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.
Great Performances “Magical Mystery Tour Revisited”
I have to be honest: I’m a fair weather Beatles fan. I like the well-known hits, but have much less appreciation for deeper cuts on their albums and literally no appreciation for their films. To some of you that may seem somewhat sacrilegious, but c’mon those films are just plain dreadful. We are all quite familiar with A Hard Day’s Night and Help!, but in 1967 the band made a film titled Magical Mystery Tour. To say that the film was a complete departure from their previous work would be an understatement. When the film debuted on the BBC in August 1967 a stunned British public was quite turned off by the film’s surreal, nearly imperceptible storyline and images of anarchy. The reaction was both swift and strong – most who saw it hated it.
In Great Performances “Magical Mystery Tour Revisited” the filmmakers set out to explore the origins of the film, why it was made and the circumstances in which it was made. There are interviews with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr as well as archival footage of John Lennon and George Harrison talking about the film, including outtakes from the film itself. “Magical Mystery Tour Revisited” is a fascinating study of artist excess, hubris and lack of insight into audience expectations. Great Performances “Magical Mystery Tour Revisited” premieres 10:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14 and is immediately followed by the Magical Mystery Tour film in its entirety at 11:30.
First Freedom: The Fight for Religious Liberty
One genre that has become a staple of PBS programs is documentaries that have dramatic reenactments to help tell and propel a story laden with historical facts. Of course, if you tune around the dial you can see any number of cheesy documentaries with poorly acted and executed reenactments, but producers for public television deliver high quality productions. In our new documentary First Freedom: The Fight for Religious Freedom, the story of America’s founding fathers (and mothers!) struggle to make religious freedom a part of law comes to life. Using interviews with present day authorities on the subject of faith and American history, intertwined with historical dramatic reenactments, the documentary is an engaging film that successfully tells a little explored part of American history. During my preview of the film I initially felt like I wouldn’t make it to the end, but ultimately it not only held my attention, but also made me glad that I stuck with it. First Freedom: The Fight for Religious Liberty premieres 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18.
Breakfast Special 2: Revenge of the Omelets
I can’t think of anyone that doesn’t like breakfast. We all have been told it’s the most important meal of the day, but it can also be the most satisfying meal of the day. Several years ago producer Rick Sebak (A Hot Dog Program, A Flea Market Documentary) produced Breakfast Special in which he tantalized audiences with visits to cafes, restaurants and roadside eateries known for their breakfast food and atmosphere. It’s impossible to watch this parade of pancakes, waffles, eggs, bacon and pastries and not instantly crave some breakfast. Well, luckily for our taste buds Sebak has returned with a sequel title Breakfast Special 2: Revenge of the Omelets. In the special Sebak visits more breakfast joints in search of unique menu items that keep locals coming back for more. Like the first special, I dare you to watch this new show without salivating and needing to get your breakfast fix. I don’t want to give away much more, but leave you with two words: lobster hash. Breakfast Special 2: Revenge of the Omelets premieres 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 25 followed by the original Breakfast Special, which you can watch online now.
Call the Midwife Holiday Special
For fans of this breakout PBS series this is nothing but great news. The first season may have come and gone, but we have an all-new holiday special premiering 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 30. Also, I’m pleased to tell you that season two of Call the Midwife premieres on Wisconsin Public Television in late March 2013. We’re committed to this wonderful series and are glad that it has found a home on public television.