One of the myriad PBS programs I nerdily DVR is P.O.V., "television's longest-running showcase for independent non-fiction films." It's a great resource for a documentary fan like myself, and films vary in subject from Apted's 7 Up series to shorter pieces like Bill's Run: A Political Journey In Rural Kansas, which came out in 2004 and which my DVR grabbed last week. It's an insightful film (if a little bit too folksy in places -- we can see everyone's wearing overalls; we don't necessarily need the Ken Burnsian banjo cues on the soundtrack), a good story, an accessible length (under an hour), and it's like NPR in that you can listen to it while you pay bills or tidy up.
PBS programming is a great backup in the event that the WGA strike lasts into next year; depending on your local station's line-up, shows like P.O.V. and American Experience get rerun a great deal, and you can rack up a bunch of documentaries on the TiVo and watch your tax dollars at work.
Are you like me? Do you enjoy somewhat depressing yet ultimately edifying documentaries about subjects like gay inmates of Nazi concentration camps, noble inner-city public-school teachers, and the trafficking of women to the U.S. for the purposes of sex slavery? Are you glued to PBS's Frontline every single week? If so, good news! Participant Productions is launching a TV division. Participant is the production company behind such progressive feature films as Syriana, An Inconvenient Truth, and the current Darfur Now, which suggests that when it comes to TV productions, we probably shouldn't expect to see any in-depth looks into crossword puzzles or Karl Lagerfeld. We can, however, expect to be bummed out by facts we then harangue all our friends and family with.
Perhaps I'm being hasty, but the online teaser videos that Pretty Boring Station has been rolling out to promote its multi-part special Make 'Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America, premiering this Wednesday at 8 PM, bodes pretty well. Of course, as you'll learn from this informative video hosted by my favorite little comedy magpie Amy Sedaris, the internet is a lot quicker and dirtier than conventional media, so it may well be that these hip little clips end up being vastly more entertaining than the TV shows proper.