A year after the pandemic put summer TV into a tailspin, things seem to be nearly normal.
PBS has just announced a summer line-up that includes four dramas, three classical concerts (including a solo concert by Anna Netrebko, shown here in operatic splendor), two Washington, D.C., events and – as usual – a ton of non-fiction.
Last summer’s plans were shredded by the pandemic, particularly at the commercial broadcast networks. Shows were pushed back to fall (“Bachelorette,” “Amazing Race,” “Filthy Rich,” “Next,” “Pandora,” “The Outpost”) or dropped (“Making It,” “Bachelor in Paradise”).
But now NBC will start its key shows – “America’s Got Talent,” “American Ninja Warrior,” “Making It” – the week of May 31 … ABC will have four non-rerun nights, plus news and sports. … And PBS – despite delays to some shows, including “Granchester” and “Endeavour” – will be busy.
The line-up leaves room for pledge drives and is subject to change, by PBS or by the ndividual stations. It includes:
DRAMAS (all on Sundays)
– Three “Masterpiece” films: “Us” (June 20 and 27) has a husband and wife (Tom Hollander and Saskia Reeves) giving their relationship one last shot, on a summer vacation with their teen son. “Unforgotten,” with Nicola Walker solving cold cases, returns July 11 to Aug. 15. “Guilt” (Sept. 5 and 12) is a dark comedy, with two brothers trying to cover up a hit-and-run.
– “Professor T” (also July 11 ro Aug. 15), with Ben Miller as a Cambridge prof, obsessed with cleanliness and orderliness, who keep helping solve crimes.
– Anna Netrebko, with a solo concert at the Metropolitan opera, June 18.
– Two Vienna Philharmonic concerts, in the gardens of the Schonbrunn Palace. Last year’s delayed event, with tenor Jonas Kaufmann, will be June 25; this year’s is Aug. 27.
– And the annual mega-concerts from Washington, D.C. – Memorial Day eve (May 29) and July 4.
FILMS ABOUT PERFORMERS
– Two “American Masters” profiles. One (June 4) views “The Trocks,” an all-male ballet company for 45 years. The other (July 27) views bluesman Buddy Guy.
– A “Great Performances” film (Sept. 3) about Yannick Nezet-Seguin, the conductor who took the top spot at the Metropolitan Opera, two years earlier than expected, when James Levine was fired.
– Two “Frontline” films. One (June 1) profiles former al Qaeda commander Abu Mohammed al-Jolani. The other (June 29) views the return of the far-right in Germany.
– Two “Independent Lens” films. One (June 21) meets a Muslim mortician who works with troubled teens. The other (June 28) views two women, one American and one Vietnamese, battling the companies that made Agent Orange.
– Several “POV” films. Two haven’t yet announced their airdates, but “:Landfall” will be on Mondays, starting July 12. It takes an episodic view of Puerto Rico, in the aftermath of the 2017 Hurricane Maria.
– “In Their Own Words” (July 20 and 27 and Aug. 8), which uses interviews, old and new, to profile Jimmy Carter, Angela Merkel, Elon Musk, Princess Diana, Chuck Berry and Pope Francis.
– Other returning series, with explorer Steve Backshall (four Wednesdays, starting Aug. 25) and royal historian Lucy Worsley (three Sundays, starting Aug. 29).
– And films dealing with a maritime discovery (“Nova” on June 2) … mental illness (June 22-23) … bats in Mexico (“Nature” on June 30) and the Latino experience (three Tuesdays, starting July 6).