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PBS Programming and my vacations - two things I don't control.

PBS Primetime Programming for the Week of August 23

I recently returned from a weekend in Napa.  How was it?  I wish I could tell you.  I don't know because as of this writing I haven't left yet.  Frankly, it may not even be Napa I'm going to, it may be Sonoma.  I just don't know, it's not that I don't care, it's just that I'm not in charge of the trip.  It's kind of like how I'm not in charge of PBS' programming, I'm just here to tell you what it is.

 

Sunday, August 23:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Nature – "Sharkland": Imagine if the cops in Copland were, leaner, svelter, and had to keep swimming in order to live. What would you have then? That's right, "Sharkland," which is actually a place off the coast of Southern Africa in the Atlantic.

9:00 – 10:30PM

Masterpiece Mystery! – "Inspector Lewis, Series I – Expiration."  For those of you not steeped in British police drama culture, "Inspector Lewis" is a spinoff off of "Inspector Morse."  For his series, Lewis heads to Oxford to solve crimes.  I'll certainly be watching (or will have watched it already depending on how things work out).

 10:30 – 11:00PM

PBS Previews: National Parks. Soon, but not yet, PBS will airing a Ken Burns special all about our national parks. Apparently he thinks they were one of America’s best ideas. I know that because “America’s Best Idea” is the subtitle for the series. I’m like Sherlock Holmes.

 

Monday, August 24:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Antiques Roadshow  – "Los Angeles (Hour Three)".  Did you know that there was a time I lived in Los Angeles.  It's strange, but true, I lived there.  It's quite the movie town, everyone seems to be an actor or a writer or a producer.  It's all quite fascinating.  Plus, just about everyone has some sort of movie memorabilia.  I wonder if that's what we're going to see on the Roadshow, a Marilyn Monroe-signed bottle of Chanel, that sort of thing.

9:00 – 10:00PM

History Detectives. They’re back again! Those History Detectives are going to be puzzling out clues, working the scene of the crime, and hoping against hope to solve that greatest mystery of them all: how did Fred Flintstone manage to run fast enough that his big, heavy car started to move? Seriously now, that’s a question about history and one I feel ought to be answered sooner rather than later.

10:00 – 11:00PM

American Masters – "The World of Nat King Cole."  Yes, Nat King Cole was a fantastic singer, but as this piece discusses, his songs also helped break down racial barriers.  Cole was the first African American to have his own television show and his own radio show (see, I can learn things, and to learn that all I had to do was read the synopsis of the show). 

 

Tuesday, August 25:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Nova – "Monster of the Milky Way."  What if sitting in the center of the Milky Way there was a supermassive black hole?  No, not a massive one nor a super one, a supermassive one.  Scary, right?  Or, maybe not, maybe instead of being scary it's just how things work.  It could be.

9:00 – 10:00PM

Nova scienceNOW – "Episode 407."  ScienceNOW is the newest addition to the Nova family and is currently in its fourth 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.  Tonight you've got, amongst other things, a look at the Hubble repair mission.

10:00 – 11:00PM  

P.O.V. – "This Way Up."  I'm not entering into a discussion of the pros and cons of the project, this is not the right forum for that, I'm just telling you what this is about, and that is the "security wall" being constructed on the West Bank.  Why is it there?  What has it done?  Is it good or bad or something else?  Good questions, and all things the show might touch on.

 

Wednesday, August 26:

8:00 – 9:30PM

Great Performances – "Harlem in Montmartre."  There is an African American expatriate community in Paris… or, perhaps more accurately, there was.  It was there between the First and Second World Wars and many of its members congregated in Montmartre.   That's why this is called "Harlem in Montmartre" instead of "Harlem kind of near the Louvre."

 9:30 – 10:00PM

PBS Previews: National Parks. Soon, but not yet, PBS will airing a Ken Burns special all about our national parks. Apparently he thinks they were one of America’s best ideas. I know that because “America’s Best Idea” is the subtitle for the series. I’m like Sherlock Holmes.

10:00 – 11:00PM

Wide Angle – “Once Upon a Coup.”  There is a small nation in West Africa known as Equatorial Guinea.  They have oil, lots and lots of oil.  Guess where said oil is?  It's underwater.  Plus, there's that whole coup thing going on.  Now, if that doesn't have the makings for a James Bond movie and a great supervillain lair, I don't know what does. 
 

Thursday, August 27:

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  – "Los Angeles (Hour Three)".  Did you know that there was a time I lived in Los Angeles.  It's strange, but true, I lived there.  It's quite the movie town, everyone seems to be an actor or a writer or a producer.  It's all quite fascinating.  Plus, just about everyone has some sort of movie memorabilia.  I wonder if that's what we're going to see on the Roadshow, a Marilyn Monroe-signed bottle of Chanel, that sort of thing.

10:00 – 11:00PM

Chasing Churchill: In Search of My Grandfather – "Worth Doing Once." 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. 

 

Friday, August 28:

8:00 – 8:30PM

Washington Week with Gwen Ifill and National Journal #4909. 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 #535.  It’s the Emmy award-winning weekly news magazine. 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 #1320. It’s Bill Moyers. It’s his 1,320th 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

Inside – "Miami Airport.”  Miami has one of the busiest airports in the world, and as I think we all know our whole air traffic system is kind of… stressed.  You know, you've been there – your plane leaves the gate three minutes late and it loses its takeoff spot forcing it to sit on the ground for four hours until there's another window by which time it's lost its gate at its destination, meaning that you sit there for another three hours once you land before you can deplane.  Watch how it all happens!

 

Saturday, August 29:

11:00PM – 12:00AM

Austin City Limits – “R.E.M.” OMG!  I love those guys.  I remember when I first heard "Orange Crush" and saw the video that accompanied it.  I didn't get it (I was young), but I liked it.  Well, the band is back and promoting their new (well, new when this episode premiered back in May of 2008) album, Accelerate.  Maybe it's up-tempo, who knows. 

 

Wait a minute, wait a minute.  Strike that whole thing about my getting back from a vacation.  This piece is being published on Friday, and I don't go away until Saturday.  So, by the time the PBS programming discussed herein starts on Sunday night I'll have returned but at the moment of its publication I won't even have left yet.  Of course, I've written this way in advance so it's also possible the entire weekend away has been cancelled.  Time is tricky like that.

 

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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