National Geographic Channel

The "Queen of Soul" will be the genius of TV


The first two "Genius" mini-series piled up 16 Emmy nominations and lots of praise. Now comes an interesting switch: The third one will profile Aretha Franklin. That's expected to be in the spring of 2020, but we can get in the mood with a tribute concert next month. Here's the story I sent to papers:

PASADENA, Cal. --
Already the queen of soul, the late Aretha Franklin adds another
title: She's officially a genius, alongside Albert Einstein and Pablo
Picasso.

Booming new mini-series captures the internet -- idealism, insanity and all


"Valley of the Boom" is the best new show of the year.

OK, that isn't saying much, because the year is less than two weeks old. But it's also the best new show of the season, nudging out "The Romanoffs" and others. It's a wonderfully weird look at three ventures in the ealy days of the Internet. Here's the story I sent to papers:

By Mike Hughes

In its frantic early
stages, the Internet was a grand goulash.

We're heading back to Mars now, with science and soaps and human nature


The first season of "Mars" was impressive, an ambitious mixture of sci-fi drama and sci-fact documentary. Now the second season starts Monday (Nov. 12), with expanded drama. The international expedition has been on the planet for five years and faces the intrusion of a private company. It's an interesting blend of art and science, so this story, which I sent to papers, includes actors and an astronaut:

By Mike Hughes

As “Mars”
returns to our TV screens, opposite worlds co-exist.

Picasso: A "disruptive" genius left artistic beauty, personal chaos


Sure, there are some problems with the first chapter (April 25) of "Genius: Picasso." The story bounces around too much; it throws people into chaos before even introducing them.

But this is still a fascinating story, filmed in a gorgeously epic style. And if you're confused about who's who and what's what? This story, which I sent to papers, may be helpful:

By Mike Hughes

The word “genius”
gets tossed around easily.

Here are outer-space views -- tears and all -- of our planet


"One Strange Rock" is definitely not your ordinary TV series. The opener (10 p.m. ET Monday, March 26) has gorgeous visuals and music, smart writing ... and the perspective of astronauts. Several of them were at a Television Critics Association session; here's the story I sent to papers:

By Mike Hughes

It's tough enough to
float in space, tethered to a ship. Now try it when you're
(temporarily) blind.

On a quiet Sunday, young Americans faced a deadly crisis


"The Long Road Home" -- the book and the cable mini-series -- tells a compelling story of young men caught in a deadly ambush. I had a chance to talk to two of the soldiers who also were military advisors for the mini-series. Here's the story I sent to papers:

By Mike Hughes

These men seem like
everyday slices of Americana.

Einstein: A life of math and music, rebellion and romance and pure genius


At times -- but not too often -- cable TV lives up to its potential. It tries something large and ambitious. The current example is "Genius," a scripted mini-series Tuesdays (rerunning Saturdays) on the National Geographic Channel, Here's the story I sent to papers:

By Mike Hughes

There are lives that
seem too large even for Hollywood.

Our minds at work -- creating fire and (a while later) telepathy


Talking to Jason Silva is a whirlwind experience. Ideas and words swirl through his busy brain and out his mouth. He's a technology guy who makes it all sound exciting ... even to a TV reporter who still uses a stupid phone. And now his new "Origins" series is looking way back. Here's the story I sent to papers:

By Mike Hughes

Jason Silva has
spent years talking about the future. “I'm a big technology
optimist,” he said.

He explored Sherwood Forest ... and now explores the world (sort of)


When I first started writing about the iffy concept of cable-TV, some of the first stories were about "Explorer."

The show began in 1981, at a time when made-for-cable shows were rare and cheap; at first, it simply bought and packaged world documentaries. It went from TBS to Nickelodeon (a couple of the earliest channels, created in 1976 and '77) to MSNBC and then found its natural home, on the National Geographic Channel.

At 18, Malala is changing the world


Trust me on this one: "He Named Me Malala" is a compelling documentary. It airs twice -- commercial-free, no less -- Monday on the National Georaphic Channel; here's the stoy I sent to papers:

(TV story about the
compellng “Malala,” which airs twice Monday, commercial-free.)

By Mike Hughes