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PBS Primetime Programming for the Week of October 12

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Ah, the good old Sword in the Stone ride.  I dream of it at night.  I think about it during the day, I see it before me at all times.  I can hear the music in the background all the time, I can hear the sound effects all around me.  Every so often, out of the corner of my eye, I would swear that I see part of the ride itself.  Do I imagine that it will actually ever be built?  I don't, but that doesn't mean that I'm going to give up on the idea. 

 

Sunday, October 12

8:00 – 9:00PM

Nature – "The Beauty of Ugly”.   I tend to think it's wrong of Nature to do a special on Ugly Betty.  I understand that it's a really popular show and all, but still.  Fine, fine, this episode isn't on an ABC show, it's un hagfish, naked mole rats, warthogs, proboscis monkeys, and the like. You now know the truth, are you happier for it?

9:00PM – 10:00PM

Masterpiece Theatre – "The Last Enemy (Part 2)”.  Imagine this – an expatriate return to England to find his homeland transformed.  The place he knew and loved has turned into a paranoid place, terrorists run rampant, spies are everywhere.  You're watching the second part of a five part series and looking forward to seeing what happens.

10:30PM – 11:00PM

America at a Crossroads – "The Trial of Saddam Hussein".   This is apparently the first documentary focusing on the trial of Saddam Hussein.  Was he an evil man?  I think that's almost a certainty, but that doesn't mean that a conviction at trial is necessarily fair.  The process was, according to this documentary tainted, and reveals much about the Iraqi government and its formation as a whole.

 

Monday, October 13:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Antiques Roadshow  – "Salt Lake City (Hour Two)”. So many possible jokes exist here, but mainly they’re at the expense of Mormons and so I choose to avoid them. I do hear that Big Love is coming back though, and I really enjoy that show, so go Antiques Roadshow!

9:00PM – 12:00AM

American Experience – "The Presidents 'Nixon'".  This documentary originally aired back in 1993, which is, as you might recall, at the time when Nixon was still living.  That means that the piece will actually talk a lot about the horrible things Nixon did.  You might have noticed at his funeral, that once he died, the main apparently became a saint and one of the greatest presidents ever.    

 

Tuesday, October 14:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Nova - “Space Shuttle Disaster".  Nova takes an in-depth look at the Columbia disaster, talking to the families of some of the astronauts and the accident investigation board.  What, precisely went wrong?  Was there someone to blame?  Could the tragedy have been avoided?  Apparently there may have been some "financial compromises," and here I thought they spent millions on every screw.

9:00 – 11:00PM

Frontline - " The Choice 2008".  Frontline goes in depth, talking about our choice for president this year.  They'll go into the history of McCain and Obama, where they came from and how it influences their ideas.  Of course, if you don't know about these guys by now you probably haven't been paying attention.  

 

Wednesday, October 15:

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  – 11:00PM

Debates 2008:  A Newshour Special Report - "Presidential Debate".   The time has come for the first presidential debate.  I still don't know who out there doesn't know who they're going to be voting for, but I guess you exist.  Learn more about the candidates and their canned answers here.

 

Thursday, October 16:

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

P.O.V.  – "Soldiers of Conscience”. Amazingly, this episode is U.S. Army approved.  It deals with eight soldiers who apparently feel a "tension" between their spiritual values and their military orders.  I find such a notion odd, because clearly there is no military draft right now and I can't imagine that the soldiers are being asked to do anything that they couldn't have expected to be asked to do before they joined up.

10:30 – 11:00PM

Get Ready for Digital TV.   Two lovely gentleman from This Old House, Norm Abram and Kevin O'Connor, are here to tell you all about getting ready for digital TV (as the transition is coming in February 2009).  Pretty much the answer is that if you have cable or satellite you're fine and that if you don't you're probably going to need a converter box and the government will give you a coupon to buy one.

 

Friday, October 17:

8:00 – 8:30PM

Washington Week with Gwen Ifill and National Journal #4815. 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 on PBS #441.  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 #1227. It’s Bill Moyers. It’s his 1,227th 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

Slavery and the Making of America – "Seeds of Destruction". The third hour of this repeat series looks at slavery and its ramifications from 1800 through the Civil War. As our nation went west, slavery sometimes expanded, and the country repeatedly faced the issue of whether new states should be slave or free. As we all know though, a house divided against itself cannot stand.

 

Saturday, October 18:

9:00 – 10:00PM

Austin City Limits – "Lyle Lovett & Friends:  A Songwriters Special".  I'm told that everyone singing this evening is an "acclaimed tunesmith."  I like that word, tunesmith.  It reminds me of Toonces.  You know, Toonces, the driving cat.  And, if you recall Toonces, you'll also recall the pretty swell song that went with the sketches, it was probably written by a tunesmith. 

 

I want to be clear, I'm under no illusions that The Sword in the Stone is the best Disney animated feature ever made.  I think it's good, but I do not believe it to be great.  However, that doesn't mean that it couldn't be a great theme park attraction.  It has all the necessary elements to make for a wonderful, exciting, truly immersive adventure and that, if for no other reason, is why it should be built.

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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.