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More Hitchhiker's! We're aboard our ship with our paranoid android, and the one and only Zaphod Beeblebrox... aren't we lucky?

PBS Primetime Programming for the Week of May 17

There are several difficulties in trying to figure out a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy ride.  The biggest of them is the fact that so many people love the book, the radio show, the movie, the television show, or one of the forms of it so much that they might have problems with any new interruption.  The other challenge is that of creating a fun “ride” that has the audience sit stationary watching everything unfold on a screen.  It’s a different type of medium than I used last time out with The Sword in the Stone ride, but, it’s still fascinating.


Sunday, May 17:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Nature – “Victoria Falls.”  I don’t know about you, but I just don’t think it’s right that Nature is doing an entire episode on a poor woman falling down.  Sure, she didn’t have that little pendant that lets you call someone if you have trouble, but that’s no reason to turn her into a documentary and refer to her tears as a “waterfall” is it?

9:00 – 10:30PM

Masterpiece Classic – "Wallander ‘Firewall you know that there was such a thing as a scruffy Swedish super sleuth?  Well, there is, and his name is “Wallander.”  Even better, he’s played by Kenneth Branagh, and everyone likes Kenneth Branagh… everyone.  That’s right, you in the back, you like Kenneth Branagh too.  Everyone.

10:30 – 11:00PM

Air Group 16: We Came to Remember. A documentary on Air Group 16, who served on the Lexington in the Pacific Theater. This doc follows a reunion of veterans and their families. Not to fear though, there’s archival footage, too.


Monday, May 18:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Antiques Roadshow “Hartford (Hour Two   Connecticut – bastion of all that is old and posh, or at least most that is old and posh… okay, some that is old and posh, but the posh is very, very posh.  And, why not do it in Hartford.  Hartford has television.  People like Hartford.  It’s no Westport or Greenwich, but people like it.

9:00 – 11:30PM

The Kennedys:  American Experience.  I actually think that the story of the Kennedys is terribly un-American.  Very few of us can possibly hope to achieve some of the wonderful moments that the Kennedys have experienced.  And, very few of us will have to experience tragedies as great as theirs either.  Still, the story is a fascinating one.


Tuesday, May 19:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Nova – “Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives". First you've got your Mark Oliver Everett, he's a singer. Then, you've got your Hugh Everett III, he was one of America's greatest quantum physicists (and that's probably why you don't know his name). Hugh was Mark's father and came up with a theory that predicted parallel universes. Mark, who was estranged from his father, travels across the country here to learn about the man.

9:00 – 10:00PM

Frontline – “Inside the Meltdown.” As of this writing the description is TBA, but I do imagine it has to do with the collapse of our financial system. Or, more rightly what was our financial system as we've kind of altered it all in light of the current economic woes.

10:00PM – 12:00AM

Independent Lens – "Stranded: The Andes Plane Crash Survivors."  We’ve all heard the story before, we’ve seen movies and documentaries and heard the tale.  This time though members of the October 1972 crash tell their stories.  Of course, this description says “thirty years later” which would make this piece about seven years old, even though it’s labeled in my listings as “new.”


Wednesday, May 20:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Blueprint America – “Road to the Future.”  Miles O’Brien (from CNN) hosts this documentary which examines infrastructure related projects in cities around the country.  Included among the cities is New York, probably they’ll be discussing the plans for a new subway line.  Seems like a nice idea to me, it’s already one of the best subway system in the world, why not make it better.

9:00 – 11:00PM

WWII Behind Closed Doors: Stalin, The Nazis and the West – "Cracks in the Alliance (January 1944 to August 1945)."  With the Axis powers quickly falling, the Allies looked at how to divide the world once the war was finished.  Were they right?  Were they wrong?  Did they care?


Thursday, May 21:

8:00 – 10:30PM

Live from Lincoln Center – “New York City Ballet’s ‘Romeo and Juliet.’”  It’s Peter Martins’ version of Prokofiev’s ballet based on Shakespeare’s play.  Of course, that statement presupposes that it was in fact Shakespeare’s play, it might not be.  What if Shakespeare didn’t write his plays?  What if someone else did?  What would Martins say?  What would Prokofiev say?

10:30 – 11:00PM

Air Group 16: We Came to Remember. A documentary on Air Group 16, who served on the Lexington in the Pacific Theater. This doc follows a reunion of veterans and their families. Not to fear though, there’s archival footage, too.


Friday, May 22:

8:00 – 8:30PM

Washington Week with Gwen Ifill and National Journal #4846. 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 #521.  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 #1306.  It’s Bill Moyers. It’s his 1,306th 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

The Marines. Sure, we send ’em in everywhere (hence that phrase, “send in the Marines”), but in this case, crews are sent in to the Marines. See the difference there:  We send them to people vs. we send people to them. There’s a difference. Really there is. 


Saturday, May 23:

9:00 – 10:00PM

Austin City Limits – “The Dixie Chicks”. They’re chicks. They’re from Dixie. And, as the political pendulum of public opinion has swung away from President Bush they’re on the rise again. Shame on all of you who abandoned them in their hour of need only to be pretending to never have done so. 

I think the right way to handle it is the way Disney has so many times before – it’s not just a movie, there are interactive elements that come off the screen.  Like right now, right now Zaphod is there, and Zaphod is not happy we’re there.  He’s not happy because he’s stolen the Heart of Gold, and he’s not there because all of humanity is supposed to be dead (thanks to the Vogons).  So, what is going to do to us?  He’s going to try to kill us of course.

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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