Roundup: History on TV
This page features editor's picks for history programming on TV for the upcoming week.
Week of February 27, 2012
Tuesday, February 28
The French Revolution
History Channel, 8am EST
18th-century France was the world's wealthiest nation with the most powerful king, best-educated population, and strongest army in Europe. But it also boasted an exploding national debt (partly due to the King's support of the American Revolution) and an increasingly restless middle and lower class. On July 14, 1789, the festering boil of discontent erupted when a ragtag mob of Parisians stormed the Bastille, seizing arms and gunpowder and instituting a decade of revolutionary ideals and a murderous cycle of carnage. The French Revolution shook the very foundations of monarchy, destroyed the last vestiges of feudalism, and planted the seeds of modern politics, diplomacy, and nationalism. Travel back to the heady days of the guillotine and meet the rebels and rebelled against, including Marie-Antoinette, Louis XVI, Maximilien Robespierre, Jean-Paul Marat, Georges Danton, and Charlotte Corday. [From History Channel]
Smithsonian Channel, 6pm EST
There may be no place on Earth as beautiful or as romantic as Paris, France. But the City of Light was once a city of unspeakable filth and decay. Rotting garbage and carcasses filled the streets. Human waste from chamber pots rained down from the windows. Transforming this foul city into the most popular tourist destination in the world would take centuries, and would require the demolition of slums, the removal of 6 million corpses and the addition of hundreds of miles of sewers. See how trash reinvented Paris from the underground up. [From Smithsonian Channel] http://www.smithsonianchannel.com/site/sn/show.do?series=815#episode-guide
American Experience: The Amish
PBS, Check Local Listing
An intimate portrait of contemporary Amish faith and life, this film examines how such a closed and communal culture has thrived within one of the most open, individualistic societies on earth. What does the future hold for a community whose existence is so rooted in the past? And what does our fascination with the Amish say about deep American values? [From PBS] A full list of films by America’s most watched history program, American Experience, is available at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/
Wednesday, February 29
The Real Robin Hood
H2, 6pm EST
The marauding mercenary of English folklore is one of history's best-known tales, and the legend of Robin Hood is the inspiration for more movies, radio and TV programs than any other folk hero. But the image of a hero in tights and a feathered cap is a somewhat recent addition to the myth. In reality, Robin Hood is a composite of several historical figures whose exploits date back to the age of the Crusades. This special will distinguish between historical evidence and Hollywood fiction, and seek to create a realistic portrait of the mythical hero.
Japan’s Killer Quake
PBS, Check Local Listing
NOVA takes an in-depth look into the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis that struck Japan.
Thursday, March 1
The Origins of Oz
Smithsonian Channel, 10pm EST
Smithsonian explores L. Frank Baum’s classic tale; how it was invented to how it has come to inspire generations. This special visits the locations that inspired Baum's Land of Oz, digs into his family's archival collection. Viewers get to hear interviews with fans and historians as the heart-warming story of the man behind the classic is shared.
Friday, March 2
Pioneers Turned Millionaires: Levi Strauss
Smithsonian Channel, 8pm EST
Denim is literally the fabric of America, and all because of the vision and perseverance of Levi Strauss. After immigrating from Buttenheim, Germany, Strauss headed west during the Gold Rush to sell his dry goods. His San Francisco fortune came not from gold, but from a small copper rivet and a patent that would soon bring him fortunes he had only dreamed of before. See how his dedication and vision transformed his simple work pants into the most popular clothing product in the world. [From Smithsonian Channel] http://www.smithsonianchannel.com/site/sn/show.do?series=814#episode-guide
Saturday, March 3
History of the World in Two Hours
History Channel, 8am EST
Watch as the History Channel presents a rapid-fire history of the world, starting with the beginning of time as we know it. Hitting on key turning points, such as the growth of civilization, the history of the earth is explained up to the present.
Stalin: Man of Steel
H2, 9am EST
During almost three decades in power, Joseph Stalin--self-named Man of Steel--transformed his country from peasant society to nuclear superpower. It was a brutal, murderous journey filled with intrigue and assassination. Along the way, 20-million Russians died--victims of one of the 20th century's towering figures, and one of history's greatest tyrants. Features rare archive film and accounts from Stalin's bodyguard, cameraman, victims, secret police, Gulag wardens, and surviving members of his family. [From H2]