What Jim is Watching: March 2023
A new month means a new set of hidden gems, courtesy of Jim Wiener, our Chief Programming Officer, for you to check out and enjoy for yourselves!
Three Days in June: The Story of the D-Day Forecast
Thursday, March 16, at 9pm on ThinkTV16
For those who saw the war movie ‘The Longest Day’, there is a scene where the generals meet to debate the launch date for the Normandy invasion, the largest invasion force in military history. Weather was very changeable, and bad weather and high tides would have turned D-Day into a disaster of epic proportions. Would a window of good weather last long enough?
Would another delay set the invasion back weeks, and risk security? Finally the Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight Eisenhower, gave the order to go.
And now, as Paul Harvey used to say, the rest of the story: The fate of WWII hinged upon the weather, and the military was completely reliant on weather readings taken by a young woman at a remote weather station on Ireland’s west coast.
Maureen Flavin turned 21 on the day when she turned in the critical meteorological data that caused Operation Overlord to stand down for 24 hours for a storm to pass, then go when weather cleared on June 6, 1944. She had no idea who was counting on her weather forecast, and did get a call the morning of June 3 asking her to check her readings and confirm. She called her boss (and, later, her husband) Edward Sweeney, who confirmed her readings.
It wasn’t until 1956 that the now married couple learned that her forecast changed the course of the war twelve years earlier.
Girl Talk: A Local USA Special
Thursday, March 16, at 10pm on ThinkTV16
High school debate has largely been male dominated by those who would go on to law school or politics. This tells the timely story of a top-ranked Massachusetts high school debate team composed of five girls. Newton South only has a part-time volunteer parent coach, so the team largely has to rely on each other to master debate, and navigate the gender biases that permeate the debate culture.
American Masters: Rita Moreno – Just a Girl Who Decided To Go For It
Saturday, March 18, at 9pm on CET
She’s one of only 24 people to have won the Triple Crown of acting (Oscar, Emmy, and Tony Awards). Secondly, she’s one of 17 “EGOTS”, or people who have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Awards. And consider that there are only two people who have achieved both of those honors: Rita Moreno and Helen Hayes. Good company.
And, along with Morgan Freeman, she was a cast member of the legendary PBS Kids series, The Electric Company.
When the annual PBS meeting was held in Denver 11 years ago, programmers were invited to a reception promoting Makers, a series on women in business, science, Hollywood, etc. The celebrity guest? Rita Moreno.
So we’re lined up to meet her, and I was next to Ana Ramos, WNET’s programmer in New York City, and like Ms. Moreno, a native Puerto Rican. As we’re getting closer, Ana suppressed a quiet laugh. “What’s so funny?” Ana replied that whoever was talking to Ms. Moreno said “Oh, I loved you in….” and Moreno snapped back “That was Chita Rivera!!” I replied that somewhere in another reception line, somebody shook hands with Chita Rivera and told her “Oh, Ms. Rivera, I loved you in The Electric Company,’ and Rivera shot back “That was Rita Moreno!!” And the two probably meet up every so often at awards ceremony, and have a good laugh about it.
Moreno turns 92 in December, and to look at her, you’d think she was the epitome of Hollywood glamor… at the age of 72!
The Ghost Writer
Saturday, March 18, at 8pm on ThinkTV14
Among ThinkTV14’s Saturday night movies is a good one off the beaten path. Ewan McGregor plays a ghost writer hired to finish the memoirs of the former British Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan). Perhaps the suicide of the former ghost writer should have sounded an alarm, but it doesn’t take long for his successor to uncover documents that point to the former PM as a bad, BAD man, and that maybe his predecessor didn’t kill himself after all!
A Good Life
Sunday, March 19, at 1pm on CET
Sunday, March 26, at 1pm on ThinkTV16
An intimate look into the lives of six adults living with I/DD (intellectual and developmental disabilities). This captures the challenges and opportunities, the joys and struggles they face with their families, and we get insights from experts in the disability field on how to better understand and appreciate what these folks go through.
