Louis Theroux on “My Scientology Movie”

British documentary filmmaker Louis Theroux is no stranger to controversial subjects. In his wide-ranging tv career, the unflappable Theroux has immersed himself in subcultures ranging from US TV infomercials to Neo-Nazis and the infamous Westboro Baptist Church. For his first feature film documentary, Theroux acted on a years-long fascination with the Church of Scientology. When the notoriously secretive Church wouldn’t admit Theroux to film their practices directly, the documentary took a much more unique approach. Theroux, director John Dower and crew turned instead to former Scientologists to share their experiences within the church and decided to film re-enactments of their stories. Their filming, including casting their own version of Church leader David Miscavige in the form of actor Andrew Perez, quickly drew the attention of the church. The crew finds itself being tailed, filmed and even confronted on public property. The resulting documentary is at once an entertaining examination of the alleged inner workings of the church as well as a realtime account of the lengths the church goes to to defend itself. The film made its debut at last spring’s Tribeca Film Festival where I sat down with Theroux as well as John Dower and Andrew Perez to discuss their impressions of the church and how the doc came together.

Lauren Damon: Before you started making the film, how much did you know, or thought you knew about Scientology?

Louis Theroux: I think I thought I knew quite a lot—

John Dower: You do know a lot.

Louis: Yeah, I mean but then to be honest with you, I’d first been interested in Scientology you know, more than 20 years ago. And then in 2002 or thereabouts, I made my first approach and took a tour of the celebrity center and basically was in negotiation to make a tv doc that way. That fizzled out. And then about ten years after that, our producer Simon Chinn came to me and said ‘Hey what about a theatrical doc? You know, we could do it on Scientology’ And by then—it was around then that the first book, Janet Reitman’s book,  Inside Scientology came out, I read that…I mean the fact is that you could really make a full time job of kind of reading the stuff that comes out on Scientology. The challenge in a way is to not kind of sink into the quagmire…there’s so many threads that you can follow, you know what I mean?

John: You know there’s stories from the past that could be made to whole films themselves.

Louis: You could make a film about just what [ex-Church leader and My Scientology Movie star] Marty Rathbun did in the 80s.

John: The Lisa McPherson Story…

Louis: The Lisa McPherson story. Or you could do one of Clearwater in the 70s and 80s or Bob Minton. About how he went from being a critic to being a Scientology supporter. Or at least agnostic. I mean it’s a lot of individual…and then there’s whole family stories. Not just Lisa McPherson but other ones…There’s a lot. The challenge is not kind of lack of material. It’s a sort of an overabundance.

LD: And that’s also just before you even get to researching what the beliefs are which is also so involved.

Louis: That’s right.

LD: And then Andrew, what had been your experience?

John Dower, Louis Theroux and Andrew Perez

Andrew Perez: I knew just I’d heard some stories of experiences just sort of on the top—the intro levels of communications and courses. I knew that it was on the surface, or to beginners it was a kind of self-actualization, a kind of self-help, kind of therapeutic…I mean going through past trauma and weeding out sensory things that you associate with that. And seeing The Master. So I did have a kind of a good intuition about the introduction to it and why it makes some people get into it. And also the fact that there was also a sort of deep sea of mystery after that intro couple courses or whatever.

Louis: It’s really interesting because—you know when you read Dianetics, like the kernel of what Scientology is is basically just a kind of take on Pavlov’s dog, isn’t it? It’s just about sort of sensory associations.

Andrew: Yeah.

Louis: And when you read Dianetics, it’s got a volcano and it’s like “This is the most amazing book I’ve ever read in my life!” it’s all “Rome fell because of not having a science of the mind!”…Then you find out it’s all about you stubbed your toe and an ambulance went by and now every time you hear an ambulance, you get a sore toe. And you’re like “That’s IT?!” That’s the modern science of mental health? How could anyone think that that was the answer to life’s mysteries?

LD: Then going back, when you considered doing it as a tv series, what do you think it was that made it warrant making a feature movie?

Louis: That’s a good question. And in a way that’s maybe something John would be better at answering.

