By now, we might figure we know elephants – big guys, big noses, pleasantly ponderous lives.
But that’s just the start. “Secrets of the Elephants” — 9-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday (April 21-22) on the National Geographic Channel, then on Disney+ – shows that they, like us, vary by location.
“Forest elephants are particularly interesting,” Paula Kahumbu told the Television Critics Association, “because they’ve only recently been discovered as a different species.”
She searches for them in the third hour (9 p.m. Saturday), which falls on Earth Day, part of a cascade of nature shows during the weekend. But finding them isn’t easy. Read more…
As the summer concludes, we realize we failed (again) to see all the national parks.
Hey, that happens. There are 63 of them, from the Mexican border to the edge of Alaska, plus American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands; there are also 360 other spots that the Park Service supervises.
Now cable and streaming help us catch up, with a five-day, nine-hour series that’s beautifully filmed. “America’s National Parks” runs all week on the National Geographic Channel, from the Everglades and the Grand Canyon (shown here) Monday, Aug. 29, to Hawaiian volcanoes Friday. It also reaches Disney+ on Aug. 31. Read more…
Looking back 20 years, to the waves of Sept. 11 tragedy, Joseph Pfeifer tries to focus on the positive.
This was a day (shown here) when his fellow firefighters did what they always do, he said. They rushed in, found people, saved lives. They did “ordinary things – but at an extraordinary time in history.”
Pfeifer, 65, retired three years ago as assistant chief of the New York City Fire Department. Now he appears often in “9/11: One Day in America,” which arrives Aug. 29-31 on the National Geographic Channel, ami a surge of 20th-anniversary documentaries.
“The moment the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center, my life changed forever,” Pfeifer told the Television Critics Association. Read more…
Some lives are neat and fun-sized; they can easily be condensed into a movie or less.
Then there are the grand exceptions: Starting at 9 p.m. Sunday (March 21), the National Geographic Channe;’s four-night, eight-hour mini-series (shown here) will view the overflowing life of the late Aretha Franklin.
“Aretha had such … a long career,” writer-producer Suzan-Lori Parks told the Television Critics Association, She had “a beautiful life, full of peaks and valleys that we can only imagine living.”
Her music reflected that range. She went from gospel to jazz, then was dubbed “the queen of soul.” She rocked; she dabbled in disco. And when Luciano Pavarotti turned ill, she sang opera at the Grammys. Read more…
Boiling any life story down to an hour can be tricky. Now try the story of Queen Elizabeth II (ashown here).
“Her life is so vast in so many ways,” Tom Jennings said by phone.
His richly detailed film, “Being the Queen,” debuts at 9 p.m. Monday (Aug. 31) on the National Geographic Channel. That follows a 7 p.m. rerun of his previous “Diana: In Her Own Words.” Read more…
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…
Other kids might pester Santa with trivial requests for ponies and unicorns and such.
Kori Garza, however, was more original. At 3, she plunked on his lap and asked for a great white shark.
She didn’t get it, which was probably for the best. It would be odd, she now grants, “to have a great white swimming in the bathtub.”
But it was a fine start for her current life: Garza (shown here) is a shark expert and the central figure in “World’s Biggest Tiger Shark?” That’s at 8 p.m. Sunday (July 19), launching National Geographic’s “Sharkfest.” (See overview under “stories” and schedule under “quick news and comments.) Read more…
For Cynthia Erivo, the timing seemed perfect:
On May 17, she led a soaring Aretha Franklin medley during the “American Idols” finale …. On May 24, she’s set to sing “Hero” during the “National Memorial Day Concert” … And on May 25, the mini-series “Genius” would start its third edition (shown here), this time with Erivo as Aretha Feranklin.
The only problem: The virus shutdown has now delayed “Genius” until sometime this fall. Read more…
As the virus shutdown continues, it’s time to dive deeper into the TV pool.
I’m guessing you’ve already found some of the streaming giants, from Amazon’s marvelous “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” to Netflix’s deeply observant “The Crown.” But now let me offer some of my personal preference to dig through.
A few are coming up quickly – the first half of a nature gem (shown here) on Monday (March 23), the season-finale of “This Is Us” on Tuesday. Most, however, are easy to find; here they are, in five chunks: Read more…
By now, Julianna Margulies should be an expert on medicine and on the law.
She spent six years as a nurse on “ER,” seven as a lawyer on “The Good Wife.” Now the “Hot Zone” mini-series (shown here) has her as the real-life doctor who fought to stop Ebola from spreading into the U.S.
Surely, those “ER” years helped her master the vocabulary. Or not. “It didn’t, sadly, help at all,” Margulies said, “because I don’t have a medical brain.” Read more…