Our Miracle Years
Sunday, March 19, thru Sunday, April 23, at 11pm on ThinkTV16
Thursday, March 23, thru Thursday, April 27, at 10pm on CET
Tuesday, April 4, thru Tuesday, May 9, at 10pm on ThinkTV14
The Wolf sisters have grown up with a silver spoon in their mouth as their parents were captains of industry. But then World War II came and went, and the sisters found themselves in a country destroyed in every respect. So in a spirit of “I’ll always have Tara,” the three sisters reinvent themselves and chart a new course for the future. From Walter Presents. In German with English subtitles.
Independent Lens: Storming Caesar’s Palace
Monday, March 20, at 10pm on CET
Thursday, March 23, at 10pm on ThinkTV16
Some 50 years ago, Ruby Duncan lost her job to a workplace accident, and has to go on welfare. She discovered the stigma and harassment of recipients by the welfare department, zealous in their treatment of the stereotyped “welfare queens” who game the system. Duncan joins a welfare rights group and is part of a grassroots movement campaigning for adequate income and dignity. When Las Vegas mothers are cut from the welfare rolls in the early ‘70’s, “Operation Nevada” became an army of 1,500 (including Ralph Abernathy and Jane Fonda) marching down the strip and into Caesar’s Palace, shutting it down.
President Carter later appointed Ms. Duncan to his Council on Economic Opportunity.
This documentary is based on a book by the same name.
Awakening In Taos: The Mabel Dodge Luhan Story
Friday, March 24, at 3pm on CET
Friday, March 24, at 11pm on ThinkTV16
Wednesday, March 29, at 9pm on ThinkTV14
If you’re travelling in New Mexico and go north of Santa Fe, you know this name. Taos was the home of Mabel Dodge Luhan, and her home is now an historical inn and conference center.
Her wealth allowed her to be an art patron, salon hostess, and the woman who enticed great artists to come out to the high country in the desert southwest. Georgia O’Keefe stayed at her house along with Ansel Adams, Martha Graham, Willa Cather, Aldous Huxley and DH Lawrence.
Ms. Luhan presided over a salon on New York’s Fifth Avenue before and during World War I, then migrated to New Mexico towards the end of the war at the advice of Leo Stein (Gertrude’s brother).
Just as Paris salons were populated in the 1920’s by luminaries such as Hemingway, Picasso, Pound and Sherwood Anderson, it was Luhan’s feat to draw her own impressive crowd in a far more isolated locale. Luhan is just one of many who are showcased as part of Women’s History Month.
Ida B. Wells: American Stories
Friday, March 24, at 9pm on CET
Tuesday, March 28, at 11pm on ThinkTV16
Another Women’s History Month entry is the investigative reporter and early leader in the civil rights movement, Ida Bell Wells. Born a slave in Mississippi, she was freed at 14 by the Emancipation Proclamation. She moved to Memphis to be a teacher, then wrote for a newspaper (and they don’t name ‘em like this anymore), the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight. She wrote about lynching and exposed it as a tool of intimidation, and her articles were re-printed in many black-owned newspapers. Wells was also active in the women’s suffrage movement,
Friday, March 24, at 9pm on ThinkTV16
After a few years airing on ThinkTV14, Father Brown returns with new episodes to Think 16. Based on the writings of G.K. Chesterton, Brown comes from a long line of detectives who hardly looks the part. Even among the clergy caper solvers, he’s not handsome like Grantchester. Mark Williams has played the good father throughout many seasons and now hundreds of episodes. Sorcha Cusack co-stars as Mrs. McCarthy, the church secretary. After so many Walter Presents mysteries that can be a bit dark and violent, Father Brown has a far lighter atmosphere. Solving cases before the denouement may be tricky, but at least were spared the more grisly aspects of the crime.
Ruth Stone’s Vast Library of the Female Mind
Saturday, March 25, at 11pm on ThinkTV16
The life and poetry of a woman who forged her art out of loss (SECOND HAND COAT, What Love Comes To, In The Next Galaxy). This combines footage of Ms. Stone at different stages in her life (she died in 2011 at the age of 96), capturing her reciting poetry and talking about her writing process.
The suicide of her second husband while she was in her mid-40s largely shaped her life and later work. They had bought what they thought would be their retirement home in the Green Mountains of Vermont, but with her husband’s passing, she retreated to that home and inspired others to join her there and work on their own writings.