John: This is my first feature. Yeah, there are…little nuts and bolts, like I think you need a great musical score for instance. And I do think the music in this film is amazing. The composer Dan Jones did an extraordinary score in this film and it needs a sense of scale. If you want people to play eight or nine quid or fifteen bucks, you know they need to feel like they’re getting something with a sense of scale. And I think Scientology has that built into it anyway. And it needs to be entertaining, it needs to feel like you know, it’s…You can ask Michael Moore, he says about his films he wants them to be like date movies. That people will go on dates. You know, it’s a big deal to go to the cinema these days. And I’d like to think that that’s in our film. I’d like to think that it’s entertaining. It’s got to be, it’s a movie.

Louis: For me, I think also it has to do with like in my tv stuff, it is fundamentally journalism and so I have agency but in terms of my place in the film and how I kind of change and push through the journey through the tv shows, but in this one I really do actually really kind of take the story—take the bull by the horns in a sense. So you’ve got—I’m much more of a protagonist which I think is important for the film to work….You know I’m the guy ‘on a mission’ in a sense.

LD: Had it ever crossed your mind to try and surreptitiously join the church?

Louis: Yeah we talked about it—

John: That was floated at one point.

Louis: Obviously when you’re brainstorming, you don’t—everything’s about ‘let’s talk about…well what’re the merits? What’re the ethics of doing this? How would it feel?’ I think quite quickly we concluded that it didn’t feel right.

John: Bad faith…for something like this.

Louis: Plus you wouldn’t even get to see very much. You know without actually having access to someone inside the SeaOrg and even then it might takes months to really get deep inside…Actually while we were making it, I did go along to the Los Feliz mission to just see what happens when you go in the front door. And just show up and say ‘What is this all about?’ To me it was interesting because I’m fascinated by Scientology but imagining if we’d been filming, it would not have been very interesting. It’s just there is a sort of hard-sell that they do at the church.

Marty Rathbun and Theroux filming an auditing re-enactment

LD: How long were you shooting your re-enactments before you were aware you were being tailed?

Louis: Marty said that ‘This car has turned up before’, do you remember that?

John: I think we were probably being tailed when we didn’t realize. There was a couple of times—that car, that white Toyota pickup truck that’s in that scene—one of our PA’s Shane said ‘I’ve seen that at the hotel before.’ You know, a good few days before. Maybe even on a previous trip. So we were probably being tailed but we didn’t realize.

Louis: The first time Marty tippled that we had been tailed, though I don’t think I believed him at the time, was the day we did the drills at the studio.

John: Oh yeah, he dashed around the corner, didn’t he?

Louis: Yeah, I mean that was the same day as two people turned up filming us who were journalists. I don’t know if they actually were Scientologists but on the same day Marty said ‘This car is suspicious.’

LD: So like a couple weeks in?

Louis: Well no, it was a while, we were filming more than a year. About two months in.

John: So how did they know that we put out a casting for David Miscavige?

Louis: I mean that casting went out on the wire, didn’t it?

John: I guess so.

Louis: So it wasn’t a secret.

Andrew: But yeah that’s one thing that we’ve said was that they knew that you’d done the casting for a young David Miscavige with Marty in the room.

John: With Marty, that was the kicker. So I wonder did they follow Marty the first day he arrived—

Louis: Maybe.

John: So maybe they were following us from the—

Louis: Anytime Marty came into LA, there’s a chance they might have known about it.

LD: Andrew, when you saw that casting how did you react to it? How did you feel knowing you were kind of playing half yourself and half re-enactments?

Andrew: I just came in, I knew they were doing re-enactments, it said like a BBC documentary on Scientology and I just—I knew that they were kind of shooting outside as I was entering, so I was aware of that and I just focused on playing the role. And I didn’t know where it was all going. It was kind of fun…They would go back to England and then they would come back and have some more material for me and it was kind of a workshop at first. Mike Rinder would show up, Marty was normally there. So I was learning through Marty. They were shooting the rehearsals. There’s a lot that you don’t see that was just the process of….So we were in a blackbox theater listening, watching Marty lead some auditing kind of sessions. Then we did that day at the Mack Sennett Studios, a full day of communication TR training and things. But yeah, I knew that there would be some stuff of just me being me…but I just wanted to focus on the role.

