The National Geographic Channel’s Driving America looks at America’s love affair with the automobile, from the 1950s creation of the Interstate Highway System and its effect on small towns (think motels and drive-through restaurants) to the strange story of how the Volkswagen Beetle was created (it involved Adolf Hitler and a bomb). “Driving America” airs May 25 at 9 p.m.
On Memorial Day, PBS is honoring US military members and their families with The Homefront, directed by Gabrielle Tenenbaum. The documentary follows military families through the day-to-day demands of deployment and highlights how today’s military conflicts are different from those of previous wars. It airs May 25 at 9 p.m. Check local listings.
A seat at the table
Just try and not binge on Chef’s Table, a new six-episode Netflix series. From David Gelb (“Jiro Dreams of Sushi,” 2011) come six delectable portraits of culinary maestros, from the bemused Massimo Bottura, who does unheard-of things with Parmigiano-Reggiano, to Magnus Nilsson, whose Fäviken restaurant in remote Sweden seems worth the trek. Also featured: US farmer/chef/author Dan Barber and Los Angeles’s ferocious Niki Nakayama. Mangia!
Mikal Cronin is a one-man band from Los Angeles. On his third album, MCIII, he marries the yearning vocals of the Beach Boys with the windswept sonic landscapes of bands like My Morning Jacket and Fleet Foxes, bathed in rich string arrangements. There’s even a lovely, forlorn French horn intro leading off the album’s sprawling second half, a suite of songs written about Cronin’s schooldays in the Pacific Northwest. DIY never sounded so glorious.
Forecast: The Weather Station’s Loyalty will be the breakout folk album of 2015. The third release by Tamara Lindeman (who records as The Weather Station) is highlighted by several road-trip songs that are part travelogue, part monologue. The Canadian’s filigree-acoustic songs, whose lyrics boast a linguistic verve comparable to Joni Mitchell’s, contrast the pictorial geography outside her car with the emotional topography inside her head.