Tuesday , April 23 2024
Seriously, you call that a "New York" bagel?

PBS Primetime Programming for the Week of January 31

My family is contemplating a cross-country move, going from one coast to the other. It's something we actually did three years ago, but we're now thinking about heading back the other way. Some may think it's due to our love of winter (it's not). Others may believe that it's a desire to be closer to the majority of our families (it's not). You want to know the truth? You want to know why we're thinking of moving? You'll have to read below.

Sunday, January 31:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Nature – "Wild Balkans.” The Balkan Mountains. If you've studied your history, you know that a lot of bloodshed has taken place in the Balkans. If you've studied nature, you still know that there's a lot of bloodshed (or potential for it) in the Balkans, but you just know that due to the animals found there. Some of the critters in the Balkans are actually all but extinct in the rest of Europe.

9:00 – 10:00PM

Masterpiece Classic – "Emma (Part Two)." Even though this is a part of Masterpiece Classic, it is in fact new (if this is still January 2010; if it's not, then it's a repeat). It stars Romola Garai in the title role and Jonny Lee Miller as the knightly Mr. Knightley. Man, I can't wait for them to do a zombies/sea monsters/undead film version of this. How much fun would that be?

10:00 – 11:00PM

Masters of the Arctic Ice. I was once a master of the Arctic ice, but I turned in my special Arctic Ice Master wand and traded it for a Tropical Island Coconut. Now, I'm the master of all the tropical islands I survey. Researchers are now looking into how global warming is destroying the Arctic ice and affecting the animal inhabitants.

Monday, February 1:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Antiques Roadshow – "Atlantic City (Hour Two)." I am a little worried about this particular trip on the Roadshow. I just kind of worry that a lot of the stories will be about people buying stuff on the cheap in pawn shops. Dig a little deeper and maybe we'll learn that the stuff bought at the pawn shops were left there by people trying to win back all the money they lost in the casinos. See? Depressing.

9:00 – 10:30PM

The Donner Party: American Experience. American Experience is dipping into the archives for this one – it initially aired back in 1992, but then again, the events discussed happened back in 1846, so perhaps the facts of the matter haven't changed all that much. What saddens me a little about the episode is that they make it sound like what happened to the Donner Party is some sort of American experience – that there's something intrinsically American about cannibalism. I always thought we were much more into turning our backs on our fellow man than we were into eating them.

10:30 – 11:00PM

Before There Were Parks: Yellowstone and Glacier Through Native Eyes. Strange as this may seem – and it can only possibly seem strange if you didn't watch the Ken Burns documentary – Yellowstone and Glacier weren't always national parks. In fact, Native Americans lived in them long before they were national parks. Learn how they see their homes tonight.

Tuesday, February 2:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Nova – “Ghosts of Machu Picchu.” I have always wanted to visit Machu Picchu, and not just because Machu Picchu is fun to say (try it once, "Machu Picchu… Machu Picchu"), it's just that everything I've ever read about the place fascinates me. I didn't realize there were ghosts there though. If there are ghosts in Machu Picchu, I'm out.

9:00 – 10:30PM

Frontline – "Digital Nation." Twenty-five years ago, when I was in elementary school, I would suggest to substitute teachers that I couldn't continue writing papers the teacher had assigned in class because they were at home on my computer. I was, apparently, from Mars. Kids these days are all online, but how is it affecting our society? Can we even begin to know at this point?

10:30 – 11:30PM

Independent Lens – “Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness.” Melville Herskovits (good name!) was a controversial Jewish anthropologist who had some pretty interesting ideas back in the '40s and '50s. He dared suggest (I'm told) that race was more sociological than biological. He thought that maybe we should examine the world through the eyes of others. Learn all about him tonight.

Wednesday, February 3:

8:00 – 9:00PM

Secrets of Shangri-La. There is a portion of the kingdom of Mustang (I'm told the kingdom is legen — wait for it — dary) in which there lies an area outsiders weren't allowed in. They are now and consequently some scientists have descended upon it and gone into a bunch of caves and found several old drawings and remains and texts. Have they learned more about Shangri-la? Maybe, just maybe.

9:00 – 11:30PM

The National Parks: America's Best Idea – “The Last Refuge (1890-1915).” In part two of this massive Ken Burns documentary we get to see all about Teddy Roosevelt pushing for the National Parks (where else would he get all those big sticks that he was going to need). The parks also suffer defeat as that bastion of do-gooding, San Francisco, builds a dam at Yosemite and breaks John Muir's heart.

Thursday, February 4:

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.

9:30 – 10:00PM

Antiques Roadshow – "Atlantic City (Hour Two)." I am a little worried about this particular trip on the Roadshow. I just kind of worry that a lot of the stories will be about people buying stuff on the cheap in pawn shops. Dig a little deeper and maybe we'll learn that the stuff bought at the pawn shops were left there by people trying to win back all the money they lost in the casinos. See? Depressing.

10:00 – 11:00PM

Soundstage – "3 Girls and Their Buddy." First, you've get Emmylou Harris. Next, you add in Patty Griffin. Third, Shawn Colvin. Lastly, you stir with a little Buddy Miller. What do you end up with? A whole lot of Americana and "3 Girls and Their Buddy." Now, hold on to your hats, I'm told that not only will there be singing, there will be banter as well. Banter, people, banter!

Friday, February 5:

8:00 – 8:30PM

Washington Week with Gwen Ifill and National Journal #4931. 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 Double Dutch Chocolate ice cream.

8:30 – 9:00PM

NOW on PBS #606. 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 #1341. It’s Bill Moyers. It’s his 1,341st 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

Prince Among Slaves. Mos Def narrates the true story of an African prince who was a slave in Mississippi for 40 years before being able to buy his freedom. Now my description of the show doesn't say when this took place, but do you want to give me odds on it being the twentieth century?

Saturday, February 6:

9:00 – 10:00PM

Austin City Limits – "Esperanza Spalding/Madeleine Peyroux." Peyroux is a torch singer, something like Machu Picchu that has always fascinated me. She'll be singing from her album Bare Bones, while Esperanza Spalding will be doing some mixing of jazz and soul and Brazilian pop. She is, the description of the episode tells me, a prodigy.

Bagels. It's the bagels. Have you had bagels outside of New York? Essentially, what you get is thick-cut circular bread with a hole in the middle. That's not a bagel. What makes the entire thing much worse is the fact that there are actually places that serve such bagels and yet refer to them as "New York" bagels. Actual New York bagels have to roll over in their graves every time they hear such ridiculousness.

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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