Docs ‘The Vote’ and ‘Mae West: Dirty Blonde’ Among Titles Due on Disc and Digital in August From PBS

The documentary American Experience: The Vote, season seven of “Endeavour,” American Masters: Mae West — Dirty Blonde, Asian Americans, Nova: Eagle Power, and season two of “Poetry in America” are coming to disc and digital from PBS Distribution in August.

Due on DVD and digital Aug. 11 is American Experience: The Vote, honoring the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment of women’s suffrage on Aug. 18, 1920. The documentary tells the story of the crusade waged by American women for the right to vote. Focusing primarily on the movement’s final decade, the film charts American women’s determined march to the ballot box, and illuminates the myriad social, political and cultural obstacles that stood in their path. Mae Whitman voices Alice Paul, Audra McDonald voices Ida B. Wells, Laura Linney voices Carrie Chapman Catt, and Patricia Clarkson voices Harriot Stanton Blatch.

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Season seven of “Endeavour” comes out Aug. 25 on Blu-ray, DVD and digital. In the seventh installment in “Masterpiece” program, Endeavour and his colleagues enter a new decade and era of change. Opening on New Year’s Eve 1969, normal order has been resumed and the team reunited at Castle Gate CID, with Chief Superintendent Bright back in charge. However, the events of the past year have left their mark: old friendships will be challenged and new relationships will blossom. Amidst the dawn of women’s liberation, social progression and scientific growth, the 1970s begin for Oxford’s finest with the discovery of a body at the canal towpath on New Year’s Day. With the only clue in the investigation being a witness who heard whistling on the night of the crime, the team have their work cut out to uncover their culprit.

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Due Aug. 11 on DVD and digital is American Masters: Mae West — Dirty Blonde. The documentary chronicles the life of Hollywood icon Mae West, who achieved great acclaim in every entertainment medium that existed during her lifetime, spanning eight decades of the 20th century. A full-time actress at 7, a vaudevillian at 14, a dancing sensation at 25, a Broadway playwright at 33, a silver screen ingénue at 40, a Vegas nightclub act at 62, a recording artist at 73, a camp icon at 85 — West left no format unconquered.

Also due Aug 11 on DVD and digital is Asian Americans, a five-part documentary program that delivers a new perspective on the Asian American experience. It traces the story of Asian Americans, spanning 150 years of immigration, racial politics, international relations and cultural innovation.

Nova: Eagle Power, coming Aug. 11 on DVD and digital, explores the bald eagle, a North American legend with a deep connection to Native American cultures and emblematic status that helped it make a remarkable journey back from the brink of extinction. What makes this iconic predator so extraordinary? And how does it fit into the global family of some 60 eagle species spread across six continents? “Nova” takes viewers into the lives of these spectacular birds, revealing their exceptional strength, eyesight and flying skills.

Finally, coming Aug. 25 on DVD and digital, is the second season of “Poetry in America,” which covers poets, public figures and members of various communities who join series creator Elisa New to engage in intimate readings of a single American poem. The poems include “Urban Love Poem” — Marilyn Chin, “One Art” — Elizabeth Bishop, “The Fish” — Marianne Moore, “This Your Home Now” — Mark Doty, “Finishing the Hat” — Stephen Sondheim, “You and I Are Disappearing” – Yusef Komunyakaa, “This Is Just to Say” — William Carlos Williams, and “Leaves of Grass” — Walt Whitman.

‘The Windermere Children,’ ‘Masterpiece: Beecham House’ and ‘The Queen at War’ Among Titles on DVD and Digital From PBS in June

The Windermere Children, Masterpiece: Beecham House, The Queen at War and several “Nature” and “Nova” programs are among the titles PBS Distribution in June will release on DVD and through digital retailers.

Available now is The Windermere Children, a dramatization based on the true story of 300 children who were saved from the Nazi concentration camps, along with a documentary on the subject. The drama’s cast is led by Thomas Kretschmann (The Pianist), Romola Garai (The Miniaturist), Tim McInnerny (“Strangers”) and Iain Glen (“Game of Thrones”). In the dramatization, child psychologist Oscar Friedmann (Kretschamann), art therapist Marie Paneth (Garai), philanthropist Leonard Montefiore (McInnerny) and sports coach Jock Lawrence (Glen) have been given the task of looking after the children once they arrive. By the lake, the children learn English, play football, ride bikes, express their trauma through painting and begin to heal. Some locals taunt them, but they are embraced by others. Ultimately alone, the children are haunted by nightmares and hope for news about the families they left behind.

