‘Mary Berry’s Ultimate Christmas’ Among Titles Streaming on PBS Living Channel in December

Holiday programming is on the menu on streaming service PBS Living in December. Titles streaming in the month include Mary Berry’s Ultimate Christmas, United in Song 2022: Ringing in the New Year Together and Tales from the Royal Wardrobe.

The subscription rate for PBS Living is $2.99 per month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription. PBS Living is also available on Apple TV Channels in the Apple TV app at a subscription rate of $2.99 per month with no additional annual fees.

Starting Dec. 19 Dame Mary Berry shares her ultimate Christmas feast with all the trimmings, packed with tips to plan and get ahead for the big day in Mary Berry’s Ultimate Christmas. Chefs Angela Hartnett and Monica Galetti join her to share favorite festive recipes from their heritage and Mary and TV host Rylan try and convert some kids to Brussels sprouts.

United in Song 2022: Ringing in the New Year Together starts streaming on New Year’s Eve. The program rings in the New Year with music that celebrates our nation’s diversity — from folk and rock to opera, country to hip hop, Broadway to bluegrass and beyond. 

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In Tales From the Royal Wardrobe, due Dec. 2, Dr. Lucy Worsley explores the royal wardrobes of English kings and queens over the last 400 years, from Elizabeth I to Queen Elizabeth II, explaining how the royal wardrobe is a carefully orchestrated piece of theater managed by the royals themselves to control the right image and project the right message to their subjects.

Other programs coming to PBS Living in December include The New York Cantors on Dec. 7; In Defense of Food on Dec. 9; “Craft in America, Season 14” on Dec. 17; and American Masters: Groucho & Cavett on Dec. 27.

Season One of History’s ‘Great Escapes With Morgan Freeman’ Headed to DVD May 17

Season one of the History series “Great Escapes With Morgan Freeman” arrives May 17 on DVD from Lionsgate.

Hosted and narrated by Morgan Freeman, the series takes a deep dive into the inner workings of some of the most notorious prison escapes in history throughout the world. The eight-part docuseries explores prison escapes from Alcatraz and Rikers Island to Germany’s Stalag Luft III and HM Prison Maze in Belfast. Featuring recreations and cutting-edge visual effects, along with interviews with some of the prisoners themselves, their families, their cell mates and guards who were there, “Great Escapes with Morgan Freeman” uncovers every step of the most intricate and daring escapes — by convicted criminals, POWs and political prisoners — and the exhaustive manhunts that ensued.

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Vizio SmartCast Adds A+E Subscription Streaming Apps

Vizio SmartCast viewers now have access to A+E Networks commercial-free subscription streaming apps History Vault, A&E Crime Central and Lifetime Movie Club.

History Vault and A&E Crime Central are each available for $4.99 per month and Lifetime Movie Club is available for $3.99 per month, all found in the app row on the SmartCast Home Screen.

History Vault  features more than 3,500 hours of content offering the breadth and depth of The History Channel’s extensive catalogue, complete with series, specials and documentaries, including some content only available on History Vault. Programs include library documentaries (military history, biographical) and docuseries such as “America’s Greatest Feud: The History of the Hatfields and the McCoys,” as well as past seasons of series such as “American Restoration” and “Ice Road Truckers.”

A&E Crime Central features more than 1,300 hours of content, including exclusives, spanning crime-genre content from A&E, The History Channel, Lifetime and LMN, including titles such as “The First 48: Missing Persons,” “Beyond Scared Straight” and “Cold Case Files.”

Lifetime Movie Club (LMC) has more thanr 300 movies from the Lifetime movie library, including Flowers in the Attic, Death of a Cheerleader and Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret.

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“Vizio’s commitment to offer viewers a wide breadth of compelling content and experiences makes expanding A+E on SmartCast a natural fit,” Katherine Pond, VP of business development for Vizio, said in a statement. “With A+E’s entertainment portfolio that tells amazing stories and spans multiple genres, we’re thrilled to be launching these additional A+E apps that are sure to keep the whole family entertained.”

The A+E subscription apps join ad-supported streaming channels available from A+E across Vizio’s WatchFree+ streaming service, including three channels debuting on the SmartCast platform, single series channels “Ax Men,” “Ice Road Truckers” and “Modern Marvels.”

Additional A+E channels on WatchFree+ include Crime 360, Lively Place,
Skills + Thrills, Movie Favorites by Lifetime, Defy TV, TrueReal and Tiny House Nation.

