PBS

Maya Angelou's life was filled with eloquent transformations


Near the end of a brilliant Maya Angelou profile (Tuesday, Feb. 21, on PBS), there's a moment that brings things full-circle. A young, black hotel employee, in elegant uniform, tells Angelou about the speech cotests she's won by reciting Angelou's words.

Fresh views of Van Gogh -- from the ear to the soul


We expect TV to deliver lots of cops and crooks and such; we don't expect it to tell us much about history's great artists. But here we are, with two fascinating films just six days apart. Last Thursday was Pablo Picasso (see previous blog); tonight is a richly revisionist view of the night Vincent Van Gogh is known for. Here's the story I sent to papers:

By Mike Hughes

This grandma had a fascinating tale of lives saved


Yes, Ken Burns sometimes tackles sweeping subjects -- world wars, Prohibition, baseball and such. But he can also help break out small slices, individual heroes. One such tale is recounted in an excellent documentary that reaches PBS on Tuesday (Sept. 20); here's the story I sent to papers:

 

By Mike Hughes

It's time for a flash, Smokey 4th of July


On any 4th of July, PBS puts on a festive show, with a rich blend of music and the fireworks. This year, however, could be particularly fun, with Smokey Robinson at the core. That's one of three big-deal TV concerts on Monday, the 4th; here's the story I sent to papers:

By Mike Hughes

As July 4 nears,
skies and spirits seem to brighten.

National Anthem time for "Idol" winner: Stay calm and sing pretty


Each summer, two of the classiest TV events are the PBS concerts on Memorial Day eve and on the 4th of July. Now the former will be Sunday, ranging from country (Trace Adkins) to classical (Renee Fleming). This story is one of two I'm sending to papers, previewingSunday's concert. Coming up is a Beach Boys story; here's one on Trent Harmon, the 15th and final "American Idol" champion.

By Mike Hughes

Janis: A search for truth, joy and powerfully passionate music


Janis Joplin's life was perfect for "American Masters," filled with extreme high and lows, plus immense talent and moments of quiet subtlety. So it shouldn't surprise us that the film airing Tuesday (May3) is ... well, masterful. Here's the story I sent to papers:

By Mike Hughes

For Laura Joplin,
the letters were an unexpected treasure.

Amid California beauty, Jackie Robinson found racism and triumph


Sure, we kind of assume that a Ken Burns documentary will be richly crafted, with depth, intelligence and emotion. But Burns' latest -- "Jackie Robinson," Monday and Tuesday (April 11-12) on PBS -- is particularly good. Burns, 62, and Rachel Robinson (Jackie's widow), 93, talked to reporters about it; here's the story I sent to papers:

(Very interesting TV
story on the “Jackie Robinson” PBS mini-series, Monday and
Tuesday)

A sex-symbol, crime-solving vicar? It's a new world for PBS


You really don't expect many sex symbols on PBS' "Masterpiece." The "Downton Abbey" guys kept their shirts on ... and their undershirts ... and their topcoats ... and ...

But now comes "Grantchester," opening its season on Easter Sunday. It has a hot young hunk, plus an older hunk and some pretty good mysteries. Here's the story I sent to papers:

By Mike Hughes

Big-tech harvests big data about you and me


Lots of words are zooming around the Internet and beyond -- including, of course, the words I'm writing now. But what happens when they're harvested by others and used for good, for bad or just for weird things? On Wednesday (Feb, 24), PBS' "The Human Face of Big Data" ponders thats; here's the story I sent to papers:

 

By Mike Hughes

"Downton" starts its long and stately farewell;


Life, you may have noticed, is not fair. Good shows depart quickly; "Alice" and "Facts of Life" seemed to go on forever. And now "Downton Abbey" is starting its final season on Sunday (Jan. 3) ... three days before "American Idol" doies the same.

These are shows that helped transform their networks; they also remain consistent. This final "Downton" season continues the show's elegance and depth; here's the story I sent to papers: