Show Previews

The Next Base: “Jackie Robinson” by Ken Burns

In recognition of Jackie Robinson Day, we want to take another look at the new Ken Burns documentary about the life of the groundbreaking baseball player. Watch it  online through April 26.

Baseball is a springboard for immortality. As a game, it has the capacity to create idols every summer. Among the scores of heroes enshrined in bronze at Cooperstown, one player personifies the century-and-a-half long symbiosis between baseball and the long, breaking arc of the nation’s history: Jackie Robinson.

The life and legacy of Jack Roosevelt Robinson, the star who broke Major League Baseball’s color line, is the focus of the new documentary by Ken Burns. The two-episode and nearly four-hour Jackie Robinson is an expansive biography of the historic ballplayer: his childhood, his athletic feats and career, and most poignantly, his family.

The film is just as much a history of the African American experience in the 20th century, and of how Robinson came to personify the victories, disappointments and lessons of civil rights struggles. Robinson’s life intersected with the broad sweep of 20th century African American history, including displacement wrought by the Great Migration, new expectations inspired by service in World War II, the struggle of the post-war Civil Rights Movement, and ongoing racism as experienced through redlining and cynical political strategies. Continue reading The Next Base: “Jackie Robinson” by Ken Burns

Preview: 2016 Wisconsin Film Festival

Director’s Cut is back and we once again kick off our season with our annual Wisconsin Film Festival Episode 2016. After talking with Program Director Jim Healy, it’s obvious that the indie film scene is alive and well here in Wisconsin. Jim has been programming the Wisconsin Film Festival for almost a decade, and I don’t think I’ve ever met a bigger film enthusiast. His energy for the festival and film in general is infectious. 

Besides showing you wide variety of clips from domestic and international films at this year’s festival, I also had the privilege of interviewing some great local directors about their intriguing and outstanding films. Wendy Schneider discussed her film The Smart Studios Story. This is a great film about a recording studio based in Madison that produced some of the most influential music of the last 20 years, including albums by Garbage, Nirvana and The Smashing Pumpkins. Wendy’s film has been sold out at the festival for at least two weeks, but maybe you can find a respectable scalper if you’re really dedicated! Continue reading Preview: 2016 Wisconsin Film Festival

New Ken Burns: Jackie Robinson

Ken Burns’ newest documentary, Jackie Robinson, goes way beyond baseball and can turn anyone (even yours truly) into a fan.

The film – premiering 8 p.m. Monday, April 11 – draws you into mid-century America through sports, the civil rights movement, and an incredibly charismatic, strong ball player named Jackie.

My favorite aspect of Jackie Robinson (and of all Ken Burns’ films, really) is how it shows a deeply human side of this iconic superstar. Jackie’s relationship with his wife, Rachel, is so inspiring. They seem like an indomitable team, and I’m so glad she contributes her voice to the story. It gives a depth and perspective to their experience that I truly appreciate.

This movie also adds another layer of nuance and perspective to my understanding of race relations in the U.S. I can’t help but watch this film and think of how far we’ve come, and how much we still have to accomplish. The resistance to change that shows up in this documentary feels uncomfortably familiar, and some of the frustrations and inequalities that come through in the movie are still being experienced today. Ken Burns’ Jackie Robinson serves as a powerful reminder that we can do more, and we can expect more of ourselves.

Your Guide to British Drama Season Premieres

We may have said farewell to Downton Abbey, but British dramas still reign on WPT. March brings new seasons of Grantchester on Masterpiece and Mr. Selfridge on Masterpiece, and April welcomes a new season of Call the Midwife.

Clear your Sunday evenings and make a date with your favorite midwives, vicars and entrepreneurs. View premiere dates and season previews below.

Grantchester on Masterpiece: Season 2
Premieres 8 p.m. Sunday, March 27
Enjoy a new season of adventures, matchmaking and murder with vicar Sidney Chambers and veteran cop Geordie Keating.

Mr. Selfridge on Masterpiece: Season 4
Premieres 9 p.m. Sunday, March 27
See Jeremy Piven in the thrilling final season that dramatizes the climactic battle for the future of London’s iconic department store,
Selfridge & Co.

Call the Midwife: Season 5
Premieres 7 p.m. Sunday, April 3
Rejoin the nurses and midwives for a fifth season. It’s 1961 and Poplar is beginning to feel the winds of social change, along with improvements in housing, sanitation and healthcare.

