www.whyville.net Aug 1, 2004 Weekly Issue

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These listings cover television programs up to Sunday, August 8.

Greetings, TV viewers!

The key question for discussion Wednesday is "What do you really want, and do you know what you're up against in your quest?" Several of the shows this week are about striving for success against the trends of the times -- women warriors, Jewish athletes in Germany, engineers building something that wasn't supposed to be possible and scientists trying to prevent the destruction of a place in Africa like the Garden of Eden.

For the Media Hour, watch the show(s)-of-the-week, jot down some ideas, then talk about them with me and other citizens (including other City Workers, if they're available) at the Greek Theater, over in City Hall. You'll find that the Theater makes discussions pretty easy, since City Workers are able to direct people's movement and behavior, when we need to, and it keeps everyone's chat bubbles from overlapping too much. We will meet one more time for MediaHour on Wednesday from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Whyville Time (that's the same as Eastern Standard Time), but we need to find a new date and time -- what do you think of meeting on the weekend?

Monday, August 2

"Growing Up Wolf" (Animal Planet Channel, 8-9 p.m. E/P) This is a natural science documentary about the problem of raising wolves in un-natural conditions -- captivity. Caretakers at Minnesota's Wildlife Science Center hand-raise six lively grey timber wolf pups. Pack dynamics are evident as the pups bond with human caregivers, domestic dogs acting as surrogate mothers, and the alpha female who will lead their pack.

Tuesday, August 3

"Mythbusters" (Discovery Channel, 10-11 p.m. E/P, Rated PG) In this investigative reporting program, researchers test one of the world's oldest urban legends -- did the Greek scientist Archimedes set fire to a Roman fleet using only mirrors and sunlight? And moving to more modern times, have you ever tried to remove the stink of a skunk? Easy enough to test, if only researchers can find a skunk that will spray. And will a bulletproof shield really stop the direct hit from a bullet.

"Real Olympics" (PBS, 8-9 p.m. E/P) The first episode of this documentary, entitled "Death Or Glory" reveals how these games, started thousands of years ago have come to be used in recent centuries by political groups (including Victorian upper classes and even the Nazis). The episode also goes into the real meaning and purpose of the games, drawing on ancient sources. The second episode, "Playing To Win", airs August 4 and makes a further point. Although the ancient and modern games were conceived in different societies, respecting different gods and separated by almost 3,000 years of history, there are powerful human connections linking past and present. The more the modern games have developed, the closer they have come to the ancient.

Wednesday, August 4

"Industrial Wonders: Brooklyn Bridge" (Discovery Channel, 8-9 p.m. E/P, Rated PG) This is a technology documentary about the Brooklyn Bridge. At 1500 feet, it's the world's longest suspension bridge. Begun a dream in the mid 19th century, in the mind of engineer John Roebling and ended with the bridge's completion in 1883 after he died. The program examines the tragedies associated with the Bridge's construction, along with the scandal and corruption that ran rampant up until its completion.

"Secrets Of The Dead: Amazon Warrior Women" (PBS, 8-9 p.m. E/P) Are you interested in those stories about beautiful, female warrior women thundering across arid battlefields have been told, re-told and speculated about for thousands of years? Greek myths are filled with tales of the Amazons and their exploits. But are they real or myth? New burial mounds recently opened outside the town of Pokrovka in Russia contained the 2,500-year-old remains of women, some likely to be royalty. This documentary investigates whether any of these long-dead women actually are the mythical Amazons of Greek legend. Further info at http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets/.

