Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Why Tuesday is the Best Night For Television


Tuesday Evenings from 9 until 11 pm EST offers two hours of wickedly smart, informative and entertaining television, yes TV. The first hour is filled with something that is sorely lacking in most television news programming. Unfortunately, most TV news, especially cable, long ago went the way of flashy graphics, loud music and catchy headlines that oftens asks lazy or reactionary questions that fail to go the much needed extra step. Along with those flashy extras, we’ve gotten hooked on stories that focus on individuals who disappear in the woods or celebrities who adopt kids in foreign lands verses well researched evidence that explains corruption and finds hidden facts that could reveal a truth that affects us all. But, thanks to the PBS series FRONTLINE, there is still a source of meticulous reporting and connected dots that tell intelligent and compelling stories which reveal deeper truths behind public policy or society itself.

Fortunately, FRONTLINE earns viewers from both sides of the American political fence by striving for objectivity, but always digging deeper on a lead. If a viewer misses an episode of FRONTLINE at the 9 o clock hour, PBS.ORG offers most episodes free with a click of the keyboard. Another reason most networks and cable avoid the sort of reporting that FRONTLINE engages in, is that each episode takes time and tremendous effort to produce, waters that commercial networks sometimes, but rarely tread in.

If anyone doubts FRONTLINE’s commitment to a story, this past week’s (1/9) episode, which also ran this past October, demonstrates that dedication.

FRONTLINE’s “Return of the Taliban” is a revealing and graphic investigation of Taliban and Al Queda members who escaped from Afghanistan into Pakistan, away from American troop’s reach. The report also reveals a disturbing money trail to Al Queda, a bit of news that will chill the souls of anyone watching. The story is filled with remarkable footage including work from contributing reporter Hayat Ullah Khan. Unfortunately, after Khan took photographs showing that a U.S. missile had been used to kill an Al Qaeda operative which contradicted the Pakistani military's official account of the operative’s death, Khan disappeared, and was later found dead.

This film like much of the carefully reported work from FRONTLINE, provides important insight into a world that has been sadly underreported by most news outlets. It’s worth viewing online. In fact, one could argue that the work FRONTLINE is doing is important to all Americans, especially now.

But, Tuesdays are also home to a new adult TV series that is a way over the top and certainly not in the same ship as FRONTLINE, but still sharp as blades and completely entertaining. DIRT the new FX series created by fellow Birmingham native Courtney Cox and her husband David Arquette is providing a much needed gush of provocative entertainment that might even cause some tabloid readers and publishers to question, what they consider important and what the American people find interesting.

In this week’s episode, DIRT MAGAZINE Editor Lucy, played by Cox, confronts her publisher and basically asks whether or not he realizes the power his magazines have over American culture.

The publisher, as he holds a copy of the magazine replies sure, but is this what we want for our culture? On the cover of that magazine was a picture of a celebrity who had overdosed on drugs, in her casket. The ironic message, intended or not, of "what sells" in journalism was intense.

Regardless, one thing is certain, Tuesday nights are a night when time is “well spent” watching television, yes TV.

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