Forget this upcoming royal marriage. The real gossipy, juicy royal mess happened on the weekend of December 5, 1936. A frazzled King Edward VIII sat alone at Buckingham Palace; in secret, he telephoned his brother Bertie to tell him of his major decision–that he could no longer be King if it meant abandoning the woman he loved, Wallis Simpson. But little did the royal brothers know that others were listening to their call.
Spying on the Royals (Public Media Distribution)shares declassified documents bring to light the secret story behind the events that stunned the world eighty years ago, detailing the most controversial espionage operation in British history. The targets were none other than King Edward VIII and his feisty American lover Wallis Simpson.
Both were considered major security threats and were suspected of having Nazi sympathies by both Britain and America. This top-secret surveillance operation involved hundreds of spies over eleven years, spanning two continents, eight countries, and the Atlantic Ocean. Edward and Wallis were bugged, wire-tapped, and followed – on the orders of both the British prime minister and the American president. This documentary will reveal the greatest royal scandal of the twentieth century through an entirely new perspective.
A power film. An unforgettable war. The acclaimed Smithsonian Channel three-part miniseries Civil War 360 (Public Media Distribution)explores one of the most divisive eras in American history from multiple perspectives. Celebrity hosts Ashley Judd, Trace Adkins and Dennis Haysbert each helm an hour-long program that takes viewers back to a time when their ancestors and those of many viewers were involved in the conflict. Through exploration of iconic and often poignant Smithsonian artifacts, the hosts gain insight into their own family’s experiences and uncover new dimensions of our nation’s history.
Here’s some insights into each episode:
Fight for Freedom In some ways, the story that Haysbert tells is perhaps the least known of all, but it is an agonizing and heroic account of a great struggle for freedom. Haysbert experiences painful reminders of this struggle firsthand as he encounters Smithsonian treasures: a ship’s manifest listing a cargo of slaves, the inkwell Lincoln used to write the Emancipation Proclamation, and a hymnal owned by Harriet Tubman. As Haysbert traces his ancestry back to enslaved people in America’s deep South, we are transported back to the brutal and complicated time when those with the most to gain also had the most to lose. For Haysbert the lesser known stories, especially of individual courage, are the most inspiring, “So many people stood up and fought together to make this country a free country. It just gave me a different perspective on what our country is about and what we can be.”
The Confederacy Hosted by dkins, this program begins back in 1861, when the South made the radical decision to leave the Union and form a new nation. While honoring the experiences of everyday soldiers like his great-great grandfather, a Confederate infantryman from Louisiana, Adkins explores music, art, and firearm collections at the Smithsonian Institution. Says Adkins: “I’ve had a real personal connection with the Civil War ever since I was a kid. This is our last best chance to raise awareness. The battlefields, the guns, the pikes, the uniforms and flags–all these things are all that we have left from that pivotal period in this nation’s history. They should be treated as treasures, and we should try to preserve them and save them for future generations. Because it’s impossible to know who you are if you don’t know your history, or where you’ve come from, or what you’ve done.”
It’s common knowledge who won the Civil War. But 150 years ago, a Union victory was anything but guaranteed. Judd seeks to understand the experiences of two of her great-great-great grandfathers, both Union soldiers from Kentucky. In the program Judd remarks: “I hope it inspires people to take a look at their own family history, and learn the interesting stories that can help enlighten them as well as move their hearts.” Judd is visibly moved when she examines field surgical instruments, a Union private’s letter home about life in Kentucky, and battered dishes from Libby Prison- all providing glimpses of daily life during the grinding war.
They’ve thrilled us, horrified us, and devastated us. They’ve raised questions about our past and given us hope for a brighter future. They are some of Hollywood’s biggest hits, all works of fiction, but all inspired by real events more dramatic than anything a screenwriter could dream up. Smithsonian Channel goes behind the scenes of Hollywood blockbusters to uncover the actual characters and true stories that inspired some of the world’s most famous films. On June 5, Public Media Distribution released a trio of three DVDs that tell the real stories.