Also available now is the documentary Nature: Remarkable Rabbits. There are more than 100 domestic and wild kinds of rabbits, from swamp rabbits and Flemish giants to snowshoe hares. Yet, these prolific creatures are often overlooked and rarely get the respect they deserve — due, in part, to their adorable appearance and storybook depictions. Learn how hares are more than just a rabbit with long ears and legs, how rabbits have managed to survive in ever-changing landscapes — in downtown Chicago or Canada’s frozen boreal forest — and how they turn the table on their predators. Despite their remarkable ability to reproduce, many wild rabbits are in danger of being eradicated. Viewers join scientists in the field as they work tirelessly to save rabbit species from the brink of extinction and reveal ground-breaking new discoveries.

Also available is Nature: Cuba’s Wild Revolution. As the largest island in the Caribbean, Cuba is teeming with exotic biodiversity and host to spectacular wildlife found nowhere else on the planet. Jumping crocodiles of the Zapata swamp, the world’s tiniest hummingbird, thousands of migrating crabs, giant bat-eating boas that lie in wait for easy prey, coral reefs pulsating with life, and five-foot-long Cuban rock iguanas all call this island home. Decades of a socialist, conservation-minded government, American embargoes, and minimal development have left the island virtually unchanged for 50 years. As international relations ease, what will become of the spectacularly biodiverse wildlife sanctuary in this Caribbean paradise?

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Season one of “Expedition With Steve Backshall” is also available. In this new series, adventurer and naturalist Backshall ventures into undiscovered territory, endures extreme physical challenges, encounters extraordinary wildlife, and teams up with remarkable people. From free-diving in underground river systems descending deep into the caves of the Maya underworld to kayaking Himalayan whitewater and scaling unclimbed Arctic peaks, these expeditions push Backshall and his expert crew to the limit. Some of the locations he explores include Oman’s Dhofar Mountains where he is the first to ascend the desert rock face, a Bornean cave system that has only recently been spotted from a dark shadow on a satellite image, and Greenland where he will attempt to summit an unclimbed mountain in the country’s remotest peaks.

Available June 16 is The Queen at War, examining Queen Elizabeth’s childhood as she endured WWII and how her actions impacted England as a whole. Narrated by Phyllis Logan (“Downton Abbey”), viewers take a look at Britain’s longest reigning monarch in history. The documentary offers a fascinating look at how Princess Elizabeth, just 13 years old when World War II broke out, was set on her life’s path to become a legendary monarch. Together with sister Margaret, the young princesses became symbols of hope for a nation wracked by a horrific war, the terrors of the Blitz and the relocation of over a million children. By 1945, Elizabeth had been transformed from a shy girl into a confident young woman and proved her mettle as a driver and mechanic in the women’s branch of the army. She was also already in love with the handsome naval officer she would one day marry. Told through the reminiscences of friends, including Lady Glenconner, royal biographers Christopher Warwick, Robert Lacey, Jane Dismore and Hugh Vickers, among others, the documentary features rare footage of the Queen’s war years culled from private and public collections.

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Also due June 16 is the documentary Nova: Cuba’s Cancer Hope. In Cuba, as in the United States, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths. Decades of economic and political isolation have starved the country of medical resources, leading Cuba’s biomedical researchers to get creative and invent their own immunotherapies. Among them are very promising lung cancer vaccines that can help jumpstart the body’s immune response to cancer. Some U.S. patients are even defying their country’s trade embargo to travel to Cuba for treatment. The program explores the fascinating history of Cuban biomedical research and follows the journey of two cancer patients, one from the island and one from the United States, receiving the new vaccines. As they prove effective in some patients, Cuban scientists are teaming up with a leading U.S. cancer institute to develop an even more effective treatment by combining the best of both countries’ research and medical technologies.

