Buster the rabbit and several of his friends gather in the street.
Credit: Courtesy of "Arthur" & the other Marc Brown ARTHUR characters and underlying materials (including artwork) ™ and © Marc Brown. Arthur © 2014 WGBH.
July 02, 2015

The Difference in a Decade

Time was that if there was one thing that attracted the enthusiastic ire of would-be viewers, it was a program that was "promoted a homosexual lifestyle." In 1991, I was verbally abused for weeks over POV's presentation of the documentary Tongues Untied and its portrayal of the black gay community. In 1999, the calls about It's Elementary: Talking About Gay Issues in School were so frequent that I began answering the phone with a cheery "It's elementary!" It's been a long time since I've encountered a similar call-in campaign. The last one was in 2005, and the target was the PBS kids' show Postcards from Buster.


A variety of dinosaurs assemble to watch something occurring off-screen.
Credit: Courtesy of TM and © The Jim Henson Company. All Rights Reserved.
June 18, 2015

Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs!

As Jurassic World makes all of the money by demonstrating that exploiting monsters for entertainment rarely goes well—unless you are Steven Spielberg—I think back to my own relationship with prehistoric giants.


Red Green sits in a homemade boat decorated as a living room.
June 04, 2015

We Kept Our Stick on the Ice

Some people said that we couldn’t do it…some said that we shouldn’t do it. But we did it for 18 years. 


David Thiel in front of the Late Show marquee.
David Thiel
May 21, 2015

So Long to a Late Night World of Love

By the time this article is posted, David Letterman’s final Late Show broadcast will have already occurred, but as I write this, it’s still a couple of days off. There have been approximately one godzillion tributes to Letterman in the weeks leading up to his retirement, but I couldn't let the event pass without offering a few words of my own.


Portrait of Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Credit: Courtesy of Peter Simon
May 07, 2015

Burying Your Roots

It's something that I hate to see: a major PBS personality in the headlines for what seems to have been a breach of the trust that viewers and stations alike place upon such figures of authority. Was the omission of actor Ben Affleck's slave-holding ancestor from an episode of Finding Your Roots an editorial judgement or an ethical failure? We shouldn't have to wonder.


Elmo, Rosita, Big Bird, Abby Cadabby and Cookie Monster.
Courtesy of © 2015 Sesame Workshop. All rights reserved.
April 16, 2015

I May Be Overthinking Things

Elmo, Cookie Monster and Abby Cadabby are getting new digs in the upcoming season of Sesame Street. Now I can cross "Where does Cookie Monster live?" off my List of Things I Worry Too Much About.


The Dowager Countess sits at a table on the lawn of Downton Abbey.
Credit: Courtesy of MASTERPIECE
April 02, 2015

The Legacy of Downton Abbey

Next year, the doors of Downton Abbey will close for good. But we've all been left an inheritance!


BBC One Sunday night program listings.
© BBC
March 19, 2015

Sundays Will Be Timey-Wimey

The good news is that PBS has heard your concerns about editing British dramas to fit neatly into an hour. That's also the bad news.


The cast of The Good Neighbors poses for the camera.
© BBC
March 05, 2015

The History of Britcoms on WILL-TV (Part Two)

Earlier this month, I set the WABAC Machine to the mid '70s and the introduction of British TV comedy to WILL-TV. In this installment, we'll trade Mr. Peabody's trusty time machine for a DeLorean as we go back to the '80s!


John Cleese behind a hotel desk, with a stuffed moose head nearby.
© BBC
February 19, 2015

The History of Britcoms on WILL-TV (Part One)

As we approach our 16th annual Great Britcom Vote event on Saturday, March 7, I’m digging into our archives to suss out the early history of British comedy on WILL-TV. Which such series was the first to air in Central Illinois?


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