Tag Archives: PBS

Best New TV Shows of 2021

*I apologize for the delay in posting. I should have written this before New Year’s Eve.

  1. Loki: Tom Hiddleston shines once more as Loki, the complicated immortal who has become much more than the standard antagonist. Forced into new circumstances, he goes on a journey that forever changes him.
  2. The Wonder Years: This reboot of the beloved 1980’s/1990’s series is just as poignant as its predecessor. The choice of making the main character and his family African-American only adds to its relevancy.
  3. Law & Order: Organized Crime: This spinoff of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit starring Chris Meloni as returning Detective Elliot Stabler is a thrilling and spine tingling hour of television.
  4. Ordinary Joe: This new NBC series is the story of one man and three distinct life paths before him. Told concurrently and using different colors for each decision, is is a reminder of how one choice can affect the rest of our lives.
  5. Impeachment: American Crime Story: The latest chapter of this long running F/X series focuses on the affair between Monica Lewinsky (Beanie Feldstein) and former President Clinton (Clive Owen) and the impeachment trial that followed. Instead of focusing on Clinton, the story is about the women who were directly affected by his less than honorable actions.
  6. WandaVision: This first foray by the MCU via DisneyPlus is everything it promised to be. Wanda Maxmioff and Vision (Elisabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany) are living in family sitcom wedded bliss. But it not what it seems to be. With a star making turn by Kathryn Hahn as Agatha Harkness, this series is a must see.
  7. All Creatures Great and Small: Ths unexpectedly Masterpeice/PBS series is adorable and charming. A rookie vetenarian starts his career in rural Yorkshire in the 1930’s and grows in unexpected ways. The new season starts tonight at 9PM ET/ 8PM CT.
  8. Atlantic Crossing: This second Masterpeice/PBS series tells the story of the friendship/supposed affair between Franklin Delanor Roosevelt and Crown Princess Martha of Sweden during World War II. Forgotten for nearly a century, this tale of one woman’s drive to save her nation is truly worth watching.
  9. The Book of Boba Fett: This latest entry into the Star Wars universe from DisneyPlus just premiered on December 29th. Though only two episodes have been released, it is already asking questions that are begging for answers.
  10. Behind Her Eyes: Based on the book by Sarah Pinborough, this six part Netflix series about a married man’s affair with his secretary has a delicious ending that is jaw dropping and completely out of left field. Few endings have wowed me as this did.
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Filed under Books, DisneyPlus, Feminism, FX, History, Netflix, Star Wars, Television, TV Review

Around the World in 80 Days Review

When we travel, we do more than step out of our comfortable bubbles. We see the world from another perspective and perhaps learn from that perspective.

The new Masterpiece/PBS series, Around the World in 80 Days, is an eight-episode miniseries based on the Jules Verne book of the same name. The program stars David Tennant as Phileas Fogg, Ibrahim Koma as Passepartout, and Leonie Benesch as Abigail “Fix” Fortescue. Their goal (as explained by the title), is to travel to different parts of the globe and return to England within 80 days of their departure date.

To be clear, I have not read the book. I have heard of it, but it has yet to be on my TBR list. This review is based solely on the television program.

The problem is that whatever it is that should hook me in is missing. Maybe it’s because I’m not really a fan of Verne or his books. Or maybe it’s that I was just bored.

Do I recommend it? No.

Around the World in 80 Days airs on PBS on Sunday nights at 8PM.

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Throwback Thursday: This Old House (1979-Present)

When we watch home renovation shows, it appears that the process is quick and easy with very little stress. The truth is that it is a process that is time consuming, expensive, and riddled with potential problems.

This Old House has been part of the PBS schedule since 1979. The OG of this genre of television, it was originally hosted by Bob Vila. The program follows the craftspeople as they rebuild a house that appears to be past its prime. Unlike other shows of this nature, it is informational and takes multiple episodes, if not an entire season to give the building new life.

While other reality shows that also focus on property restoration are flashy and Hollywood-ized, This Old House is down to earth. It may come off as boring, but I would wager that someone who is interested in this topic would the show fascinating.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Filed under Television, Throwback Thursday, TV Review

Flashback Friday: American Masters (1986-Present)

We all know the basic narrative of a biography. The subject was born on x date, accomplished certain things, and died on y date. Once this skeleton is in place, it is up to the writer(s) or creative team to ensure that whoever this person is, they are brought to life in full color, flaws and all.

American Masters has been on the PBS schedule since 1986. This long-running and award-winning documentary series tells the story of American artists, writers, actors, dancers, filmmakers, etc. What these people have in common is that they have left a lasting cultural mark on our nation.