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“This integration with Vizio SmartCast TVs extends the reach of these popular streaming apps and greatly adds to our connected TV footprint, making it easier than ever for our engaged audiences to access their favorite content when, where, and how they want,” Mark Garner, EVP of global content sales and business development or A+E Networks, said in a statement. “We value our relationship with Vizio and look forward to building new ways for viewers to tune into their favorite library content across our brands.”

‘Titans That Built America’ Arrives on DVD Oct. 12

Lionsgate will release the History channel miniseries The Titans That Built America on DVD Oct. 12.

Executive produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, the three-part docudrama follows the rise and rivalries of five titans of industry — Pierre du Pont, Walter Chrysler, J.P. Morgan Jr., Henry Ford and William Boeing.

Out of the ashes of World War I and the Great Depression, a new crop of bold innovators creates new industries — from automobiles and airplanes to buildings and munitions — and rebuilds the United States. After years of competing with each other, these industry titans must unite during World War II to help defeat the world’s greatest enemy.

Narrated by Campbell Scott, the miniseries stars Gerald Kyd, Cillian O’Gairbhi, Peter O’Meara, Grant Masters and Ian Toner. It originally aired May 31 to June 2, 2021, on History.

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The Titans That Built America follows previous History “Built” series such as 2012’s The Men Who Built America, 2018’s The Men Who Built America: Frontiersman and 2019’s The Food That Build America.

Amazon Prime Video Lands Final ‘Vikings’ Half-Season Ahead of Pay-TV

In a switch, Amazon Prime Video has secured the final half-season of period drama “Vikings,” with the 10 episodes set to drop on the SVOD service on Dec. 30. The Emmy-winning historical drama series from creator and sole writer Michael Hirst (Academy Award winning film Elizabeth and the Emmy and Golden Globe nominated series “The Tudors”) is a family saga that tells the tales of the lives and epic adventures of the Nordic raiders and explorers of the Dark Ages.

It was originally created for the History Channel in 2013. The Disney-owned network will broadcast the final episodes at an undisclosed date. The initial 10 episodes of the 20-episode season aired on History beginning Dec. 4, 2019.

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“Prime Video has already delighted Prime members with all five-and-a-half seasons of ‘Vikings,'” Brad Beale, VP of worldwide content licensing for Prime Video, said in a statement. “Prime members in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Austria and Ireland will be the first to learn the fates of the beloved characters as the epic drama concludes.”

The first part of the final season concluded with an epic battle between the Rus and Vikings where brother fought brother, Bjorn Ironside (Alexander Ludwig) fighting for his homeland alongside King Harald (Peter Franzen) against Ivar the Boneless (Alex Høgh Andersen) now fighting with the Rus forces in an attempt to gain control of Norway. The battle ends in tragedy with Bjorn left for dead on the battlefield, betrayed by Ivar and with the future of their ancestral home, Kattegat, at stake.

“Prime Video will uniquely expose the series finale to a streaming audience first,” Hirst said. “Prepare to be astonished, and for many surprises along the way. And if you have tears to shed, then also be prepared to shed them.”

History Channel’s ‘Grant’ Documentary on DVD Oct. 13

Lionsgate Oct. 13 will release on DVD the three-part History channel documentary miniseries Grant, covering the career of former U.S. General and President Ulysses S. Grant.

Based on the best-selling biography Grant by Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Chernow, the program combines interviews with experts and historians, vivid reenactments, and archival materials to reveal the rise of Grant from military man to the general who won the Civil War to President of the United States. Executive produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, the miniseries stars Justin Salinger, Francis Chouler and Carel Nel.

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Street Date 8/25/20;
$14.98 two-DVD set;
Not rated;
Stars Nicholas Rowe, James Robinson, Nicholas Audsley, Nia Roberts. Narrated by Jeff Daniels.

This comprehensive study of the life of George Washington, notably produced by presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, offers an enlightening and entertaining mix of well-known stories about the famed general, and quite a few that many with which many viewers may be unfamiliar.

The documentary originally aired in three two-hour installments in February on the History channel, and this DVD version is well timed to take advantage of any lingering interest in the founding fathers left over from the buzzworthy Disney+ presentation of Hamilton, as well as the continuing discussions over the appropriate hagiography of America’s historical figures in light of modern attitudes over the rejection of racism.

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The first part deals with Washington’s early military career, fighting for the British in the 1754-63 French and Indian War. His inability to rise in the ranks of the British Army spurs him to take command of the Continental Army in the American Revolution, which is covered in the second part. The third part details the conclusion of the Revolutionary War, America’s troubled early attempts at self-rule, the creation of the U.S. Constitution, and Washington’s two terms as America’s first president.

