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PBS Primetime Programming for The Week of March 16

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I'm constantly amazed at how quickly time goes. We're now halfway through the month of March. March. Halfway through. Once March is finished we'll be one-quarter of the way through 2008. One-quarter. It's amazing. The world seems to go more and more quickly. I guess I can take a Quantum of Solace from the fact that it's been a good year so far.

 
Sunday, March 16:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Nature – “Deep Jungle 'The Beast Within'”. Wow. This is part three of a three-part miniseries – a miniseries, I tell you – that follows explorers and scientists as they examine life in the jungle. Part three deals with the how the jungle may or may not have affected humanity in the distant past (I'm betting that it did).

9:00PM – 10:30PM

Sarah Brightman: Symphony in Vienna. A repeat of the brand new Sarah Brightman concert. It was taped way back in January of this year in Vienna (if Indiana Jones has taught me anything, that's in Austria). She sings old stuff, she sings new stuff. She sings and sings and sings.

10:30PM – 12:30AM

André Rieu: In Wonderland. I would call this the sequel to Alice's visit, but that was the whole Looking Glass thing. Maybe it's now a trilogy. Fine, fine, it's not Rieu and his orchestra, choir, several soloists, and some really kicking music playing at a theme park in Holland.

 
Monday, March 17:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Antiques Roadshow – "Tampa (Hour Three)". I wonder if the things that appear at the Roadshow in Tampa are imported by snowbirds from New York. Either that or they recall the moments back in the day when the Buccaneers were a good team.

9:00 – 10:30PM

American Experience – "Ansel Adams". What is there that can be said about Ansel Adams? Actually, a fairly decent amount. Adams' photography is truly outstanding. In this documentary Ric Burns attempts to explore "the meaning and legacy of Adams' life and work."

10:30 – 11:00PM

PBS Previews – "Carrier". PBS isn't going to show you Carrier, they're just going to show you a preview of it (it airs at the end of April and beginning of May). They're going to tantalize you. They're going to intrigue you. They're going to tell you about some of the people on the USS Nimitz.

 

Tuesday, March 18:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Nova – “Saved by the Sun”. See, Al Gore isn’t necessarily right. The sun is good, warmth is good. I’m not even going to read the description of this episode, because I’m completely and wholly convinced that it’s entirely about how global warming will prevent sad deaths on frozen mountains in the winter — people will be saved by the sun. Yes, that’s the only thing it could possibly be about. It’s certainly not about taking solar energy seriously again due to rising oil prices and trouble in the Middle East. No way.

9:00 – 10:00PM

Frontline – "Secret History of the Credit Card". Oh, the credit card. He's a sly one. He has a secret history. This special originally aired over three years ago, at a time when, according to the synopsis, the average family in this country had 10 credit cards and personal bankruptcies were at an all time high. Think it's any better now? I don't (though I don't think having credit cards is inherently evil).

10:00 – 11:00PM

Independent Lens – "Iron Ladies of Liberia". I'm actually a little curious about this one. You see, it's about Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first freely elected female head of state of Liberia. But, in my mind, that would make this about the "Iron Lady" not "Ladies." Right?

 

Wednesday, March 19:

8:00 – 8:30PM

PBS Previews – "Carrier". PBS isn't going to show you Carrier, they're just going to show you a preview of it (it airs at the end of April and beginning of May). They're going to tantalize you. They're going to intrigue you. They're going to tell you about some of the people on the USS Nimitz.

8:30 – 9:00PM

Ribbon of Sand. Things change. It's the way of the world. It just happens. Things change. Get used to it. In this documentary Meryl Streep tells us all about how things change off the coast of North Carolina, in North Carolina's Outer Banks, to be specific. The sand shifts, the beautiful islands that exist now may not exist in the future. Things change.

9:00 – 11:00PM

Great Performances – “Eric Clapton Crossroads Guitar Festival Chicago”. Mr. Clapton – Eric, if you will – and some buds (B.B. King, Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow, John Mayer, Jeff Beck, and Buddy Guy) play in Chicago. Even Bill Murray is there. I hope he tells some jokes.

 

Thursday, March 20:

8:00 – 11:00PM

Live From Lincoln Center – "New York City Opera: Madam Butterfly". Get this, the New York City Opera is going to be doing Giacomo Puccini's Madam Butterfly. How awesome is that? I mean, I'm quite sure they've done it before, and quite sure they'll do it again, but it's still something. It's the New York City Opera. It's Giacomo Puccini. It's Madam Butterfly.

 

Friday, March 21:

8:00 – 8:30PM

Washington Week with Gwen Ifill and National Journal #4738. 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 #412. 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 #1150. It’s Bill Moyers. It’s his 1,150th 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).

10:00PM – 11:00PM

Journey to Planet Earth – “The State of the Ocean’s Animals”. Jason Bourne is back! This is Matt Damon’s fourth season hosting the show. Can you believe it? Jason Bourne caring about the environment. Humph, this is man who doesn’t care at all for human life, heck, he can’t even remember his own.

 

Saturday, March 22:

9:00 – 10:00PM

Austin City Limits – “Allison Krauss + Union Station/Kathleen Edwards”. Really? They're adding Allison Krauss and Union Station/Kathleen Edwards. I wonder what happens when you try to do that math. Let's see, Krauss, Station, and Edwards… nope, I have no idea what that would make.

 

Okay, quite honestly, I can take more than a Quantum of Solace from the fact that it's been a good year so far. Far more than a Quantum of Solace from it. Plus, let's not forget the most important thing we can possibly talk about – the new James Bond movie is due out in just a few short months. Who can wait? I can't wait. I can't, I can't, I can't.

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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.
  • Alice Jester

    Thanks! I actually have been turning to the PBS over the last month since network TV has been so droll, so I love this summary. I keep forgetting what night Antiques Roadshow is on. I’m thrilled to see someone acknowledging PBS programming.

    Austin City Limits has been on my TIVO for two years now and that Allison Krause and Union Station one is a repeat. It’s pretty good, but you’re right, Kathleen Edwards seemed out of place. They should have given Union Station the whole hour. I’ve been dying for some new shows. They haven’t aired a new one since that fantastic Crowded House hour in January. It’s still by far the best music show on TV.

  • bliffle

    Commercial TV has been unwatcheable for several years, and PBS has become the only source of decent, adult TV. Commercial TV now inserts as much as 25 minutes of ads into every hour of elapsed time. That’s why some of your familiar favorites have become even more thin and uninteresting: 5 minutes more of plot had to be excised to allow for the ads.

    But alas! Now PBS management is determined to make PBS compete with the commercial networks. This is a very stupid move. What’s the point? To trick people into watching watered down program content augmented with sugar and made simple-minded? To increase PBS budgets so that the execs get bigger pay?

    Now PBS is getting worse with it’s ads and programming pabulum. The commercial pitches are as annoying as on the commercial nets. The “Pledge Drives” are much more frequent and are parodies of the annual auctions and pledge drives that used to drive the budget of the stations.

    One of the few refuges is PBS KIDS which consistently turns out programs that adults should watch in hopes of becoming as smart as a 5th grader.

    Soon, the discriminating viewer will be forced to either abandon TV altogether and/or convert to Pure Pirate Programming by harvesting their own materials from the wealth of good stuff that’s available somewhere, if you know how and where to look.

    Of course, one of the consequences of the iron grip of the network corporate monopolies on broadcasting is that it’s impossible for a small individual or group to broadcast their own community TV. In spite of the fact that the cost of TV broadcasting has dropped to very little, and the conversion of huge amounts of analog TV to digital has freed up enough spectrum to accomodate almost everyone who would want to broadcast a non-commercial signal.