Garry Denny is Director of Programming for Wisconsin Public Television. He is responsible for the acquisition, scheduling and delivery of programming services on WPT, and each month, he gives you the inside scoop on the best new programs in his post “A Look Ahead.“
POV “The City Dark”
Every October I’m one of six very lucky programmers to make a trek to New York City to serve on the POV Editorial Committee. During this very intensive weekend of work we view literally dozens of documentaries that have been submitted for possible inclusion in the POV season. Along with six filmmakers and the POV staff we discuss, argue, cajole, laugh, cry and ultimately come together to pick the best films to bring to the PBS schedule. This year one of the true standout films with almost unanimous committee support is “The City Dark.” In his very entertaining and thought-provoking film Ian Cheney (King Corn, The Greening of Southie) explores a topic that is growing in our culture, but so far is mostly overlooked — darkness, or more accurately, the lack of darkness. In cities from New York to Maine to New Mexico the film explores how the true night sky has been almost eliminated by the glare of streetlights, outdoor signs and other sources of light produced by mankind. The film delves into what effects the lack of darkness may have on society, human and animal health, and our ecology. “The City Dark” is quite humorous, visually engaging and will hold your attention throughout. POV “The City Dark” premieres on Friday, July 6 at 8 p.m. Learn more about the film and watch the trailer.
Editor’s note: Watch The City Dark now on your iPad or iPhone for free ahead of the broadcast premiere.
Frontline “Endgame: AIDS in Black America”
I have no doubt in my mind that Frontline is the best investigative journalism program on television. 60 Minutes on CBS is a very close second. The rest, including Dateline NBC and 20/20 on ABC, are little more than sensationalistic televised tabloids with junk journalism. Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox for now and get to the episode at hand. The producers at Frontline take a look at the AIDS crisis as experienced through the lens of the black population in America. The film traces the history of the epidemic and takes a very personal approach to AIDS by showing its effect on some really extraordinary people who are living with the disease. Of course, there’s Magic Johnson, but the film goes beyond “celebrity victims” and delves into the lives of ordinary people whose lives have been completely changed by a disease that is still growing in the black community. This film, like every episode of Frontline I’ve ever seen, is captivating from the first frame and will hold your attention all the way to the end. Frontline “Endgame: AIDS in Black America” premieres on Tuesday, July 10 at 9 p.m., with an encore on Thursday, July 12 at 10 p.m.
As I write this blog I’m desperately trying to figure out a way to write about Market Warriors without sounding either too smarmy or too critical. Here’s the issue: when I was first briefed about Market Warriors a year ago I was quite excited. After all, it’s about time that PBS produced a series that would be a good companion for the wildly popular and successful Antiques Roadshow. And, Market Warriors has a decent (if not original) concept: four “pickers” wander through antique and estate sales looking for bargains, and then take their pickings to auctions to see who makes the largest profit. Sounds fun, right? Well, kinda. In May I was at the PBS Annual Meeting in Denver where we finally got a long preview of the show. For whatever reason I was underwhelmed by what I saw. The four pickers didn’t seem all that engaging and the items they purchased lacked fascinating back story’s that could have given the show more panache. Having said all that, I’m finding more optimism about the series because PBS and the producers of Market Warriors have taken some of the feedback from programmers and have begun to incorporate changes into the show. So, ultimately I think Market Warriors will be a good show and a great companion for Antiques Roadshow. It just may take a few episodes into the run to hit its stride. Market Warriors premieres 8 p.m. Monday, July 16 with repeats throughout the week. Please note that the series will air four new episodes in July, take the month of August off and return with all new episodes in September.