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
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
"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.