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PBS Primetime Programming for the Week of May 4

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I always feel something of a letdown at the end of a vacation. They seem to pass way, way too quickly. It doesn't matter if they're a week long, two weeks, or a full month, I just always feel like they disappear all too soon. Like my Hawaiian vacation, something I've looked forward to for 30 years, and will be ending on Monday. I take a Quantum of Solace from the fact that the vacations are fabulous, but I still always feel like they end too soon.

Sunday, May 4:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Nature – "Superfish”. I imagine a superfish to be able to walk on land like a man, fly through the air like a bird, and stomp through the mountains like a Sasquatch. Apparently I'm wrong. Superfish are closer to marlins, sailfish, spearfish, and swordfish. Wow, what a letdown.

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, May 5:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Antiques Roadshow – "Louisville (Hour Three)". I imagine that this city is going to be a home run for the series. They're really going to knock one out of the park here. They're going to put a few runs on the board by going yard. They're going to, unquestionably, get the long ball working here. In short, they're going to be Sluggers.

9:00 – 11:00PM

American Experience – "George H.W. Bush (Part One)". Good old 41. Who doesn't like 41 (in hindsight anyway)? This is the first part of his "presidential portrait" and goes from World War II through his days as POTUS. One wonders if they'll skip going into his post-POTUS time as he probably just hangs his head in shame these days.

 
Tuesday, May 6:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Nova – “First Flower”. Wow. Nova is going to look for the origins of the flower. Have they completely run out of stories? Is there nothing left in the world of science, except sending people globetrotting all over creation (in this case a remote mountain region of China) searching for where the first flower came from? They are children starving in this world, people.

9:00 – 10:30PM

American Experience – "George H.W. Bush (Part Two)". Good old 41. Who doesn't like 41 (in hindsight anyway)? This is the first part of his "presidential portrait" and goes from World War II through his days as POTUS. One wonders if they'll skip going into his post-POTUS time as he probably just hangs his head in shame these days.

10:30 – 11:30PM

Independent Lens – “Na Kamalei: The Men of Hula." Boy, if this thing could only have aired two weeks earlier. I've just gotten back from Hawaii and now Independent Lens is doing a show on the men who hula. I can't tell you how much I could have used this episode a few weeks ago, then I could have impressed everyone about past and present male roles in hula.

 
Wednesday, May 7:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Secrets of the Dead – "Doping for Gold". During the Cold War those East German women did something bad, something very bad. They did a very bad thing. They took steroids. Apparently, though, they didn't know they were doing it. The government did it to them without telling them what was happening. Watch this and you too can learn how to drug your citizens.

9:00 – 10:00PM

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.

9:00 – 10:00PM

American Masters – "Aretha Franklin: The Queen of Soul". Featuring an interview with Aretha Franklin herself, this episode looks at the rise of the first woman who got into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That's right, you better give her some R-E-S-P-E-C-T and don't even think of taking out the T-C-P.

 
Thursday, May 8:

8:00 – 10:30PM

Live From Lincoln Center – "Camelot". Sadly, this is probably not an original cast thing, and I love the original cast. I never actually saw the original cast perform this, but I have listened to the soundtrack over and over again. I think about stopping listening to it in Springtime, but I could never leave it in the Spring.

10:30 – 11:00PM

Smitten. The tale (documentary, if you will) of Rene di Rosa. Rene lives in the Napa Valley and seeks emerging artists. Rene actually has the largest collection of Northern Californian art in the world. Go Rene!

 
Friday, May 9:

8:00 – 8:30PM

Washington Week with Gwen Ifill and National Journal #4745. 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 #419. 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 #1205. It’s Bill Moyers. It’s his 1,205th 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

Secrets of the Dead – "Doping for Gold". During the Cold War those East German women did something bad, something very bad. They did a very bad thing. They took steroids. Apparently though they didn't know they were doing it. The government did it to them without telling them what was happening. Watch this and you too can learn how to drug your citizens.

 
Saturday, May 10:

9:00 – 10:00PM

Austin City Limits – "The Decemberists/Explosions in the Sky". Frankly I think there ought to be explosions in the sky during December. Mostly because it’s my birthday, which I think makes me a Decemberist, and to have explosions in the sky (I think of them as “fireworks”) during December would be just fantastic.

 

It's kind of a sad fact of life, but every hula must come to an end at some point. A fire dancer's fire eventually runs out. The poi of every party eventually comes to an end. All vacations end at some point. I take a Quantum of Solace, however, from the fact that I must, assuredly, have beaten my future brother-in-law in our round of golf this week.

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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.