anne Shirley and Canadian treasure Sara Botsford as Marilla Cuthbert.
PBS Distribution will be releasing Mister Rogers: It’s You I Like on Digital September 3 and on DVD October 2. Save those dates!
The documentary is a celebrity-filled special that celebrates the pioneering PBS series that premiered nationally 50 years ago and became an iconic and enduring landmark in the world of children’s television and beyond. Cast members from the groundbreaking series share their personal perspectives and insights in this new program, which pays tribute to television’s longest-running children’s series, still broadcast on many PBS stations today. The program also features interviews with numerous celebrities who have been influenced and inspired by Fred Rogers, a modest man who always said, “I am not a teacher, I simply help children learn.”
Michael Keaton, who worked as a stagehand and made appearances on the series in the 1970s, hosts the special. Judd Apatow, Joyce DiDonato, Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Kratt, John Lithgow, Yo-Yo Ma and son Nicholas Ma, Itzhak Perlman,Sarah Silverman, Esperanza Spalding and Caroll Spinney reveal their favorite memories from the series, while Joe Negri (“Handyman Negri”), David Newell (“Mr. McFeely”) and Joanne Rogers, Fred’s widow, share their personal stories. Also featured are performances from the archives by Tony Bennett, The Empire Brass Quintet, Hillary Hahn, Margaret Hamilton, Yo-Yo Ma and Nicholas, Wynton Marsalis and Perlman.
The nearly 900 episodes created by Fred Rogers encompass topics that resonate to this day with adults and children alike. Favorite segments, such as a visit with Koko the Gorilla, Big Bird’s appearance in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe as well as trips to the Crayola Factory and the Radio Flyer Wagon Company, are highlighted.
Golden Age Amsterdam comes alive in all its opulence and repressed sensuality in an adaptation of Jessie Burton’s bestselling novel The Miniaturist, starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Romola Garai and Alex Hassell. Taylor-Joy plays a young bride who receives mysterious packages from a reclusive maker of miniatures—tiny objects that appear to predict the future. Masterpiece: The Miniaturist also features Paapa Essiedu, Hayley Squires and Emily Berrington .
The Miniaturist will be ready to grab on on Digital September 10 and DVD and Blu-ray September 18.
Critics were captivated when the miniseries recently aired in the UK. The Telegraph (London) applauded it as “an evocative, spellbinding drama big on atmosphere,” and in another review compared the production to “a Daphne Du Maurier potboiler as painted by Vermeer.” The Guardian (London) praised the show as “mesmerizing.”
Set in 1686 Amsterdam, The Miniaturist follows Nella (Taylor-Joy), a naive eighteen-year-old from a bankrupt aristocratic family in the provinces. She is wooed by Johannes Brandt (Hassell), a handsome and prosperous merchant looking for a wife. Once wed, Nella lives in Johannes’ mansion, mostly without him, kept in the care of his grim and overbearing sister, Marin (Garai), and the household’s two controlling servants.
As a wedding gift, Johannes gives Nella an exquisitely crafted cutaway model of the very house she is living in now, as a married woman. He instructs her to furnish it to her liking and gives her the address to the miniaturist who creates the tiny objects. She and the miniaturist only communicate by letter and upon her first order, she receives more objects than she requests. Without direction from Nella, the miniaturist keeps sending new creations including dolls replicating Johannes, Marin and the servants, with details that hint at closely held secrets.
Amsterdam is a city full of secrets, which Nella proceeds to unlock thanks to clues from her unseen artisan. In a community where authorities regard sugar as sinful, gingerbread men as idolatrous, and certain sexual behaviors as grounds for execution, secrecy can be a life-or-death matter.
A trio of three more PBS Distribution DVD Frontline DVDs . . .
Frontline: Bitter Rivals: Iran and Saudi Arabia From the devastating war in Syria, to the crisis in Yemen, to continuing turmoil in Iraq, much of today’s widespread violence across the Middle East has been portrayed as part of an ancient battle between the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam. In this show, Frontline tells the epic, inside story of how this dangerous feud has plunged the Middle East into unprecedented levels of violence, with exclusive, on-the-ground reporting from inside both countries as well as Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, and Lebanon.
This program illuminates the essential history – and profound ripple effect – of Iran and Saudi Arabia’s power struggle. It draws on scores of interviews with political, religious and military leaders, militia commanders, diplomats, and policy experts, painting American television’s most comprehensive picture of a feud that has reshaped the Middle East.
Frontline: The Gang Crackdown In a spate of brutal violence that has become a focal point of President Frump’s stance on immigration and a priority of his Justice Department, some 25 dead bodies have been found on Long Island since 2016—all linked to the violent gang MS-13.
Many of the gang’s victims, like its members, have been immigrants. Drawing on interviews with murder victims’ families, accused gang members, top Justice Department officials including Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, local law enforcement and ICE leadership, and civil rights and immigration lawyers, this program explores the reasons behind the spike in violence on Long Island—and examines whether law enforcement and the government have overreached in trying to combat it.
