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PBS Primetime Programming for The Week of September 16

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I think we’ve finally made it. I think that the new television season has finally begun. Phew. We can all breathe a sigh of relief, the summer doldrums are over. Or, at least we’re shaking them off and by the end of next week they’ll be totally gone and we’ll have show after show after show of disappointing new failures. But then, we also have PBS, don’t we?

Sunday, September 16:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Nature – “Hippo Beach.” This show is the “definitive look” at hippos. That’s funny in my mind, because as far as I know, all the hippos hang out at Bellybutton Beach, not Hippo Beach. Come on, you read Boynton, you know you do.

9:00 – 10:30PM

Mystery! – “The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Series VI: One Guilty Dead. The reinstated Lynley (bet you didn’t see that coming) goes after a crime boss. It’s just too bad that their star witness is found dead. Poor Lynley, I’m sure he’ll work it out though.

10:30 – 11:00PM

Visiones: Latino Art and Culture – "Episode Five". As we all know, “Episode Five” is the best of them, what with the Empire striking back and all. When Luke finds out that Vader is his father it’s just mind-blowing, isn’t it? And Han, getting frozen in carbonite… wow. That, plus the Taco Shop Poets makes this an episode to remember.

 

Monday, September 17:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Antiques Roadshow – “Honolulu (Hour Three).” This must have been quite the lulu of a trip to Hawaii, because it originally aired in January of this year, and now it is airing again. Go Hawaii! You may be the last state, but you're first in my heart.

9:00 – 10:00PM

Most Honorable Son. – Ben Kuroki was the first Japanese-American war hero, surviving 58 missions in Europe where he was an aerial gunner. He also became a spokesman for the Japanese-Americans who were facing internment camps in the United States. This documentary contains interviews and archival film.

10:00 – 11:30PM

Justice For My People: The Dr. Hector P. Garcia Story. Garcia was a Mexican Revolution refugee. He also did his best to find justice for his people, as the title of the documentary may or may not imply. Apparently PBS has a theme thing going tonight.

 

Tuesday, September 18:

8:00 – 10:00PM

Live From Lincoln Center - "New York Philharmonic Open Night Gala Concert". It’s like that tragic clown episode of Seinfeld, you know, where Jerry sings the Bugs Bunny song. I love that episode, Pagliacci, right? Oh, Netta.

10:00 – 11:00PM

P.O.V. - “Lumo”. This is the story of Lumo Sinai of the eastern Congo, who was just 20 when she was raped. She was cast aside by her fiancé and her family and went for reconstructive surgery. This is her story of hardship and, with some luck, hope.

 

Wednesday, September 19:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Seeing in the Dark. This show is based on a book of the same name and is all about hands-on astronomy. The program features “high-definition astrophotography,” whatever that might be. Well, I could figure out exactly what that means if I break the compound word down into its parts. One second here… okay, I figured it out.

9:00PM – 10:00PM

American Masters – "Orozco: Man of Fire". Orozco was a leader of the Mexican Renaissance. He also inspired Franklin Delano Roosevelt to put painters to work during the Great Depression. He even lost his left hand. To me, that’s more impressive than an ear. What do you think?

10:00PM – 11:00PM

American Masters – "Rivera in America". Diego, not Geraldo. Diego, for those who don’t know, was a painter; maybe you saw my Salma’s movie, Frida, they go into all of that there, like they must here, but here it’s much more documentary than a movie starring my Salma. That sounds great, doesn’t it… “my Salma.”

 

Thursday, September 20:

8:00 – 9:30PM

The Candidates 2008 – “The Democrats on Health Care and Financial Security”. You may be surprised by this, but this is a debate featuring the Democratic candidates for the presidency. They’ll be talking about health care and financial security. To call it a debate is probably mistaken, because they’ll all just spout their talking points, but you get the idea.

9:30 – 10:00PM

Visiones: Latino Art and Culture – "Episode Five". As we all know, “Episode Five” is the best of them, what with the Empire striking back and all. When Luke finds out that Vader is his father it’s just mind-blowing, isn’t it? And Han, getting frozen in carbonite… wow. That, plus the Taco Shop Poets makes this an episode to remember.

10:00 – 11:00PM

Lawrence of Arabia: The Battle for the Arab World – "Episode Two". This is the second part of a two-part special focusing on T.E. Lawrence. Filmed in England, Jordan, and Syria, it includes archival footage and builds on eyewitness accounts, including those of Lawrence himself.

 

Friday, September 21:

8:00 – 8:30PM

Washington Week with Gwen Ifill and National Journal #4712. 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 – 9:30PM

NOW #338. 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!

9:30 – 10:00PM

Bill Moyers Journal #1124 - It’s Bill Moyers. It’s his 1,123th 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 – 10:30PM

Exposé: America’s Investigative Reports #214. Each episode in this series focuses on journalistic investigations and the people that went and did them. I think it’s a dying art in this country, we’re all far too interested in the cheap hit than the in-depth story.

10:30 – 11:00PM

Visiones: Latino Art and Culture – "Episode Six". I remember seeing this episode in the theater, man, when Luke turned on his green light saber… that may have been one of the coolest memories I have of my childhood. That plus Tejana music pioneer Lydia Mendoza makes this a pretty great episode.

 

Saturday, September 22:

9:00 – 10:00PM

Austin City Limits – "Etta James". If you knew Etta, like I know Etta. Let me tell you about Etta. Etta has been performing for more than 50 years and has won a Lifetime Achievement Award Grammy.

 

Did you know that next week PBS premieres its new Ken Burns film? Well, they do. It’s going to be huge… HUGE! PBS, Ken Burns, and war. What could be better than that? Not much, I think. Certainly not new, and by now virtually canceled, shows on all the major networks. This is PBS people, let’s get serious.

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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://jonsobel.com/ Jon Sobel

    This had me cracking up. And Etta James, too. Sweet.

    Only one thing – she’s MY Salma!