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PBS Primetime Programming for the Week of July 20

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The Sword in the Stone ride (the ride I would create were I an Imagineer and given the chance), it's going to be a winner… well, if it's ever built it's going to be a winner. It's got animals and jousting, is based on a classic Disney film, and deals with the legend of King Arthur. It's got magic and a wizard who goes by the name of Merlin. It's a property which, I firmly believe, is ripe for using to create a new theme park attraction. Read below to see a little bit more of what I would do with it given the chance.

 
Sunday, July 20

8:00 – 9:00PM

Nature – “The Good, the Bad, and the Grizzly”. Wonderfully, maybe, the grizzly bears have been brought back from the brink of extinction. It's a fantastic story, it's a great story, a happy story, maybe. You see, the grizzly no longer just hangs about in forests, he hangs about everywhere – forests, streams, possibly even your backyard. And that, is less than good.

9:00PM – 10:30PM

Masterpiece Mystery! – "Foyle's War, Series V – Broken Souls". This is it for our good friend Christopher Foyle, at least the bits that relate to World War II. Series V of Foyle's War feature the end of the war and, only very briefly, the start of the peace. But will Foyle finally find piece? Watch and see.

10:30 – 11:00PM

Crown of the Continent – Alaska' Wrangell-St. Elias. There is, in Alaska more than one place where you can stand and see mountainous peaks and a bunch of glaciers. One man is going to be heading back to one particular vista and taking a camera or two or umpteen (I really can't say definitively) along.

 
Monday, July 21:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Antiques Roadshow – "Bismarck (Hour Two)". I'm going to level with you, I know very little about Bismarck, North Dakota. I know very little about the Dakotas in general. I've driven across the country twice, once down south and once more middle/northish, but I never made it to either Dakota. I wanted to, what with Mt. Rushmore being in one of the Dakotas, but I never got there. The Antiques Roadshow, however, did.

9:00 – 10:00PM

History Detectives. This show may be the most fascinating show ever, it really may, but its title leave a lot to be desired. Seriously, aren't all historians more or less detectives? The title simply isn't descriptive or exciting enough; I much prefer a title like Josh Lasser, You’ve Been Hired as an Imagineer.

10:00 – 11:00PM

Chasing Churchill: In Search of My Grandfather – "Wanted Dead or Alive". Celia Sandys is the granddaughter of one Winston Churchill. Well, not "one" Winston Churchill as much as "the" Winston Churchill. In this three part-series, Celia looks at her grandfather's art and literature in attempt to better understand the man she traveled with (or so I'm told) towards the end of his life.

 
Tuesday, July 22:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Nova – “Mystery of the Megaflood”. Not to worry, this flood was back during the last ice age. It occurred in what would become the American Northwest, and Nova proves once and for all that it did indeed happen. Must’ve been that damned global warming, Mr. Gore, I salute you.

9:00 – 10:00PM

Wide Angle – "TBA.” That means "to be announced" as in, I can't say what the episode will be at this moment, but it will be an episode of Wide Angle.

10:00 – 11:00PM

P.O.V. – "9 Star Hotel". This may be a really important episode, it may be, but I view it as false advertising, there is no terribly, incredibly, hugely, fancy hotel that somehow got 9 stars. If there was, I'd be staying there (I wish). In reality, this show is about a group of Palestinian men working illegally as construction workers in Israel. Maybe they're making really fancy hotels, 9 star ones, maybe that's how they got the name of the episode.

 
Wednesday, July 23:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Click & Clack's As the Wrench Turns. Back-to-back episodes of this animated sitcom (including the premiere) follow the Tappet brothers, Click and Clack. Or, if you prefer, people similar to (but not the same as) Tom and Ray Magliozzi, the hosts of NPR's "Car Talk" who were actually featured on an episode of Nova a while back. Now you wonder why they were in that episode, yes?

9:00 – 10:00PM

Nova scienceNOW. ScienceNOW is the newest addition to the Nova family, currently in its third season. Episodes in this series look at a variety of topics over the course of a single episode instead of just one thing for the whole hour. This week you've got your leeches, your search for extra terrestrial life in the form of SETI, a look at stem cells, and a bio piece on Edie Widder who does deep sea diving.

10:00 – 11:00PM

Carrier "Groundhog Day". Well, here it is, again, PBS has previewed it over and over and over again, and now the time has finally arrived. Carrier is here (in repeat fashion). The series follows a group of people on board the USS Nimitz, from admirals on down to newbie sailors. It promises to be a fascinating look not just at this mammoth aircraft carrier, but the Navy in general.

 
Thursday, July 24:

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 – "Bismarck (Hour Two)". I'm going to level with you, I know very little about Bismarck, North Dakota. I know very little about the Dakotas in general. I've driven across the country twice, once down south and once more middle/northish, but I never made it to either Dakota. I wanted to, what with Mt. Rushmore being in one of the Dakotas, but I never got there. The Antiques Roadshow, however, did.

10:00 – 11:00PM

Soundstage – "Stevie Nicks, Part 2". It's one part of a special two-parter this week on Soundstage, and, as the title may have given away, it focuses on Stevie Nicks. She sings some Fleetwood Mac stuff, she hopefully sings "Stand Back" and, I presume, a bunch of other things. She'll even do a little Dave Matthews Band.

 
Friday, July 25:

8:00 – 8:30PM

Washington Week with Gwen Ifill and National Journal #4803. 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 #429. 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 #1215. It’s Bill Moyers. It’s his 1,215th 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

China from the Inside – "Women in the Country". There are over 1.3 billion people in China. More than a few are women, and women in China are still fighting for equality. In rural areas change has been slower than in urban ones, but they're fighting in both places. Want to know how? Watch and learn, dear reader, watch and learn.

 
Saturday, July 26:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Austin City Limits – " Ben Folds/Ray LaMontagne.” Ben Folds, of Ben Folds Five, is off on his solo career. He's still Ben Folds, but he's without the Five. The way I see it, that means he's climbing a mountain, or the mountaing, or LaMontagne, if you will. Not in a weird way, just in the sense that he's working hard and it might just be an uphill (or mountain) battle.

 

The climax of The Sword in the Stone ride is a recreation of the battle between the evil Madam Mim and the wondrous Merlin. In both the film and now the ride, the two battle each other by changing into different creatures. Ideally, I'd like to see the ride do this by quickly ushering the patrons from one room to the next, with different transformations taking place between each one. I see the rooms as terribly dark, save for the wonderfully glowy transformations the purplish Mim and bluish-gray Merlin make. It of course ends, quite happily, the Merlin beating Mim. The ride will of course end with the moment that gives the movie its title, but we'll talk about that another time.

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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.
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