Jim’s Sleeper Picks for July 2023
When it comes to 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 that might not be getting national promotion – and he has quite a few to pick from for the month of July.
Beach Blanket Bingo
Saturday, July 1, at 8pm on ThinkTV14
Frivolity on public television? I look at this movie as a sociological gold mine!
When this came out in 1965, its success spawned what was an early example of a movie franchise. Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello (the first heartthrob for baby boomer boys) were the wholesome couple whose popularity gave way to Beach Party, Muscle Beach Party, Bikini Beach, Pajama Party, Ski Party, How To Stuff A Wild Bikini (Annette without Frankie) and Ghost In The Invisible Bikini (with Tommy Kirk and Deborah Walley now replacing Frankie and Annette).
My mother’s subscription to a Catholic weekly kept her informed of movies listed as “Objectionable.” Indeed, the eye candy here came in the form of 15 women listed in the cast as “Beach Girl” while 11 men were billed as “Beach Boy.” Needless to say, many kids were told NOT to patronize these Beach Blanket movies. Now they can be seen on your cable’s Family Channel.
Look for Don Rickles, Paul Lynde and Buster Keaton in brief roles, plus gossip columnist Earl Wilson in a cameo. There’s also famed cult actor Timothy Carey, a fixture in Stanley Kubrick films like Paths of Glory and The Killing, and a man who sports the creepiest head shot in IMDB.
Oh, and 23 year old Linda Evans (Big Valley, Dynasty) appears as the singer “Sugar Kane.”
Beach Blanket Bingo also features music from the Hondells, a surf rock band with the hit “Little Honda,” written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love of the Beach Boys. And helping out on the Hondell’s studio work was Glen Campbell, then known as a legendary guitarist with the Wrecking Crew, a group of brilliant studio musicians.
Who knew this movie had so many gold nuggets hidden within the strata?
Starts Saturday, July 1, at 10pm on CET
A ten-year-old mystery series best known for its lead detectives played by then up and coming stars David Tennant and Olivia Colman. One of those idyllic little seaside towns like we saw in Doc Martin doesn’t seem so idyllic when a young boy turns up murdered and the locals start peeling back the layers of the onion and implicating their neighbors.
There are 24 episodes, so don’t expect a one-hour resolution wrapped in a bow.
Questioning the Constitution
Sunday, July 2, at 1pm on ThinkTV16
We Hold These Truths: The Global Quest for Liberty
Sunday, July 2, at 2pm on ThinkTV16
Sunday, July 2, at 3pm on CET
Instead of watching the movie musical 1776 Yet Again around the Fourth of July holiday (Ken Howard in a powdered wig? C’mon!), check out these two essays. Questioning looks at the many interpretations of the Constitution and the debate surrounding its reformation.
Some amendments were relics of a different time. The Third Amendment prohibits the housing of soldiers in private homes without the owner’s consent. That was grounded in British redcoats helping themselves to your beds and food in the pantry and not even leaving a tip on the kitchen counter. Not a big deal now.
But the right to bear arms was grounded in maintaining “a well-regulated Militia.” Yet once citizen soldiers were replaced by an army, did that mean the Second Amendment became another curious relic of a bygone era? Hardly.
And if all men were created equal, what about women and those of color? That came much later in the form of amendments.
We Hold These Truths is about the enduring influence of the Declaration of Independence at home and around the world, particularly on matters of free speech. Federal Judge Douglas Ginsburg talks to scholars and citizens on how some 100 nations declared their independence and modeled their declarations on the words of Thomas Jefferson.
POV: A Story of Bones
Monday, July 3, at 10pm on CET
Thursday, July 6, at 10pm on ThinkTV16
As an airport was constructed on a very remote island in the South Atlantic, workers came across an unmarked burial ground of thousands of enslaved Africans.
Yes Britain, “This Is Your Life!”
You’ve been in the news lately when Charles was crowned King, and former colonies felt it time to check in to see if the new guy would lend an ear to past indiscretions that past Kings and Queens didn’t address.
So now we’re hearing about the torture of Kenyans in its battle for independence in the 1960’s, or the UK refusing to repatriate the remains of an Ethiopian Prince who English troops took from his home in 1868 at the age of 6… and who died in England ten years later. His bones are still buried in Windsor Castle.
But let’s go way back to the 18th and early 19th century when the Royal Navy suppressed the slave trade. The Navy either confiscated the ships of slave traders, but kept slaves on board in appalling conditions, or took them to refugee camps on the island where they’d eventually die from disease or starvation.
With the discovery of bodies on St. Helena, environmental officer Annina van Neel and preservationist Peggy King Jorde fight for their proper memorialization. Some Brits called for a proper Christian memorial service, but that was nixed given that virtually none of the slaves were, in fact, Christian.
Miriam and Alan: Lost In Scotland, Season 2
Starts Wednesday, July 5, at 8pm on ThinkTV14
Actors Miriam Margolyles (Harry Potter, Call The Midwife) and Alan Cumming (The Good Wife, Masterpiece Mystery) are back in their RV touring around Scotland and even get lost in America in a second season of episodes that combine travel with two old friends just yucking it up.
They travel the Harry Potter Express steam train, head to the Isle of Skye, then on to Glasgow to “a Jewish, LGBTQ+, vegan anarchist café.”