LD: Now do you guys have any idea of where all that footage that they shot of you goes?

Louis: I think it goes into an editing suite somewhere probably in Hemet, California and I think they will be piecing it together into some kind of online video.

John: I suspect they’re waiting for the film to be here. It’s already been seen in the UK—been to festivals in the UK, I think they’re more interested about…I have no idea.

Louis: I think they’re waiting to see what happens with our film and if our film reaches a certain kind of having a profile, that they will release their counterpunch.

John: It would be great if—obviously it would never happen but—I imagine theirs is going to be a shorter film given they only filmed us on two or three occasions…It would be great if, you know how they used to have shorts before the main feature? It would be nice to have theirs.

LD: Is the church as prevalent in the UK as it is here?

Louis: No. It exists and it has high profile kind of missions in locations—orgs, they call them— on Tottenham Court Road and by Paddington…but in terms of their actual number of followers, I think it’s really small.

John: No, it’s quite telling that there’s a road in London—Tottenham Court Road— and they have an Org on Tottenham Court Road and actually there was a time when it was very, in 90s even, I worked in the company around the corner and there were always people sitting outside, always people trying to get you to do a personality test but it’s just dead now. There’s like one person at the front desk, which is quite telling in and of itself.

My Scientology Movie is in select theaters, OnDemand and available to stream on Amazon and iTunes starting March 10th. For more information visit MyScientologyMovie.com.

Blu-ray Review “Being Human: Season Five”

Starring: Russell Tovey, Lenora Crichlow, Aidan Turner, Jason Watkins, Dylan Brown, Sinead Keenan
Director: Toby Whithouse
Number of discs: 2
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: August 20, 2013
Run Time: 360 minutes

Series: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

I have been a fan of BBC’s “Being Human” since the first season and I am sad to see it go. The fifth season is also the show’s final season. Damien Molony and Michael Socha return for season five and Kate Bracken was added to the cast as Alex Miller (a ghost). I liked the way that these three really played off each other as the vampire/werewolf/ghost trio. I would have be very curious to see where they could have all gone together. But overall Season 5 was a big improvement over the rather dull season 4. Especially with transitioning a new character it was pretty solid. Like the first season, this one really aims to capture the perfect balance of drama and comedy that this series is known for.

Official Premise: Hal, Tom and Alex are three housemates with some serious issues on their hands, and they’re not just about household chores. Hal (Damien Molony) is a 500 year-old vampire, Tom (Michael Socha) is a hardened werewolf and Alex (Kate Bracken) has recently had the misfortune of becoming a ghost. But threat lurks around every corner. There is the volatile and deluded Crumb (Colin Hoult) – a newly recruited vampire, and the sinister Mr Rook (Steven Robertson) – head of a secret government department. With bills to be paid, our heroes take jobs in Barry’s kitschest hotel, but alongside the flock wallpaper and the cocktail umbrellas dwells an evil greater than anything faced before. On the face of it, Captain Hatch (Phil Davis) is just another foul-mouthed decrepit old man but he hides a dark secret that threatens not only our heroes’ friendships but the entire world.

BBC delivered “Being Human: Season Five” with each episode presented with 1080p transfers and Dolby Digital 2.0 audio tracks. Each of the episodes both look and sound awesome. This has been consistent for each season for this show as well. In fact, BBC always delivers in this department and their quality of their shows are always high. There are some decent special features on this season. There are five bonus clips: “Alex’s Unfinished Business”.  There are a few deleted scenes, as well as some cast interviews included.  I would have loved to seen some commentary tracks though, especially on the series finale.

Inga Cadranel talk about her role in BBC America’s hit show “Orphan Black”

Inga Cadranel is currently playing the role of Detective Angela Deangelis on BBC America’s “Orphan Black”. She is also know for her roles of Aoife in “Lost Girl”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Inga about her TV roles, her love of sci-fi and her turn to start producing movies.

