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PBS Primetime Programming for the Week of January 10

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Never let it be thought that I'm not a big fan of the holidays. I am, I certainly am. And yet, for whatever reason I never really get that sense of disappointment when they're done. I mean, as much fun as it is to watch Santa show up on the NORAD Santa Tracker on a yearly basis, and as much as I love the holidays and think that we should in fact keep the spirit of it in our hearts year round, it doesn't upset me that they're done.

Sunday, January 10:

8:00 – 9:00PM

 

Nature – "Hummingbirds: Magic in the Air.” Did you know that hummingbirds beat their wings really, really fast? You probably did, didn't you. Everyone seems to know that they do that – it's kind of their thing, isn't it? The real question is then have you ever seen them do it in high-definition with high-speed footage? See, if you haven't – and I suspect many of us haven't – this is your chance.

9:00 – 10:30PM

Masterpiece – "Return to Cranford – Part One". The original Cranford mini-series went so well, that they decided to go back to the well once more. Again based on the writing of Elizabeth Gaskell, the Cranford contingent returns to give us another slice of life in the small Cheshire town. Plus, Laura Linney hosts.

10:30 – 11:00PM

PBS Previews: National Parks. Soon, but not yet, PBS will airing a Ken Burns special all about our national parks. Apparently he thinks they were one of America’s best ideas. I know that because “America’s Best Idea” is the subtitle for the series. I’m like Sherlock Holmes.

Monday, January 11:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Antiques Roadshow - "Raleigh." Ah, North Carolina, or, as I like to call it, Tobacco Town. Yes, I know it's a state, but if I were to call it a state then there would be a complete lack of alliteration, and I’m all for alliteration. I'm not sure that there will be alliteration in North Carolina's trip to the Roadshow (or even the Roadshow's trip to North Carolina), but that doesn't mean that I'm not willing to try to make it happen.

9:00 – 10:00PM

American Masters – "Sam Cooke: Crossing Over." You may know Aretha Franklin as the "Queen of Soul," but she wasn't the first soul singer around. In fact, some would say that without Sam Cooke there would be no soul music and thus while there might be an Aretha, we wouldn't know her. Watch, listen, and learn all about Cooke.

10:00 – 11:00PM

American Masters – "Marvin Gaye: What's Going On." Everyone knows that Marvin Gaye died tragically. The question is do you know about his life before that? This special features some of his performances as well as interviews with people like Smokey Robinson and Gladys Knight.

Tuesday, January 12:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Nova - “Building Pharaoh's Ship.” There is a picture in a temple built for the pharaoh Hatshepsut of a trip the land of Punt – not like the three-and-out 49ers, more like a city of riches and treasures. Was the city real? Could the Egyptians have actually built the boat as depicted in the drawing? Are the 49ers aware of the city of Punt, do they confuse the fair city with what they do on fourth down, is that why they're so into the whole punt thing?

9:00 – 11:00PM

Independent Lens – "Young@Heart." Do you know how you know this Young@Heart is about a bunch of people who aren't so much young? It's because those who are young would never, ever, put out such a cheesy name. This Young@Heart is a senior citizens chorus who will perform songs written by just any group/artist.

Wednesday, January 13:

8:00 – 9:00PM

The Human Spark – "So Human, So Chimp." Alan Alda – one of my all-time favorite actors ever – is continuing his journey to discover what makes humans humans and others not so human. This week he's looking at our closest relatives, the chimp. Apparently he makes some discoveries about us being able to reason about that which we can't see and chimps not having the same ability.

9:00 – 11:30PM

Great Performances – "Passing Strange." The other week, as I was driving, I saw this guy doing this dance… oh, sorry, wrong "Passing Strange." This Spike Lee joint is a semi-autobiographical story of a young man who leaves LA to go to Europe to learn about just who he is, both artistically and personally.

Thursday, January 14:

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 - "Raleigh." Ah, North Carolina, or, as I like to call it, Tobacco Town. Yes, I know it's a state, but if I were to call it a state then there would be a complete lack of alliteration, and I’m all for alliteration. I'm not sure that there will be alliteration in North Carolina's trip to the Roadshow (or even the Roadshow's trip to North Carolina), but that doesn't mean that I'm not willing to try to make it happen.

10:00 – 11:00PM

Égalité for All: Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian Revolution. Do you realize that the Haitian Revolution is the only successful slave insurrection in history? Well, even if you don't realize it, it was. They looked at the ideas behind the French Revolution and built upon it. It made Toussaint Louverture an incredibly famous man. Watch and learn, watch and learn.

Friday, January 15:

8:00 – 8:30PM

Washington Week with Gwen Ifill and National Journal #4928. 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 #603. 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 #1338. It’s Bill Moyers. It’s his 1,338th 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

Wallace Stegner. This would be the 100th birthday of Wallace Stegner — not today, last year actually would mark it. Consequently, what we have a here is a biographical film of the writer/conservationist/teacher. It contains interviews from some of his more famous students, some of his family, and a contemporary or two (or perhaps three or more).

Saturday, January 16:

9:00 – 10:00PM

Austin City Limits – "Mos Def/K'naan." I just can't do it, normally I would, but today I can't. The joke would go something along the lines of "can you name the Mos Def singer around, I certainly K'naan." However, as we both know that the joke exists, that I normally would tell it, and that you would groan in disappointment, why don't we all just save ourselves the headache.

Please, don't get me wrong, I'm not happy to see the holidays in the rear view mirror, I'm already in fact looking forward to the next round this coming December, I just try not to be wistful about the passing of the holidays. What would the advantage of that be? It would just be another thing to be distressed about, and that doesn't seem appropriate, especially as that's not what the holidays are about, right?

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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.