Frontline: Weinstein Harvey Weinstein was once one of the most successful producers in Hollywood. But beneath the glitz and glamour, there was a pattern of sexual misconduct going back to the very start of his career. This program investigates the disgraced mogul’s spectacular downfall, the efforts to silence his accusers, and what Hollywood itself knew. Drawing on exclusive insider accounts, this program examines how Weinstein used lawyers and private detectives to help him suppress sexual harassment allegations.
The film shines new light on what those around Weinstein knew about his behavior, and when. Filled with fresh insights from those who worked with Weinstein, those who tried to confront him, and the journalists who ultimately broke the story, this documentary is an in-depth look at the long history of allegations against the powerful producer.
No wonder we love Frontline. Such great shows, now on DVD from PBS Distribution. Frontline: Trump’s Takeover President Frump’s first year in office has been marked by ongoing turmoil—including in his own Republican party, where presidential tweet storms, inflammatory rhetoric and high-profile dissent have fueled open conflict.
Gripping and revealing, this program tells the story of Frump’s takeover of the Republican Party—from the perspective of Republican lawmakers and insiders themselves. Trump’s Takeover examines the president’s unorthodox governing style, showing how after taking office, he displayed a lack of interest in the ins and outs of legislation and policy, and instead took to Twitter, attacking opponents. The film goes behind closed doors in the negotiations to repeal and replace Obamacare—Trump’s first major legislative test—revealing through accounts of people who were there how little Trump seemed to understand or care about the details of the bill.
Frontline: McCain The program follows the story of the Republican Party’s evolution and an exploration of Senator John McCain (R., Ariz.)’s complicated relationship with President Trump and the Republican Party, as well as his life and politics.
Drawing on both new interviews and Frontline’s deep rchive of reporting, McCaintraces the conservative standard-bearer’s motivations and his political history, from his experience as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, to speaking out against torture during the Bush administration, to his dramatic vote against the GOP’s health care bill last year.
Frontline: Blackout in Puerto Rico More than seven months after Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, more than 100,000 Americans are still without power, as part of the worst blackout in U.S. history.
This program investigates how the federal response in Puerto Rico left millions of Americans in the dark for months—and the storm before the storm: how Wall Street, Puerto Rico’s government, and Washington fueled a debt crisis that left the island’s economy in ruins and its infrastructure crippled even before Maria hit. The investigative team uncovered a trove of insider documents that show a government relief effort in chaos, struggling with key contracts, basic supplies, and its own workforce.
Produced with the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University, the program uncovers a series of shortcomings after Maria, including how half of FEMA’s staff on the island were trainees or unqualified, how contractors FEMA turned to failed to deliver hundreds of thousands of tarps, and how the Army Corps’ temporary roof repair program was glaringly slow compared to other storms—putting up just 439 roofs in the first 30 days after the storm compared to more than 4,500 in the first month after Irma in Florida.
Gripping and riveting, this program is a must-watch look inside the ongoing recovery effort in Puerto Rico—and the economic crisis that devastated the island long before Maria.
Frontline: Trafficked in America This program investigates how teenagers from Central America were smuggled into the U.S. by traffickers who promised them jobs and a better life—only to force them to live and work in virtual slavery to pay off their debt.
This documentary shines new light on a labor trafficking case in which Guatemalan teens were forced by a third-party contractor to work against their will at Trillium Farms in Ohio, a major egg producer. The investigative team exposes a criminal network that exploited undocumented minors, the companies who profited from their forced labor, and how U.S. government policies and practices helped to deliver some teens directly to their traffickers.
Gripping and revealing, this program presents viewers a rare look inside the hidden reality of labor trafficking in the United States.
Frontline: Myanmar’s Killing Fields With secret footage filmed by a network of citizen activists, and firsthand accounts from victims and their families, this program is U.S. television’s most comprehensive investigation of the Myanmar military’s violent crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim minority—an effort that has been described by the UN as having the “hallmarks of genocide.”
The Myanmar military insists that its campaign was simply a counter-insurgency “clearance operation” targeted against a militant Islamist Rohingya group, ARSA, that had attacked and killed security forces at police and army bases. But with shocking footage filmed by citizen activists, the documentary depicts an orchestrated campaign to target civilians, state-sanctioned violence, and mass murder—and uncovers new accounts of atrocities against the Rohingya people, from mass rape of women and children, to babies and children thrown into fires.
The program also investigates the role of Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor of Myanmar in the crisis. The Nobel Laureate was once seen as Myanmar’s hope and a beacon for democracy—including by President Barack Obama, who lifted all sanctions on the country in 2016. But Suu Kyi, who has continued to defend her country from international criticism, has now been accused of standing by as her country’s military led an operation that killed thousands of civilians.
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