Great Performances: “Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles”
Sunday, March 26, at 4pm on ThinkTV16
Who would have thought that tales by Sholem Aleichem about a milkman who maintains his Jewish cultural traditions in the face of Czarist Russia… would become of the longest running hits on Broadway?
I remember my father going on an annual business trip with my mother, a trip where he would get comped tickets to Broadway shows, and they came back with the cast album (with Zero Mostel, Bea Arthur and Burt Convy). He wore the grooves out of that LP, and “Sunrise, Sunset” became the unofficial soundtrack to Jewish wedding videos for a good 20 years. But this musical was loaded with other hit songs: “Tradition,” “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Miracle of Miracles,” “Now I Have Everything” and “Do You Love Me?” an anthem for any couple married for 25 years or more.
The musical cut across cultures and time, allowing it to become the first Broadway musical to surpass 3,000 performances. Among the interviews are Topol (Tevye in the movie musical) and Lin- Manuel Miranda.
Kasturba Gandhi: Accidental Activist
Sunday, March 26, at 3pm on CET
Friday, March 31, at 11pm on ThinkTV16
Another entry for Women’s History Month: “Behind every great man…” Exhibit 33,454.
You may have already figured that watching the Richard Attenborough biopic as Ben Kingsley played the Mahatma, and who was that woman in the background of his home weaving away? It wasn’t his tailor! That was Gandhi’s wife, Kasturba, played by Rohini Hattangadi.
The great irony here is that Gandhi credited his wife with teaching him about “the peaceful path.” And yet that credit was largely unacknowledged, at least for western audiences, until now.
If the narrator sounds familiar, it’ Naveen Andrews (Lost, Dropout).
American Experience: The Movement and the “Madman
Tuesday, March 28, at 9pm on CET & ThinkTV16
So my brother lived on Capitol Hill at the time and it was something of a tradition that if there was a march on Washington, he’d make room for friends to sleep on the couch or on the floor if they had a sleeping bag. And after a long day out on the mall, the inevitable discussion would ensue “Are we making a difference?” “Is anyone listening?”
Apparently someone did… and to an extent they couldn’t possibly imagine.
Now it can be told. There were two huge anti-war protests in our nation’s capital in the fall of 1969 (a little over a year after the Tet Offensive, considered a major turning point in public opinion). President Nixon saw the news coverage, and it apparently convinced him to abandon plans for a major escalation of the war… with the possible employment of nuclear weapons.
So understand that the title of this American Experience (“The Movement and the ‘Madman’”) actually came from the President himself. Nixon termed his own idea of using nuclear weapons as his “madman plan.” And after seeing hundreds of thousands of protesters out on the Mall, he abandoned those ideas.
Joni Mitchell: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize
Friday, March 31, at 9pm on CET
Saturday, April 1, at 9pm on ThinkTV16
A richly deserved recipient, but unfortunate that it came after serious health problems.
As a football fan, this reminded me of the too late induction of a Cleveland Browns offensive lineman named Gene Hickerson. He blocked for two HOFers, Jim Brown and Leroy Kelly.
He should have been voted into Canton 40+ years ago, but by the time he finally made it (2007), he had late stage Alzheimer’s. He was so debilitated he could only sit in a wheelchair at midfield. His brother, Bob, accepted the honor on his behalf.
Mitchell suffered an aneurysm in 2015, and has faced other medical problems since then.
She’s improving, and it’s really nobody’s fault. The very first Library of Congress Gershwin Prize wasn’t even awarded until the year of her aneurysm. But you just wish that recipients could be in good health to take in all the plaudits. Mitchell is an incredible talent. Many of her songs have become standards of folk rock and smooth jazz. She’s also been an accomplished painter, and her works have adorned a few of her albums.
She is someone who, on top of everything else, probably made a raspberry pie and sewed a quilt that each won blue ribbons at a county fair. I wouldn’t put it past her.
Friday, March 31, at 9pm on ThinkTV16
During World War II, the government restricted the actions and freedoms of 600,000 Italian residents of the U.S. There have been more than a few documentaries about Japanese Americans housed in internment camps during the war and losing their businesses, but this is the first documentary I’ve seen about persecution of Italian-Americans.