These listings cover television programs up to Thursday, April
Greetings, TV viewers!
This week's MediaHour will be held at the Ability First Rec Room, otherwise known as the AF Rec Room in your bus menus. See you there on Wednesday!
Addiction is the centerpiece of the MediaHour for this week, with
a side trip over to how a woman scientist named Rosalind Franklin was, according to some, denied the Nobel Prize for her work on DNA.
Want some clams? Watch the show-of-the-week, then talk about them with me and other citizens (including other city workers, if they're available) in the AbilityFirst Rec Room, over in Whyville West. We meet on Wednesdays from 6:30pm and 7:30pm Whyville Time (that's the same as Eastern Standard Time).
If you come and really take part in the meeting, you'll get up to 50 clams from City Hall (or more, if your efforts are exceptional)... you like that?
To sum up: tune to the show, show up to the chat, chat up your thoughts, and get clams!
Everyone is welcome to email me what you and your parents think:
Email me, the MediaWiz of Whyville!
And now... the Media Menu!
Thursday, April 17
"Oracle of Delphi:
Secrets Revealed" (History Channel, 8-9pm E/P) In this documentary, myth and
science meet at the historic site of Delphi, where the ancient Greeks said the
oracle (always a woman), in a trance and often a frenzy, spoke on behalf of the
gods. Scholarship rejected the claim that vapors rising from the temple's floor
inspired the oracle. But now, a wealth of evidence compiled by a geologist,
archaeologist, chemist, and toxicologist suggests the ancients were right, and
the discovery of two faults intersecting below the temple indicate the geology
could have released intoxicating fumes. TV rated PG.
"Planet Weather: Wind" (The Learning Channel 10-11pm E/P) This documentary explores the
journey the winds take from their birth at the equator to the poles. We will see
how the wind can turn from the cooling breeze of a summer day to a devastating
tornado, or how a wind from space can literally flatten the planet.
Friday, April 18
"Living Wild: Animal Behavior" (National Geographic Channel, 8-9 pm E/P) This is a natural science documentary about courtship in the animal kingdom. In the matter of finding a mate there are females the power players? Exactly what is
"animal attraction"? Scientists are discovering that animals, like humans, use mental pictures, make tools, and communicate with sound.
"Saving Private Lynch" (A&E Network, 9-10 pm E/P) This a documentary about the rescue of Private First Class Jessica Lynch by American Special Forces in Iraq.
According to U.S. officials, an Iraqi citizen, known only as "Mohammed", risked his life to get a note to U.S. Marines who launched the daring mission that extracted Private Lynch from the Nasiriyah hospital. The
program will also focus on the tragic story of Jessica's friend and roommate, PFC Lori Piestewa
-- the first woman soldier to be killed in Iraq. TV rated PG.
Saturday, April 19
Today is Saturday, and you may have an opportunity to get to a library bookstore or audio-tape store, so here's
advance notice about discussion on the Whyville Media Hour taking place May 7:
The House On Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros will be discussed.
Here's a description borrowed from the reference book, 500 Great Books by
Esperanza and her family didn't always live on Mango Street. Right off she says she can't remember all the houses they've lived in, but "the house on Mango Street is ours and we don't have to pay rent to anybody, or share the yard with the people downstairs, or be careful not to make too much noise, and there isn't a landlord banging on the ceiling with a broom. But even so, it's not the house we thought we'd get."
Her childhood life in a Spanish-speaking area of Chicago is described in a series of spare, poignant, and powerful vignettes. Esperanza's friends, family, and neighbors wander in and out of her stories; through them all Esperanza sees, learns, loves, and dreams of the house she will someday have, her own house, not on Mango Street.
"The Making Of Helen Of Troy" (USA Network, 10:30 -11 am E/P) This documentary provides background information about the historical mini-series, "Helen Of Troy" which airs Sunday, April 20th. This documentary repeats at noon on that day.
"Extreme Engineering: Tokyo's Sky City" (Discovery Channel, 5-6 pm E/P) This is a technology documentary about the effort in Japan to build the tallest structure on earth. This vertical Sky City could house more than 100,000 people
-- and be home to the world's very first homesteaders, complete with agricultural responsibilities
-- in the sky. Take a fascinating virtual tour, including a rotatable view of the whole structure from the outside -
Sunday, April 20
"Moses and the Exodus" (The Learning Channel, 8-9 pm E/P) Airing somewhat late to be viewed on the occasion of the Jewish celebration of Passover this year, this is a documentary about Moses. Lawgiver and liberator, spiritual leader and magician, enigmatic and mysterious, he is one of the most complex and fascinating characters in the entire Bible. His influence must be as great as any man who ever lived, yet there's no firm evidence to prove that he ever existed. The program examines layers of myth to expose the various truths that lie at the heart of the story. Check out the accompanying website
"Helen of Troy" (USA Network, Part I airs 8-10 pm E/P, Part II airs tomorrow in the same time slot) This miniseries is a dramatized version of the classic story about "the face that launched a thousand ships". Because many of the events cited in Greek and Roman mythology -- notably the Trojan War -- have proved to be based on reality, it is likely that there was a Helen figure. But the mythological stories associated with her were surely invented by the poets of Bronze Age Turkey (where Troy was) and Greece (where Sparta was). In the story, her beauty was a curse from which no one could escape. It forced her father, the king of Sparta, to keep Helen as a prisoner in her own home out of fear that the desire of other men to possess her would destroy his kingdom. Only after arranging her marriage to his successor to the throne did he allow Helen to be seen in public.
