American Epic (PBS)

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American Epic (PBS) – Premieres 16th May

Music documentary which looks at the artists discovered in the 1920’s where after the rising popularity of radio, record companies went around the US to find new acts to sign so to appeal to the less affluent portion of the population who had previously been ignored by them.

In it it shows how the creation of a portable-ish vinyl recording system allowed the companies to visit a town and set up shop for a couple of days where they held open sessions. From that the programme looks at a couple of the artists discovered in that time, showing how their style was reflected in where they were from and how their music had an effect on current music.

Using some stock footage and playing a few of the tracks that were recorded the show interviews musicians, record exec types and the artists family members and friends to explain the importance of that period in time.

For anyone interesting in the history of modern music it’s an interesting watch.

6.1/10

The Greeks (PBS)

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The Greeks (PBS) – Starts 21st June

Programme that goes through the entire history of the Greeks, to show how it became one of the most influential countries that influenced human culture. In it the usual array of experts share their views along with an appearance of Neil deGrasse Tyson, and this is set to animations reenacting historical points, archeologists examining historically improtant areas and examples of how ancient greek has influences current culture.

As expected it’s very indepth and the way it presented is close to Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. 

4.1/10

Genius By Stephen Hawking (PBS)

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Genius By Stephen Hawking (PBS) – Starts 18th May

Legendary brainbox and robot impersonator Professor Stephen Hawking hosts a science show where he takes 3 regular folk and sets them various challenges that are all focused to help them understand concepts about space and time.

As the challenges are being worked on Hawking explains the thinking behind them and the scientists that came up with the theories. It’s like a mash up of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey and Smartest Guy In The Room.

4.1/10

Mercy Street (PBS)

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Mercy Street (PBS) – Starts 17th January – Renewed

A period medical drama set during the American Civil War, in former confederate town of Alexandria after the Union have secured it. A newly employed nurse is relocated there to work in the makeshift voluntary hospital, a hotel owned by the resident Confederate supporting family, where she has to learn the ropes quickly as she has been selected to become the head nurse.

With having none of the old school surgery scenes like The Knick it relies on the relationship of the nurse with her new colleagues, along with the Confederate family trying to live alongside the Union.

It’s all quite boring.

3.6/10

The Brain With David Eagleman (PBS)

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The Brain With David Eagleman (PBS) – Starts 14th October

Science programme hosted by neurosurgeon David Eagleman who shows how the brain works using various experiments, and talks to people who perceive information differently and explains why they differences happen.

For a science programe it’s varied enough to keep it interesting, and explains itself in simple enough terms to keep it accessible. Sort of like a brain centric version of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.

4.8/10

In Their Own Words (PBS)

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In Their Own Words (PBS) – Starts 1st September

A run of the mill biographical programme that focuses on a famous individual that rarely uses their own words. It tells the story of the person using old footage and interviews with folks that are, at best, vaguely linked to them, whilst separating each segment using a quote said by the individual.

It doesn’t really reveal anything new on it’s subject and a lot of the interviewees just offer their assumptions which kind of defeats the object of the programme. There is also a rather optimistic deal at the end of the show giving the viewer the chance to buy a DVD of the episode for $25.

2.9/10

BBQ With Franklin (PBS)

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BBQ With Franklin (PBS) – Starts 21 May

Renowned barbecue cook Aaron Franklin goes through the different techniques and processes of slow cooking meats. Along with the cooking there’s a couple of interviews with other cooks and reviewers about the changes and developments of barbecuing.

It’s alright though the interview segments don’t add much to the show.

4.4/10