The Real Story: True Grit True Grit has the foundation of a typical Western–revenge, retribution and redemption. The story centers on the unlikely partnership between a 14 year-old girl and a one-eyed Deputy Marshal, who join forces to avenge her father’s death. The story may be fiction, but it’s closer to truth than many imagine. This program shows how the character of Rooster was inspired by a gun-toting Deputy Marshal; introduces “Hanging Judge” Parker, who delighted in sending legions of men to the gallows; and leaves the viewer with no illusions about what really happened in the Wild West.
The Real Story: Braveheart Mel Gibson’s Oscar-winning box office smash tells the story of real-life Scottish rebel and freedom fighter William Wallace. The savage battle scenes and cast of thousands created a film of epic proportion, but ever since it was first shown historians have challenged the accuracy of the movie. Did William Wallace really live the life that “Braveheart” depicts? This program draws on medieval accounts and uses forensic evidence and weapons testing to build a picture of the real man and his times.
The Real Story: Live Free or Die Hard In the fourth film in the Die Hard franchise, New York cop John McClane takes on a sophisticated cyber-criminal mastermind who shuts down the USA remotely via the Internet. It’s a story that is chillingly topical. This program shows how a similar cyber-attack could be a real possibility. Featuring interviews with real-life cyber-criminals, FBI investigators and computer specialists, the program uncovers the shadowy world of hacking on a scale that could shutdown entire countries. Meet the government officials and former hackers who are tasked with ensuring it never does.
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 DVDApril 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 relatively unknown, Until now. Smithsonian Channel’sVictorian 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.
Good food takes time. Good DVDs showcasing good food takes time. We urge you to save the date: Public Media Distribution, LLC is releasing Moveable Feast With Fine Cooking: Season 5 on DVDon March 6. The program will also be available for digital download.
Nominated for an Emmy and James Beard Award, and winner of both Telly and TASTE Awards, Moveable Feast With Fine Cooking is co-hosted this season by award-winning chefs Pete Evans and Curtis Stone, and special guest chef Michelle Bernstein. In Season Five they bring viewers to Europe and Puerto Rico, in addition to locations in the United States, to meet top chefs and award-winning food artisans to source the finest regional ingredients and create a multi-course feast for friends.
Viewers will learn cooking tips and techniques from talented chefs, including Patricia Wells, Guy Savoy, Bryan Voltaggio, Tom Douglas, and Sherry Yard, and discover how they can interpret the chefs’ flavorful dishes in their own kitchen. Diners enjoy these spectacular meals hosted in unique places, from the breathtaking mustard fields of Dijon and rice farms near Turin, to a stunning vineyard in San Luis Obispo and an authentic Taos pueblo. Viewers will want a seat at the table!
Public Media Distribution is always cooking some mighty tasty programs. Let us introduce you to the premiere season of Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street: Season 1 on DVD and Digital HD. The test cooks of Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street search the world over for techniques that can add a little kick, and convenience, to everyday American cooking. Each episode gives viewers the chance to see the process at work as they test, edit, and translate what they learn into the home-cooking environment from other countries and cultures. Where in the world will inspiration strike next? Join these cooks on their culinary quest to transform the way America cooks and eats.
Filmed across the world, Season One of Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street travels to Thailand, Mexico, Peru, Israel, and London–and also films in the home of their magazine and cooking school, the kitchen at 177 Milk Street in downtown Boston. Follow the journey from first bite to kitchen-tested recipe as they translate what they learn into new flavor combinations, like the tahini and cocoa powder used to elevate simple brownies. They revive old classics, like their caramel-sauced oranges recipe that borrows from the Brits by way of Italy.
Milk Street Television offers viewers great variety in terms of how to learn. Cooking lessons are filmed in front of a live audience at Milk Street with host Kimball and a Milk Street cook. Milk Street Shorts are short, quick recipes that can usually be made in just minutes. Milk Street Basics offer viewers tips and techniques that apply to a wide range of recipes. The Milk Street Kitchen Cabinet introduces viewers to tools and cookware and also provides new ways to use them. Milk Street Pantry recipes offer simple instructions for making sauces, dips, and the like. Finally, Milk Street Travels gives viewers a glimpse into the wide world of food with segments filmed on location, from London to Thailand.
We start a new chapter every time we get to read and cherish a new books. And we read and cherish many every year. It was tough, but we choose these as must-read, must-have for every library.