Mike Gencarelli: What drew you to the role of Detective Angela Deangelis on BBC America’s “Orphan Black”?
Inga Cadranel: The thing that drew me to the project was the creators John Fawcett and Graeme Manson. I happened to work with both of them before on different series here in Canada. John Fawcett was the producer/director for another cop show I did called “The Bridge”. That was were I got my chops as the detective type actor and we did a lot of cool research for that show. So when this part of Angela Deangelis came up for this show, it seemed for me to be a perfect fit for me to work again with John. He was really stoked to have me reprise another hard-ass female detective, which is a role I love.

MG: Tell us about the character and what you like most about her?
IC: Well, I can say that she is not the most likable character. She is the one that never seems to get what she wants, which is Beth’s partner Art (played by Kevin Hanchard).  She is gunning for her partner because he is really high up in the precinct. She is a pit of a keener and very by the textbook. But soon enough this will change and she will get more out of it then she wants. I think she is a tight ass. She doesn’t have as many redeeming qualities than other characters I have played. She is good at what she does and is very tough. She is layered, which I was told they are going to explore more of those in the second season and that makes it more fun for me. At this point it is just about her drive to chase after the Beth/Sarah character. So I look forward to getting more into the nitty-gritty of her character.

MG: Compared to your other roles; what was your biggest challenge?
IC: It is really fun and it is hard to think of a challenge. It is a great set and awesome actors to work with. Maybe the challenge is that I have to play against myself in being a bit more of a kiss ass. Her choices wouldn’t necessarily be the ones that I would make. She is not as cool [laughs]. But otherwise, I wouldn’t say any major challenges. I had a great time on the set from every department. It was like a big family.

MG: How was it acting along side Tatiana Maslany?
IC: She is really great. She had such a wild challenge of doing different accents and voices. It was very impressive. The whole show is that actress, so thank God that they picked Tat because she is amazing and I have nothing but good things to say about her.

MG: Tell us about what you like most about playing Bo’s succubus mother, Aoife in “Lost Girl”?
IC: That is a whole other thing. That role is super fun for me. To play a bad guy that everyone hates. You don’t know what her motives are and she is just creepy. I have never played a part like that before. I can play her with more of a character aspect than in “Orphan Black”. It is a really fun part and great show.

MG: What do you like most about working in the sci-fi genre?
IC: I love sci-fi. I am a huge fan. It just gives you such freedom. I have always been fan of thrillers and mysteries as well and that really plays into the sci-fi aspect. The possibilities are endless since it is so broad and out of the realm. You can play out these great stories. Like the cloning in “Orphan Black”, it is not that far from what is happening right now. We are able to clone sheep. It is here. It is exciting, scary and to make to show that it can actually happen in real world is what makes sci-fi cool. My father-in-law, Michael Hogan, also worked in the sci-fi genre with “Battlestar Galactica”. It is funny we keep saying that we are going to run into each other at conventions.

MG: Besides acting you are also an accomplished musician ranging from Opera to touring with punk rock band, Battlestar; tell us about that side of Inga?
IC: It is really different but it was also more of mine passion before I became a mother. I have two kids now. I played in a punk band for many years and then I had my son, so it is just such a different lifestyle. I couldn’t do it anymore. But music is still a real passion of mine. I have been writing some stuff at home with my guitar still but I haven’t tried to do anything with it just yet. But I always see myself getting back to music.

MG: You are also currently producing two feature films and developing a 30-minute comedy series; tell us about those?
IC: My brother, my partner and myself wrote and are developing a 30-minute comedy series about a neighborhood here in Toronto called Kensington Market, the show is called “The Market”. I lived there for 10 years and wanted to do a series about it. Every city has a neighborhood like this. We are in the stage of trying to get our pitch package developed and start shopping it around to networks. The other two features are being optioned and we are in the process of attaching names to them right now and gathering funding. This is a whole new side of the business for me with producing. I see this as a great way to get behind the other side of the camera. I am going to start doing both and I see myself in 10 years focusing solely on producing and possibly directing.

