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PBS Primetime Programming for the Week of April 12

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Please remember, our first pre-show room for the Hitchhiker's Guide was in a home, Arthur Dent's, and ends with a bulldozer about to barrel through the house.  It's a good opening, a strong opening, an opening for which you should have your towel.  How do you exit the about-to-be destroyed house?  By going through the front door, of course.

Sunday, April 12:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Nature – "Andes:  The Dragon's Back".  Yup, he's back and he's voiced by Sean Connery again.  Don't I wish.  Nope, this is about the mountain chain, and the mountain chain is, sadly, not voiced by Sean Connery.  Maybe next time. 

9:00 – 10:30PM

Masterpiece Classic – "Little Dorrit (Part Three)."  This is a massive five-part miniseries starring Matthew Macfayden as Arthur Clennam and Claire Foy as Amy "Little" Dorrit.  The story, which focuses on the rags to riches to rags story of a family was apparently one of Dickens' favorites, what with his own dad spending some time in a debtor's prison, much like Amy's dad.

10:30 – 11:00PM

From the Top at Carnegie Hall Special Edition – "Star Quality."  Kids these days, they think they can run the world.  At the very least, they think that they can play musical instruments.  Some of them certainly can, particularly Ji-Yong Kim and Alice Ivy-Pemberton.  Trust me.  Watch and you'll find out.

Monday, April 13:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Antiques Roadshow “Chattanooga (Hour Three).”  I imagine the Chattanooga stop is all about trains and ancillary train products.  You disagree?  You can't really disagree, can you?  You've forgotten about the Chattanooga choo choo haven't you?  You leave Pennsylvania Station 'bout a quarter to four, read a magazine and then you're in Baltimore.  It's the Chattanooga choo choo. 

9:00 – 10:30PM

We Shall Remain:  American Experience – “After the Mayflower."  The massive multi-part American Experience that PBS has been previewing for months on end is here!  It examines in great detail over the course of five 90-minute documentaries the history of this country from the Native-American perspective.  Tonight it all begins with what happened following the arrival of the Mayflower.

10:30PM – 12:00AM

We Shall Remain:  American Experience – “After the Mayflower."  The massive multi-part American Experience that PBS has been previewing for months on end is here!  It examines in great detail over the course of five 90-minute documentaries the history of this country from the Native-American perspective.  Tonight it all begins with what happened following the arrival of the Mayflower.

Tuesday, April 14:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Nova - “Doctors' Diaries (Part Two).”  Back in the day, 1987 to be precise, Nova began following a group of seven would-be doctors on their first day at Harvard Medical School.  From time to time the show has gone back to find out how the folks are doing.  This is one of those times.

9:00 – 10:00PM

Frontline – "Children of the Taliban."  In Pakistan, a new branch of the Taliban is growing.  Like the folks who ran Afghanistan, the notions preached by this new branch do not bode well for the rights of anyone they come in contact with.  The Obama administration is considering the problem closely, though. Learn about their actions and this Taliban group tonight.

10:00 – 11:00PM

Independent Lens – "Taking Root:  The Vision of Wangari Maathai."  Wangari Maathai is a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.  Maathai is attempting to reclaim her land and culture by planting trees in Kenya.  How exactly does that work?  Great question, and I think you know exactly what you have to do to find out.

Wednesday, April 15:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Planet Forward.  For a moment I was terrified that this was going to be a bad Kevin Spacey movie all about how you should do good things for someone before they do anything for you, they'll then do good things for someone else.  This isn't that.  This is all about the future of energy on this planet.

9:00 – 11:30PM

Great Performances at the Met – "Lucia di Lammermoor."  Anna Netrebko and Piot Beczala sing their hearts out tonight in Donizetti's opera.  I can't pretend to know much about this particular opera, but I do know that this is Mary Zimmerman's production of it.

Thursday, April 16:

8:00 – 9:00PM

The This Old House Hour - Episode TBA.  It’s This Old House and Ask This Old House.  It’s like maintenance…for your home.  Wait, no, that’s exactly what it is.  That doesn’t mean it’s not awesome though.  Seriously, The This Old House Hour is one of the finest home improvement hours on PBS.  No joke.

9:00 – 10:00PM

Antiques Roadshow “Chattanooga (Hour Three).”  I imagine the Chattanooga stop is all about trains and ancillary train products.  You disagree?  You can't really disagree, can you?  You've forgotten about the Chattanooga choo choo haven't you?  You leave Pennsylvania Station 'bout a quarter to four, read a magazine and then you're in Baltimore.  It's the Chattanooga choo choo. 

10:00 – 11:00PM

Appalachia:  A History of Mountains and People - "New Green World."  This is a four part series with Sissy Spacek narrating.  It explores, as you may have guessed, the history of the mountains and the people who live in Appalachia.  It's a group that hasn't always been depicted positively in our society.  In this week's second part we go from the Revolutionary War through Andrew Jackson forcing the Cherokee out in 1831.

Friday, April 17:

8:00 – 8:30PM

Washington Week with Gwen Ifill and National Journal #4841.  Another whole week has gone by and good old Gwen Ifill and National Journal are here to fill us in.  For the record, I like to pretend the National Journal is a sidekick, like Robin to Batman, Starsky to Hutch, or chocolate sauce to chocolate ice cream.

8:30 – 9:00PM

NOW on PBS #516.  It’s the Emmy award-winning weekly newsmagazine.  It looks at issues facing our democracy.  The show is hosted by David Brancaccio.  And, even better, they still send me e-mails (I think that makes me cool and them nice). Thanks, Now, you guys are awesome!

9:00 – 10:00PM

Bill Moyers Journal #1301.  It’s Bill Moyers.  It’s his 1,301st journal (not really, but I’m not going to explain to you the way in which TV shows are numbered at this point in time, maybe later if you’re nice).  He’s a good journalist, so I assume this will be good journalism (at least the odds are it will).

10:00 – 11:00PM

From the Top at Carnegie Hall Special Edition - "Star Quality."  Kids these days, they think they can run the world.  At the very least, they think that they can play musical instruments.  Some of them certainly can, particularly Ji-Yong Kim and Alice Ivy-Pemberton.  Trust me.  Watch and you'll find out.

Saturday, April 18:

9:00 – 10:00PM

Austin City Limits – "Van Morrison."  It is, I am told, a marvelous night for a moondance.  It is, I am told, a fantabulous night to make romance, under the cover of November skies.  I don't know any of this stuff for certain, but I am told it is true, and I am told as much by Van Morrison.  Sing on Van, tell me more.

Outside the front door and in our second pre-show room, the audience is confronted with a massive bulldozer right in front of them, a construction manager urging the audience to move out of the way, and, eventually, Ford Prefect.  It is Ford who explains the whole shebang, from his being an alien to the Earth facing imminent destruction. 

We're going to skip the necessary beer and peanuts bit because this is a Disney ride, but it's there in our hearts.  I think this is the most fun of the pre-show rooms.  It ends with Ford ushering off, stage right, with great flashing lights and blackness as the Earth explodes behind us.  We're do we end up?  You don't think I'm telling you today, do you?

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.
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