Due June 30 is the drama Masterpiece: Beecham House. From filmmaker Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like BeckhamBlinded by the Light), Beecham House takes place in 19th century India at the start of the British Empire. The six-part miniseries explores the life of the mysterious John Beecham, a former East India Company employee who buys an imposing mansion in Delhi. Starring Tom Bateman (Vanity FairJekyll and Hyde) as John, Lesley Nicol (“Downton Abbey”) as his mother Henrietta Beecham, and Leo Suter (Sanditon) as his brother Daniel, Beecham House follows the twists and turns, and complex relationships of John and those that surrounded and live in the mansion with him.

Coming June 30 is the documentary Nova: The Truth About Fat. For generations, fat has been the enemy, and overweight individuals have been stigmatized and shamed. Society has demonized it as a cumbersome health risk and cast overweight individuals as too gluttonous or lazy to make healthy choices, but scientists are coming to understand that fat is not so simple. In fact, it’s a fascinating and dynamic organ — one that has more to do with biological processes than personal choices. “Nova” asks and answers the questions that surround fat. Do we control our fat or does it control us? Why don’t sumo wrestlers suffer from the health problems that other obese people do? Why has evolution hardwired us to hang onto fat even when it’s unhealthy? What would happen if you had no fat at all? Through real-life stories of hunter-gatherers, supermodels, and a “Biggest Loser” contestant, the program explores the complex functions of fat and the role it plays in controlling hunger, hormones and even reproduction.

Jane Austen’s ‘Sanditon,’ ‘Howards End’ Among Titles Due on Disc and Digital From PBS in February

The Jane Austen series “Sanditon” and a miniseries of the classic E.M. Forster novel “Howards End” are among the titles coming to disc and digital from PBS Distribution in February.

Writer-executive producer Andrew Davies completes Austen’s last piece of work — unfinished due to her death in 1817 — with the PBS “Masterpiece” series “Sanditon,” due on Blu-ray, DVD and digital Feb. 4.  Davies (“Pride and Prejudice,” “Les Misérables,” “Little Dorrit”) takes the first 11 chapters of the final Austen masterpiece and creates an epic drama. Set during the Regency Period, the story follows Tom Parker (Kris Marshall), who is obsessed with turning the sleepy seaside village of Sanditon into a fashionable health resort. He enlists the financial backing of the local, curmudgeonly wealthy widow, Lady Denham (Anne Reid). Through a mishap while traveling through the countryside, Tom and his wife Mary (Kate Ashfield) make the acquaintance of the Heywoods, a local farming family. While describing his plans for Sanditon, their eldest daughter Charlotte (Rose Williams) is intrigued and excited and Tom invites her for an extended stay at the seaside town. Upon her initial arrival, the sensible and naive Charlotte observes hypochondria, avarice and attempted seduction run amok. Lady Denham is playing matchmaker for her destitute nephew, Sir Edward (Jack Fox), who is determined to seduce Lady Denham’s ward, Clara (Lily Sacofsky), and become the primary heir to his aunt’s estate. The arrival of wealthy, mixed-race heiress Miss Lambe (Crystal Clarke), under the guardianship of Tom’s upright brother Sidney (Theo James), due to a promise he made to Lambe’s father on his deathbed, adds an interesting complication. Eligible men naturally find Miss Lambe fascinating, while Charlotte is intrigued by Sidney. Charlotte Spencer also stars as Sir Edward’s scheming sister, Esther. Even as Austen was succumbing to her fatal illness, she chose to lampoon the contemporary fad for tonics, sea water cures and other medical remedies. Undiagnosed at the time, her malady was probably Addison’s disease, which today is easily treatable. Austen died at age 41, on July 18, 1817.

“Howard’s End”

Also due Feb. 4 from “Masterpiece” on DVD and digital is the four-episode miniseries “Howards End,” starring Matthew Macfadyen, Julia Ormond, Hayley Atwell, Philippa Coulthard and Tracey Ullman. The series follows Margaret Schlegel (Atwell), an intelligent, idealistic young woman who is courted by the older Henry Wilcox (Macfadyen), a self-made conservative businessman. After his wife Ruth (Ormond) dies unexpectedly, he becomes the owner of Howards End. Meanwhile Margaret’s passionate and capricious younger sister Helen Schlegel (Coulthard) takes up the cause of Leonard Bast, a young bank clerk who falls on hard times at work and at home with his partner Jacky. In the absence of their late parents, the sisters’ loving but interfering Aunt Juley (Ullman) tries to keep the young ladies and their brother Tibby on the straight and narrow. The adaptation is written by Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the SeaGangs of New York).

