Review: Eyes on the Prize

Program: American Experience Eyes on the Prize
Air dates: Part 1 April 1 at 8 p.m.; Part 2 April 8 at 8 p.m.; Part 3 April 15 at 8 p.m.

Program Web site:  pbs.org/eyesontheprize/

Eyes on the Prize premiered on PBS and on KLRU in 1987.  This groundbreaking first season of Eyes on the Prize will return in April 2010.  Six one-hour episodes will air on Thursday nights: April 1, 8 & 15 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. on KLRU-TV.

Eyes on the Prize remains the definitive documentary series exploring the civil rights movement.  It portrays the story of ordinary people who took extraordinary measures to create a social movement.  The television series is one of the most critically acclaimed documentaries on civil rights in America.  Eyes on the Prize has won six Emmy Awards and numerous other awards including the top DuPont-Columbia Award for excellence in broadcast journalism.

Through contemporary interviews and historical footage, Eyes on the Prize traces the civil rights movement from the Montgomery bus boycott to the Voting Rights Act; from early acts of individual courage to the mass demonstrations.  Julian Bond, political leader and civil rights activist narrates the series.

Many of us are familiar with civil rights leaders such as Rose Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Many of us are familiar with “Freedom Riders” and the March on Washington, D. C.  Yet there are many other events and individuals that have been captured in the Eyes on the Prize series.  And here is an exceptional way to become familiar with many more of the participants and events that defined the civil rights movement.

Please be sure to join KLRU for the presentation of Eyes on the Prize beginning Thursday, April 1st.

— Maria Rodriguez

About the reviewer: Maria Rodriguez is KLRU’s Sr. VP of Broadcasting.

Review: Masterpiece "Collision"

Masterpiece “Collision”

Watch online:
Episode 1 (available until December 22)
Episode 2 (available until December 22)

Collision is an action packed drama about how people’s lives become connected after a multi-vehicle highway accident.  The story unfolds with the accident in the beginning and then goes back to take a look at
the lives of those involved.  Each time they flashback to a different character you learn a little bit more about what was going on in their lives before the accident.  With an element of mystery and intrigue the directors keep you wanting to know more and guessing about what really lead up to the accident. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the episodes I watched and am looking forward to finding our more about the characters and their lives. 

— Allison Laymon

About the reviewer: Allison Laymon has been with KLRU in the Accounting Department for five years.  When she is not crunching numbers, she enjoys spending time with her family and remembers watching Masterpiece Theatre “Upstairs Downstairs” with her parents many moons ago. She hopes to instill the love of watching public television with her kids for many years to come.

Review: Tattooed Under Fire

Tattooed Under Fire airs Tuesday, Nov. 10, at 9 p.m. on KLRU

“Tattooed Under Fire” is a documentary examining the lives of soldiers at Ft. Hood Army Post. Their lives are documented through the lens of a tattoo shop where soldiers get tattoos prior to deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan. Soldiers share their fear and bravado in anticipation and their shock, anger and sorrow upon their return.

Seen through the eyes of a now 60 year old Vietnam era vet, who signed out of the Army at Fort Hood, Texas, the 25th of January, 1972, Tattoos Under Fire was more than poignant … it was heartwarming and chilling at the same time.

The metamorphosis of the soul that is war is both horrifying and mesmerizing to watch.  Similarly, the ripple effect on relationships – positive and negative – is like watching an approaching storm … one can take cover, but the storm will leave its mark.

In the end, for me, 30+ years on, Tattooed Under Fire reminded me of an old adage: The more things change, the more they remain the same.

— Bill Talbott

About the Reviewer: Bill Talbott is a psychologist with more than 25 years experience in forensics and crisis adult mental health. He is currently a free-lance research and training consultant.

Review: Masterpiece "Endgame"

Program: Masterpiece Classic “Endgame”
When: Sunday, October 25, at 8 p.m. (repeats on KLRU-Q Monday, October 26, at 8 p.m.)

Endgame is the true story of the covert discussions that led to the release of Nelson Mandela, the end of apartheid, and the eventual first democratic election of 1994.

Michael Young, played by Jonny Lee Miller, is a UK businessman who brings together the Afrikaners and members of the African National Congress (ANC). Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Thabo Mbeki, the man who would eventually succeed Mandela as President. Ejiofor does an excellent job of capturing the internal conflict of Mbeki, mirrored by the conflict within the ANC at the time. Professor Will Esterhuyse, representing the Afrikaners, is portrayed by William Hurt. As always, Hurt delivers. The man has never given anything but an outstanding performance and this film is no different. The scenes between Mbeki and Esterhuyse, documenting the evolution of their relationship, are captivating, particularly the scene in which they discuss the origins of fear.

