PBS presents eight new series, many specials
With little of the fanfare typical of commercial TV, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is introducing one of its strongest television schedules ever, in depth and range. It is a schedule without easy-to-promote programs. There are no glamorous standouts like ``Jewel in the Crown'' or ``Brideshead Revisited'' or even ``Cosmos'' or ``The Brain.'' There are, however, some solid, innovative new series, many fine returning series, and more American-produced and co-produced programs than ever before, according to Suzanne Weil, senior vice-president of programming at PBS.Skip to next paragraph
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There also seems to be a trend toward shorter series, with greater emphasis on finely focused specials.
Eight new series have just begun, and more are scheduled for November. The 1987 season, which starts after Jan. 1, promises some unusually imaginative programming.
Here is a list of the new series, with their PBS-recommended air times. These may vary, however, since local stations have the option of shaping their own schedules. Please check local listings.
Out of the Fiery Furnace, a seven-part series (Sundays, 7-8 p.m., premi`ered Oct. 5), examines the history of mankind as seen in the use of metals. Narrated by Michael Charlton, the series begins with the use of metal in the Stone Age and ends with consideration of the contemporary demands placed on the earth's resources. Although the subject may sound dry and academic, metallurgy becomes an exciting science as the program takes viewers to historical sites around the world.
The Story of English, a nine-part series (Mondays, 10-11 p.m., premi`ered Sept. 15), is proving to be one of PBS's most popular nonfiction series ever. Hosted and co-written by Robert MacNeil, ``The Story of English'' explores the spread of English as a universal language. It travels to 16 countries and interviews experts and a wide variety of English-speaking people. In all it makes for an innovative and entertaining adventure in linguistics.
The West of the Imagination, a six-part series (Mondays, 9-10 p.m., premi`ered Sept. 22), traces the history of the American West through the eyes of popular imagemakers -- artists, photographers, entertainers, and cinematographers. Hosted by James Whitmore, the series travels from Missouri to California and from the early 1800s to the present. It's art as history.
The Africans: A Commentary, a nine-part series (Tuesdays, 9-10 p.m., premi`ered Oct. 7), stirred up controversy long before it aired. It is a view of Africa from inside that continent by an admitted third-world partisan, Dr. Ali A. Mazrui. The noted African scholar explores what Mazrui calls Africa's ``triple heritage'': its indigenous culture, what has been ``contributed'' by Islam, and what has been ``imposed'' by the West. The series is often provocative, always challenging.
The Day the Universe Changed, a 10-part series (Mondays, 8-9 p.m., premi`ered Oct. 13.), traces discoveries that have fundamentally transformed man's understanding of the world around him. Hosted by James Burke, the series is chock-full of unexpected intellectual revelations, a kind of jigsaw puzzle of ideas that Burke helps viewers snap into place.