Public Television

Downton Abbey: Unmissable.


I've just finished watch the first season of Downton Abbey. It's currently running on PBS' Masterpiece in a slightly abridged form, and ran I guess last year on ITV in the UK.

Frankly, it's one of the best TV dramas I've ever seen. I'd put it on par with Mad Men and within spitting distance of The Wire.

It's a period drama, and an upstairs/downstairs drama, but it won't meet your expectations for either of those things. Well, maybe it will in part... if you're into that kind of thing, you'll enjoy it. But I'm not, and I was blown away.

Basically the first season is about an Earl and the danger to his estate. Because he lacks a male heir, the estate, including his American wife's fortune, will pass to a second cousin he's never met, who doesn't even want it. Because of the laws of the nobility, that's how it has to be. This is also a tremendous threat to his three daughters, who are thus forced to marry into the aristocracy or lose their positions in life, and to the entire household.

That hardly begins to describe how elegantly written, acted and directed the series is. It has all the twists and turns of a soapy TV drama (or at least many of them), but I found it absolutely compelling throughout. I never felt forced away from the material, which is usually my reaction to all but the best TV drama.

Do yourself a favor and watch it on PBS. Or buy the DVD, which is only $17 right now on Amazon, and is unabridged.

For those already on board, I've started a thread on the forum for discussion. Let's keep it spoiler free at least until the PBS run ends.

The Newshour on Radiolab


One of our favorite public radio shows is RadioLab. The PBS Newshour profiled Jad and Robert, the show's hosts, in a lovely pieces built around one of their live shows. Of course, they were also guests on The Sound a couple of years ago.

Jim Lehrer Interview: PBS Newshour Anchor and Author on The Sound of Young America

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Jim Lehrer

Jim Lehrer has anchored The Newshour on PBS for 35 years. He's also written 20 novels, the most recent of which is a charming mystery called Super. Lehrer talks with us about growing up in Kansas, his love of buses and trains, and the role of television journalism, and particularly public television journalism, in the 21st century. Super takes place on The Super Chief, one of the last American luxury trains. The Super Chief passed through Kansas, where Lehrer grew up; as a young man, Lehrer worked in a bus depot owned by the same company as the legendary train.

The Greatest Item in Roadshow History


This pig toy is the single greatest item in the history of The Antiques Roadshow. It is so fantastic, I cannot believe it is real. Usually, when I'm watching the Roadshow, I announce which things I would buy if I were rich. I would pay the full auction valuation for this pig RIGHT NOW. I want this pig SO BAD.

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