PBS

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).

Geffen: This Brooklyn kid has a boat, a billion and a bundle of memories


So David Geffen flew in one day from Sardinia, talked to reporters for an hour, then flew back. Subsequently I learned: a) Where Sardinia is. (It's a long ways away and he has a boat there); b) Geffen has had key roles in the history of music, movies and more; and c) It's sometimes nice to be a self-made billionaire.

"The Dust Bowl": A potent look at a dark decade


"The Dust Bowl" is everything you expect from a Ken Burns documentary -- intelligent, passionate, beautifully crafted. Here's one of the stories I sent to papers; right after this, there's a box and then a second story, viewing that dark decade through the eyes of one former cowboy kid:

 

By MIKE HUGHES

For a decade, dust storms in the
American mid-section blackened farms, destroyed crops, ruined lives.

Growing up amid dust and dismay


What was it like to grow up amid the dark dismay of the Dust Bowl? This story tells it from the viewpoint of a former Colorado kid, now a retired teacher at 88. It's one of two stories I sent to papers about Ken Burns' "The Dust Bowl," Sunday and Monday (Nov. 18-19) on PBS. The other story and the box should be right above this one:

 

By MIKE HUGHES

He was a cowboy kid on the Colorado
prairie, living the only life he knew.

Growing up amid dust and dismay


What was it like to grow up amid the dark dismay of the Dust Bowl? This story tells it from the viewpoint of a former Colorado kid, now a retired teacher at 88. It's one of two stories I sent to papers about Ken Burns' "The Dust Bowl," Sunday and Monday (Nov. 18-19) on PBS. The other story and the box should be right above this one:

 

By MIKE HUGHES

He was a cowboy kid on the Colorado
prairie, living the only life he knew.

Pia and the Anthem: A decade-long skill returns on Veterans Day


Some of TV's strongest moments have come from PBS' 4th-of-July and Memorial Day concerts. Now comes a third special, Sunday on Veterans Day. Here's the story I sent to papers about the concert and Pia Toscano, who will have two powerful songs repeated Sunday: 

By MIKE HUGHES

For half her life, Pia Toscano has sung
the National Anthem or “Go Bless America” to mega-crowds.

Yes, there is joy in "Half the Sky"


Waves of despair seem to fill "Half the Sky." This is a jolting documentary (Monday and Tuesday on PBS) about the mistreatent of women and girl.

The surprise, however, is how much hope and joy the film also delivers. It profiles heroes who beat the odds; here's the story I sent to papers:

By MIKE HUGHES

Churning through “Half the Sky” are
deep stories of human tragedy.

It's time to call these midwives


The new "Call the Midwife" series will grow on you, in the same way the midwife job grows on the central character.

At first, "Midwife" seems too harsh, too dark, too depressing. As the seven-week series continues, however, it gives us wide-eyed characters worth knowing.

"Midwife" starts at 8 p.m. Sunday (Sept. 30) on most PBS stations. Here's the story I sent to papers:

By MIKE HUGHES

There are people who spend their lives
in cozy comfort zones.