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,

"Downton" says a slow goodbye to an elegant era

The "Downton Abbey" years have been splendid -- high standards and high ratings, precision and politeness and the occasional jolting death. Now the last scenes will be shot Saturday (Aug.15), for a final season that starts in January. Here's the story I sent to papers:

By Mike Hughes

British studio Saturday, an elegant era will end. “Downton Abbey”
films its final scenes.

A 35-year-old event ... a 23-year-old star ... and a whole lot of people

For sheer quantity -- of stars, of fans, of music -- few events match PBS' 4th-of-July concert. This year's event ranges from country to classical, from veterans (Barry Manilow, Alabama) to 23-year-old phenom Hunter Hayes. Here's the story I sent to papers:

By Mike Hughes

Right now, living
inside Hunter Hayes' world might seem kind of scary.

Poldark: A throwback hero rides again

This is just what TV viewers need to round out their summer choices. Reality shows and cable dramas are fine, but "Poldark" adds something more -- a big, sweeping, scripted series on a broadcast network. It debuts Sunday (June 21) on PBS: Here's the story I sent to papers:

By Mike Hughes

Lately, TV has been
redefining just what a leading man does.