Six Picks: Recommendations from the Monitor staff

Breathtaking nature series on Discovery Channel, a new thriller by author Michael Connelly, a DVD for 'Designing Women' fans, and more.

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Watch closely

The title of the Discovery Channel's six-part, high-definition series Nature's Most Amazing Events speaks for itself. The breathtaking footage includes such heart-tugging events as grizzly bear cubs emerging from winter dens to hunt salmon alongside equally hungry wolves; wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle migrating across Tanzania's Serengeti plains; and elephants of the Kalahari Desert learning to survive on less and less water. The series airs May 29-31.

Design for life

Recommended: 10 best books of December 2013, according to Amazon's editors

Fans of Sugarbaker & Associates have waited 23 years for full seasons of the hit 1986 series Designing Women to come out on DVD. On May 26, the all-star lineup of Delta Burke, Jean Smart, Dixie Carter, and Annie Potts can be seen in the complete first season of their Southern belle glory, including a contemporary, bonus featurette with the four stars and creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason. It's well worth the wait.

Familiar yet fresh

Paul Potts, the Welsh car-phone salesman who won "Britain's Got Talent" in 2007, has gone Italian on his second CD, Passione. The 10 tracks are a mix of pop songs, including "Senza Luce" ("A Whiter Shade of Pale") and "Un Giorno per Noi" ("A Time for Us"), plus Puccini and Chopin, all rendered in operatic Italian.

No ticket required

As the Lincoln Center kicks off its year-long 50th anniversary celebrations, a host of events around New York this summer – including Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, Dave Brubeck's quartet, meet-the-artist talks, and lectures – will be free. Check out www.lincolncenter.org.

BriTunes

Brian Williams has always loved discovering new bands, he says. So his new online music interview series – www.britunes.msnbc.com – is a natural evolution for the NBC Nightly News host. While he'll interview some established musicians, "mostly I'd like this to be a place where people can sample some of the great music being created every day by talented musicians who wouldn't dream of doing anything else," he says. First up: Brooklyn-based Deer Tick.

Paper thriller

A laid-off reporter for the Los Angeles Times is determined to go out with one last byline in Michael Connelly's new thriller, The Scarecrow. Plenty of pointed comments about the decline of the nation's dailies are on offer as police reporter Jack McEvoy ("The Poet") uses his last two weeks on the job to chase what he hopes will be his opus. A perfunctory romance and a rather stock serial killer aren't up to Connelly's best, but anyone involved in journalism will smile ruefully in recognition whenever Jack steps into the newsroom.

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