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Coming Feb. 11 on DVD and digital is American Experience: McCarthy, chronicling the legacy of Joseph McCarthy’s relentless search for anyone he deemed a communist or enemy of the state. The Wisconsin Senator’s crusade is now the centerpiece of any conversation involving the government’s role in decency, democracy and ethical conduct. This witch hunt, completely free of restraint or oversight, led to the trials and imprisonment of many celebrities, Americans and immigrants. This program details the rise of McCarthy’s political life which led to his belief that there was a great conspiracy threatening America, culminating in a chilling campaign full of groundless accusations, bullying intimidation, grandiose showmanship, cruel victimization and a web of lies to keep public opinion on their side.

Due Feb. 4 on DVD and digital is Nova: Decoding da Vinci. On the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death, with guidance from historian Walter Isaacson, the program pulls back the curtain to investigate what led to da Vinci’s ahead of his time, legendary successes. The program examines how his scientific studies, from dissecting humans to studying optics, led to a host of brilliant inventions, such as hang gliders, armored tanks, parachutes and many others. The program further explains how this deep scientific curiosity was behind the most captivating work of art in history, The Mona Lisa.

Coming Feb. 11 on DVD and digital is Nova: The Violence Paradox. Violence is ubiquitous in our everyday lives. We see it in the news, in movies, on TV and video games so why do some experts say that violence is decreasing and that we’re living in the most peaceful time in history? The program addresses these questions and explores the intricacies of how violence permeates our life, psychology and everyday thoughts and actions. The program takes us through time and the human mind to investigate what impacts the violence rates and what people are doing now to reduce violence in the world.

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Finally, on Feb. 18 comes Nova: Animal Espionage on DVD and digital. With the technological advancements of the camera industry, experts and viewers get an intimate look at hard-to-view species behind closed doors during their everyday lives. Camera traps and drones, completely hidden from the animal’s view, allow viewers to get closer than ever before to animals such as whales, tigers and elusive giant armadillos. The recordings featured on this program capture everything from the unexpected to the comical.

 

New Seasons of ‘Masterpiece’ Series ‘Grantchester’ and ‘Endeavor,’ ‘American Experience’ and Other Franchises Coming on Disc and Digital From PBS in July

Season six of “Endeavor” and season four of “Grantchester” from the “Masterpiece” franchise, as well as productions from “American Experience,” “American Masters,” “Nova” and “Frontline” are on the July disc and digital slate from PBS Distribution.

Endeavor: Season 6 debuts July 9 on DVD, Blu-ray and digital. Shaun Evans sports a new look as DS Endeavour Morse in the sixth season of the detective drama, the prequel to the long-running “Inspector Morse” series.  His character faces new challenges, with Morse having started a new role as a uniformed officer at the Woodstock police department and embracing the fashion of the period by growing a moustache. Alongside Evans, the new series sees stage and screen actor Roger Allam return as DI Fred Thursday, alongside Anton Lesser as CS Reginald Bright, Sean Rigby as DS Jim Strange, James Bradshaw as Dr. Max DeBryn, Sara Vickers as Joan Thursday, Abigail Thaw as Dorothea Frazil and Caroline O’Neill as Win Thursday. Following the dissolution of the Oxford City Police and the merging with Thames Valley Constabulary at the end of the last series, the new series picks up with the team dispersed as they find their feet in their various new roles. However, despite their separation, the tragic murder of DC George Fancy still hangs over them both collectively and individually, with the case remaining unresolved.

Due July 30 is Grantchester: Season 4 on DVD, Blu-ray and digital. The series returns with a new vicar. Tom Brittney (OutlanderCall the Midwife) joins the cast as Reverend Will Davenport — man of the people and crime-solving partner to Robson Green’s Geordie Keating in 1950s Grantchester. James Norton, who plays the charismatic, jazz-loving clergyman Sidney Chambers, makes his final appearance during the series. Confident, caring and enigmatic, Grantchester’s new young parish priest channels his boundless energy into a quest for social justice. He is a man of God, but with the devil inside of him. As Geordie draws him into righting the wrongs of criminal Cambridge, Will’s own troubled past is unearthed.

