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PBS Primetime Programming for the Week of September 27

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Speaking of time (as we have been speaking about time lately), I think it's crucially important to note that PBS is playing with time this week. They're putting their entire schedule on pause so that they can air their brand-spanking new National Parks documentary, you know, the one that they've been promo-ing for months on end. It's a big week for the network and it's going to have not only a lot of green, but a lot of recycling too.

Sunday, September 27:

8:00 – 10:00PM

The National Parks: America's Best Idea – “The Scripture of Nature (1851-1890).” In part one of this massive Ken Burns documentary we get to see how it all began. In case you're wondering, it was with Yosemite. People started to hear about it in 1851 and by 1864 Congress protected it and handed it to the state of California. Yellowstone quickly followed and we were on our way.

10:00PM – 12:00AM

The National Parks: America's Best Idea – “The Scripture of Nature (1851-1890).” In part one of this massive Ken Burns documentary we get to see how it all began. In case you're wondering, it was with Yosemite. People started to hear about it in 1851 and by 1864 Congress protected it and handed it to the state of California. Yellowstone quickly followed and we were on our way.

Monday, September 28:

8:00 – 10:30PM

The National Parks: America's Best Idea – “The Last Refuge (1890-1915).” In part two of this massive Ken Burns documentary we get to see all about Teddy Roosevelt pushing for the National Parks (where else would he get all those big sticks that he was going to need). The parks also suffer defeat as that bastion of do-gooding, San Francisco, builds a dam at Yosemite and breaks John Muir's heart.

10:30PM – 1:00AM

The National Parks: America's Best Idea – “The Last Refuge (1890-1915).” In part two of this massive Ken Burns documentary we get to see all about Teddy Roosevelt pushing for the National Parks (where else would he get all those big sticks that he was going to need). The parks also suffer defeat as that bastion of do-gooding, San Francisco, builds a dam at Yosemite and breaks John Muir's heart.

Tuesday, September 29:

8:00 – 10:00PM

The National Parks: America's Best Idea – “The Empire of Grandeur (1915-1919).” In part three of this massive Ken Burns documentary we see what happens without John Muir. Don't worry though, it's not all bad as a new federal agency, the National Park Service, is established and a fight takes place to save the Grand Canyon.

10:00PM – 12:00AM

The National Parks: America's Best Idea – “The Empire of Grandeur (1915-1919).” In part three of this massive Ken Burns documentary we see what happens without John Muir. Don't worry though, it's not all bad as a new federal agency, the National Park Service, is established and a fight takes place to save the Grand Canyon.

Wednesday, September 30:

8:00 – 10:00PM

The National Parks: America's Best Idea – “Going Home (1920-1933).” In part four of this massive Ken Burns documentary we get to hear all about how Margaret and Edward Gehrke went traveling from park to park to park, "collecting" them. And, we'll also learn about John D. Rockefeller Jr. quietly buying land in the Teton Mountain Range in order to stop folks from destroying it. His plan, as his family already had a fortune, was to donate it to the government.

10:00PM – 12:00AM

The National Parks: America's Best Idea – “Going Home (1920-1933).” In part four of this massive Ken Burns documentary we get to hear all about how Margaret and Edward Gehrke went traveling from park to park to park, "collecting" them. And, we'll also learn about John D. Rockefeller Jr. quietly buying land in the Teton Mountain Range in order to stop folks from destroying it. His plan, as his family already had a fortune, was to donate it to the government.

Thursday, October 1:

8:00 – 10:00PM

 

The National Parks: America's Best Idea – “Great Nature (1933-1945).” In part five of this massive Ken Burns documentary we get to see how the parks provided jobs to those who needed them during the Great Depression. It was done through the Civilian Conservation Corps and not only helped the people but the parks. It was a win-win situation.

10:00PM – 12:00AM

The National Parks: America's Best Idea – “Great Nature (1933-1945).” In part five of this massive Ken Burns documentary we get to see how the parks provided jobs to those who needed them during the Great Depression. It was done through the Civilian Conservation Corps and not only helped the people but the parks. It was a win-win situation.

Friday, October 2:

8:00 – 10:00PM

The National Parks: America's Best Idea – “The Morning of Creation (1946-1980).” In part six of this massive Ken Burns documentary we get brought up to the present day, or at the very least 1995. I know, it says "1980" above, but according to the description I have, there is mention of wolves being re-established in Yellowstone in 1995, which, if I understand time, occurred after 1980.

10:00PM – 12:00AM

The National Parks: America's Best Idea – “The Morning of Creation (1946-1980).” In part six of this massive Ken Burns documentary we get brought up to the present day, or at the very least 1995. I know, it says "1980" above, but according to the description I have, there is mention of wolves being re-established in Yellowstone in 1995, which, if I understand time, occurred after 1980.

Saturday, October 3:

Today and tomorrow PBS stations all over the country are going to air the series again, and perhaps again and again, and again…

And there it is — you have now seen, or had the opportunity to see the entirety of the documentary. Usually Ken Burns documentaries are time well spent, but as I haven't seen this one yet I can't say for certain that this one has lived up to the lofty standards he's set. I have no reasons to imagine that it hasn't, but without watching it I'm not sticking my neck out there.

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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.
  • http://mizbviewsfromthetower.blogspot.com Jeanne Browne

    First, I commend you for writing this column; PBS gets far too little attention, and credit, for its largely-excellent programming.

    Second, although I’m presently involved with a conservation organization that’s prominent in NYState (and am therefore just a little more aware of the issues confronting the national parks than the average bear), I haven’t seen any of the series yet. But except for “Baseball,” a Ken Burns series I couldn’t get through because I have no affection for baseball whatsoever, Ken rarely disappoints in any significant way.

    And third, you can count on it: “National Parks” will be aired repeatedly `til the end of time, because while GM is still Burns’ major corporate sponsor, his series’ are very expensive.

    As some TV journalist whose name escapes me at the moment used to say: “See you on the radio.”

  • madeleine von dehn

    and what happens to the Friday programming with NOW and Bill Moyers???
    they should NEVER be moved