Blu-ray Review “BBC Earth: Great Barrier Reef”

Directors: James Brickwell & Richard Fitzpatrick
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: April 9, 2013
Running Time: 185 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: N/A

With Earth Day right around the corner, this is the time of the year when I can’t get enough nature documentaries. BBC Earth always puts out the best of the bunch. “Great Barrier Reef” is no different. Also who doesn’t love exploring the ocean. This is something that I have always been fascinated with this topic. What I also love about this film is the length of it. I say when it comes to nature documentaries the longer the better. This one runs over three hours, which is amazing!! The longer the better! Looking for a way to celebrate and support Earth Day? Get ready to into Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and look no further?

Official Premise: Stretching a full 2000 kilometers in length and made up of 3000 individual reef systems and hundreds of islands, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is breathtakingly beautiful. Selected as a World Heritage Site in 1981, it is one of the wonders of the natural world. These programs offer a definitive guide to the secrets of the reef — how it was created, how it works, the intricate relationships between its inhabitants and how climate change and other factors might shape its future. Using the latest specialist filming and visual techniques, the series captures the magic of the reef as it has never been seen before.

BBC Home Entertainment delivers a very impressive Blu-ray here but I am surprised that it is Blu-ray only, unlike the other recent release “One Life”. I would have like this to come in a combo pack with a DVD and Ultraviolet digital copy as well. The 1080p/16:9 transfer looks stunning, like I knew it would. You literally are transported into the reef and get to experience this wonders first hand. The audio track, DTS HD Stereo, is good but not overly impressive. It doesn’t disappoint either, so don’t worry. Also unlike “One Life”, this release does not come with any special features. But don’t forget it is also double the length of “One Life”, so you have to weight that factor as well. I would have loved to see a commentary track or some great behind-the-scenes though to be honest.

Blu-ray Review “BBC Earth: One Life”

Narrator: Daniel Craig
Directors: Michael Gunton, Martha Holmes
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
Release Date: April 9, 2013
Running Time: 85 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Before I even start…do you see this cover art? Can you honestly say no to it?  I think not. “One Life” is the latest in nature documentaries from BBC Earth.  It is also one of my recent favorites among the genre.  It was filmed over 3000 days across every continent and in ever habitat.  The film comes narrated by James Bond himself Daniel Craig.  I loved “One Life” because it really tells many different stories and each one is connected with the element of survival. It is very powerful and also dramatic.  I am a big fan of these films and I feel like I have seen them do everything with these nature docs and I will still left saying “How the hell did they film that?” Beautifully shot and very entertaining for the whole family. Nature buffs and fans looking to celebrate Earth Day, this is a great day to do it.

Official Premise: Over the course of five billion years, life on Earth has evolved into the incredible richness and variety we see today. One Life is a celebration of the most brilliant and imaginative stories of survival from the natural world. Cutting-edge cinematic techniques capture unprecedented and astonishingly beautiful chronicles of animal ingenuity. One Life takes us from birth through to the creation of the next generation – then takes us one step further – revealing that, whether we have wings or flippers, eight legs or two, the triumph of life connects us all.

BBC Home Entertainment really delivers an impressive release.  This combo pack comes in a very impressive not only with a Blu-ray of the film but also a DVD and an Ultraviolet digital copy.  The 1080p/16:9 transfer looks actually stunning on Blu-ray.  You see every little detail and the transfer shows all the hard work that was put into filming these stunning situations.  The DTS-HD 5.1 track works perfectly with the documentary and assist in driving the film well and giving Craig’s voice some good weight.  The special features are also quite impressive including a commentary track from the directors Michael Gunton and Martha Holmes. I loved hearing there additional insight and makes for a great repeat viewing.  There is a Behind-the Scenes look and also a Making-of featurette included with some great additional footage.  There are interviews discussing the film and what it took to put together.  Lastly there is a Blu-ray exclusive “Mike Gunton on ‘One Life'”, which has the director chatting about his inspiration and all the work that went into the film.