Also notable is Mark Strong who is sufficiently evil as Dr. Neil Barnard, one of the many men who greatly underestimated Mandela.

Finally, Clarke Peters’s quiet performance as Mandela is inspiring. I remember watching the release of Mandela in 1990 as an elementary school student. Almost 20 years later, the recreated scene of his walk with Winnie had me in tears. Knowing how it all ends does not lessen the impact of this moment in human history.

— Malaika Naulls

About the reviewer: Malaika Naulls is an intern with KLRU and in her fourth year of the JD/MBA graduate program at the University of Texas. When she’s not being an academic masochist, you can find her…sleeping.

Review: Crips & Bloods

Program: Independent Lens “Crips and Bloods: Made in America”
Date: Tuesday, May 12
Time: 9 p.m.

Guns, knives, drugs…what could I be blogging about on a PBS station in regards to these three things?  The options are pretty narrow, but the answer is Independent Lens’ Made In America, a documentary airing on KLRU on May 12 about gangs in Los Angeles.

Like most people, I couldn’t say I knew much about the origins of the Bloods or the Crips, but Independent Lens certainly gave me a ton of insight.  African Americans were not allowed to participate in the Boy Scouts in Los Angeles, so they created their own social groups, based on geographic locations, they even had their own hand signs.  LA was highly segregated geographically; a black person dare not cross a street into a white community or risk being questioned and beat by the police.  As time progressed, the Community got fed up with the racism; they rioted, hence the Watts riot lasting for five days in 1965.  Following the riots, there were increased pledges to fix the poverty and issues in Los Angeles, but nobody followed through.  With conditions stagnant, family life in these communities was poor; the young came together once again in their geographically isolated groups, but this time, revolving around crime, territory and drugs.
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We Shall Remain

WE SHALL REMAIN: AMERICAN EXPERIENCE Part 1 airs tonight at 8pm

I’ve always been interested in the story of Thanksgiving. It seemed as though that was such a perfect story of the hope of friendship between pilgrims and Native Americans, that just never fit in with what the rest of history told us. First they’re the good guys, next we’re at war for centuries.

In this first episode of We Shall Remain, American Experiences’ sponsored history of American Indians from Thanksgiving to today, producer Sharon Grimberg delves into that first feast – exploring the friendship that began and what went wrong.

The episode, “After the Mayflower,” uses great cinematographic reenactments along with expert interviews to explain to viewers how it all began, giving, as it says in the beginning of the episode, an epic history of America through native eyes.

What I loved about it, though, was the fact that it gave background information not only for American Indians, but also the Pilgrims and other Europeans, clearly defining the motives behind decisions that ultimately lead to a war between the two peoples.

The main focus of this episode is Wampanoag sachem Massasoit and his tribe, advocates of the English until the 1670s. Grimberg really tells the story of Massasoit well, revealing documents about his struggle to compromise with the English as they populated his land by the thousand, as well as examples of his faithfulness to them until his death.

I can only anticipate what the next four episodes will be like, but I’m sure that they will be shot beautifully and supported wonderfully by interviews, documents and rare footage, and by the amazing reenactments that tell the story without distracting from it.

This film completely represents what PBS documentaries are about – truth, teaching and a great story, and I am excited to see how it progresses.

– Maggi Davis

Maggi Davis is a University of Texas student, who has worked at KLRU for three years primarily in the communications department. She will graduate in May.

Review: American Experience "A Class Apart"

Program: American Experience “A Class Apart”
Time: 8 p.m.
Date: Monday, February 23
Preview “A Class Apart” at pbs.org/americanexperience

When we talk about civil rights cases, many people are familiar with the historic case of Brown v. Board but not many are familiar with a case that is just as important, Hernandez v. Texas.  This historical case that went all the way to the Supreme Court is the focus of the documentary “A Class Apart.”

