August 2017 Sleeper Picks | ThinkTV

August 2017 Sleeper Picks

Posted by Elyssa Steffenson on

Public Media Connect’s Chief Programming Officer has his DVR set on a line-up of programs you might not have heard about. See what he’ll be watching.

Robert Flack: Killing Me Softly
August 3 at 9pm on CET

With roots as a jazz singer and fixture at Mr. Henry’s Restaurant in Washington, DC, Flack was an unlikely candidate for stardom. But then came hits like “Killing Me Softly,” “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and “Feel Like Making Love,” and her quiet pop soul broke through all the rock & roll and Motown dominating top 40 radio.  

PBS Previews: The Vietnam War
August 5 at 4:30pm & August 7 at 8pm on ThinkTV14
August 6 at 5:30pm & August 10 at 8pm on CET
August 10 at 8pm & August 10 at 8pm on ThinkTV16

Ken Burns’ series will premiere 9/17, and run the last two weeks in September—10 episodes in all. If you’re wondering how anyone could possibly stick around to watch the sheer tonnage of it all, check out this sneak preview. Burns has defied all expectations that viewers no longer have the patience to sit through his multipart series… simply because the storytelling is so compelling. Add to that an unbelievable soundtrack of songs popular both for the soldiers serving and those back home.

This preview is formatted as a pledge special in our August Membership Drive, so you’ve been warned. But let me say that if ever there was a series that could make anyone believe that public television was worth watching and worth supporting with a personal membership, this is it. And this preview should provide you with sufficient proof of that. Incredible footage, touching stories and gripping drama.

Forget all the great shows on cable or Netflix, and there are many of them. This will be the best thing on television in late September, and probably for the entire year. It IS that good.

Arc of Innovation
August 7 at 11pm on ThinkTV16

For those who love big construction projects, this is the story of the making of a bridge in downtown Fort Worth. This unique concrete arch bridge presented many building challenges, and they had to fit the city’s needs for aesthetics, meeting a budget, and oh yea, put it up in record time.

Arab Americans
August 15 at 11pm on ThinkTV16
August 17 at 9pm on CET
August 20 at 9pm on ThinkTV14

The latest in a long series on ethnic groups that have made their mark in America. If asked to name celebrities with an Arab family history, two immediately came to mind: Danny Thomas (whose theme song, “Danny Boy” was an Irish ballad, but hey, only in America) and Toledo’s favorite son, Jamie Farr (Klinger in MASH).

But there’s also Casey Kasem, the legendary radio voice counting down the hits to “America’s Top 40,” Helen Thomas, the long-time Washington reporter who was deigned the honor of asking the first question at Presidential news conferences, one-time Maine Senator George Mitchell, and Apple icon Steve Jobs.

Their families and others came from North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula over nearly 200 years in pursuit of the American Dream.

Real McCoy
August 16 at 10pm on ThinkTV14

From where did the expression “now that is the real McCoy” emanate? The answer is noted bootlegger and pioneering rum runner Bill McCoy. A teetotaler himself, this “gentleman crook” fueled the Roaring 20’s with over a million bottles of illegal alcohol. But he earned his name for providing uncut and undiluted rum, gin and whiskey to his happy patrons. They knew that if their speakeasy stocked his goods, they were, indeed, “the Real McCoy.”

Dark Angel on Masterpiece
August 18 at 9pm on ThinkTV14

Joanne Froggatt, played the diminutive and quiet Ann on Downton Abbey. Here she pulls a 180 as the notorious Victorian poisoner Mary Ann Cotton. Billed as Britain’s first female killer, Cotton was convicted and hanged for the murder of a stepson, and it was figured that she used arsenic to murder three of her four husbands and 11 of her 13 children.

Apparently no Sherlock Holmes was around in the mid-19th century to detect a pattern here.

Not Without Us
August 22 at 11pm on ThinkTV16
August 27 at 4pm on CET

This follows seven grassroots activists from around the world to the 21st UN Climate Talks in Paris.  This documentary connects the dots between the inability of the UN process to address climate change (the agreement is non-binding) and Big Oil’s control over governments. This tries to demonstrate the importance of grassroots groups to empower mass movements. Their effectiveness may be another matter.

Metal Road
August 28 at 9:30pm on ThinkTV14

The conventional wisdom was that Native Americans in the 19th century saw the railroad as the beginning of their end. Trains would transport thousands more to settle the west and squeeze them onto reservations.

But for decades, thousands of Navajos worked on the railroads all the live long day maintaining the transcontinental network. This explores the dynamnics of livelihood, family and the railroads through the lens of a Navajo trackman.

Smartest Team: Making High School Football Safer
August 29 at 11pm on ThinkTV16

Following part 1 of a 2-part FRONTLINE on concussions in the NFL, this looks at an effort by a team of experts working with an Oklahoma high school football team, to reduce its concussion rate by 75% in just one season. This acknowledges the threat concussions pose to the game, but provides concrete steps high school programs can take to play safer by playing smarter.