Sleeper Picks - February 2017
Amid a season packed with new episodes of high-profile shows like Sherlock and Mercy Street and the premiere of Victoria, ThinkTV and CET have some awesome other new programs that might fly under your radar. On this month’s Sleeper Picks edition of the Public Media Connect Blog, Chief Programming Officer Jim Wiener talks about seven shows he’s most looking forward to – and it ranges from a local production about the Victoria Theatre to a groundbreaking Nature series complete with robot spies.
Spy in the Wild
Wednesdays, February 1 through March 1, at 8pm on CET and ThinkTV16
YouTube squirrels on miniature water skis may be entertaining, but have no redeeming social value.
Yet here’s a series that is both hilarious AND gives us a peek into animal behavior.
Cameras are installed inside likenesses of certain animals, and then placed among them. Their reaction to the newbie is a scream, but then the Spy Creatures reveal what they do when humans aren’t around. Okay, there’s nothing that approaches the old Gary Larsen cartoon of cows in the pasture walking around on their hind legs, only to have one of them yell “Car!!”, and they then switch to all four legs as the family drives by. Still we see elephants getting very affectionate, monkeys getting drunk, dolphins that bear gifts, a sea otter cracking open a meal, male birds primping to attract the females, and an orangutan washing with soap.
So either animals are more like us than we figured, or man just hasn’t evolved as much as he’d like to think.
Independent Lens: Birth of a Movement
Monday, February 6, at 10pm on CET
Tuesday, February 7, at 11pm on ThinkTV16
Arguably film’s first big blockbuster was the 1915 classic, D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation. It was even the first film screened at the White House. This movie was also considered racist given its stereotypes of black men (played by whites in blackface), and portraying the Ku Klux Klan as the heroic savior of Southern families. The controversy from the outset with the NAACP and particularly the Boston-based African American newspaper led Editor William Trotter calling for a ban of public screenings.
Birth of a Nation was regarded as triggering a revival of the KKK nationwide, but also the birth of the Civil Rights movement. Narrated by Danny Glover, interviews include Spike Lee, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Charlie Musser.
Stephen Fry in Central America
Mondays, February 6 through February 27, at 9pm on ThinkTV14
Actor/comedian/writer Stephen Fry takes an informal road trip in a renovated school bus from just across the border in Mexico to the isthmus of Panama. In this four-part series, he manages to skirt around the more dangerous areas to sample local festivals, food, and strikes up conversations in a wide variety of settings. We’ve seen travel mini-series on ThinkTV14 from Monty Python alum Michael Palin and Scottish bad boy Billy Connolly. We hope Fry goes on more trips in the future. Maybe he can include his old comic sidekick Hugh Laurie.
Making History: The Victoria Theatre
Monday, February 13, at 9pm on ThinkTV16
A ThinkTV production on Dayton’s downtown arts jewel. It opened as the Turner Opera House on New Year’s Day in 1866, and has survived two fires and the Great Dayton Flood of 1913. It served as a major stopping point for many acts touring the Midwest, and among the performers who graced its stage were Fannie Brice, Harry Houdini, Helen Hayes and the Marx Brothers. It withered in the 1970’s and was almost torn down, but was saved as it was designated on the National Register of Historic Places.
Secret Life of Growing Up
Thursdays, February 16 through February 23, at 9pm on CET
Two-part series is done in a cheeky manner that is a British specialty. It contends that humans are the only species in the animal kingdom that need a “teen-age” to accommodate the extreme changes in their bodies and brains. Teens won’t watch, but parents will be nodding “Yep, that’s Billy,” or “oh, that is SO Teresa.”
Maya Angelou: American Masters
Tuesday, February 21, at 8pm on CET and ThinkTV16
We think of this famous writer as a woman of age and wisdom, in short the ideal grandmother for a large extended family. But back in the day, Angelou did a little of everything: journalist, organizer, actor, director, and even a Bohemian dancer in San Francisco night clubs!
She lived a fascinating life, one that warranted her writing seven autobiographies, the first being her best known work, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. And any English major and Miami Valley resident knows that title came from a well-known poem from Dayton’s literary giant, Paul Laurence Dunbar.
Dressing America: Tales from the Garment Center
Thursday, March 3, at 9pm on CET
The history of New York’s fashion district and the Jewish immigrants who helped build and nurture it for over 150 years. The work has largely been shipped out to foreign locales—simply check your clothes tags and sees Made in China, Indonesia, Bangladesh, etc. This documentary features lots of nostalgic recollections from industry veterans and visits to the workrooms of Seventh Avenue. As President Trump vows to bring jobs back to this country, will garment work be among them?