Walter and the Wallet (Eifrig Publishing, $14.99) Walter Whippingdale is having the worst day of his life. The girl he likes is making googly eyes at another boy in his class. He struck out during recess. He broke his favorite watch. A giant pimple appeared on his nose. And to top it off, he somehow managed to get mustard in his eye at lunch! Walking home from school, his head is hanging low. Which is precisely how Walter spots a wallet lying in the street . . . a wallet bursting with cash. Suddenly, his terrible day is about to change. But how? Cash in on this is a lovely, lyrical tale full of life lessons.
Ralphie, Always Loved (About Something Good , $14.99 or $7.99) will remind you of all that is good, and reaffirm your belief in love’s power to uplift and transform. Anyone who has felt a deep connection with their own beloved pet will find joy, kindness and light in Ralphie’s story; the book is perfect for sharing with little ones as well as friends and family. The cat’s meow! aboutsomethinggood.com/ralphie-always-loved/
The Global Warming Express (Terra Nova Books, $14.99) Whoever thought such an important issue could make for a fabulous kid’s book? We have placed the Earth in peril—through pollution, global warming, oil spills and our general disrespect and neglect of the environment. Those who respond first are the animals. There is The Fluff, a penguin; Creamy, a harp seal; Tomás, a black bear; Flora, a polar bear; and Lady Athabasca, a whooping crane, among others. The animals have all suffered from destruction to their habitats and neglect of the environment, and want to do something about it. They jump on a magical train powered by positive thoughts and take off to let others know about the problems Earth’s creatures are facing. This is the perfect book to begin conversations, educate kids and parents, and even help start up school programs in every neighborhood. terranovabooks.com/the-global-warming-express.html
Whenever the wind breaks, poor Argyle Fox has a tough time. With his signature style, he wants to play outside on a springtime day, but the wind is wreaking havoc with his fun and games. As soon as he builds a card tower, climbs into a giant spider web, or takes up his pirate sword, here comes the wind: Wooosh! Mama Fox tells grumpy Argyle that if he thinks long enough, he will come up with something to do. Following his mother’s suggestion and inspired by her knitting, he works all the pieces of his day together and creates the perfect solution. Argyle’s story, warmly told in Argyle Fox (Tanglewood Publishing, $17.99) shows that failure is often a path to success and celebrates perseverance, creative thinking, and an old-fashioned springtime activity. tanglewoodbooks.com/books/picture-books/argyle-fox/
We don’t usually recommend pop-up books for wee ones since inquisitive minds (and hands!) destroy such wondersl We make an exception with The Nutcracker: A Papercut Pop-Up Book (Thames & Hudson, $19.95), knowing parents and grandparents will protect papercut artist Shobhna Patel’s exquisite retelling of Tchaikovsky’s ballet using an entirely new pop-up technique featuring dazzling laser-cut illustrations that will enchant readers young and old. Patel has invented a new paper-engineering technique called the “paperscope,” which is used for the first time in this charming book. The book features four pop-up paperscopes that spring when the reader presses each paperscope down with their hand to reveal the scene hidden within. The effect is one of a magical series of stage sets, recalling the story’s origins as a ballet. Simply magnificent!
Public Media Distribution and PBS Distribution have enough great DVDs to fill 1,367 stockings and appeal to the young (and young-at-heart). Three faves: We loved Miffy’s Adventures Big and Small: Play Date With Miffy, an all-new DVD from the lovable and popular children’s Nick Jr. TV series. Children will enjoy watching Miffy and her friends Melanie and Grunty as they embark on adventures and new experiences, sing memorable songs and have fun–all the while learning about kindness, respect, and friendship. Miffy and friends jump in puddles, take a ballet lesson, play hide and seek and much more in these 11 fun-filled playtime adventures. We also loved Wild Kratts: Wild Winter Creatures! Join Martin Kratt and Chris Kratt as they embark on four snowy winter adventures from their hit PBS KIDS series. Chris and Martin continue to face Zach Varmitech when he kidnaps a polar bear cub and a walrus calf, and again when he threatens to use an entire walrus herd to mine precious pearls for Donita Donata’s fashion line. Entertaining and educational. Super Why: Sleeping Beauty and Other Fairytale Adventurestakes Super Readers on four classic adventures. You will especially love the Sleeping Beauty segment. The Super Readers travel into the famous story of Sleeping Beauty to speak with a Princess who loves sleeping just as much as Princess Pea loves tea parties!