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July 9 comes American Experience: Chasing the Moon on DVD, Blu-ray and digital. This July marks the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing, and the program thoroughly reimagines the race to the moon for a new generation, upending much of the conventional mythology surrounding the effort. The three-part series recasts the Space Age as a stew of scientific innovation and PR savvy, political calculation and media spectacle, visionary impulses and personal drama. With no narration and using only archival footage — including lost or overlooked material — the film features new interviews with a diverse cast of characters who played key roles in these historic events. Among those included are astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Frank Borman, Bill Anders and Poppy Northcutt, the 25-year-old “mathematics whiz” who gained worldwide attention as the first woman to serve in the all-male bastion of NASA’s Mission Control, among others. Chasing the Moon relates how the drive to land a man on the moon was fueled as much by politics as it was by technology and was a controversial undertaking during a volatile time.

Coming July 16 on DVD and digital from the “American Masters” franchise is Robert Shaw: Man of Many Voices. Viewers trace the improbable journey of Shaw’s life and career, from his childhood as a preacher’s son in rural California through his meteoric rise as a star of popular music during the Great Depression. Soon, Shaw made another highly implausible move to classical music where he again achieved stunning success. He founded the groundbreaking Collegiate Chorale, and led choruses for legendary orchestra conductors, including Arturo Toscanini. An early champion of civil rights, his chorales were among the first to break the color barrier in the American South. Shaw performed the music of Bach in the Soviet Union during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and, with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, brought audiences to tears in East Berlin in the darkest days of the Cold War. Shaw believed great music could have a profound influence, whether in individual lives or in bringing communities together. Shaw’s eventful journey is brought to life by interviews with legendary musicians, including Yo-Yo Ma, Sylvia McNair, Alice Parker, Marietta Simpson and Florence Kopleff, among others. Family members, admirers, and friends include President Jimmy Carter and Ambassador Andrew Young. The production is narrated by David Hyde Pierce.

Four programs are coming in July on DVD and digital from the “Frontline” series.

Available now is The Abortion Divide, which offers a window into the sometimes difficult and deeply personal choices women face with unplanned pregnancy — and examines the steadfast belief of the anti-abortion community that there should be no choice at all.  With intimate access, the film follows women struggling with unplanned pregnancies, doctors and nurses who provide abortions, as well as those who counsel women against the procedure.

Coming July 9 is The Last Survivors, which follows men and women who as young children lived through the Holocaust. Now, over 70 years after World War II, the program speaks with some of the last remaining survivors of the tragedy. Drawing on intimate interviews with victims and family members, director Arthur Cary presents a haunting look at how disturbing childhood experiences and unimaginable loss have impacted the daily lives and relationships of survivors — from survivor’s guilt, to crisis of faith, to second-generation trauma.

Also on tap July 9 is Trump’s Trade War. President Donald Trump’s decision to put tariffs on billions of dollars in Chinese imports last year shocked the world — and launched a perilous confrontation between the world’s two largest economic superpowers. The program takes viewers to locations both in the United States and China, drawing on business and government insider accounts to offer a look at the increasingly competitive rivalry between the two countries — a rivalry that extends well beyond just trade and tariffs.

Supreme Revenge, due July 30, chronicles the bitter, partisan battle that played out during Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings. It reflected deep divisions in Washington that may seem unique to America’s current political and social moment, but as the investigation reveals, the intense politicization on display during the Supreme Court confirmation process — and the transformation of the Court itself — has been a shift decades in the making.

Four programs are coming from “Nova” on DVD and digital in July.

First Horse Warriors, due July 16, investigates the advent of horse riding, a momentous step in human history. Horses vastly expanded long-distance travel and trade, made the herding of other livestock possible, and led to the rise of formidable mounted warriors who changed the fate of nations. But when and how did our ancestors first learn to master these animals? The program unlocks the mystery on the grassy plains of Kazakhstan, where wild horses still roam free, and nomadic herders follow their traditional way of life. Investigating clues from archaeology and genetics, researchers reveal vivid evidence of the very first horsemen.

Also coming July 16 is Saving the Dead Sea, exploring salt-encrusted shores that were the backdrop of Old Testament drama and the source of Cleopatra’s beauty treatments. But the Dead Sea is dying. Since 1976, its level has dropped more than 100 feet. Its coastline is pockmarked with thousands of sinkholes. After more than a decade of research and debate, scientists, engineers and political leaders have come up with a plan: connect the Red Sea with the Dead Sea by way of a massive desalination plant. If it’s successful, the project could not only revive the sea but also help ease political tensions and water shortages in the region. NOVA follows what is perhaps the world’s largest water chemistry experiment as scientists and engineers race to save the Dead Sea and bring water to one of the driest regions on Earth.

