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Planet Earth

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I almost broke my thesaurus trying to find enough superlatives to describe this remarkable BBC series. Four years in the making, and with a budget in excess of 16 million pounds, this epic series spans 204 locations in 62 countries on all 7 continents. No mountain was too high, no location too remote, no insect or animal too obscure for this award winning production. Filmed in HD, each episode runs about 50 minutes and at the end is another 10 minutes showing how they got the footage. Normally I eschew bonus material as I would rather just 'stay in the moment', but I found here that it only added to the impact of what I had just viewed. They captured species, locations and animal behaviour never before put on film. Watch them in any order, just watch them all. Planet Earth as you have never seen it. One last superlative---stunning!!!

Episode 1: From Pole to Pole

Episode 2: Mountains

Episode 3: Fresh Water

Episode 4: Caves

Episode 5: Deserts

Episode 6: Ice Worlds

Episode 7: Great Plains

Episode 8: Jungles

Episode 9: Shallow Seas

Episode 10: Seasonal Forests

Episode 11: Ocean Deep

Sensational Series at CPL

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Many fans of CPL who were using the dvd collection are familiar with the variety of television, film and mini- series that were available early on when dvds were a new technology. Many of these were PBS or BBC productions that continue to be popular: mysteries such as Poirot, sitcoms such as As Time Goes By, and costume dramas and dramatizations such as I, Claudius, Anne of Green Gables and Little House on the Prairie. We still have these, but CPL has really expanded its collection of dvds. If you don't have cable or can't stand commercials, CPL's dvd series are for you.

If you don't already know, CPL has added more British, Canadian and American popular television series to the collection. We have tv "classics" like Columbo, Magnum P.I., Hill Street Blues, The Waltons, Rockford Files, and Get Smart...

We also have newer HBO, Bravo, History Channel and Showcase mini-series such as Deadwood, Six Feet Under, and Rome. These are great if you are a season or two behind, like me, but still want to discuss the shows with friends. You could catch up on season one of The Tudors, for instance.

We are currently watching The Wire. Just when I thought I couldn't watch another crime show, I come across this series set in Baltimore. The Wire follows several detectives infiltrating a narcotics syndicate in the hopes of prosecuting their previously unknown leader. We see the officers human flaws and the systemic problems and limited technology that inhibit their investigation. The Wire also follows the workings and struggles of the drug dealers and addicts. So far, Season One has been free of many of the cliches one would expect in a police show. Because it focuses on the challenges of the individuals on both sides of the law, it is less graphically violent than many current crime series.

Foyle's Waris another great crime series that recently aired on tv. Anglophiles and Michael Kitchen fans will enjoy him as mild-mannered but determined DCS Foyle who solves crimes during World War II in and around Hastings, England. All of the crimes are connected with war-time life, and the series deals with some of the moral ambiguities that arose at the time. This series is divided into sets and series of discs, so for a useful chronology of the episodes, see the fan website:

Don't forget our non-fiction (numbered) series, featuring a range of topics. This is where you'll find National Film Board animation classics such as "Blackfly" and Rodney Yee's yoga series for Gaiam. You will also find many travel series highlighting countries or cities for airmchair or actual travel. Opera buffs will find many choices also. How about Hockey: A People's History? or The Red Green Show?

I really enjoyed Terry Jones' The Crusades. In spite of Jones' Monty Python affiliation, this is not a spoof. The two-part series outlines the political and material motivations behind the crusaders and profiles the recruits. It contrasts the crusaders' ideals versus the actual effects of the crusades. The dvds present great cinematographic views of Accra and other areas and a good biography of Saladin. This series really stands out from other "knights and armour" focussed accounts, not that the somewhat portly Jones doesn't try some armour on for size.

If you did already know about our great series...tell someone who doesn't!

Moe's Picks of the Week

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Mosquito Coast

Probably one of the lesser-known Harrison Ford roles, this 1986 movie is one of my favorites of his.

Based on the Paul Theroux novel of the same name, Mosquito Coast tells the story of the intellectually arrogant Allie Fox, his long suffering wife and their four confused children. Fox is a would be inventor fed up with the materialism and rampant consumerism he sees around him in America. He moves his family to Honduras to fashion his own society and live his utopian dream. He believes that he can find true happiness among the unspoiled natives and that his genius will finally be recognized. What follows is a well-crafted descent into utter chaos.

This is one of Ford's few outings as anything other than the hero and he plays it well. Watch for Academy Award winning actress Helen Mirren (Prime Suspect, The Queen) as his care-worn and compliant wife. Also features River Phoenix (Stand By Me, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) who has no trouble holding his own against heavyweights Ford and Mirren.

Medici:-Godfathers of the RenaissanceNon fiction

This 2004 offering from PBS starts with Cosimo de 'Medici and follows the family as it becomes one of the most powerful, influential and wealthy dynasties of Italy. This four hour dvd offers a wonderful examination of the world over which they held sway-they would become political movers and shakers, international financiers, and occasionally one would even take the papacy.

Twilight ZoneSeries

This highly regarded series from creator Rod Serling is a collection of the thirty minute episodes that first aired in 1959. Serling himself wrote most of the episodes, but they also featured many of the pre-eminent sci-fi/horror/fantasy writers of the day. Incredibly popular, they spawned a 1983 Spielberg movie, and two more incarnations of the series. Although speculative and surreal in nature, they offered a view into man's constant struggle with morality. The old black and white format lends a certain gravitas to the episodes.

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