NPT and PBS have a special treat for Sherlock Holmes fans this month: Arthur & George, a new, three-part drama based on Julian Barnes’ acclaimed 2005 novel of the same name. The series airs Sundays at 7 p.m., Sept. 6 through 20, and stars Martin Clunes (Doc Martin) as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of the beloved fictional detective.
Since his first appearance in the stories and novels of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes has been a favorite of fans around the world. The character has also proved popular with other writers who’ve re-interpreted the famous detective’s distinctive characteristics, methods and cases. PBS viewers have taken to the character in various series over the decades, including Sherlock, the striking modern and clever adaptation starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the consulting detective and Martin Freeman as John Watson, his more socially adapted colleague.
Arthur & George is yet another twist on the Sherlock Holmes story. In this case based on a real incident, Sir Arthur is drawn out of mourning for his wife by an intriguing letter from George Edalji (Arsher Ali, The Missing), a young Anglo-Indian solicitor seeking to clear his name. At first Sir Arthur’s secretary, Alfred Wood (Charles Edwards, Downton Abbey), is pleased by his employer’s interest; later Woody has his doubts.
Arthur & George is a mix of suspenseful moments, spirited chases, and witty exchanges between the two male leads; think Young Sherlock Holmes meets Mystery’s 1980s/1990s Sherlock Holmes series. Holmes’ presence is felt throughout the drama; sometimes benignly such as when Sir Arthur is asked to sign books. At other times, to his annoyance, Holmes is held up as an unmatchable ideal: Sir Arthur is repeatedly told that his skills pale in comparison and that he is endangering Holmes’ reputation. If these instances create a few chuckles for viewers, they also reflect the conflicted relationship the writer had with his character (a situation often repeated by actors who take on the role).
“If this were a story, I’d change the beginning, I’d change the end, or I’d try something else,” Sir Arthur tells Woody in one scene. Viewers are unlikely to agree with him; preferring instead to keep Arthur & George just as it is.
We are pleased to announce a new season of Indie Lens Pop-Up free documentary screenings hosted by NPT. Culled from the 2015-2016 season of the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning PBS and NPT series Independent Lens, the 2015-2016 lineup includes six new documentaries exploring issues from race to gun violence, from veterans’ issues to autism.
The screenings and post-film discussions featuring local representatives will take place Saturdays at 2 p.m. from October 2015 to May 2016, at the main branch of the Nashville Public Library (615 Church St., Nashville 37219). Formerly known as Community Cinema, the long-running screening series has been renamed Indie Lens Pop-Up to strengthen the bond between the Independent Lens television series and local communities. Over the past decade, screenings of Independent Lens films across the nation have brought more than 331,000 participants together at more than 5,700 events to discuss issues that affect local communities.
Our first event of the new season is Oct. 31 and features Stray Dog, a documentary about a Vietnam veteran whose gruff appearance belies his deep concern for his family and fellow combat veterans.
NPT Presents Indie Lens Pop-Up 2015-2016:
Stray Dog by Debra Granik
Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015 at 2 p.m.
Nashville Public Library, Main Branch
From the director of the Oscar-nominated Winter’s Bone comes this portrait of a motorcycle-riding Vietnam veteran. There’s much more to Ronnie “Stray Dog” Hall than meets the eye; behind the tattoos and leather vest is a man dedicated to helping his fellow vets and immigrant family as he also comes to terms with his combat experience.
Autism in Love by Matt Fuller
Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015 at 2 p.m.
Nashville Public Library, Main Branch
Four adults at different places on the autism spectrum open up their personal lives as they navigate dating and romantic relationships. Eye-opening, first-person portrayals show that despite many challenges faced by those with autism, love can find a way.
In Football We Trust by Tony Vainuku and Erika Cohn
Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016 at 2 p.m.
Nashville Public Library, Main Branch
In Football We Trust intimately follows four Polynesian high school football players in Utah struggling to overcome gang violence, family pressures, and poverty as they enter the high stakes world of college recruiting and the promise of pro sports. The odds may be stacked against them, but they’ll never stop fighting for a better future.
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution by Stanley Nelson
Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016 at 2 p.m.
Nashville Public Library, Main Branch
A new revolutionary culture emerged in the turbulent 1960s, and the Black Panther Party was at the vanguard. Weaving together a treasure trove of rare footage with the voices of a diverse group of people who were there, Stanley Nelson tells the vibrant story of a pivotal movement that feels timely all over again.
