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Preview '96

PBS Journeys From the First World War to the Next Election

September 15, 1996|KATHLEEN CRAUGHWELL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

PBS programming has a decidedly historical cast this fall, from a Ken Burns-style look at the settling of the American West to an eight-part documentary on the effects of World War I on the global psyche, plus biographies on such notable 20th century figures as Albert Einstein and Theodore Roosevelt.

Gearing up for the November elections, PBS also will offer a slate of politically charged fare as part of its Democracy Project, including Election Night coverage and debates on key issues facing voters this fall.

At the other end of the spectrum, the public television network has added several new children's shows to its lineup, including "Arthur" and "Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego." Here are some of the highlights (all times and dates listed are for KCET):

SPECIALS

"The West": Ken Burns protege Stephen Ives is at the helm of this new eight-part documentary, which delineates the growth of the western United States and separates the overlapping myth and reality. Peter Coyote narrates. Sunday-Thursday this week and Sept. 22-24 at 8 p.m.

"The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century": Filmmakers promise that this eight-part documentary will examine the sociological and cultural ramifications of World War I as well as the historical. Letters, diaries, poems and rare combat footage, including some from Germany, were used to shape the KCET series. Actors Helena Bonham-Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Martin Landau and many others lend their voices. Nov. 10-13.

"Genesis: A Living Conversation With Bill Moyers": In 10 one-hour programs, Moyers discusses the oft-quoted first book of the Old Testament with scholars, artists, psychotherapists and lawyers. Wednesdays beginning Oct. 16.

"Westminster Abbey": Author Alan Bennett goes behind the hallowed walls of England's most venerated church and burial place to reveal the legends and oddities of those who are laid to rest there: poet Percy Shelley, naturalist Charles Darwin and Catherine of Valois, queen consort of Henry V, to name a few. TBA.

"A Grand Day Out" and "A Close Shave": Academy Award-winning British animator Nick Park's films about the hapless inventor Wallace and his loyal dog Gromit. TBA.

DEMOCRACY PROJECT

"Firing Line Special Debates": William F. Buckley Jr. and Michael Kinsley, will host "Resolved: The Republican Party Is Better Able to Run the Country for the Next Four Years Than the Democratic Party," Oct. 20.

"Running Mate": Interviews with past veeps Walter Mondale and Gerald Ford and those who sought but didn't get the job (Geraldine Ferraro, among them). Oct. 13.

"Citizens '96--Election Survival Guide": A voters' compass to key issues, candidates and platforms on the eve of the first scheduled presidential debate. Sept. 20. at 9 p.m.

NEW SERIES

"Great Railway Journeys III": Buck Henry, Alexei Sayle and Victoria Wood are among the train lovers who host a segment of the six-part exploration of the world's railway systems. Thursdays, Oct. 31-Dec. 5.

"The America's Family Kitchen With Vertamae Grosvenor": Radio personality Grosvenor will introduce audiences to Creole and African-Atlantic cooking in this new 13-part series. TBA.

"Baking With Julia": The reigning queen of the kitchen returns to PBS with the 39-part series. Saturdays beginning Oct. 5.

"Arthur": Children's book hero Arthur stars in his own animated series about the life of a typical third-grader, er, aardvark and his pals. Weekdays beginning Oct. 7.

"Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego": The popular villainess, having tired of pinching most of the world's landmarks and treasures, now toils with historical events while traveling through time. Weekdays beginning Oct. 7.

RETURNING SERIES

"The American Experience": The historical series returns with "TR, the Story of Theodore Roosevelt," an in-depth look at the man behind the brash rough-rider persona. Oct. 6-7.

"Masterpiece Theater": Alex Kingston stars as Daniel Defoe's 17th century heroine in Andrew Davies' four-hour adaptation of "Moll Flanders." Oct. 13-14. Mandy Patinkin and Elizabeth McGovern star in new film adaptation of Arthur Miller's "Broken Glass." Oct. 20. Jemma Redgrave returns as Dr. Eleanor Bramwell in four new episodes of "Bramwell II." Oct. 27, Nov. 3, 17, 24.

"American Playhouse": Donna Murphy reprises her Tony-winning turn in "Passion," the Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine musical. Sept. 29.

"Nova": The popular science series kicks off its 23rd season with "Einstein Revealed," a two-hour profile of the eminent thinker. Oct. 1. "Odyssey of Life--A Nova Special" is a three-part look at the tiniest of earth's creatures. TBA.

"Great Performances": Claudio Abbado conducts the Berlin Philharmonic opening night at Carnegie Hall, Oct. 21. American soprano Maria Ewing and British baritone Karl Daymond are the title couple in "Dido and Aeneas," Nov. 18. "Musicals Great Musicals: The Arthur Freed Unit at MGM" is a look at the illustrious studio musical machine, TBA.

"Mystery!": Alan Bates and Sinead Cusack star in "Oliver's Travels," Oct. 3, 10, 17, 24. David Suchet returns as Agatha Christie's detective hero in "Poirot VIII," Oct. 31; Nov. 7, 14, 21.

"Eyewitness": Martin Sheen narrates this 13-part family series about the wonders of nature. Mondays beginning Oct. 14.

"Scientific American Frontiers": Alan Alda returns for his fifth season as host and guide for the series, kicking off with "Inventing the Future," Oct. 23, and "Science in South America," TBA.

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