Nat Geo pushes ahead during pandemic

Storm-chasing, it seems, just isn’t fair. The storm never obeys borders; the chasers have to.
For “Category 6” – a new show filming storms for the National Geographic Channel – that problem comes with the pursuit of Tropical Storm Isiasis (shown here). The show is following it up the Atlantic coastline, producer Lisa Bloch told the Television Critics Association. But “come New Jersey, the storm (will) have to go on without us.”
Blame COVID for that: New Jersey says all people must quarantine 14 days before entering the state. The storm is free to zoom ahead, unpursued.
Such complications abound these day. As the TCA’s virtual sessions with cable networks began Monday, the emphasis was on getting by. “We’ve gone from 4-to-8 person crews to one,” Bloch said. Read more…

Two mysteries: This time, CW’s the winner

Two mystery shows are arriving now, just when we really need some fresh, scripted shows.
One, “Endeavour” (shown here) is in PBS’ prestigious “Masterpiece” series, with rich craftsmanship and subtly nuanced performances. The other, “Coroner,” is on much-less-prestigious CW.
And the surprise? This time, the CW show is much better. Read more…

A de Havilland marathon captures decades of classics

For any Hollywood star, this may be a record: After making her most famous film, Olivia de Havilland lived another 81 years.
She was 23 when she co-starred in “Gone With the Wind” (1939) as sweet-spirited Melanie (shown here), getting an Academy Award nomination; she was 104 when she died July 26.
This month, highlights of her career will rerun on Turner Class Movies. It will be a 24-hour package, starting at 6 a.m. Aug. 23, but for many people it will be something to record and catch later. Read more…

A national diary soars in the time of COVID

As the year began, PBS launched a sort of national diary.
People could simply send in their stories, via video (usually) … or photos … or prose … or whatever.
Eventually, some would be tied into a special – one of which (shown here) airs at 10:30 p.m. this Sunday (Aug. 2) on many stations. It would be kind of pleasant and PBS-y.
Then COVID came and everything changed. Read more…

Even in a pandemic, PBS is busy

The world may be in a slow-down, shut-down mode, but you can’t prove it by PBS.
The network – now in a three-day stretch of press conferences with the Television Critics Association – somehow seems busier than ever.
There is Ken Burns (shown here), juggling films. “I am, like an idiot, working on eight projects,” he said.
And Henry Louis Gates, doing a four-hour, February film about Black churches … and glad that the church portions were filmed early. “This is not exactly the safest place to be at the time of a pandemic.” Read more…

Culture clash? Nigerian grit meets reality-show glitz

TV is fond of opposites and odd couples, so maybe this makes sense:
When “Real Housewives of Potomac” starts its season Sunday (Aug. 2), a hard-working Nigerian-American – with four college degrees, three children and many jobs – will join the flashy crowd.
It’s not a total mismatch, Wendy Osefo said. “I’m in the same social circles as some of the ladies.” (She’s shown here. socially circling with her husband Edward and, right, Candiace Dillard._
Still, we think of the various “Real Housewives” reality shows as being filled with glitz, with privileged people who are ready to throw a drink or at raise a fuss. By comparison, Osefo’s life has involved constant motion. “I feel like I’m on a hamster wheel,” she said, without really complaining. Read more…

Conspiracy theories swirl through internet

Conspiracy theories have long been lurking out there, stirring our emotions.
We’ve seen the Kennedy-assassination ideas of Oliver Stone and others; we’ve had UFO tales, billed as fiction (“X-Files”) or fact. Earlier, Joe McCarthy insisted he held the names of 205 Communist conspirators in the U.S. government.
Often, those views are nudged aside. But now, some viewers will have seen two major documentaries in five days: On Friday (July 24), CNN’s Fareed Zakaria presented “Donald Trump’s Conspiracy Theories”; at 10 p.m. Tuesday (July 28), PBS’ “Frontline” has “United States of Conspiracy,” focusing on Alex Jones (shown here). Read more…

John Lewis tributes fill the week

John Lewis, a towering figure in civil rights, will be memorialized often in the next week.
Some reruns were already planned. The documentary “John Lewis: Get In the Way” is at and on stations’ websites; “Legends Who Paved the Way” – a gala with Lewis and others – reruns at 11 a.m. Sunday (July 26) on the Oprah Winfrey Network.
That’s the morning when a procession will see Lewis, for one final time, cross Selma, Alabama’s Edmund Pettus Bridge – where he was beaten fiercely by police during a 1965 march. (He’s shown here at a reunion walk across the bridge.) Read more…

For “lost cause” rebel, the fight goes on

For Michel Warschawski, the impression was instant.
He was watching activists protest their Israeli government. Then he spotted “a short, little woman, beautiful” in mini-skirt and boots. She clanged keys and yelled curses – ”words I’d never heard before …. I was speechless.”
He promptly joined the group; a year-and-a-half later, he and Lea Tesemel started dating. Now, 50-some years later, they’re still together(shown here) — married, with two kids and seven grandkids. At 75, she’s a busy lawyer — profiled in “POV: Advocate,” at 10 p.m. Monday (July 27) on PBS (check local listings) – who keeps tackling impossible missions. Read more…

PBS packs the fall with music, drama, politics, more

As TV networks’ fall plans sputter, there’s a counterpoint:
PBS still has big plans for the season. That includes concerts (including Lea Salonga, shown here, and Wynton Marsalis), dramas (including Hugh Laurie), politics (including general rage), nature and whimsy.
Well, not a lot of whimsy. (This is PBS, after all.) But it will air “History of Zombies” on the eve of Halloween and visit “Santa’s Wild Home” before Christmas; it will also have a jazz tribute to “Sesame Street,” visit tropical islands and board the queen’s plane. Read more…