www.whyville.net Feb 7, 2002 Weekly Issue

Staff Writer

What's On!

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What's On!

Times Writer

Gotta love Junkyard Wars. Have you seen the Lord of the Rings movie yet? Once you do, check out this documentary about how the story was written and what it's about.

Interested in more current events stuff? Watch this week's 60 Minutes, where they explain how Afghanistan got to the point where terrorists were welcome -- the answers may surprise you, or not.

And for the holiday, we have the classic The Nutcracker as performed by the English Royal Ballet. Don't miss it.

Watch the shows and let me know what you think!
Email me, the MediaWiz of Whyville!

Friday, December 21
    Dateline NBC: Changed Lives
    Drinker's Dilemma

Saturday, December 22
    Red Planet
    Science of Christmas

Sunday, December 23
    60 Minutes
    National Geographic Beyond the Movie: Lord of the Rings

Monday, December 24
    American Writers: A Journey Through History -- Marathon
    The Messiah
    The Natural History of the Teddy Bear
    Great Books: The Bible: Genesis

Tuesday, December 25
    The Nutcracker

Wednesday, December 26
    Junkyard Wars: Snowmobile

Thursday, December 27
    Lord of the Flies

Friday, December 21

"Dateline NBC: Changed Lives" (NBC, 9-10pm E/P) This documentary focuses on a town in New Jersey where a wide range of people were personally touched by the September 11th tragedy -- workers, teachers, police and members of the local Arab community -- describing how their lives have been changed. Tom Brokaw hosts.

"Drinker's Dilemma" (National Geographic Channel, 8-9pm E/P) This documentary is not about over-indulging in holiday eggnog. Instead, it's about serious water-drinking. The life-or-death kind that's involved when animals in African bush country, big and little, predator and prey, find themselves having to share the only water hole for miles around.

Saturday, December 22

"Cubix" (The WB Network, 8:30pm ET, 7:30pm PT -- note the switch of the usual time differential) In this episode of the Saturday morning computer-generated series about kids who build robots, the human characters act out their jealousies using their mechanical creations. There's a real-life event going on in which you can participate -- "Cubix Build A Bot Contest" For info, log on www.kidswb.com and click on "Contest". They're taking submissions until December 31st by snail mail and you have to draw your robot. If you win you will get to see your creation animated and come to life in an episode of this TV show next season. Other prizes include Gameboys and videogames.

"Red Planet" (HBO, 5-7pm ET, 8-10pm PT -- note the flip-flop of the usual time differential) This movie about a mission to Mars in 2025 -- starting from an Earth that's used up all its good natural resources -- is visually stunning, but it makes the scientists depicted appear rather dull and sometimes nasty. It's so interesting to watch that I'm going to suggest you try it with the sound turned off. That'll spare you from silly and occasionally foul dialogue (it's movie rated R for that and some violence).

"Science Of Christmas" (Discovery Channel, 8-9pm E/P) Here's a "scientific" look at the major questions of the Season -- like why Rudolph's nose is red, how Santa visits every home in one night, how to make sure Christmas is white and how to grow a perfect Christmas tree.

Sunday, December 23

"60 Minutes" (CBS, 7-8pm E/P) Stories in this newsmagazine are Muhammad Ali's fight against the toughest adversary of his life -- Parkinson's disease and opera star Renee Fleming's struggle to be a mother and still have a career. Also, there's a look at what may be going on -- sometimes in the headlines and sometimes not -- for the rest of our lives. That's the work of "nation building" in a country where the U.S. has been involved in a war. After we backed the Taliban against the Russians in Afghanistan 20 years ago we failed to follow up -- so very bad people took over. This time we've got to do better. Mike Wallace reports.

"National Geographic Beyond The Movie: The Lord Of The Rings" (MSNBC 8-9pm E/P) This is a documentary about the fascinating parallels between actual historical events and places, classic myths and world languages in Oxford Prof. J.R.R. Tolkien's recently filmed novel "The Fellowship Of The Ring". What was he thinking about as he wrote about Middle-Earth 50 years ago that lately has spawned zilllions of websites -- including www.nationalgeographic.com/ngbeyond?

Monday, December 24

"American Writers: A Journey Through History -- Marathon" (C-SPAN, 12 hours-plus, each day beginning at 8pm ET, and carrying on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday) I'm asking the hardiest among you to stick with me on this one -- maybe with the aid of a VCR. Yes, it's about writers -- but the news is that they're not all a bunch of wimps. For instance, Ben Franklin ("Poor Richard's Almanac"), the first one profiled in this series of documentaries, rose to be the richest man in America at the time of the Revolution. Several, such as Thomas Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were scientists. Log on www.C-SPAN.org for a complete schedule and list of profiles -- there are two dozen in total. Do catch Harrriet Beecher Stowe (Abe Lincoln claimed she caused the Civil War -- and he was pretty much right) on Wednesday and Upton Sinclair on Thursday -- he pioneered the idea of exposing corporate corruption and oh, could we use the likes of him nowadays.

"The Messiah" (Ovation Network, 3-5pm ET 1-3pm PT) This is a telecast of the George Fredric Handel oratario performed by Choir of Westminster Abbey. Turn it on in the room while you're going about your Christmas Eve business -- and give your cultural literacy a boost. I suspect it might just infect some Whyville folk with the beginnings of an interest in classical music.

"The Natural History Of the Teddy Bear" (Discovery Channel, 7-8pm E/P) This is an encore presentation -- which I cannot resist mentioning at this time of the year -- of a fun documentary about the 100 year-long popularity of the stuffed toy originally named after Theodore Roosevelt. The program also reveals things about Winnie The Pooh, Paddington and Smokey.

"Great Books: The Bible: Genesis" (The Learning Channel, 9-10pm E/P) As you know by now, when I mention documentaries that sound like they might be religious, they are so only to a certain extent. This one is, however, to a very great extent -- actually it's the foundation story of 3 major religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam -- but it's also a story of some very flawed individuals, none of them very saintly. Many had greatness thrust upon them and did or did not handle it well -- the primal stuff of all great stories.

Tuesday, December 25

"The Nutcracker" (Ovation Network, 9-11pm ET, 6-8pm PT) This is a telecast of England's Royal Ballet performing Tchaikovsky's melody-filled perennial holiday favorite dance extravaganza about a girl who dreams that a kitchen utensil comes to life. This is a fun way to learn something about classic music, classic ballet and classic Russian folklore all once.

Wednesday, December 26

"Junkyard Wars: Snowmobile" (The Learning Channel, 9-10pm E/P) This is another one of those shows where clever, scientifically inclined but otherwise rather odd people go into a junkyard to build -- and race -- various vehicles. This time it's a snowmobile -- sort of a holiday-themed idea. The contestants are some members of a Scots family (a clan, actually) versus a bunch of Los Angeles motorbike mechanics.

Thursday, December 27

"Lord Of the Flies" (Bravo, 4-6pm ET, 1-3pm PT) This is the newest movie version of Nobel prizewinning author William Golding's novel about a bunch of boys 8-13 stranded on a remote island. As scripted by American writer Sara Schiff, the characters have been changed from English kids to Americans -- military school kids. That, for reasons not difficult to imagine, resulted in the movie getting an R rating. So you should reveal to your parents that you are going to watch this tale of social and technological improvisation. (There's a character in it who, towards the end, says "We did things the way grown-up would have. Why didn't it work?" that pretty much sums up the whole matter.)



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