Disney Book Group has oodles of nifty books for the wee ones. Disney Baby: My First Christmas($8.99)introduces Baby to the wonders of Christmas with Mickey and friends. From sticky candy canes to fluffy white snow, Baby will delight in the touch and feel elements of this engaging board book. Join Olaf on a fantastic adventure inOlaf’s Frozen Adventure Olaf’s Journey ($12.99), a board book featuring LED lights showing through every page. In The Twelve Days of Christmas ($16.99), Theodor Seuss Geisel Award-Winning Greg Pizzoli’s pitch-perfect humor gives this classic carol new life. As more and more gifts show up in the story, fans of Greg’s previous books will love identifying familiar animals. This hilarious interpretation with festive foil on the cover makes for a perfect holiday gift. When a series of animals come knocking at the door seeking a warm place to sleep, there’s always room for one more!William’s Winter Nap ($17.99) is the perfect read-aloud for a cold winter night. Linda Ashman’s playful rhymes, paired with Chuck Groenink’s irresistible animal illustrations, will have young readers cuddling up to this book with their favorite stuffed animals at bedtime. Celebrate the spirit of the season withMickey’s Christmas Storybook Treasury ($30), a collectible Mickey & Friends volume featuring four beautifully illustrated Christmas stories: “Mickey’s Christmas Carol,” “Huey, Dewey, and Louie’s Christmas Wish,” “Donald’s Christmas Tree” and “The Gift of the Magi.” Bring home the timeless appeal of Disney storytelling and experience the magic again and again. Who doesn’t love the holidays? Twinkling lights, merry carolers, the smell of chestnuts roasting on an open fire and the alien creature battling your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man? Welcome to the exciting world of Marvel’s Super Hero Adventures!
In Deck the Malls ($4.99), the first book in the series, join Spider-Man and his amazing arachnid ally Spider-Gwen as they take on the alien menace known as Venom. Will Spider-Man outrun Venom before the creature can steal his powers? Will Spider-Gwen figure out Venom’s weakness before it’s too late? Will the spider-friends save the day in time to finish their holiday shopping? It’s anything but a silent night this festive season. Art of Coloring: Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas ($15.99) These images are ideal for adding your own brand of color and style. Perfect for cultivating creativity, relaxation, and focus, these pages are filled with artwork evocative of the delightfully frightful world of Jack Skellington. Six Words Fresh Off the Boat captures hundreds of takes on the immigration experience, from every-day people as well as world-famous celebrities including Aziz Ansari, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Julianne Moore, Mario Batali, George Takei, Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer, Billy Collins and Dr. Sanjay Gupta. This book will have you thinking in sixes and challenging others to share six words about their lives. First premiering on Broadway in November 13, 1997, Disney’s award-winning “Best Musical” The Lion King celebrated its 20th anniversary in November. Now a veteran actor to the musical, Alton Fitzgerald White—the longest running “Mufasa”—reflects on his own life, career, and the rich lore of The Lion King, in My Pride: Mastering Life’s Daily Performance.
Inspired by the iconic series, Kim Smith’s adorable new picture book imagines what Scully and Mulder would be like as children camping out in a backyard filled with strange lights, sounds and… aliens? When it first aired, The X-Files was one of the most popular sci-fi TV shows in American television, lasting nine seasons and two feature films. With 2016’s revival season and production for the 2018 season of The X-Files set to begin this summer, excitement for the series continues to grow.
The X-Files: Earth Children Are Weird (Quirk Books ($18.99) is a great way for parents to share one of their favorite TV shows and the picture book would be a great addition to any Halloween coverage you might be planning.