I enjoy this series. It goes beyond the surface, revealing the real person behind the icon. In doing so, the viewer not only gets to know the subject, but perhaps also changes their opinion about whom they have perceived them to be.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Rita Moreno & Mental Health: A Revelation That Needs to be Heard

Rita Moreno is more than an icon. She is a trailblazer who opened the door for non-POC performers to not only have a career, but to play roles than were more than the servant or the background character. She also dealt with mental illness and lived to tell the tale.

Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It premiered a couple of weeks ago on the PBS series American Masters. The documentary follows her life and career from her early days playing “ethnic” characters to her current status as one of the most respected performers in Hollywood. Best known for her role as Anita in 1961 film adaptation of West Side Story, it was one of the first (if not the first) fully fleshed out Latino characters on the big screen. Up until that point, Latinx performers either had to hide who they were (a la Rita Hayworth) or play a stereotypical characters ( e.g. Carmen Miranda).

While I was not surprised that she was sexually assaulted. Then, as now, women are still seen as sex objects to be used and thrown away when our usefulness outside of the bedroom has vanished. What I was surprised is that she has lived with mental health problems for decades and survived a suicide attempt. I found her honesty to be refreshing and comforting. It was as if she was saying “I did it, you can too”.

If I could, I would send an invite to watch this film to anyone whose life is complicated by mental illness. If it provides one person at least a brief respite from the mess in our heads and the push to ask for help, I would be satisfied.

Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It is available for streaming on the PBS website.

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Filed under Feminism, Mental Health, Movies, Television

Flashback Friday: Secrets of the Dead (2000-Present)

When someone dies, it may appear that everything they knew was lost when they passed. But if we look closely enough, what they left behind speaks to us as much as the person themselves.

Secrets of the Dead has been on the PBS schedule since 2000. In this documentary series, each episode examines one person or moment in history using the known facts and the objects that stand in for the subject. Part scientific/archeological study and part true-life story, this program is ideal combination of educational and entertaining.

I find this series to be fascinating. It balances the history and the drama to present as much as a complete story as possible. Bringing these people and these worlds back to life, the audience is treated to a compelling drama and a time in history in which they may not have not had all of the facts.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Flashback Friday: Masterpiece (1971-Present)

Good TV is sometimes hard to find. It’s easy to turn on a reality show or a rerun that you’ve seen a dozen times over.

In 1971, Masterpiece premiered on PBS. Importing British drama from the UK to the US for fifty years, this program has been a hit with audiences for decades.

Masterpiece has been my Sunday night must see TV for quite a few years now. Most of their programming I find to be intelligent, entertaining, and perhaps a bit educational without realizing it.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Throwback Thursday: The Story of the Jews with Simon Schama

History is both fascinating and truthful, if we are willing to listen.

In 2013, The Story of the Jews with Simon Schama premiered on PBS. Hosted by British born historian Simon Schama, this mini-series talks about Jewish history from the ancient world to today.

I love this series. Schama obviously knows and loves this subject, but does not present it in a way that boring or academic. It is vibrant, alive, and relatable to our time. Regardless of faith or knowledge of the topic, the viewer (at least I did) will learn without realizing it.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Great Performances: Romeo & Juliet Review

Romeo and Juliet is one of those plays that we all know. The convergence of young love, hate, and violence come together in a potent mix that has been irresistible to audiences for centuries.

Last night, Great Performances aired a new adaptation of the Shakespeare play. Starring Josh O’Connor and Jessie Buckley as our iconic lovers, the play is set on a sparsely decorated theater stage.

This production is fantastic. Emphasizing the narrative and the emotions of the characters, it is one of the best re-creations I have seen in a long time. It also, in my mind, proves that one does need to clothe the actors in Elizabethan era costumes or film somewhere in Europe that looks like 16th century Italy to be true to the text.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Romeo & Juliet can be watched on the Great Performances website.

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Filed under Movie Review, Movies, Television, TV Review, William Shakespeare

My Grandparent’s War Review

The past has much to teach us, if we are willing to listen.

The new four part miniseries, My Grandparent’s War premiered last night on PBS. This four part series follows four prominent British actors as they learn about what their grandparents went through during World War II. In the first episode, Helena Bonham Carter explores wartime experiences of her paternal grandmother Helen Violet Bonham Carter and her maternal grandfather Eduardo Propper de Callejón. The next three episodes tell the family histories of Mark Rylance, Carey Mulligan, and Kristin Scott Thomas.

I truly enjoyed the program. If nothing else, it was just a reminder that that more things change, the more they stay the same. The generation that lived through and survived World War II will soon be gone from this Earth. It is therefore, incumbent upon us to hear their stories in whatever form we can.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

My Grandparent’s War airs on Sunday night at 8PM on PBS.

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