My Irish Up: PBS schedule rearranged for summer?

Mike Corrigan

Mike Corrigan

By Mike Corrigan

BN Columnist

In hopes that they’ll put the real programs back on, I contribute to my local PBS pledge drive every spring. It’s the only action I ever take that yields visible results.

“Please call in or we’ll cancel the Antiques Roadshow reruns you’re watching right now. Merciful God, we’re begging you! Please, please… wait, there’s the phone! I got it! Yes, Mike? Five dollars? Dammit, man, can’t you give more? I know you’re on a limited income, but what about us? Okay, okay, okay, send it in, send it in. Big help you are!”

Remember when Mitt Romney wanted to cut off Sesame Street from public funding? After Nov. 3, Big Bird thought he was safe and so he went right on jabbering about the letter “P” and the number “5,” or “6,” or however far he’s gotten this season. But what with, first, the fiscal cliff and now the sequester, and the continued occupation of the halls of Congress by the lunatic fringe, Mr. Yellow Thing is a little less smug these days.

So, just to be on the safe side (read: still-funded), PBS has weaseled its way into the traditional Washington fallback position: completely selling out. The programmers have sworn their own Hypocritic Oath: “First, do no thinking.” Proposed summer programs rile no bottled waters and ruffle no feathers, yellow or otherwise.

Upton, Downton — Hybrid BBC series featuring alternating scenes of upstairs British weenie gajillionaires, the Grafton-Burke-on-Tynes, contemplating their own cousins' (both sexes) sexier portions, while the servants receive their nightly lashes in the dungeons below the castle keep. Most poignant line: “This damned war! This damned war that has interrupted my supply of Provencal lemons! When, oh when, will the horror end?”

The McLaughlin Half-Hour That Only Feels Like A Week. The same three old white men and token white woman and token black say the same things about the same issues, episode after episode — but only because they haven’t yet found a token Latino. Not in reruns, but what difference would it make?

Rick Steeves’ Europe will still be shown, after all, despite suspicions that the host actually likes Europe. (Due to “viewer demand,” in fact, this special summer segment is subtitled, “Europe on $50,000 A Day.”) The season will be capped with a bet-by-bet account of the night the host blew $140,000 of the public's money in a Monaco casino, followed by an announcement of the cancellation of the series.

Return of Ironman. Yes, Ironman is back, PBS-style! This time, although he’s got special powers, Ironman has decided that he simply won’t fight evil, or fight good, or whatever it is he fights, for less than seven figures. (Sample line: “Damn the bridge collapse! I’m off to provide security at Sir Henry Grafton-Burke-on-Tyne’s sex-change operation.”)

Ken Burns’s A Legacy of Turnips. Seventeen-part series showing how turnips have had no discernible impact throughout history on politics, economics or rich people's lives. Narrated by Sir John Gielgud, who is dead but generously agreed to the gig anyway. (And then there’s you, a guy can’t donate more than five measly bucks? Big help you are!)

Nova producers have spent the winter re-editing some of their most successful science programs to provide equal time for climate deniers, moon landing deniers, evolution deniers, heavier-than-air flight deniers, and anyone else who “doesn’t believe” in evidence.

The continued dumbing down of “educational” programming could be further exacerbated by government shutdowns, a rekindling of the Korean War and the subsequent outbreak of World War III, etc.

So, with luck, Big Bird may yet get to the number “9” and the letter “Z.”

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