A bit (get it?) about apps. We know nada. We don’t even own a cell phone! But a very reliable source from way up North tells us about My Town Games, a company that has great and safe apps for kids. My Town: Pets is a purr-fect choice: It allows children to have fun adopting cats, dogs, birds and hamsters, caring for them, taking them to the vet–everything they would do with real pets–which will present the opportunity to learn animal interaction and responsibility that can carry over into their real lives. If they walk their dog at the park’s litter sand area, make sure they don’t just don’t forget to clean up the poop. An added bonus is connectivity of My Town games and with shared characters and places that can travel from one game to another, all part of the larger My Town family of apps. Another bonus: My Town: Pets received an endorsement from Kids First!, a program of The Coalition for Quality Children’s Media, a national, nonprofit organization founded in 1991 whose mission is to teach children critical viewing skills and to increase the visibility and availability of quality children’s media. So far, there are 22 titles in My Town’s library. Another neat app: My Little Princess: Stores. It allows children to open up a whole new digital dollhouse with new characters to dress up and test out the latest makeup trends and style. Find your characters’ best friend and go pick up food at the supermarket, or plan a party and pick up the items to celebrate with.
A trio of great games from (who else) Endless Games.
Name something everyone loves to play. If you said Family Feud, you’ve scored lots of points! Endless Games has released this nifty Family Feud 40th Anniversary Retro Edition Board Game, featuring the classic FF home version console. There are more than 500 survey questions, so every family will have ample chances to play . . . again and again and again. Richard Dawson’s kisses not included.
Remember that TV fave The Gig Short? What about that musical movie A Dorks Stink? No, we are not making typos. Nor are we losing our minds. We are simply having fun with Out of Order, a game in which film, TV, song and book titles are scrambled. Take away a letter here, add a letter there and in five steps the correct answer is revealed. So: The Gig Short = The Gig Shot = The Gag Shot = The Gang Shot = The Gang Show = The Gong Show. The Dorks Stink = A Dorks Sink = A Dorks Line = A Doris Line = A Chorus Line. Be the first to unscramble and identify the title to win.
The curtain has risen on series four of the popular Playbill Puzzles, a 1,000-piece jumble featuring Playbill covers of current Broadway plays and musicals. Even Mama Rose would would agree this family fun adventure is coming up roses . . . as long as the pieces fit.
Spinmaster continues to break the toy formula with these three marvel must-haves. Do your kids want a pet? A dazzling dog? A curious cat? A grunting guinea pig? Some frivolous fish? If your your apartment rental forbids such a childhood necessary or someone in the family is allergic, fret no more! Bring Zhu Zhu pet hamsters home. This battery-powered facmisle comes in nifty neon colors and the Hamster House Play Set is the perfect place for any Zhu to live. The set comes with an exclusive Winkie hamster and a slide and tunnel, making recreations of scenes from the TV show as A-B-C (or is it Z-H-U?). If he needs companions, add Mr. Squiggles, Roxie, Num Nums and the rest of the gang. Our pet favorite toy this season!
Kids can get ahead with the fun with the Airbrush Styling Studio. Tapping into the trend of online beauty tutorials, the Studio’s innovative cordless airbrush tool and colorful makeup sticks (washable markers) teaches them how to easily apply stylish hair and makeup on your very own model. Use the hair and makeup stencils to recreate your favorite looks from the Lookbook, and customize with gems and eye color stickers. Airbrush colorful highlights and attach the hair extensions wear the extensions in your own hair! Once the Lookbook styles are mastered, design your own using the free play templates and share your amazing Lookbook creations. Then, simply wash off to design all over again. It’s easy to create endless looks just like a real stylist with the Cool Maker Airbrush Styling Studio.
We spend way too much playing with M.A.X., a 12-inch tall advanced robot who is crammed with tons of fun, educational features. Designed for budding engineers and tinkerers 0 years and older, this robot-building kit offers a challenging yet rewarding build consisting of 332 parts. Once he’s assembled, M.A.X. functions as a friendly robot companion and personal assistant. He engages kids in conversation, learns from every interaction, remembers important dates, and more. He even features a built-in gaming platform. Customizable programming allows kids to personalize M.A.X. to meet their own specifications so that every assembled M.A.X. robot is truly one of a kind. And like all Meccano kits, M.A.X. can be reassembled into a huge variety of other robotics toys.
Now it’s public knowledge: Public Media Distribution has release some nifty DVDs that belong in everyone’s library.
Carnivals have a delightful place in the American imagination, with childhood memories of family fun, fantasy and summer nights. But rising expenses and changes in U.S. labor patterns have caused many employers to find labor outside of U.S. borders.
Filmed over the span of six years, Farewell Ferris Wheel follows a carnival owner, a labor-recruiter and workers from a small town in Mexico who join the carnival legally on seasonal visas. The program is an honest on-the-ground portrait of the financial, emotional, and physical challenges they all face.