Peace Officer by Scott Christopherson and Brad Barber
Saturday, April 16, 2016 at 2 p.m.
Nashville Public Library, Main Branch
The increasingly tense relationship between law enforcement and the public is seen through the eyes of someone who’s been on both sides: a former sheriff who established Utah’s first SWAT team, only to see the same unit kill his son-in-law in a controversial standoff 30 years later. Now a private investigator, Dub seeks the truth in this case and other officer-involved shootings.
The Armor of Light by Abigail Disney
Saturday, May 7, 2016 at 2 p.m.
Nashville Public Library, Main Branch
Two people of faith come together to explore the contradictions of a nation rife with gun violence: a famously anti-abortion evangelical minister risks losing followers when he questions the morality of gun ownership, while a grieving mother dedicates herself to creating change after the shooting of her unarmed teenage son.
For more information about the new season of Indie Lens Pop-Up screenings, go to pbs.org/independentlens.
Do you have a favorite bakery in Nashville or Middle Tennessee? PBS is compiling a list of the country’s best bakeries and we think a few from our area should be included.
Click here to submit information about your favorite bakery, then be sure to tune into NPT Tuesday, Aug. 25, for new specials from culinary traveler Rick Sebak. This time he’s off to explore A Few Good Pie Places (7 p.m.), then he spotlights A Few Great Bakeries (8 p.m.).
We’ve got more scrumptious programming for you this coming week. Watch the last Season 1 episodes of The Great British Baking Show at 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 29. Season 2 starts 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12.
Do you have room for more? We offer an evening of cooking shows each week on NPT2, our secondary channel. Tune in Wednesdays for three hours devoted to gastronomic programs such as Cook’s Country, Martha Bakes and Lidia’s Kitchen. Find a complete schedule and episode descriptions at wnpt.org/schedule.
Our August Membership Campaign is underway, which means it’s time to catch some great shows and – with your generous donation to NPT – receive thank-you gifts ranging from DVDs and CDs to concert tickets.
Enjoy this month’s special programming (check our schedule for additional airings) and please support Nashville Public Television.
Sunday, Aug. 9, at 7 p.m. It’s a double celebration in Mannheim Steamroller 30/40: 30 years of magical holiday music and 40 years of Grammy-winning composer Chip Davis’ atmospheric “Fresh Aire” pieces. The concert was recorded over two nights last December at the Orpheum Theater in Omaha, Nebraska. See Mannheim Steamroller Nov. 20 at TPAC.
Sunday, Aug. 9, at 8:30 p.m. If you miss the drama and splendor of Downton Abbey, here’s something to tide you over till the new season premieres in January. Downton Abbey Rediscovered features interviews with the series’ creators and cast members, as well as scenes from previous seasons and a preview of the upcoming (gulp) final season.
Tuesday, Aug. 11, at 8:30 p.m. The tenors of Il Volo have a passionate following. Find out why in Il Volo: Live From Pompeii when the group is joined by a full orchestra for performances of Italian classics and original songs. The concert is set amid the stunning ruins of ancient Pompeii. See Il Volo March 1, 2016, at the Ryman Auditorium.
Wednesday, Aug. 12, at 7 p.m. PBS is marking the 25th anniversary of Ken Burns’ landmark Civil War documentary with a newly restored high-definition version of the series premiering next month. In the meantime, Ken Burns: The Civil War looks back at the making of the series with interviews and clips.
Wednesday, Aug. 12, at 8:30 p.m. In mid-September 1981, folk icons Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel reunited for a legendary event that was captured in Simon & Garfunkel: The Concert in Central Park. Here’s your chance to see it again or for the first time. Experience “The Sounds of Simon & Garfunkel” with the Nashville Symphony June 14, 2016, at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center.
Seventy years ago this July, the U.S. carried out its first tests of the atomic bomb and in August 1945, the weapon was used against Japan. This summer PBS is airing The Bomb and Uranium – Twisting the Dragon’s Tail, two new documentaries to mark the anniversary of the dawn of the Atomic Age.
This month NPT will broadcast four programs related to the anniversary:
Friday, July 24, at 7 p.m. Knoxville filmmaker Keith McDaniel’s Secret City: The Oak Ridge Story explores the East Tennessee city’s role in the isolation of uranium, the key element in the atomic bomb. As the film states, though the city didn’t appear on maps in the 1940s, it was home to 75,000 people and the site of a round-the-clock wartime effort involving 100,000 workers.
