Friday , May 24 2024
Where should the new ride start? With the pre-show of course!

PBS Primetime Programming for the Week of April 5

So, Marvin is our host for the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy ride, but we don't start with him; no, we start with the pre-show and line (they'll be combined for the ride), and the pre-show will begin where any good pre-show should begin. The pre-show will begin in the dark. The pre-show will begin in a room without lights. Oh, they'll turn on eventually, but you'll have to learn what happens when they turn on below.

Sunday, April 5:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Nature – "Frogs: The Thin Green Line." It's not easy being green, just ask that frog of all frogs. No, I don't imagine that Kermit will be present here, they're probably going with the more fleshy variety, the variety that seem to be vanishing. No, it isn't easy being green.

9:00 – 10:30PM

Masterpiece Classic – "Little Dorrit (Part Two)." This is a massive, five-part miniseries starring Matthew Macfayden as Arthur Clennam and Claire Foy as Amy "Little" Dorrit. The story, which focuses on the rags to riches to rags story of a family, was apparently one of Dickens' favorites, what with his own dad spending some time in a debtor's prison, much like Amy's dad.

10:30 – 11:00PM

PBS Previews: We Shall Remain: American Experience. I always find it funny when PBS promos a future miniseries by airing, repeatedly, these half-hour deals. I understand the notion behind previewing something like this series — which explores the Native-American perspective on pivotal moments in U.S. history — but they air them so many times I wonder if some of the magic of the actual piece is lost.


Monday, April 6:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Antiques Roadshow “Chattanooga (Hour Two).” I imagine that the Chattanooga stop is all about trains and ancillary train products. You disagree? You can't really disagree, can you? You've forgotten about the Chattanooga choo-choo haven't you? You leave Pennsylvania Station 'bout a quarter to four, read a magazine and then you're in Baltimore. It's the Chattanooga choo-choo.

9:00 – 10:00PM

American Experience – “Annie Oakley." I remember Annie Oakley, I remember her very well. She could sing like nobody's business, and she did it with that guy from The Dukes of Hazzard, not the one who played Superman's father on Smallville, the other one. It was quite the show, it was all about her getting her gun.

10:00 – 11:00PM

House of Life: The Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague. No bad jokes about cemeteries being a house of death here. This tale goes beyond the cemetery though to talk about the Jewish community in the city of Prague, the community that even the Nazis couldn't fully destroy.


Tuesday, April 7:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Nova – “Doctors' Diaries (Part One).” Back in the day, 1987 to be precise, Nova began following a group of seven would-be doctors on their first day at Harvard Medical School. From time to time the show has gone back to find out how the folks are doing. This is one of those times.

9:00 – 10:00PM

Frontline – "Black Money." Did you know that multi-national corporations allegedly create slush funds and front companies in an effort to get more business? The US DOJ has taken a… let's say "unkindly" look upon such practices. Learn exactly what's taken place and what can, may, or should be done about it.

10:00 – 11:00PM

Independent Lens – "Milking the Rhino." To me, that sounds like a bad fraternity joke, a thing that pledges are made to do. It isn't. It's actually about conserving the rhinos in rural Africa. That sounds like a far more sensible thing to be making a movie about than some sort of rush prank gone bad. The rush prank gone bad sounds like the kind of thing that I could get a couple of million dollars from Hollywood for, though.


Wednesday, April 8:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Jean-Michel Cousteau: Ocean Adventures – "Sea Ghosts." There are groups of beluga whales in the Arctic that are doing quite well, thank you very much. There are other groups that are doing not well at all. Cousteau finds himself terribly concerned with this problem and is going on a hunt to find out exactly why.

9:00 – 11:00PM

American Masters – "Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts." They could also have titled this "A Shard of Glass," because that's what it depicts, a twelve month snippet of Glass's life. I'm not going to lie to you, I like my title better; sure, maybe it's a little cheesy, but I do.

9:00 – 11:00PM

Jerusalem: Center of the World. Jerusalem is one of the most fought over and discussed cities in the world. It is important to three major religions, all of whom kind of feel it's "theirs," and who, at certain points in history, haven't minded shedding more than a little blood to keep it theirs. Watch what happened.


Thursday, April 9:

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 “Chattanooga (Hour Two).” I imagine that the Chattanooga stop is all about trains and ancillary train products. You disagree? You can't really disagree, can you? You've forgotten about the Chattanooga choo choo haven't you? You leave Pennsylvania Station 'bout a quarter to four, read a magazine and then you're in Baltimore. It's the Chattanooga choo choo.

10:00 – 11:00PM

Appalachia: A History of Mountains and People – "Time and Terrain." This is a four part series with Sissy Spacek narrating. It explores, as you may have guessed, the history of the mountains and the people who live in Appalachia. It's a group that hasn't always been depicted positively in our society. Tonight we get part one, it goes into plant, animal, and early human life.


Friday, April 10:

8:00 – 8:30PM

Washington Week with Gwen Ifill and National Journal #4840. 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 #515. 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 #1253. It’s Bill Moyers. It’s his 1,253rd 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

400 Years of the Telescope. Normally I'd probably complain about how I don't like starting the name of a title with the number not written out as words. I won't do that here though because it's hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, the guy who hosts Nova scienceNOW, and I like Neil deGrasse Tyson. I'm letting it slide this time PBS, but don't let it happen again.


Saturday, April 11:

9:00 – 10:00PM

Austin City Limits – "Femi Kuti." Femi Kuti is a Nigerian bandleader and political activist all wrapped up into one. He plays music on this show. So, if you watch the show you are more than likely going to see this guy play music. It's that sort of a program.


You're in a room, it's dark. The lights turn on, blazingly bright, almost bright enough to cause a hangover-like headache. Sure, that's all well and good right up until there's a knock at the door. From the other side comes a voice, a voice explaining all about the bypass and how the house is going to be knocked down by a bulldozer. Sure enough, at that point a bulldozer-type noise rumbles to life and looking through the window in the room everyone will note that there is a bulldozer, a bulldozer poised to go straight through the tiny little house you're currently standing in. Time for the next pre-show room.

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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