Look what's coming to Blue Ridge PBS!
The Story of the Jews with Simon Schama
Noted historian, author and critic Simon Schama explores the Jewish experience from ancient times to the present day in this new five-part series.
8:00pm – In The Beginning
Trace the Jewish experience from tribal beginnings to Romans’ destruction of the Jerusalem temple.
9:00pm – Among Believers
Witness the struggles of medieval Jews to preserve their identity under Christian and Islamic rule.
8:00pm – A Leap of Faith
Simon Schama explores the bright, hopeful moment when Enlightenment thinkers and revolutionary armies brought ghetto walls crashing down — allowing Jews to weave their wisdom, creativity and energies into the very fabric of modern life in Europe. One of the most of fruitful branches of this Jewish renaissance was in music, and the stellar careers of Giacomo Meyerbeer and Felix Mendelssohn established the enduring tradition for Jewish musical prodigies. However, the remarkably successful integration of Jewish talent into the mainstream of European culture and commerce stirred up the ghosts of ancient prejudice, decked out in the new clothes of romantic nationalism and the pseudo-science of anti-semitism. The road to the hell of the Holocaust was paved by the diatribes of Richard Wagner, while the trial of Alfred Dreyfus led Theodor Herzl to conclude that without a homeland of their own, Jews would never be free of the millennia-old persecution.
9:00pm – Over the Rainbow
Simon Schama plunges viewers into the lost world of the shtetl, the Jewish towns and villages sewn across the hinterlands of Eastern Europe, which became the seedbed of a uniquely Jewish culture. Shtetl culture would make its mark on the modern world, from the revolutionary politics of the Soviet Union to the mass culture of Tin Pan Alley and Hollywood. It was also the birthplaces of Hasidism, the most visible, iconic and, arguably, most misunderstood expression of Jewish faith and fervor. This episode travels from the forests of Lithuania, where Schama’s own family logged wood and fought wolves, to the boulevards of Odessa, where shtetl kids argued the merits of revolutionary socialism over Zionism. From the Ukrainian city of Uman, where today thousands of the Hasidim chant and sing over the tomb of the wonder-working Rabbi Nachman, to the streets of Manhattan’s lower east side, where the sons of shtetl immigrants wrote the American songbook. The program returns, with grim inevitability, to Eastern Europe in 1940, where the genocidal mechanisms of the “final solution” were beginning to grind the shtetl world into dust and ash.
10:00pm – Return
Simon Schama examines how the Holocaust and the creation of Israel have fundamentally changed what it means to be Jewish. Mixing personal recollection with epic history, Schama tells the story of the remarkable personalities and unprecedented events that turned the Zionist dream of creating a modern state of Israel into reality — and the consequences for the world. With contributions from writer David Grossman, photographer Micha Bar-Am, kibbutz founder Freddie Kahan, West Bank settler Zvi Cooper and Palestinian villager Yacoub Odeh, the film explores the tension between the high ideals and dire necessities that led to the creation of a Jewish homeland and the realities of conflict, dispossession and occupation that have followed in its wake.
Your Inner Fish
Wednesdays at 10:00pm
How did the human body become the complicated, quirky and amazing machine it is today? This cutting-edge scientific adventure reveals a startling truth: hidden within the human body is a story of life on Earth, and the legacy of animals that lived hundreds of millions of years ago. Based on the best-selling book by Neil Shubin, the series travels from Africa to the Arctic Circle to uncover the 3.5 billion year history of the human body — and how a colorful cast of ancient characters made us who we are today.
April 9 – Your Inner Fish
Our arms, legs, necks and lungs were bequeathed to us by a fish that lumbered onto land some 375 million years ago. The genetic legacy of this creature can be seen today in our own DNA, including the genes used to build our hands and limbs.
April 16 – Your Inner Reptile
A key moment in our evolutionary saga occurred 200 million years ago, when the ferocious reptile-like animals that roamed the Earth were in the process of evolving into shrew-like mammals. But our reptilian ancestors left their mark on many parts of the human body, including our skin, teeth and ears.