Coming July 30 is Inside the Megafire, about the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history. As residents raced to evacuate, the Camp Fire devoured 150,000 acres and claimed 86 lives. How did it get so big so fast? Why are megafires like these becoming more common? “Nova” goes to the front lines of the deadliest fires of California’s 2018 fire season to hear from the people who had to flee and from the scientists racing to understand what’s behind these record-breaking infernos. Researchers take to the forest, and even a fire lab, to understand the increasing megafire threat.

Also due July 30 from “Nova” is Back to the Moon. On the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s historic moon landing, Nova looks ahead to the hoped-for dawn of a new age in space travel. This time, governments and private industry are sharing the work of reaching our nearest celestial neighbor. But why go back? The reasons are varied. The Moon can serve as a platform for basic astronomical research, as an abundant source of precious materials like rare metals and hydrogen fuel, and ultimately as a stepping stone for human missions to Mars, the Asteroid Belt, and beyond.

‘Les Miserables,’ Seasons of ‘Finding Your Roots’ and ‘Unforgotten’ Among Disc and Digital Releases From PBS in May

The six-part miniseries Les Miserables, season five of “Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.” and season three of “Masterpiece Mystery!: Unforgotten” are among the titles coming to digital, DVD and Blu-ray from PBS Distribution in May.

Based on Victor Hugo’s masterpiece novel, the drama Les Miserables streets May 21 on Blu-ray, DVD and digital. It stars Dominic West (The Affair, “The Wire”) as Jean Valjean, the most famous fugitive in literature. It also stars David Oyelowo (Selma, Queen of Katwe) as his relentless pursuer Javert; Lily Collins (Rules Don’t Apply; Love, Rosie) as the tragic seamstress Fantine; Ellie Bamber (Nocturnal Animals) as Cosette; Academy Award-winner Olivia Colman (The Favourite) and Adeel Akhtar (Unforgotten) as Cosette’s cruel overseers; and Josh O’Connor (The Durrells in Corfu) as the student and reluctant revolutionary Marius.

Season five of “Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.” streets May 14 on DVD and digital. The season traces the families of Academy Award winner Marisa Tomei; Emmy and Golden Globe Award winners Laura Linney and S. Epatha Merkerson; actors Michael K. Williams, Chloë Sevigny and Kal Penn; author George R.R. Martin; journalists Christiane Amanpour, Ann Curry, Joe Madison and Lisa Ling; bestselling author and Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg; TV hosts Seth Meyers and Michael Strahan; artists Marina Abramović and Kehinde Wiley; politicians Marco Rubio, Tulsi Gabbard and Paul Ryan; Academy Award-winning filmmakers Alejandro G, Iñárritu and Michael Moore; and comedians Tig Notaro and Sarah Silverman.

Due May 7 on DVD and digital is season three of “Masterpiece Mystery!: Unforgotten.” When human remains are found by a motorway near London, the crime-solving duo Cassie and Sunny are called to the scene. Dogged work leads the team to Hayley Reid, a 16-year-old girl who went missing on the eve of the millennium. The police’s failure to find out what happened to Hayley wrecked her family’s life. Cassie’s compassion makes her determined to correct the mistakes made by the original investigating team — whatever the cost is to herself.

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Coming May 21 on DVD and digital is the two-part docu-drama Nicholas and Alexandra: The Letters. Since their brutal murders 100 years ago, the world has been fascinated by Tsar Nicholas II and his wife, the Empress Alexandra. Through the couple’s politically damning, sexually intimate and personally revealing letters, the docu-drama explores Nicholas and Alexandra’s complex love story and the couple’s role in the lead up to the Russian Revolution of 1917, which led to their execution. From their total isolation to their political ineptitude and reliance on Rasputin, the letters chronicle their disastrous leadership in graphic detail.

Nova: Rise of the Rockets streets May 7 on DVD and digital. The show covers the explosion of private companies sparking the development of new technologies and lowering costs to bring space closer than ever. It also explores how NASA is returning to crewed spaceflight, building a rocket more powerful than Saturn V to take us far beyond earth.

