Read up on this month’s “don’t miss” programs selected by Director of Programming, Garry Denny.
You can find all the programs listed below and more on the WPT Schedule.
Every October I pack a small bag and take a flight to New Orleans for a preview screening of new BBC program offers. The event, BBC Showcase, is a 2-day affair where approximately 100 public television programmers from around the country gather to watch extended clips of dozens of BBC dramas, comedies and documentaries being offered for our schedules. Admittedly it can be exciting to see what’s new and available, but right around the 9th or 10th long clip I get a little fidgety and want to leave the cold, dark screening room for the fun of the French Quarter. This past year, however, the desire to bolt for the great outdoors was delayed by clips from the new BBC crime drama series DCI Banks. After just seven minutes of the first episode I was hooked. The main character Alan Banks (played by Stephen Tompkinson of Ballykissangel) is a seasoned, no-nonsense chief detective who leads a unit of investigators that catch the most high profile and complex cases. The stories in each episode are gritty, engaging, and at times quite challenging – for the investigators and the audience. I love DCI Banks and if you give the show a shot I think you’ll fall in love as well. DCI Banks premieres on Friday, January 11 at 9 p.m. and runs for seven weeks.
Frontline: Inside Obama’s Presidency
I’ve said it before, but I think it bears repeating: Frontline is THE best investigative journalism show on television. With the long campaign over and election decided Frontline takes an in-depth look at President Obama’s first four years in office, and looks ahead to the next four years. Using Frontline’s unrivaled access to politicians and White House confidants the documentary paints the picture of a presidency that began with so much hope and promise, but stumbled along the way while learning some very tough lessons about governing our complex nation. “Inside Obama’s Presidency” examines both the triumphs and failures, leaving the viewer with a deeper understanding of not just the man, but the maddening inner workings of government. Frontline “Inside Obama’s Presidency” premieres on Tuesday, January 15 at 9 p.m. and encores on Wednesday, January 16 at 10 p.m.
Independent Lens: Beauty is Embarrassing
Some films are just so hard to describe. But defying description is what makes “Beauty is Embarrassing” such a wonderful film. You may not know the name Neil Berkeley, but I’ll bet you’ve seen his work. Neil is an artist who first came to national attention as a designer, illustrator, animator and puppeteer for the classic kids’ series Pee Wee’s Playhouse. As an artist Neil has a unique, bizarre and unassuming style that is just plain fun. Well, strange and fun to be sure. In “Beauty is Embarrassing” we enter Neil’s world and are immediately taken by just how prolific he has been in his career as we are introduced to his paintings, sculptures, living art, animations and quirky sense of humor. This film will make you smile, laugh out loud and pat yourself on the back for spending the hour with Wisconsin Public Television. Independent Lens “Beauty is Embarrassing” premieres on Monday, January 21 at 9 p.m.
NOVA: Who Killed Lindbergh’s Baby?
It’s clear that American television audiences have a fascination with true crime stories. Almost everything about it catches our attention – the victim, the crime, the perpetrator, the law and legal wrangling. It’s all-so very Law & Order-ish (my favorite drama series of all time). Jumping into the fray is our esteemed science series NOVA with an episode titled “Who Killed Lindbergh’s Baby?” The facts of the crime are well-known: on the evening of March 1, 1932 the baby boy of Charles and Anne Lindbergh was kidnapped from their home in Hopewell, NJ and after weeks of failed ransom negotiations the boy was found dead less than five miles away from home. For this documentary the team at NOVA decided to reopen the investigation and lend a new, more scientific approach to determining the truth. Using state-of-the-art forensics and behavioral science techniques the team of investigators seek to determine what happened, who the true culprits are and why baby Lindbergh was kidnapped on the first place. Despite the age of the crime and what you may think you already know, this is a gripping hour of television. NOVA “Who Killed Lindbergh’s Baby?” premieres on Wednesday, January 30 at 8 p.m. and encores on Tuesday, February 5 at 11 p.m.