April 23 – Your Inner Monkey
Our primate progenitors had bodies a lot like those of modern monkeys and spent tens of millions of years living in trees. From them we inherited our versatile hands, amazing vision and capable brains — but also some less beneficial traits, including our bad backs and terrible sense of smell.
American Experience: Death and the Civil War
Monday, May 26 at 9:00pm
Television's most-watched history series, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE has been hailed as "peerless" (Wall Street Journal), "the most consistently enriching program on television" (Chicago Tribune) and "a beacon of intelligence and purpose" (Houston Chronicle). Visit the companion website at pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/
Drawing heavily on This Republic of Suffering, historian and Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust’s acclaimed book, “Death and the Civil War” explores a critical but largely overlooked aspect of the Civil War experience: the immense and varied implications of the war’s staggering and unprecedented death toll. The war created a veritable “republic of suffering,” as landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted described the wounded and dying arriving at Union hospital ships on the Virginia Peninsula.
The shattering Civil War death toll transformed hundreds of thousands of individual lives and the life of the nation as well, from its understanding of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship to the profound struggle of a deeply religious culture to reconcile these events with a belief in a benevolent God.
The film examines the increasingly lethal years of the war, focusing primarily on several key battles and their corpse-strewn aftermaths, and concludes with a section on the postwar efforts toward reburial and remembrance. The program premieres in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of Antietam, the bloodiest one-day battle in American history.
American Masters: Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton as Himself
Friday, May 16 at 9:00pm
Explore the lives and creative journeys of America’s most enduring artistic and cultural giants. With insight and originality, the series illuminates the extraordinary mosaic of our nation’s landscape, heritage and traditions.
On this episode, journey through the tall-tale life of participatory journalist George Plimpton: The Paris Review co-founder, amateur sportsman and actor. The film shares his experiences using Plimpton’s own narration, interviews and previously unseen material.
Antiques Roadshow - NEW SEASON!
Mondays at 8:00pm
May 5 – Anaheim, Hour Three
An 18th-century Chinese cinnabar lacquer box; Butch Cassidy wanted circular; a shadow box attributed to Joseph Cornell, and much more.
May 12 – Richmond, Hour One
In Richmond, Virginia, ANTIQUES ROADSHOW host Mark L. Walberg and appraiser Reid Dunavant travel to the Virginia Museum of Fine Art to talk about silver coffee and teapots. Highlights include a late 19th-century Albert Neuhuys watercolor that was bought by a very young collector for $2.00 and is now valued at $1,000 to $1,500; a 1982 UNC championship signed basketball featuring teammates Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Sam Perkins and more; and an early 20th-century Alice R.H. Smith watercolor that originally belonged to the owner’s mother, a close family friend of the artist, now appraised for $85,000.
May 19 - Richmond, Hour Two
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW stops in Virginia’s capital city, where host Mark L. Walberg attempts to stump appraiser Sebastian Clarke on Federal-era materials at the Wilton House Museum. Highlights include a 1765 Thomas Pitts silver epergne that was previously used to hold flowers instead of desserts and is now valued at $15,000 to $50,000; a Leveille-Rousseau perfume bottle, ca. 1890, bought at a Virginia flea market for around $20 and now appraised at between $6,000 and $8,000; and a Tiffany & Co. brooch, ca. 1937, found in the spare-button envelope of a dry cleaning business and valued at $65,000.
May 26 - Richmond, Hour Three
Host Mark L. Walberg and appraiser Gary Sullivan visit Colonial Williamsburg to discuss tall case clocks. Highlights include a collection of Langston Hughes-signed first editions, bought at an estate sale for a dollar per book, now valued at $8,000 to $10,000; a 1935 Bride of Frankenstein pressbook, featuring many of the graphics used for the film’s top posters; and an 1890 Frank Henry Shapleigh oil painting that was purchased for the look of the frame is appraised for $50,000 to $70,000.