Thursday, August 5

"My Uncle Berns" (HBO, 7:30-9 p.m. E/P) When film maker Lindsay Crystal set out to document her 88-year-old great-uncle's journey through the 20th century, she already knew he was an accomplished artist, gallery owner and storyteller, thanks to the stories told by her father, comedian and actor Billy Crystal. But she was not prepared for the profound impact his reminiscences would have on her. His recollections are enhanced in the film by animation that bring his' whimsical artistic creations to life. Bernhardt Crystal spent part of his boyhood in Grand Rapids, Mich., where his immigrant parents produced plays in Yiddish for Midwestern Jews. After the Crystal family relocated to New York to open a dress shop, Berns' father died, a calamity that would be compounded by the tragic death of Berns' beloved sister. His mother blamed Berns for his sister's death, which resulted in him leaving home. During his WWII military service he was in an army hospital and met Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, who asked Berns to sketch a portrait of him. "Ike" loved it, and encouraged Berns to employ his talent in the war effort, which he did by creating posters for war bonds and as a combat artist at Omaha Beach on D-Day. After the war Berns made it his personal mission to make the Crystal family laugh with jokes, costumes, masks and songs. The film was inspired by the events of Sept. 11. Berns and his wife had been living in a nursing home a block away from the World Trade Center. When Lindsay Crystal was assured of Berns' safety, she committed herself to making the documentary. "If I had lost him that day I wouldn't have known who he really was... the man behind the masks," she says. "He needed to talk and I needed to listen. I had to find out where I came from."

"Unsolved History: Butch And Sundance" (Discovery Channel, 9-10 p.m. E/P) This is a documentary about historical characters made famous in the Oscar-winning movie "Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid" (available on video). Controversy has surrounded them since a mysterious shootout took place in Bolivia, in 1908. Did they survive that gunfight with the Bolivian army? Were the two men who died really Cassidy and Sundance? Did Cassidy return to America, as his sister Lula claimed? And was he really, as many believe, William T. Philips, a machinist who died in Seattle in 1936? Or has our collective need to build up the life of our western heroes gotten the better of us? Investigators for the program go to San Vicente, Bolivia, to see where they supposedly died and conducted experiments to see if it really was Butch and Sundance.

Friday, August 6

"Hitler's Pawn" (HBO, 7-8 p.m. E/P, TV Rated PG) This is a documentary about Margaret Lambert, a German-Jewish athlete who excelled in the high jump. But on her career path the 1936 Olympics, she encountered a roadblock. The Nazi party took control of Germany and began to manipulate the careers of athletes. This film explores the hopes and heartaches experienced by Lambert when her dream of competing for Germany in the Berlin games was clouded by the rise of Hitler. Jewish athletes were then being expelled from sports clubs. Info at http://www.hbo.com/hitlerspawn/.

"Dateline NBC: Critical Condition" (NBC, 8-9 p.m. E/P) This is a news special in which reporter Tom Brokaw looks at America's current healthcare system through the eyes of ordinary Americans who needed help, doctors and experts. He follows the personal stories of people coping with healthcare crisis, two themes emerge: the enormous strides the country has made in healthcare and the enormous burden the costs have become to hospitals, patients, employers and the tax-payer.

Saturday, August 7

"Animal Miracles" (Animal Planet Channel, 8-10 p.m. E/P) In this natural history documentary about remarkably positive results from dangerous situations a mother cat is trapped in an inferno with her litter; a crime-fighting pig saves his owner; a search dog must find a ski lift attendant trapped in an avalanche; and a guide dog leads her owner to safety after the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

Sunday, August 8

"Africa's Wild Eden" (MSNBC Channel, 8-9 p.m. E/P) This National Geographic Ultimate Explorer documentary takes viewers to Loango National Park in the African country of Gabon. It's an unspoiled place where the deep jungle meets the ocean. Wildlife Conservation Society biologist and National Geographic Conservation Fellow J. Michael Fay and National Geographic Michael "Nick" Nichols are on a mission to safeguard the future of this modern-day Eden Hippos play in the surf, whales come to mate, giant sea turtles lay their eggs and elephants roam the beach. Gabon's President Omar Bongo created this 1,500 square kilometer park last year in response to lobbying from the Wildlife Conservation Society. It's unlike any other on the African continent, but poachers, illegal fishing boats and leaky oil rigs all threaten its pristine nature. Fay takes on the difficult task of building an infrastructure for the park he helped create by working with a group of "ecoguides" -- specially trained park rangers who will be on the frontlines in the battle to preserve Loango. For further details check out the August 2004 issue of National Geographic magazine.


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