DVD Reviews "Alice Through the Looking Glass (1973) & Alice in Wonderland (1986)"

Actors: Brenda Bruce, Freddie Jones, Judy Parfit, Geoffrey Bayldon, Kate Dorning, Ian Wallace, Jonathan Cecil,
Directors: Barry Letts, James MacTaggart
Rated: Unrated
Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: March 12, 2013
Run Time: 66 minutes / 120 minutes

Alice Through the Looking Glass: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Alice in Wonderland: 3 out of 5 stars

When it comes to “Alice in Wonderland”, I am first in line.  BBC is known for their classic productions of “Alice Through the Looking Glass” from 1973 and “Alice in Wonderland” from 1986.  I was never a huge fan of the “Looking Glass”, the production is extremely low and not as friendly as “Wonderland”.  I love the songs in “Alice in Wonderland” it’s not Disney quality but still fun for what it is. Both films definitely show their age but having watched them growing up they have that certain charm that still draws you in.  If you did the same then I would recommend checking out at least “Alice in Wonderland” again for sure.

“Alice Through the Looking Glass” – Official Synopsis: Join Alice on her journey through the mirror in BBC’s fanciful adaptation of Lewis Caroll’s classic novel! In an alternate world, just on the other side of the mirror’s reflection, Alice finds herself in the middle of a life-sized chess game, where she encounters a variety of surreal scenarios and fantastical characters, including Tweedledee and Tweedledum, Humpty Dumpty, the Red Queen and others. To be crowned queen and return home, Alice must traverse all the ranks to the end of this massive chessboard-but will she make it?

“Alice In Wonderland” – Official Synopsis: This classic BBC production of the family favorite tale begins one summer afternoon as Lewis Carroll regales his picnic companions with the tale of young girl named Alice who sees a fully-dressed, talking rabbit run past her. She follows the rabbit down a hole and enters a nonsensical world where it seems the normal rules of logic do not apply. In Wonderland, Alice participates in a winnerless race, alternates between being tiny and giant, hears riddles at a “mad” tea party, plays croquet with live flamencos, and attends a trial where the Knave of Hearts is accused of stealing the Queen’s tarts. Featuring Doctor Who’s Elisabeth Sladen as the Dormouse, and filled with memorable characters and songs, this is a version the whole family is sure to enjoy.

I do not remember “Alice Through the Looking Glass” looking that incredibly cheap.  They even have scenes that don’t match up with the overlay on the characters. The production on “Alice in Wonderland” is decent improvement on “Alice Through the Looking Glass” but that could have also been the 13 years between the two. Both films are presented in full frame with a 4×3 aspect ratio.  The audio tracks included are a standard DVD stereo track, which works for the age of the films.  Wasn’t looking for a DTS Surround track here.  There are no special features includes on these DVD releases, which is a little bit disappointing overall. Nostalgia is going to determine the success of these release since  time has revealed both of their ages.

Blu-ray Review "BBC Earth: Africa – Eye to Eye with the Unknown"

Narrator: David Attenborough
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
Release Date: February 26, 2013
Run Time: 360 minutes

Series: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

Ever since “Planet Earth”, I have been a nature documentary series junkie.  I can’t help it.  BBC releases some of the highest quality programming and consistently as well.  I love “Life” and “Frozen Planet”.  I can never seem to get enough. “Africa” is yet another breathtaking series that not only educates, it also leaves you stunned. The series is Executive Produced once again by “Mike Gunton” and he should be giving numerous awards for this work on these shows. This 6-part series will really takes you through Africa in a way that no documentary series has every shown you. The cinematography is beyond gorgeous and it is blended well and made entertaining as well with their fantastic stories of survival in place on our planet that has the most diverse animal life anywhere on our planet. Be sure not to miss this series!

Official Synopsis: 553 cameras. 100 days on horseback. 6,526 anti-malarial tablets. Just under 50 tons of kit carried. Executive producer and Primetime Emmy-nominee Michael Gunton and his team of dedicated filmmakers utilized all of this and more to bring you Africa. Four years in the making across 27 countries, Africa is the latest landmark Discovery Channel/BBC co-production to combine groundbreaking technology and dedicated filmmaking to produce a view into this mystifying continent as you’ve never seen it before. Narrated by renowned naturalist Sir David Attenborough, this extraordinary series takes you to epic, never-before-seen locations and captures the incredible new behaviors of the creatures that struggle to survive in a ever-changing continent.

