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PBS Primetime Programming for the Week of December 20

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Christmas gifts have been sorted out and the holiday approaches with great rapidity.  I fully expect this to be quite the holiday season, if only I could figure out exactly how to make a two-story gingerbread house.  We have this three story dollhouse here, it has a full front side, but the back is wholly open so one can access the rooms.  Wouldn't a gingerbread house on those principals work wonderfully?

 

Sunday, December 20:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Nature – “Christmas in Yellowstone”. I just hope Yogi and Boo-Boo show up. Okay, so that’s an old joke. But at least it’s an old faithful. 

9:00 – 11:00PM

Masterpiece – "Cranford – Episode 1". This is part one of a three-part series and based on the writing of Elizabeth Gaskell. Better than that though, it's about a small, little, tiny, miniature, if you will, English village which, for some reason, "comes to life with gossip, parties, romances, sudden death, bankruptcy, and the railroad."

 

Monday, December 21:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Antiques Roadshow – "BIG & Little.”  Some of the good things in life come in big packages.  Some good things in life come in small packages.  Big things can be worth a lot of money.  Little things can be worth a lot of money.  Come, watch, learn exactly how much big things can be worth and how much little things can be worth. 

9:00 – 11:00PM

Great Performances – "Dance in America: San Francisco Ballet's Nutcracker." In this version of The Nutcracker, the story actually takes place at (or during) the 1915 Pan-Pacific Exposition. Do you even need me to tell you that said exposition took place in San Francisco? Why that city thinks that it's important enough to move the location of the story in this ballet, I can't fathom.

 

Tuesday, December 22:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Nova – “The Last Great Ape”. Many a year ago, a group of scientists were studying apes known as bonobos in the Congo. But in 1997 civil war broke out and the scientists were forced to leave. Finally the scientists are returning and are afraid of what they might find due to the bush meat industry in the Congo, either that or because the scientists were the handful of people that went to see the movie Congo, saw what happened to all the apes in that flick and got really, really worried.

9:00 – 11:00PM

Frontline – "From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians."  I don't mind telling you that I'm moderately confused about this listing.  It both states that the show is new, and that it was originally broadcast between April and July of 1998.  See, where I'm from it's not new just because it's a decade old.  A decade old is still old.  It still might be a good story about the life of Jesus and what happened following his death, but if it aired in 1998, it's not new.

 

Wednesday, December 23:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Christmas at Belmont (2009).   Trisha Yearwood hosts this holiday bad-boy of a program.  Why, you ask?  Well, good question, she does so because she's an alumna of Belmont University.  She's not just any alumna though, she's a three-time Grammy Award-winning alumna.  I really think it's the combination of those two things that have combined to make her the host.

9:00 – 11:00PM

Great Performances  – "La Bohème."  Soprano Anna Netrebko and tenor Rolanda Villazón play the leads in Puccini's classic.  And, for the record, it is a classic.  I'm not sure why you might have considered that was ever up for debate, because it most sincerely is not.  Don't believe me?  Watch.

 

Thursday, December 24:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Faith Hill, Joy to the World: A Soundstage Special Event.  Have no Faith… no, forget that, have a lot of Faith, because that's who's performing tonight.  Faith Hill is going to be singing songs from her holiday album, Joy to the World.  Now, if it were me, I would have worked "Faith" into the title.  But that's just me.

9:00 – 10:00PM

Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Featuring Brian Stokes Mitchell and Edward Hermann.   The Mormon Tabernacle Choir (and Orchestra) sing (and play) Christmas songs at Temple Square.  They're joined by Brian Stokes Mitchell and Edward Hermann.  How do I know?  Come on now, look at the title, they kind of give it all away.  I can also tell you (as not stated in the title) that Ed Hermann will be reading The Christmas Story

10:00 – 11:00PM

Christmas at St. Olaf:  Where Peace and Love and Hope Abide.  I cannot tell you how tempted I am to continue in the same vein as the above.  But, rather than that, I'll tell you that it takes place at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota.  Good?  Good.

 

Friday, December 25:

8:00 – 8:30PM

Washington Week with Gwen Ifill and National Journal #4925. 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 Double Dutch Chocolate ice cream.

8:30 – 9:00PM

NOW on PBS #552.  It’s the Emmy award-winning weekly news magazine. 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 #1336. It’s Bill Moyers. It’s his 1,336th 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

L.A. Holiday Celebration 2009. PBS does this to us every single year. They're calling this the celebration for 2009 even though they filmed it back on Christmas Eve of 2008. I'm not saying that the celebration won't be enjoyable, there are over 1,000 performers here, I'm just saying that it's the 2008 celebration even if it's airing in 2009.

 

Saturday, December 26:

11:00PM – 12:00AM

Austin City Limits – "The Arcade Fire ". Ah, the "Canadian indie rock marvel" is on this episode. They're here to promote their second album. Can you be a marvel if you only have two albums? I guess, or, maybe, they just toss the word marvel around a little too freely these days.

 

Here's my basic gingerbread house conundrum – last year when we made one the roof was too heavy, it caused the whole thing to come crashing down.  We actually had to remake it from the beginning, making the walls slightly thicker and the roof slightly thinner.  That house stayed up and I think it was a perfect starter gingerbread home, but this year I'd like something bigger, something better, something with multiple stories.  The question is the architecture of the whole thing and that I simply don't know. 

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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.