Jim’s Sleeper Picks for June 2023
When it comes to PBS programming, nobody has their finger on the pulse quite like Jim Wiener, the Chief Programming Officer for Public Media Connect.
Every month, we like to ask him to pick some upcoming shows that he thinks are worth a watch, and he has quite a few to pick from for the month of June.
Rendezvous with Destiny
Sunday, May 28, at 1pm on ThinkTV16
Thursday, June 1, at 9pm on CET
From independent filmmaker Tracie Hunter comes three interviews with veterans of the 101st Airborne in World War II, the outfit that inspired the landmark HBO series Band of Brothers.
We hear from Dick Klein, Dan McBride, originally from Conneaut, Ohio, and James “Pee Wee” Martin from Sugarcreek Township near Xenia.
This independent production aired locally on what was Martin’s 101st birthday. His family put on a viewing party that was, as they used to say, “One for the books.” As part of the Airborne’s “Screaming Eagles,” Martin was one of the first American soldiers to arrive unfashionably early in France, parachuting into Normandy the day before D-Day. D-Day’s 79th anniversary is June 6.
Martin died on Patriot Day—September 11, 2022. He was a man who made history and was a witness to even more of it. And as is typical for his generation, Martin merely passed it off as “we had a job to do.”
Ruby Ridge: American Experience
Tuesday, June 13, at 9pm on CET & ThinkTV16
The 1992 siege of a family’s house in Idaho, and what some say sparked the birth of the Militia movement.
Randy Weaver, a former Green Beret, moved with his wife and family from Iowa to a house on Cariboo Ridge, some 30 miles from the Canadian border. They home schooled their kids and isolated themselves from what they saw as a corrupt world.
Over a few years, they drew attention from law enforcement for threats against the President (among others) and stockpiling weapons. It all escalated in August 1992 as several family members were killed as well as a US Marshall.
Interviews include Randy Weaver’s daughter and federal agents involved in the confrontation.
Frontline: “America’s Dangerous Trucks”
Tuesday, June 13, at 10pm on CET & ThinkTV16
Some 50 years ago, someone told me of their driving trip from Texas into Mexico, and the noted observation that south of the border, roads– and particularly trucks—were old, decrepit and “accidents waiting to happen.”
ProPublica investigates deadly truck accidents and the fight over measures that could save thousands of lives.
Miriam and Alan: Lost In Scotland
Starts Wednesday, June 14, at 9pm on ThinkTV14
You could say this is a travel series, but it’s really just an excuse for two actor friends to cut up and revisit their Scottish roots. Miriam Margolyes (Harry Potter, Call the Midwife) and Alan Cumming (The Good Wife, Goldeneye) take off in their smallish RV. This three-parter is then followed by the premiere of a four-part second season as the two ride the Harry Potter Express steam train to the beautiful Cairngorns National Park and the Isle of Skye.
But they really enjoy the more esoteric sites, like a “Jewish LGBTQ+ vegan anarchist café” in Glasgow (soon to be a chain? Maybe not). They eventually make their way to America for a few episodes.
Lost Home Movies of Nazi Germany
Airs Fridays, from June 16 through June 23, at 9pm on CET
A fascinating two-parter that pieces together family home movies that capture the joy and promise… then a very grim reality setting in for the duration. Part one takes place in 1936, when Germany was rebuilding, and families would turn out to see the Fuhrer visiting their town and hope to see him shake hands with the kids or kiss their baby.
Part 2 then moves to Germany in 1941, and provisions are scarce, and news from the Russian front gives them pause that the war is not going to end anytime soon. The bad news was that life wasn’t like the good old days in 1936. The worse news was that the bad old days were already here, and would only get a lot worse.
Life in Ten Pictures
Airs Saturdays, from June 17 through July 22, at 9pm on CET
Celebrities can be pursued by hundreds of photographers taking thousands of pictures of them over their careers. But this six-part British series combs through the pics to capture just ten that really define that person. Of course many of the photos are iconic and familiar to most of us, but some are family photos that may reveal a different side to their personality. The celebrities in order?