Coming May 14 on DVD and digital is Nova: The Next Pompeii. The series joins investigators as they hunt for clues hidden beneath the surface of Italy’s lesser-known volcano, Campi Flegrei, and assess 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.

Due May 28 on DVD and digital is Frontline: The Trial of Ratko Mladic. In the aftermath of the brutal wars that decimated Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, 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. After 16 years on the run, Mladic was apprehended and brought to The Hague to stand trial before the U.N.’s International Criminal Tribunal. The two-hour special 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.

Secrets of the Dead: The Nero Files debuts May 14 on DVD and digital. The show uncovers the story of the Roman emperor Nero, considered one of history’s greatest criminals — a cruel, insane and brutal ruler. 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. 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, asking the question: Did history get it wrong?

Coming May 7 on DVD and digital is Henry IX: The Lost King. The program takes viewers on a journey to investigate the mysterious disappearance from history of a forgotten Scottish prince — Henry Fredrick Stuart. Not many of us know his name but Henry started the British Museum and the Royal Collection and was the first royal prince to back a permanent settlement on American soil in the early 17th century. In this documentary, host Paul Murton brings this forgotten figure from the shadows of history. It’s a detective story that reveals the tragedy of Henry’s lost potential.

The Best of the World’s Greatest, due May 7 on DVD and digital, is a six-part series going on a journey around the planet, revealing the world’s greatest ancient cities, natural wonders, extreme animal encounters, lost cities, journeys and adventures, monuments, and coral islands. Viewers get a chance to explore cities such as Venice, Rio, and Cairo; the islands of Galapagos; Hawaii; and the Maldives. Viewers also explore Stonehenge, Machu Picchu, Angkor Wat, the Taj Mahal, Mt. Everest, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Grand Canyon. In addition, viewers get up close and personal with killer whales, grizzlies, and silver-backed gorillas, among other animals in the wild.

Korea: The Never-ending War, coming May 14 on DVD and digital, is written and produced by John Maggio and narrated by Korean-American actor John Cho. The documentary sheds new light on the global upheaval that led to the Korean War in 1950, a moment when the Cold War turned hot, and how today that war’s brutal legacy has forced the world into a deadly nuclear showdown. With testimony from the soldiers on the frontlines, civilians caught in the crossfire, political leaders from then and now, journalists, and historians, the film is a comprehensive re-examination of a war that took the lives of tens of thousands of Americans and millions of Koreans.

PBS Sets Three ‘Nova’ DVDs for February

PBS Distribution will release three “Nova” documentaries on DVD and digital in February.

Due Feb. 5 is Nova: Thai Cave Rescue, following the rescue of 12 boys and their soccer coach from the Tham Luang Cave in Thailand, where they had been trapped for 18 days. Thai Cave Rescue features interviews with key people that were involved in the search and rescue and explains how the team became trapped in the cave.

Also arriving Feb. 5 will be Nova: Last B-24, about the discovery of an American B-24 Liberator that crashed into the Adriatic Sea 74 years ago. Seven crew members had survived the crash and were rescued, but three were never found. When the wreckage was discovered by amateur divers, the Pentagon 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.

Coming Feb. 19 is Nova: Operation Bridge Rescue, which focuses on the Blenheim Covered Bridge in New York State. 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. Viewers then travel to China to witness traditional craftsmen restoring thousand-year-old covered bridges. Viewers discover how Chinese artisans are keeping traditional skills alive to ensure the bridges survival.

 

Four ‘Nova’ Programs Coming to DVD and Digital in January From PBS

Four “Nova” programs are coming to DVD and digital from PBS Distribution in January: Addiction, Volatile Earth: Volcano on the Brink, Flying Supersonic and World’s Fastest Animal.

Nova: Addiction, coming Jan. 8, follows three addicts as they deal with their opioid addictions. The program follows the family of two brothers from West Virginia devastated by the opioid crisis, a woman with a genetic vulnerability to addiction, and a man who used drugs to deal with the stress of prison. The program also explores how to best address the problem from advances in neuroscience to the development of evidence-based treatments to the rethinking of drug laws and policies.