The format relies on dramatic re-creations of key events in Washington’s life, mixed with documentary-style narration from Jeff Daniels, and interspersed with interviews from modern scholars discussing what made Washington an ideal American hero and a unique historical figure.

It’s a bit of a return engagement for Daniels, who played Washington in the 2000 TV movie The Crossing, about the general’s famed boat ride over the Delaware River and the Battle of Trenton.

The documentary is also something of a primer for military history, giving a good overview of battle strategies for many of the key engagements in which Washington was involved.

It’s interesting to see some of the re-creations in light of other recent presentations about the founding of America. For instance, the segment on the Battle of Yorktown offers a number of details that will give viewers a better sense of what they are talking about during the song about the battle in Hamilton.

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The narrative doesn’t shy away from examining Washington’s ownership and treatment of his slaves, but it also doesn’t editorialize or pass judgment on him, concluding that it is a complicated issue and leaving the viewer to decide based on the fuller context of the historical record.

The only real quibble with the presentation would be how the show glosses over the final two years of Washington’s life, jumping from the end of his presidency in March 1797 to his death in December 1799. The documentary doesn’t relate many of the details of his “retirement,” during which he tended his farm, expanded production of his branded whiskey, and maintained an active political voice, even accepting command of an army raised in preparation for a potential war with France. Nor does it delve into how he developed the infection that led to his death, working too hard in freezing weather. That his doctors likely bled him to death trying to drain his body of the toxins is, however, well covered.

‘Washington’ Due on DVD Aug. 25 From Lionsgate

Washington, about the nation’s first president, is coming to DVD Aug. 25 from Lionsgate.

Narrated by Jeff Daniels, Washington tells the story of a young soldier who becomes the leader of men in a liberty-or-death campaign to forge a new nation. At the zenith of his power, George Washington retires to live out his days as a farmer. But with the young country on the verge of collapse, he is once again called to lead, creating the most powerful democracy in history.

Executive produced by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and best-selling author Doris Kearns Goodwin, the program features commentary from former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and a number of esteemed historians.

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It stars Nicholas Rowe, James Robinson, Nicholas Audsley and Nia Roberts.

Netflix Partners with MGM for ‘Vikings’ Series Return

Netflix is partnering with MGM Television for a new original series, “Vikings: Valhalla,” from creator Michael Hirst that continues the “Vikings” series that is now in its sixth and final season on the History channel.

The new saga begins 100 years after the original series concludes and dramatizes the adventures of the most famous Vikings who ever lived — Leif Erikson, Freydis, Harald Harada and the Norman King William the Conqueror (also a Viking descendant). These men and women will blaze new paths as they fight for survival in an ever changing and evolving Europe.

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MGM, which produced the series for History, said it is “thrilled” to partner with original creators and Netflix on the series.

“Valhalla has been a labor of love for everyone involved and as we look ahead to the continuation of this great saga, we are excited to know that fans the world over will have the opportunity to continue with the series on its new home at Netflix,” Steve Stark, president of television production and development, said in a statement.

“‘Vikings: Valhalla’ promises to be everything that fans love about the franchise: heart-pounding, unstoppable action rooted in rich characters and dramatic storytelling that shines the light on family, loyalty and power,” added Channing Dungey, VP of original series for Netflix.

Roku Offering Free Premium Content on Ad-Supported Channel

The Roku Channel, the subscription streaming media device manufacturer’s ad-supported service offering users access to third-party catalog programming, Sept. 30 began showcasing select third-party premium content — for free.

In a blog post, Roku announced it is offering programming from CBS-owned Showtime, MGM-owned Epix, HISTORY, Cinedigm, and Acorn TV, among others, in an attempt to jumpstart subscriptions to third-party services.

Programming includes: “On Becoming a God in Central Florida” (SHOWTIME), “Godfather of Harlem” (EPIX), “America The Story of Us” (HISTORY Vault), “Heartland” (Dove Channel), and “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries” (Acorn TV), and more, with no subscription or even trial required.

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“Once you’ve sampled your new favorite show, follow one-click sign-up to begin a free trial or start a subscription,” Nicole Fencel, senior manager, programming product strategy at Roku, said in statement.

The Roku Channel is upping third-party premium over-the-top video services, as well as offering more than 80,000 ad-supported movies and TV episodes, more than 35 live and linear streaming services, including kids & family entertainment.