“Africa” is perfectly narrated by the amazing Sir David Attenborough. When this aired on the Discovery Channel they ended up using Forest Whitaker and that is the main reason why I chose not to watch it.  If you are a fan of these series then you should know who Sir David Attenborough is, I wish they kept it the same as the international UK broadcast.  Nonetheless, this Blu-Ray contains the correct narrator like I said and also the original uncut broadcast taking us through Kalahari, Savannah, Congo, Cape, Sahara, and The Future.  Again the Discovery Channel cut out various scenes for commercials, so sad.  When I was a kid, I would have never believe you if you would have told me that I I would enjoy and also learn a lot from a series like this.  But again, they didn’t have amazing product like this when I was a kid.

Let’s get to the high definition 1080p transfer for these episodes. I know I should say more but I really feel that “WOW” really sums it up. Is that enough? Well I can’t say enough great things. The colors are so pristine and the landscapes are perfectly presented and looks crystal clear. Even if you watched this show in HD on the television it is usually only 720p at the most, so this is a real step up and it’s worth the purchase of the Blu-ray alone. BBC Home Entertainment not only delivered perfect video but also perfect audio. This releases comes with a killer DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio track. I know mostly it is used for David Attenborough’s narration, which sounds amazing, but if you really listen you can hear the grass bend and the beautiful songs of the river, deserts and of course the animals. Ace job here!

So you think that the amazing episodes are enough to keep you satisfied with this release? Well that’s great if you are because the rest is all topping then.  There are some really great special features included for this release.  There are over 30 minutes of extra exclusive Interviews with Sir David Attenborough, Executive producer Mike Gunton, series producer James Honeyborne and cameramen Martin Colbeck and Richard Matthews. You want behind-the-scenes featurettes? Good, because there is over an hour included as a bonus feature. Each episode has one and they are a fantastic look into this fantastic production. There are a few additional scenes including exclusive unseen footage from the Harenna Forest in Ethiopia also with commentary by director Matthew Wright and director Nick Easton respectively. Lastly there are about five minutes of Outtakes with the BBC Natural History Unit crew.

Her Universe and BBC Worldwide Launching “Doctor Who” Fangirl Fashion Collection

Her Universe and BBC Worldwide Launching

Doctor Who Fangirl Fashion Collection

Los Angeles, CA, June 26, 2012 – Her Universe™, a leader in female genre merchandise, announced today a license with BBC Worldwide, to create a collection ofDoctor Who apparel for the ever-growing female fan base for the television show.

Her Universe recognized the burgeoning force of female Doctor Who fans and the need to create unique apparel and merchandise just for them. The international iconic brand and television hit Doctor Who is the longest-running sci-fi series in the world and continues to earn critical acclaim as BBC AMERICA’s highest rated series as well as the #1 downloaded series for iTunes in 2011. The new Doctor Who collection by Her Universe will premiere in July with fashion tops featuring images, characters and phrases from the Doctor Who universe all with fashion-forward designs for girls to look “Geek Chic.” To recognize their female Doctor Who fans, BBC Worldwide has created a special Doctor Who logo which will only appear on merchandise from the Her Universe collection.

Ashley Eckstein, founder of Her Universe and known to sci-fi fans as the voice of Ahsoka Tano on the hit animated series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars also designed and created the Her Universe merchandise. “Her Universe is a line for the fans,” said Eckstein. “Many of our design choices and decisions are influenced by our fans and Doctor Who was the #1 requested license by fangirls for us to pursue next. It was truly a dream come true when BBC Worldwide asked us to do their female merchandise and I am beyond excited to share this extraordinary announcement with our girls today! In the words of the Doctor, I feel like screaming Geronimo!”

Doctor Who apparel and accessories from the Her Universe collection will be available in the U.S. and Canada at both www.heruniverseshop.com and BBCAmericashop.com and through national retail outlets such as Hot Topic. Throughout 2012, the Doctor Who merchandise will also be available at select conventions including San Diego Comic Con.

About Her Universe
Her Universe was launched in 2009 by actress and entrepreneur Ashley Eckstein, and her partner, The Araca Group, known as one of the most innovative theatrical production and merchandise companies in the world. Her Universe was created to directly address the expanding market of female fans by entering into its first agreement with Lucas Licensing to develop and produce a line of female-centered Star Wars apparel and accessories. The success of that line was followed up with a collection for the Syfy network including such shows as Battlestar Galactica and with BBC America for its Doctor Who franchise. You can learn more about Her Universe and purchase the current line of fangirl apparel and accessories by going to www.heruniverse.com and by following Eckstein on Twitter and visiting the Her Universe Facebook page.

