January 2018 Sleeper Picks
From Samantha Brown’s Places to Love to the American Masters’ special on Lorraine Hansberry, January has a lot to love. Here’s what Chief Programming Officer Jim Wiener is looking forward to this month…
It’s all in the Game: The Leta Andrews Story
January 5 at 8pm on ThinkTV14
Never heard of Leta Andrews? She’s only the winningest high school basketball coach ever with 1,416 wins. She retired three years ago at the age of 76 with 52 seasons of coaching. And as much as anybody, she saw the evolution of the women’s game – from half-court to full court, from six to a five player game, and the creation of the 3-point shot. This is narrated by basketball great Bill Walton.
January 6 (continuing on Saturdays) at 10pm on CET
Solid contemporary ten-part mystery as British and French detectives team up to solve a gruesome murder that covers both their jurisdictions, namely in the Chunnel. This is adapted from a Scandinavian mystery involving a Danish and Swedish detective, and was later made into an American mystery as a Mexican and Texan detective join forces. Stephen Dillane and Clemence Poesy co-star here, as well as in the sequel The Tunnel: Sabotage that follows.
Samantha Brown’s Places to Love
January 8 at 9:30pm on ThinkTV14
For years, Samantha Brown was a mainstay on cable’s Travel Channel. Now she comes to public television with a new series. To me, she’s sort of an early Meg Ryan of travel: pretty, funny, appealing, accessible, but without the fear of flying or “lactose INTOLERANCE!!!” Ryan gave us in the 1995 film French Kiss. This is a 13-part series, and hopefully there will be more to come.
Faith in the Big House
January 12 at 9pm on ThinkTV14
We hear of these inspirational stories of prison ministries that work with American inmates. Their work and devotion is admirable, but the question is whether they’re successful? And are they more successful than traditional rehabilitators? In this documentary, we go to a maximum security facility in Louisiana. A group of Christian evangelicals arrive to conduct a religious retreat. Can religion keep these convicts from almost an inevitable return to lock-up? This documentary considers who should be in charge of re-entry programs in the penitentiary such as job and addiction counseling. Will it be new armies of faith-based volunteers?
January 14, 21 & 28 at 10pm on ThinkTV16
This terrific little mystery drama is set on a street in South London. It’s the portrait of a neighborhood altered by gentrification, and with its attendant soaring property prices. The fictional residents of Pepys Road come from different backgrounds, but all receive a card in their mailbox: “We Want What You Have.” This stars an actor who I could never see enough of — Toby Jones (The Mist, The Hunger Games, The Detectorists) alongside Gemma Jones (Sense and Sensibility, Bridget Jones’s Diary).
Cincinnati Music Hall: The Next Movement
January 15 at 9pm on ThinkTV16
This local production first aired in November in Cincinnati. We followed the $130 million renovation of the 130+ year old Cincinnati Music Hall. It’s a great story of where construction meets craft. Safe to say that a big priority was to increase the number of women’s restrooms! But there was so much more to it – the massive chandelier taken down and shipped to a restoration firm in St. Louis, seats were removed in order to make the hall more intimate and boost the acoustics, an upstairs room was restored to its original beauty... A wonderful mix of musicians, artists, designers and construction crew made sure the transformation was on time and under budget.
Independent Lens: I Am Not Your Negro
January 15 at 9pm on CET
January 18 at 10pm on ThinkTV16
A hit in art houses and Indy cinema spots, this documentary is about famed writer James Baldwin and his attempt to write about three friends, all of whom were assassinated (Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.). This doc includes lots of clips of Baldwin on talk shows and in academic settings. He was a man ahead of his time, didn’t suffer fools gladly who were behind the times, and was seemingly uninterested in getting the lead out.
Lorraine Hansberry: American Masters
January 19 at 9pm on CET
January 20 at 10pm on ThinkTV16
“To be young, gifted and black” was a Nina Simone song with lyrics by Weldon Irvine. And it was written with Lorraine Hansberry in mind. The writer-playwright was not only the first black woman to write a play performed on Broadway (A Raisin in the Sun), but, at 29, she was also the youngest playwright to win the New York’s Drama Critic’s Circle Award. And then, just like that, she died at the age of 34 from pancreatic cancer. LaTanya Richardson Jackson (Show Me a Hero, Sleepless in Seattle) narrates with Anika Noni Rose (Caroline, Or Change, Princess and the Frog) as the voice of Lorraine Hansberry.
William Shatner Presents: Chaos on the Bridge
January 22 at 9pm on ThinkTV16
Remembering Leonard Nimoy
January 22 at 10pm on ThinkTV16
It’s Star Trek Bromance night! Shatner takes us inside the creation of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the relaunch of Shatner’s original Star Trek series. Lots of drama, controversy and chaos went into this, mostly generated by series creator Gene Roddenberry. That’s followed by a remembrance of the Man Who Would Be Spock. This follows Nimoy’s growing up in Boston, his early career in Hollywood (he made the rounds on all the cop TV series like Dragnet, Highway Patrol and M Squad), and his big break as the practitioner of the Vulcan Nerve Pinch. My favorite Nimoy role was Dr. David Kibner, the self-help author in the terrific remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Nimoy was so calm and analytical, and of course showed that you couldn’t trust these self-help gurus any more than you could throw them!