Freddie Mercury, Tupac Shakur, Elizabeth Taylor, Muhammad Ali, John Lennon and Amy Winehouse.
Saturday, June 17, at 10pm on CET
Wednesday, June 21, at 9pm on CET
Wednesday, June 28, at 11pm on ThinkTV16
OTRIFF is the Over-the-Rhine International Film Festival, and this year’s screening takes place July 6-8, 2023. It bills itself as the nation’s first diversity film festival led by people from the disability community. Opening night is at Music Hall, and screenings take place Friday and Saturday at SITE1212 of the Art Academy.
Here, film critic and OTRIFF Artistic Director Terrence Todd will feature two of last year’s winning films: “The Race Against Race” from Nattalyee Randall and Jessica Cornelio (Best Documentary Short), and “Only Baby Knows” from David Chimusoro (Best Narrative Short).
Training for Freedom
Sunday, June 18, at 5pm on CET
Sunday, June 18, at 11:30pm on ThinkTV16.4
The transformational story of how idealistic college students and Black activist teachers came together during the Civil Rights movement for a two-week training session aimed at teaching Mississippi African Americans how to register to vote.
Consider the need. In 1890, Mississippi had 190,000 registered Black voters. By 1966, that number was all of 2,000 due to voter registration process that was complicated at best and impossible at its worst.
Of local note, the training ground for the participants was in Oxford, Ohio, at the former Western College campus for women.
Independent Lens: “Mama Bears”
Tuesday, June 20, at 10pm on CET 48 & ThinkTV16
The old saying is that a liberal is a conservative who hasn’t been mugged yet. Then the writer Tom Wolf quipped “If a conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged, a liberal is a conservative who’s been arrested.”
A variation on those might be tolerant fundamentalists are judgmental fundamentalist who have been judged themselves.
Below The Belt: The Last Health Taboo
Wednesday, June 21, at 10pm on CET 48 & ThinkTV16
Monday, June 26, at 10pm on ThinkTV14
Endometriosis is a disease that affects 1 in 9 women, mostly in their teens and 20’s, but many older. So it’s hardly an unheard of diagnosis. And yet complaints of symptoms are often either disbelieved or dismissed. From societal taboos and gender bias to misinformed doctors and profit-driven healthcare, the result is millions of women being silenced.
Sunday, June 25, at 1 & 2PM on ThinkTV16
Sunday, June 25, at 2 & 3PM on CET
I can remember the time when most all stores and restaurants were closed on Sunday, and maybe the only open establishments were a few drug stores and movie theatres. Later in Pittsburgh, I was told that the Pirates did play on Sundays, but no beer could be sold. What Bizzaro world was this?
Two one-hour documentaries air back-to-back on the concept of “a day of rest” across different religions and places of worship in America. The Sabbath offers a respite and rhythm to the week, and gives us focus on how we understand ourselves as part of the greater world.
Historians, sociologists, doctors, religious leaders and authors unpack how, from the first Pilgrim settlements to large-scale religious gatherings today, the Sabbath has proven an important theme in America. Common worship has provided a centerpiece for our social and communal lives.
Produced by Martin Doblmeier, who has provided us with many standout films such as Bonhoffer: Agent of Grace, Revolution of the Heart: The Dorothy Day Story, And Backs Against The Wall: The Howard Thurman Story, which also airs this month on Think 16: July 9 at 1pm.
Fire on the Hill: The Cowboys of South Central L.A.
Tuesday, June 27, at 8pm on CET & ThinkTV16
South central Los Angeles is primarily known for two things: drugs and gang violence. And yet up through about WW II, the area was largely known for agriculture and ranching. Today, three Black cowboys find purpose, hope and freedom as working cowboys.