PBS

A joyous journey through Mel Brooks' life


PBS' "American Masters" Monday is a joyride through a busy life.Here's the story I sent to papers:

 

By MIKE HUGHES

You learn a lot, hanging out with
comedy masters. You also learn by hanging out a hotel window.

Mel Brooks – the focus of a jaunty
PBS profile Monday – has done both. He loved the writers' room of
Sid Caesar's TV shows; he was less happy with a writing session on a
top floor of the Palmer House in Chicago.

Culture clash makes a fine drama ... and an interesting life


Life does this sometimes: A British farmgirl becomes a London celebrity ... while playing a gutsy midwife in a crowded neighborhood. That's what has happened -- quite quickly -- to Jessica Raine, the star of PBS' well-crafted "Call the Midwife." Here's the story I sent to papers:

By MIKE HUGHES

Show business thrives on culture
clashes and fish-out-of-water tales.

"Central Park Five": A rush to judgment; a slow exoneration


Yes, cable is still wrapping up its big week. Tonight (Sunday, April 14), National Geographic starts its richly detailed "The '80s" (see previous blog) and Showtime starts a new season for its lush "The Borgias."

Soon, however, it will be PBS' turn. "Central Park Five" on Tuesday is a compelling portait of a rush to judgment. Here's the story I sent to papers:

By MIKE HUGHES

In one of New York's darkest moments, a
single mindset seemed universal.

Shopping and history link masterfully


After a zillion or so March pledge breaks, PBS is suddenly on top of its game. On Friday (see previous blog), it has a superb profile of Philip Roth. On Sunday, it follows the "Call the Midwife" season-opener with a large and lush "Masterpiece Classic" miniseries, "Mr. Selfridge." Here's the "Selfridge" story I sent to papers:

By MIKE HUGHES

“Masterpiece” has lingered in
life's finest settings.

Philip Roth: A happy guy creates tortured souls


Now for something completely different.

My previous blog dealt with "penny can," which is ... well, the art of throwing pennies into a can. This one deals with writer Philip Roth, who exercises the art of exploring the human soul. Stories can cover quite a range, I guess.

Anyway, Roth is the subject of a superb "American Masters" special, Friday on most PBS stations. Here's the story I sent to papers:

By MIKE HUGHES

Lots of readers figure they know Philip
Roth.

Women's-movement history was made in Congress ... and in coal mines


A PBS documentary Tuesday is impressive in its size, its scope and its fairness. "Makers: Women Who Make America" captures a half-century that changed our society.

There's no way to catch it all in one story, so I focused on one small portion. Barbara Burns only gets a few minutes of these three hours, but her life is the sort that forged change. Here's the story I sent to papers:

 

By MIKE HUGHES

Henry Ford: A life of fierce contrasts


Lots of lists came out last month, offering TV's 10 best shows. They had the usual suspects -- cable dramas, mostly, plus (on the wiser lists)  "Big Bang Theory." What they overlooked, however, were three PBS shows that are consistently top-quality -- "American Masters," "Frontline" and "American Exprience."

For good or bad, drones rule the sky


I'm back from Hollywood now and stuffed with interesting information.

One good thing about the Television Critics Association sessions is that it lets us meet all the key people in a hurry. This year's Hollywood (well, actually Pasadena) sessions were fascinating. Here's a story I sent to papers, about a PBS documentary Wednesday (Jan. 23):

By MIKE HUGHES

As “drones” patrol our war zones –
and non-war zones – people have mixed emotions.

"Downton" is back; alert your VCR


"Downton" Abbey returns Sunday, as elegantly tangled as ever. Here's the story I sent to papers:

By MIKE HUGHES

For the once-cozy folks in “Downton
Abbey,” life is almost normal again.

The war is ending, a marriage is
beginning. “This season, in a way, is about the recovery from the
war,” said Julian Fellowes, the “Downton” creator.

Iranian Americans? TV offers opposite views


Think of them as two relatives -- the fun uncle and the serious one, the noisy party guy and the one who paid for the party.

That, roughly, is "Shahs of Sunset" (10 p.m. Sundays on Bravo) and "The Iranian Americans" (9:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18, on most PBS stations).