With insights from several internationally notable scholars of mythology and literature, Tolkien & Lewis: Myth, Imagination & the Quest for Meaning engages these scholars while challenging viewers to draw their own conclusions about the meaning of life and the role that mythology and imagination play in determining belief.
On a dreary September evening in 1931, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and their friend and fellow scholar, Hugo Dyson, met for dinner in Lewis’s Magdalen College dormitory in Oxford, England. Lewis’s transformation from atheist to theist to Christian was based on the insights of Tolkien and Dyson as they engaged in deep conversation about mythology, reality, ritual, imagination, and faith. The program explores the fundamental characteristics of myth with an emphasis on how myth impacts our lives.
The Smithsonian Channel’s The Real Story: Saving Private Ryan is an intimate and behind the scenes look at the inspiration for one of the greatest war films ever made. The multi Oscar-winning “Saving Private Ryan” captures the sheer horror and brutality of combat that the men of World War II had to experience.
Known for its realism, the film was selected in 2014 for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. So, was there a real Private Ryan? Uncover the real story behind this Hollywood blockbuster as the program conducts tests with weapons experts and gains insight from war historians. Viewers also hear the moving testimony of soldiers who landed at Normandy and meet the families whose tragic stories inspired the film that won five Oscars including Best Director in 1998.
Another look at wartime history: The Smithsonian Channel’s The Real Story: Platoon. The Oscar-winning anti-war film Platoon brought the true horror of the Vietnam War to the big screen. Based on filmmaker Oliver Stone’s own experiences as a soldier in the conflict, the film captivated millions of viewers all over the world. Yet how much of the film was real and how much was Hollywood fiction?
To reveal the real story, the program recreates scenes, and uncovers a radio transmission from the battle that inspired the movie’s climax. The program also includes interviews with Stone and cast member Willem Dafoe.
Even wee ones can savor the fun. Rose Cinderella thinks she is a regular teenager, but things change when she finds a magic key unlocking a world where fairy tales come to life! Rose Cinderella quite literally falls into Fairy Tale Land and discovers that Cinderella is not only her grandmother but also the headmistress of Regal Academy, a school where fairy tale families teach the next generation how to become heroes. The fun is framed in Regal Academy: Rose Cinderella in Fairy Tale Land.
The film series Pirates of the Caribbean presents the buccaneer lifestyle of pirates as a back-stabbing, high-living, hard-drinking world. It makes for an entertaining series, but is it a true depiction of the times? Enter The Smithsonian Channel’s The Real Story: Pirates of the Caribbean.
Historical evidence of real pirates shows that amidst the lawless merriment, pirates actually formed a highly organized society, where democracy ruled and voting and healthcare preceded England by a hundred years. The program interviews historians, weaponry experts, and one of the film’s screenwriters to show how true pirate adventures inspired the films.
The Special Air Service is the world’s most famous combat unit with the motto “Who Dares Wins”. Yet the story of how it came into existence has been, until now, a closely guarded secret. For the first time, the SAS has agreed to open up its archive and allow Ben Macintyre to reveal the true story of their formation during the darkest days of World War II.
With unprecedented access to the SAS secret files, unseen footage and exclusive interviews with its founding members, SAS Rogue Warriors tells the remarkable story behind an extraordinary fighting force.
An instant box office smash when it was released in 1977, the sci-fi flick Close Encounters of the Third Kind grossed over 300 million dollars and was nominated for eight Oscars. Now audiences can get a glimpse into the actual events that inspired the classic film.
Few realize the film was inspired by a series of reported UFO sightings in Michigan in the summer of 1966, and witness testimonies given to a U.S. Government investigation about alien abduction are just a few events examined in The Real Story: Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Part of Smithsonian Channel’s original series The Real Story, this intriguing program allows viewers to separate science-based fact from science fiction.
It investigates the original cases that inspired the film–from the Michigan UFO chase to the first and most famous case of claimed alien abduction in the US, the Betty and Barney Hill abduction. Using modern technology, a re-examination of government documents puts old witness testimonies to the test.
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.
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.
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.
Petrucelli Picks the best in books, music and film . . . and then some