A young Trojan warrior named Paris knew nothing of the vow, and when they met, the pair fell in love. They fled Sparta for the city of Troy. The Spartan king was unwilling to let his bride go without a fight, and so began one of ancient civilization's greatest wars. It took history's most well known deception
-- the Trojan Horse -- to finally bring the brutal conflict to an end. There are some cool websites about all this. One cites the description of Helen in the book
Women of Classical Mythology: A Biographical Dictionary by Robert E. Bell
-- http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/poets/g_l/hd/abouthelen.htm. Another
provides material for classroom study: http://www.usanetwork.com/cableinclassroom/helenoftroy.
Monday, April 21
"Help Me! I Can't Help Myself" (ABC, 8-9 pm E/P) In this documentary, reporter John Stossel examines conflicting views about addiction and popular treatments. He asks: is addiction really a choice? Parental viewing discretion is advised. Among the various behaviors criticized heavily in the program are theft, smoking , overeating, drug abuse and sex outside of marriage.
Publicity about addiction suggests it is a disease so powerful that addicts no
longer have free will. Reporter Stossel asks, if sickness is an excuse, who can we punish? U.S. Government policy is that drug and alcohol addiction is a disease, and many government-funded researchers agree. Addicts are "absolutely out of control," says
researcher Stephen Dewey. But Stossel asks, "If they don't have free will, why
do so many quit?" If people claim addiction is a disease, then they can demand insurance companies pay for sometimes costly treatments. However, classifying addiction as a disease may discourage people from taking control of their lives.
Oprah Winfrey initially said overeating was a disease, but now says she got control over her emotional eating, and lost 30 pounds. Some overweight people, who say they are born this way, put the onus on society to meet their special needs
-- claiming, for example, it should be illegal for ballet schools to favor the thin and illegal to charge obese people double if they occupy two seats on an airplane. Stossel
asks, "If obesity is genetic, why did American obesity rates rise from 13% to
30% since 1960? Our genes haven't changed." More, including an
opportunity to respond, is at http://abcnews.go.com/sections/2020/ABCNEWSspecials/JohnStossel.html.
"Seabiscuit" (PBS, 9-10 pm E/P) Here's a documentary for people who love horses. He was boxy, with stumpy legs that wouldn't completely straighten, a short straggly tail and an ungainly gait, but though he didn't look the part, Seabiscuit was one of the most remarkable thoroughbred racehorses in history. In the 1930s, when Americans longed to escape the grim realities of Depression-era life, four men turned Seabiscuit into a national hero. They were his wealthy owner Charles Howard, his silent and stubborn trainer Tom Smith, and the two gifted jockeys who rode him to glory. By telling the story of Seabiscuit's unlikely career, this program shows the conditions that defined America in the 1930s and explores the fascinating behind-the-scenes world of thoroughbred racing.
Tuesday, April 22
"Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony " (Cinemax, 7-8:30 pm E/P) This documentary won of the Freedom of Expression Award at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival. It tells the story of how black South African music has influenced that country since 1948, revealing the central role it played in the long and ultimately successful battle against apartheid. The first film to specifically consider the music that sustained and galvanized black South Africans in their fight for
freedom, it covers four decades of the struggle's spiritual dimension as articulated and embodied in "freedom songs." Included are interviews and performances from many well-known South African performers and footage from over four decades, culminating in scenes capturing the euphoria after Nelson Mandela's release from prison in 1990 and his
acceptance of the South African presidency in 1994. (The title, "Amandla!", means "Power" in the Xhosa language.)
"Secret Of Photo 51" (PBS, 8-9 pm E/P) This is a documentary about Rosalind Franklin, Ph.D., whose original research led to the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA, the molecule
fundamental to life. Exactly 50 years ago, the science journal Nature announced that James Watson and Francis Crick had discovered the structure of DNA.
Absent from most accounts is the contribution made by Franklin -- who never knew that Watson and Crick had seen a key piece of her data without her permission and it led them to the double helix.
This program is partially based on the biography, Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA. Wilkins casually showed
an astounding image Franklin had developed to Watson, who was unofficially working on the DNA problem with Crick. "My mouth fell open and my pulse began to race," Watson recalled in his famous memoir,
The Double Helix. Watson and Crick won the Nobel Prize in 1962 for
this discovery, which they shared with Wilkins. Sadly, Franklin was not eligible, since she had died in 1958, at 37, from ovarian cancer
-- the Nobel is not awarded posthumously. Even so, it is impossible to say if Franklin would have been honored had she lived, since the Nobel Prize cannot be split more than three ways. Ironically, her role in one of the most important discoveries in the history of science was hidden even from her, since she never knew
about what Wilkins did with Photo 51. A valuable website on this topic is at
Wednesday, April 23
"Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport" (PBS, 9-11 pm E/P) This is a documentary about a British-led mission prior to World War II to rescue more than 10,000 children -- most of them Jewish -- from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia to protect them from destruction by the Nazis. Judi Dench narrates A website with information about these children, many of whom are now adults living in the U.S. and Canada is at
Thursday, April 24
"Cyberwars" (PBS, 9-10 pm E/P) This is a documentary about computer hackers. "The Slammer" hit on Super Bowl Sunday. "Nimda" struck one week after 9/11. "Code Red" had ripped through the system that summer. "Moonlight Maze" moved from the Russian Academy of Science and into the U.S. Department of Defense. This is a new form of warfare and the battleground is cyberspace. With weapons like embedded malicious code, probes and pings, there are surgical strikes, reverse neutron bombs, and the potential for massive assaults aimed directly at America's infrastructure -- the power grid, the water supply, the complex air traffic control system, and the nation's railroads. More information at