Streaming Favorites for March

A lot of my favorite national dramas from PBS recently wrapped up, including Downton Abbey (let’s all share a moment of silence), and Mercy Street. In my search for great streaming content, I decided to bring it back home and focus on some of our locally-produced shows. So much of the quality content we broadcast at WPT is also available to watch online, so if you missed an episode – or if you’re a spoiled viewer like me, and only watch shows on-demand – check out some of our great, locally produced shows online.

Wisconsin Foodie
Kyle Cherek goes all over the state in a quest to discover the hidden gems of Wisconsin’s culinary scene. From cheese makers to beer distillers, Cherek shows us why it’s great to be a foodie in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Life
When you feel like you’re in a rut, Wisconsin Life can show you a new perspective and share some of the incredible, adventurous things going on across the state. This show highlights how diverse, creative and fun Wisconsinites truly are!

Continue reading Streaming Favorites for March

The Downton Dish: Episode 9

A million romances (old and new), butler news, and a new baby! Downton Abbey: The Final Season has been a potpourri of highs and lows, and the series finale was no different. Join us for our final episode of The Downton Dish as we recap the finale’s many developments and reflect on the fates of our favorite characters.

Watch the complete series of “The Downton Dish” here.

The Downton Dish: Special Edition

While a new episode of Downton Abbey won’t be airing this Sunday night — the finale airs 8 p.m. next Sunday, March 6 — we just couldn’t go a whole week without Downton, and luckily, we don’t have to. WPT is airing a Downton Abbey: The Final Season marathon beginning 11 a.m. Sunday. A lot happened this season, so this is the perfect time to catch up on important plot points before the series finale.

We’re also taking this time to reflect on some of our favorite moments from our video series, The Downton Dish. Kait and I have had such a blast recapping each episode of this season. We’ve laughed. We’ve cried. We’ve almost fallen off our chairs (literally). Here are just a few of our favorite clips:

Tom Branson returns —The remix:

Daisy’s at it again:

The hilarious Downton tour:

(Stay tuned: We’ll be back with one final episode of The Downton Dish after the series finale airs on March 6!)

It’s hard to accept the fact that Downton Abbey is almost over, but there’s still time to squeeze in as much Downton as possible. Join us for A Downton Abbey Farewell, 5:30 p.m. Saturday, March 5 at The University Club in Madison! It’s a fundraising event for WPT, and the event will feature Downton Abbey-inspired food and fun, both upstairs and downstairs, as the University Club is transformed into a lavish estate. Kait and I will be there and we’d love to meet you! Get all of the details here.

The Downton Dish: Episode 8

Mary finally crossed the line with her sister and may have ended Edith’s relationship with Bertie. Thomas brought us all to tears, and Mary finds support and surprising words of wisdom from the Dowager. Join us for another re-cap and tell us how you feel about Episode 8 of the final season of Downton Abbey.

If you can’t get enough of Downton Abbey, join us for a special Downton Abbey Farewell – a party that will transform the University Club in downtown Madison into a lavish ’20s estate. There will be live jazz music, English delicacies, and all proceeds go to support WPT. Click here for more information.

Watch the complete series of “The Downton Dish” here.

Director Stanley Nelson on Central Time and Director’s Cut

directors_cut_nelsonDirector Stanley Nelson visited Madison last week after the release of his newest documentary, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution. Watch Nelson’s interview with Pete Schwaba on Director’s Cut tonight at 7:30 p.m. on Wisconsin Public Television, which will be followed by a broadcast of the new film.

In this clip from Nelson’s interview for WPR’s Central Time, the prolific director discusses the cultural backdrop of his newest documentary. Want to hear more? Listen to the entire archived interview here.

The Downton Dish: Episode 7

This week’s episode was packed with drama: will Mary lose yet another lover to a car crash? Will Mr. Molesley and Mrs. Patmore manage to shift careers in a changing world? Bertie and Lady Edith seem like the perfect couple; let’s hope it continues! Let us know what you think, and join us for another episode of The Downton Dish.

If you can’t get enough of Downton Abbey, join us for a special Downton Abbey Farewell – a party that will transform the University Club in downtown Madison into a lavish ’20s estate. There will be live jazz music, English delicacies, and all proceeds go to support WPT. Click here for more information.

Watch the complete series of “The Downton Dish” here.