About BBC Worldwide Ltd.
BBC Worldwide Limited is the main commercial arm and a wholly owned subsidiary of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The company exists to maximise the value of the BBC’s assets for the benefit of the licence fee payer and invest in public service programming in return for rights. The company has five core businesses: Channels, Content & Production, Sales & Distribution, Consumer Products and Brands, Consumers & New Ventures, with digital ventures incorporated into each business area. In 2010/11, BBC Worldwide generated profits of £160 million on sales of £1158 million and returned £182m to the BBC. For more detailed performance information please see our Annual Review website: www.bbcworldwide.com/annualreview

Photo credit: – Kelsey Edwards Photography

Major Giveaway: Celebrate Earth Day with BBC & Media Mikes! [ENDED]

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Celebrate Earth Day with Media Mikes and BBC, as we would like to giveaway some amazing prizes. If you would like to win one of these great prizes below, all you have to do is “LIKE” our Facebook page and then post “BBC” and the name of your favorite nature program i.e. “Frozen Planet” or “Planet Earth” etc or leave us a comment below if you don’t use Facebook. This giveaway will be open until Sunday April 29th at Noon, Eastern Time and is only open to residents of the United States. Only one entry per person, per household; all other entries will be considered invalid. Once the giveaway ends, Media Mikes will randomly pick out winners and alert the winners via email.

  • 1 Limited Edition Planet Earth Globe (Blu-ray)
  • 1 Frozen Planet Blu-ray and Theatrical Poster
  • 1 BBC Natural History Collection (Blu-ray)

“Frozen Planet” Synopsis:
You’ll be filled with awe and amazement every time you watch this stunning BBC series about our planet’s best-loved, wildest and most elusive creatures, captured on breathtaking, high-definition film in the Earth’s most extreme habitats. Shot entirely in high-definition film, with revolutionary new aerial photography. From the team behind Blue Planet, including the esteemed and beloved Sir David Attenborough.

Also be sure to enter “ULTIMATE POLAR BEAR ADVENTURE SWEEPSTAKES” courtesy of BBC Home Entertainment and Tauck. You can have a chance to win a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to observe these magnificent, endangered polar bears up close as well as discover the rich human and natural history of Manitoba, Canada. To Enter, Visit: www.frozenplanetdvd.com. Only persons residing in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, United States and Yukon who are at least 21 years of age can enter. NO PURCHASE IS NECESSARY.

BBC Ultimate Holiday DVD Giveaway [ENDED]

THANK YOU FOR ENTERING, THE CONTEST HAS ENDED. WINNERS HAVE BEEN CHOSEN AND NOTIFIED VIA EMAIL. PLEASE CHECK BACK EVERY WEEK FOR NEW GIVEAWAYS!

This Holiday season the BBCAmericaShop.com invites you to discover the perfect gift from DVDs to traditional UK Holiday collectibles a : http://bit.ly/BBC_Gifts; and to enter for a chance to win a pair of $500 Gift Cards for you and a friend: https://bitly.com/BBC_Sweeps.

To celebrate BBC America’s newest DVD releases this holiday season, Media Mikes would like to a bunch of great DVD from BBCAmericaShop.com (see below). If you would like any of these DVD’s, please leave us a comment below or send us an email and let us know your favorite BBC show. This giveaway will be open until Monday December 5th at Noon, Eastern Time and is only open to residents of the United States. Only one entry per person, per household; all other entries will be considered invalid. Once the giveaway ends, Movie Mikes will randomly pick out winners and alert the winners via email.

Here is a list of the DVD’s we are giving away:

BBC Holiday Gift Set (DVD)
BBC Holiday Drama Collection (DVD)
Being Human: Season 3 (DVD)
Planet Earth: Special Edition (DVD)
Top Gear 16 (DVD)
BBC Holiday Comedy (DVD)