In America, our Scottish travelers hit a “drug den” in Santa Barbara, then drag bingo and a gay knitting group in Palm Springs.
Erich Kunzel: A Cincinnati Legacy
Tuesday, July 4, at 7:30pm on ThinkTV16
Tuesday, July 4, at 11pm on CET
A CET production about the “Prince of Pops.” Born in New York City, Kunzel was made for Cincinnati with German-American immigrant parents. He became the popular Cincinnati Pops conductor for some 32 years, and made it the Pops a world-renown orchestra with over 100 recordings of classical, pop, jazz and Broadway musicals. He also led the National Symphony Orchestra for PBS Memorial Day concerts and A Capitol Fourth for 18 years. Kunzel’s death in 2009 had the baton passed along to Jack Everly, who has led the PBS concerts on the two holidays ever since.
A Life in Ten Pictures: Muhammad Ali
Saturday, July 8, at 9pm on CET
My one brush with greatness, besides accidentally hitting John S. Knight in the head with his own putter (okay, another story for another time), occurred on a temp job in March of 1975. Our work crew was headed down a freight elevator in the Cleveland Coliseum when the door opened to a blinding light. Can’t see — except the figure of a man walking into the elevator before we can get out.
It was Muhammad Ali. And he had an excuse — getting away from the bright lights of the sporting press.
The Ali-Wepner fight was a few days away and Ali was headed up two floors to a boxing ring for his morning spar. In the afternoon, we went up in the same elevator with Chuck Wepner for his time in the ring. He looked like the nightmare you didn’t want to meet in a dark alley. Ali? He wasn’t nearly as physically imposing. He just looked like a movie star.
Now this series captures the life of celebrities in only ten pictures. Given that millions of photographs have been taken of the most visible athlete in history, what are the odds that one of them shows Ali’s backside as he gets into an elevator with a work crew blinded by the lights?
I’ll be watching. Ya never know!
Starts Saturday, July 15, at 8pm on CET
A four-part series on what became the very first luxury hotel in London that has sat along the River Thames for over 130 years.
It has only been closed twice, once during a major restoration in 2007, the other being the COVID pandemic. In fact, this captures the reopening after the pandemic, and we see chef Gordon Ramsey open a new restaurant while doorman Tony gets teary eyed welcoming old friends back, and Michael & Sean look after guests in the Royal Suite designed by Gucci at only $16,000 a night — or $15,950 if you flash your Ohio Buckeye card.
POV: A House Made of Splinters
Monday, July 17, at 10pm on CET
Thursday, July 20, at 10pm on ThinkTV16
Near the frontlines in Eastern Ukraine, dedicated social workers tirelessly protect three displaced kids who find moments of joy and friendship despite the perils around them. An Oscar nominee for Best Documentary Feature.
An American Conscience: The Reinhold Niebuhr Story
Tuesday, July 18, at 11pm on ThinkTV16
An American theologian, maybe best known for his Serenity Prayer, prominently associated with Alcoholics Anonymous.
Niebuhr who became a voice of conscience to a country reaching its zenith in political power. He had great influence on many leaders, including Presidents Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was both a Socialist and pacifist, and developed a philosophy of Christian realism. He wrote “Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.”
Interviews include his daughter, former students, New York Times columnist David Brooks and civil rights leader Andrew Young.
City Voices: Homelessness to Hopefulness
Sunday, July 23, at 3pm on CET
The City That Sings: Cincinnati’s May Festival
Sunday, July 23, at 4pm on CET
Cincinnati High Notes: Contemporary Song
Sunday, July 23, at 4:30pm on CET
An afternoon of choral music. City Voices follows six members of the Norfolk Street Choir, a choral group of Virginia residents affected by homelessness. Big Mike, Johnnie, Jurrell, Kim, Nadine and Willie struggle with life on the streets, but gather every Friday morning under Chorus Master Robert Shoup for their artistic passion.
The City That Sings is a CET production produced by Richard Wonderling that captures the famed May Festival Chorus on its 150th anniversary. It is the oldest choral group in the western hemisphere, and this tribute premiered in May.
Finally, Cincinnati High Notes is an 11 year old local production with the Chamber Choir of Covington Catholic High School, the Fairfield Chraliers and the choir from the School for Creative and Performing Arts performing contemporary rock, soul, and original compositions.
Luna & Sophie, Season 2
Starts Sunday, July 23, at 11pm on CET
Starts Saturday, July 29, at 11pm on ThinkTV16
You’ve heard of buddy cops, but here’s a German police drama — with comic touches, no less- featuring childhood friends who both went into law enforcement. They were buddies in grade school! Luna Kunath is strong-willed while Sophie Pohlmann is more mature, but her desire to be incessantly fair can prove a weakness. Their beat is Pottsdam, but they have an efficiency akin to American detectives in that every crime is resolved in an hour.
Queen Mother’s Blitz
Saturday, July 29, at 9pm on CET
A great Jonathan Winters sketch had him as the naval commander addressing the troops before the landing craft took them in to hit the beach. “I hoped to be able to go with you… but THEY NEED ME HERE! However I shall be viewing some 5,000 yards off THROUGH HEAVY LENSES!”
During WWII, Queen Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon would have none of that. Like everyone else, she took cover during an air raid, but then she was out to help or just be among the people — HER people – to improve morale. Even during the worst of the Battle of Britain, she insisted upon remaining in London.