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

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:

Beyond the glitter: Vanessa Williams visits a Broadway classic

A lot of different version of Vanessa Williams have flashed past us in the past three decades, from pop to jazz, from comfort to controversy. In a close-up concert and interview, however, she comes across as a skillful jazz and ballad singer and a serious theater pro. Now her "Show Boat" reaches PBS on Friday (Oct. 16); here's the story I sent to papers:


By Mike Hughes

The sloth-ful life is TV worthy

It makes sense, I guess, for a guy who watches a lot of television to write a story about sloths. Now these creatures -- heroes to sofa people everywhere -- have their primetime moment on two Wednesdays, Sept. 23 and 30. Here's the story I sent to papers:

By Mike Hughes

The worlds rarely
speaks kindly of sloths. It considers them slow, sleepy and ... well,