Earlier this month, KLRU had a special screening of “A Class Apart” at Austin’s Mexican American Cultural Center. Filmmaker Carlos Sandoval was present to introduce the film and to answer questions from the individuals that packed the auditorium at the Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC). more

Review: Austin City Limits Sarah McLachlan/Duffy

Austin City Limits “Sarah McLachlan followed by Duffy”
Saturday, Feb. 14, at 7 p.m.
Additional air dates: Wednesday, Feb. 18, at 10 p.m.; Friday, Feb. 20, at 11 p.m.
Preview the show at austincitylimits.org

For fans of intelligent, passionate songcraft, Sarah McLachlan hardly needs any introduction. The Canadian singer/songwriter has been an award-winning, critically-acclaimed, multi-platinum artist for two decades. Her 1987 debut album Touch launched the classically-trained Nova Scotia native as a star in the Great White North; subsequent albums Solace, Fumbling Towards Ectsasy and the Grammy-winning Surfacing made her an international sensation. Hits like “Possession,” “Into the Fire,” “Fallen” and “Building a Mystery” remain staples of adult album alternative radio. In addition to creating her own music, she’s recorded numerous songs for soundtracks, including the Oscar-nominated “When She Loved Me” from Toy Story 2, curated the Lilith Fair music festival, launched a children’s choir and percussion ensemble as part of a Vancouver-based outreach program and supported or established various charities around the world. Now, in support of her recently-released greatest hits album Closer: The Best of Sarah McLachlan and its single “U Want Me 2,” she comes to studio 6A for her long-awaited debut episode of Austin City Limits.
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Review: Austin City Limits Nick Lowe/Swell Season

Austin City Limits “Nick Lowe followed by The Swell Season”
Saturday, Jan. 31, at 7 p.m.
Additional air dates: Wednesday, Feb. 4, at 10 p.m.; Friday, Feb. 6, at 11 p.m.
Preview the show at austincitylimits.org

As much as we love presenting new and promising acts on Austin City Limits, it’s great to have a veteran trodding the boards. Singer/songwriter Nick Lowe has earned that designation in his 40 years in the trenches of the music business. The Englishman began as a teen idol in the 60s band Kippington Lodge, which evolved into pub rock pioneers Brinsley Schwarz, for whom he wrote his enduring anthem “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding.” Though not a punk rocker himself, the affable Lowe played a role in birthing the British punk movement through his production of the Damned, the Pretenders and, chiefly, Elvis Costello. In the late 70s he inaugurated a prolific solo career with his debut solo album Jesus of Cool and the British hit “(I Love the Sound of) Breaking Glass.” With cheeky roots/pop tunes like “I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock ‘n’ Roll),” “All Men Are Liars,” the American smash “Cruel to Be Kind,” “Heart” and “When I Write the Book” (the latter through Rockpile, his band partnership with Dave Edmunds), Lowe continued as a respected songsmith and performer through the 80s. more

Review: Austin City Limits with Manu Chao

Austin City Limits “Manu Chao”
Friday, Jan. 30, at 11 p.m.
Preview the show at austincitylimits.org

Though not a common name in households whose primary language is English, Manu Chao  is one of the world’s bestselling musicians in the vaguely-monikered “Latin alternative” movement. A truly multicultural artist, Chao’s work combines punk rock, salsa, reggae, ska, French chanson and Algerian raï, among other styles, and he’s as likely to sing in Portuguese, Arabic and Wolof as in Spanish, French or English (or some combination of the above). Born in Paris to parents of Basque and Galician origin, Chao grew up in a multilingual household often visited by artists, intellectuals and political activists. As a teen he was entranced by the 70s U.K. punk scene, particularly the Clash, and formed his first band in the mid-80s. With his brother and cousin, Chao moved on to the ambitious, wildly eclectic Mano Negra, with whom he signed to Virgin Records, toured Europe and the Americas, had a French hit single “Mala Vida,” and went top 5 in Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. After Mano Negra’s demise, Chao drifted around South America with his guitar and a 4-track recorder, researching and absorbing the roots music of his heritage. His solo career launched in 1998 with the award-winning album Clandestino, followed in 2001 by the European hit Próxima Estación: Esperanza. In 2006, Chao set about conquering America, with tours that culminated in well-received sets at the 2006 Lollapalooza and 2007 Coachella festivals. We’ve been chasing after him for a couple of years, and now, in alignment with the release of his latest album La Radiolina and his appearance at the 2008 Austin City Limits Music Festival, we’re pleased to finally showcase this unique artist live from Studio 6A.

- Michael Toland

About the Reviewer: Michael Toland is manager of national productions for KLRU and contributes music reviews to several online and print publications.