Tuesday, July 28, at 7 p.m. The Bomb chronicles the development of the atomic bomb through interviews with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Rhodes (The Making of the Atomic Bomb) and other historians, defense experts, and men and women who helped build the bomb. The documentary includes footage only recently declassified by the Department of Defense.
Tuesday, July 28, at 9 p.m. Produced by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Sonya Pemberton, Uranium – Twisting the Dragon’s Tail, is a two-part documentary about the element and its uses. In the first part, “How a Rock Became a Bomb,” host physicist Derek Muller traces the element’s origins.
Wednesday, July 29, at 8 p.m. Four years after one of history’s worst nuclear accidents, NOVA: Nuclear Meltdown Disaster reveals the minute-by-minute story of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear crisis and its ongoing aftermath.
Wednesday, July 29, at 9 p.m. The globe-traversing story of history and science continues in the second part of Uranium – Twisting the Dragon’s Tail. “The Rock That Changed the World” discusses life in the atomic age and the varying uses of atomic power. Among the places visited is Chernobyl, site of the 1986 Russian nuclear accident.
When “Volunteer Gardener” host Troy B. Marden leads this fall’s tour of Pennsylvania Brandywine Valley gardens, he’ll be returning to familiar stamping grounds. While in college, Marden interned at Longwood Gardens, one of the many highlights of this tour’s six-day itinerary.
The “Brandywine Valley Gardens with Volunteer Gardener” tour takes place Oct. 11-16, 2016. Registrations for trip are being accepted now and 10 percent of the proceeds will benefit “Volunteer Gardener” and Nashville Public Television. The tour’s fee ($1,650 per person) includes all hotel accommodations, all entry fees, private coach transportation and most meals. Parts of the tour will be guided and paced, while other stops will start with a brief orientation followed by free time to explore at one’s leisure. Click here for more information.
The Brandywine Valley Gardens tour starts with a welcome dinner Sunday, Oct. 11. Monday features a visit to Longwood Gardens, a 350-acre former duPont estate with a variety of garden spaces, walking trails, temporary art installations and water displays set to music.
The duPont family are almost a secondary theme of this garden tour as the original owners of many of the estates on the tour, including Winterthur—also a well-known museum of American decorative arts museum. Nemours Mansion and Gardens, another former duPont estate, was originally built by Alfred I. duPont for Alicia, his second wife. A stop here kicks off the second day of the tour. “It is like somebody just picked up an old French estate and just dropped it outside of Philadelphia,” Marden said of Nemours. “The gardens are very formal; they’re immaculately kept.”
One of the gardens that excites Marden the most is Bartram’s Garden, a 45-acre National Historic Landmark that was the home of the father of American horticulture. John Bartram (1699-1777), a Pennsylvania Quaker and self-taught horticulturalist, who was appointed “Royal Botanist” by King George III. Bartram also associated with Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.
Marden is also pleased to offer travelers sneak peeks at private gardens in the Philadelphia area, using his many professional contacts to gain access. He expects these visits will inspire his fellow travelers, much in the way garden visits on “Volunteer Gardener” are meant to inspire viewers. “It’s the same thing, we get to take you to places that you otherwise might not be able to see,” Marden said.
For more information about “Brandywine Valley Gardens with Volunteer Gardener,” click here.
Back in the day, TV stations signed on every morning and signed off every night, often accompanied by scenes of their respective regions or an American flag waving n the breeze. In the 1980s, when we were known as WDCN, we invited local high school choirs to sing patriotic songs which we recorded and aired at the beginning and end of each day.
We recently received a phone call from one of those choir members asking if we still had that footage. That sent us scurrying into our archives. Can you believe we found one of these reels?
Follow us on Facebook and/or Twitter to see the videos on “Throwback” Thursdays. Maybe you’ll recognize old friends or even spot yourself among the choristers.
A Secret Only God Knows, a documentary produced to mark the 20th anniversary of the Brooks Fund of the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, premieres Thursday, June 25, at 9:30 p.m. on NPT.
The 30-minute documentary grew out of the Brooks Fund History Project, a multimedia documentation of the lives and experiences of Middle Tennessee’s LGBT community. To that end, a series of interviews were filmed between 2009 and 2012 and are now available for viewing in an archive housed in the Nashville Public Library’s Special Collections department. Transcripts of those interviews and nearly 800 photographs, letters and other memorabilia donated by the participants are also found in the archive.