Also due Jan. 8 is Nova: Volatile Earth: Volcano on the Brink, a two-part series on two of the worlds’ most active and mysterious volcanoes in Africa: Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira. Nyiragongo, located on the East African rift in the Virunga Mountains, looms over the city of Goma, home to nearly 1 million people. Nyiragongo’s cones conceal a mile-wide crater that encircles a lava lake bubbling at nearly 1,000° F. It has been a difficult volcano to study due to the long-running war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. NOVA joined an international team of volcanologists on a risky climb to Nyiragongo’s summit and down into its crater to deploy sensors and monitor the volcano’s activity. In part two of the series, a team of volcanologists explores another volcano in the Virunga Mountains in central Africa: Nyamuragira. During a brief pause in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s war, they fly by helicopter to the summit to investigate its secrets.

Nova: Flying Supersonic, coming Jan. 15, puts viewers in the middle of the historic international race to develop the world’s first supersonic airliner, the Concorde, 15 years after the final flight. Viewers go beyond the glamour of jet setting at Mach 2 (twice the speed of sound) and learn about the scientific innovations and political intrigue that helped create the plane. The program also looks to the future and how a new generation of innovators, NASA scientists and others are trying to launch a new era of supersonic passenger planes and travel.

Nova: World’s Fastest Animal, coming Jan. 29, follows the peregrine falcon, the fastest animal in the world, reaching diving speeds of 200 miles per hour — three times the speed of a sprinting cheetah. Though the species nearly went extinct in the 1970s due to the insecticide DDT, the peregrine falcon is now one the most widespread predators on Earth, living on every continent except Antarctica.

‘Neaderthal,’ ‘Nova: Transplanting Hope’ Coming to DVD in December From PBS

The two-part series Neanderthal and Nova: Transplanting Hope will come out on DVD from PBS Distribution Dec. 18.

Neanderthal, available now for download on iTunes and Amazon Prime Video, raises new questions about our ancient ancestors and reveals misperceptions about who they really were. With host Ella Al-Shamahi, a Neanderthal researcher, and Hollywood actor Andy Serkis (“Lord of the Rings”, Black Panther), “Ned” the Neanderthal is brought back to life in the form of a 3-D computer generated avatar, showing that the forerunners to modern man were not knuckle dragging ape-men that were inferior to us.

In Part One, viewers get a glimpse into the physical appearance of the Neanderthal, and how they survived during the Ice Age. In Andy Serkis’s studio, a group of experts from all over the world on the cutting edge of Neanderthal research gather to help him translate the very latest Neanderthal science into digital design. Al-Shamahi also gathers evidence by pursuing leads across the globe, meeting leading experts in their labs and at significant sites of Neanderthal discovery, from Iraqi Kurdistan to Gibraltar. Her investigations reveal how Neanderthals were capable of speech, abstract thinking, technological innovation and social intelligence.

Part Two of the program delves deeper into the fate of the Neanderthal. After living and thriving across Europe for approximately 400,000 years, they disappeared. Al-Shamahi and Serkis explore the mystery of why they became extinct and how they live inside all of us today. The two examine a skeleton found in Iraq years ago known as Shanidar-3, which provides clues that may offer answers as to how the Neanderthal became extinct. The team works to discover whether the perpetrator was another Neanderthal — or a modern human.

Also due on DVD Dec. 18 from PBS is Nova: Transplanting Hope, which documents the hope and agony involved in organ donation — from the perspective of those who need, those who give, and those who assign. Every 10 minutes, another person in the United States is added to the waiting list for an organ transplant, joining more than 100,000 others, and a dire shortage of organs means every opportunity for a transplant has to count. With extraordinary access to patients and transplant teams, viewers witness the emotional, high-stakes process of transferring organs from donors to recipients.

The program also follows researchers pushing the boundaries of medicine in an effort to beat the odds, including their efforts to understand organ rejection, discover ways to keep organs alive outside the body, and even grow ‘bio-artificial’ organs with stem cells.

In addition, the program takes viewers into the operating room to get a first-hand look at how organs are transplanted.

‘Nova: Wonders’ Due on DVD and Digital July 31 From PBS

The “Nova: Wonders” series will be available on DVD and Digital HD July 31 from PBS Distribution.

The program, hosted by three young scientists, explores the frontiers of science, following researchers who are tackling the biggest unanswered questions about life and the cosmos. 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 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 DVD retails at $34.99.