In A Secret Only God Knows, interviewees discuss coming of age in an era when homosexuality and transgender issues were not discussed. “We just didn’t talk about it,” is a common refrain in the pieces. “We’re talking about people who, at the time we started interviewing, were at least 70 years old,” said local documentarian Deidre Duker, “so imagine all of the changes that they have witnessed with regard to civil rights or openness around homosexuality or transgender.” Duker, along with producer Phil Bell, conducted the interviews.
Each participant was born before 1940 and lived in the Middle Tennessee area for at least 10 years prior to 1970. This criteria was chosen in part because of the Stonewall riots of summer 1969. “Stonewall, when we looked at historical dates, was a real pivotal moment in the United States because it was the first time a group of people challenged the status quo with regard to police and what were frequent raids on gay bars,” Duker said. Also, given that the 1960s was a decade of numerous social changes, 1970 was seen as an appropriate demarcation of “before” and “after.”
The importance of preserving oral histories has been underscored by the deaths of two of the documentary’s participants. Other interviewees are now in their 80s and early 90s. “We felt like we were racing against the clock in a lot of ways,” Duker said.
A Secret Only God Knows will also air on NPT2 Monday, June 29, at 9:30 p.m., and Tuesday, June 30, at 2:30 p.m.
We have received calls from some Charter Cable subscribers who are hearing no audio or Spanish on certain NPT programs, starting about two weeks ago. It appears to be a problem with certain Charter Cable boxes. We have contacted Charter Cable Technical Support, and they recommend the following procedure to reset the audio on the affected boxes.
1> On your Charter remote, press MENU twice to go to AUDIO SETUP
2> Under AUDIO SETUP, go to AUDIO DEFAULT.
3> This should indicate ENGLISH. Cycle through the selections to wind up on ENGLISH.
4> Exit the MENU.
You should now be monitoring the main audio channel on NPT’s broadcast.
It’s road trip season and we’ve got a documentary that will have ready to grab your keys and head out on a driving adventure.
Natchez Trace Parkway: Traces Through Time, a new documentary by Chris Wheeler (Civil War: The Untold Story), blends history and natural splendor in a 30-minute exploration of the roadway. Amy Grant narrates.
The documentary premieres Thursday, June 18, at 9:30 p.m. on NPT and will also be shown at 9:30 a.m. Monday, June 22, and 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 23, on NPT2.
Natchez Trace Parkway opens on a stretch of road cutting through silhouetted stands of trees as it curves toward a haloed sun in an orange sky. Images of natural beauty are found throughout the film; there are waterfalls and creeks, overhead views of forests and winding ribbons of motorway.
Those aerial shots were expensive, but well worth it, Wheeler said, because they provide an unusual perspective of the Natchez Trace Parkway. Wheeler and his colleagues also wanted to present the roadway in different seasons, particularly in spring and autumn.
“One of the things I love about the Trace – and we say it in the film – is it really is like a park that’s over 400 miles long,” Wheeler said by phone from his home state of Colorado. Specifically, this national park is 440 miles long and runs through Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama. Four ecosystems and eight major watersheds are found within its path. “There are no billboards, you don’t see very many power lines; you really are kind of in this cocoon, Wheeler said. “That makes you feel like you’re getting away…It is sort of time travel in a way.”
The Natchez Trace Parkway roughly follows the path of the original route used by the Kaintucks, 19th-century traders from the Ohio River Valley. Reenactments in the documentary depict the Kaintucks and Native Americans who created landmarks such as the Pharr Mounds. Modern-day Native Americans discuss the significance of the mounds in the film.
While Wheeler found those aspects of the story fascinating, for him the most dramatic episode concerned the death of Meriwether Lewis. “Like most, for me the story of Meriwether Lewis ends when he returns from the trip to the Pacific,” Wheeler said. “It was fascinating to see the next chapter of his life and it’s a chapter that ends in tragedy and mystery.”
Wheeler’s company, Great Divide Pictures, has made 29 films for the National Park Service and though Wheeler still doesn’t have a National Park passport, he enjoys visiting the parks. “It’s a real privilege to go out and try to capture the beauty of our national parks and to tell their story,” he said.
The Natchez Trace Parkway: Traces Through Time will be distributed to public television stations via NETA and will also be shown at the park’s main visitor’s center in Tupelo, Miss.