Fall TV preview: on PBS

From the Ken Burns' documentary "Dust Bowl" airing

From the Ken Burns' documentary "Dust Bowl" airing Nov. 18-19, 2012 on PBS. (Credit: Library of Congress Photo)

From dust bowls to upstairs (and downstairs), public television this fall will be a winding trip through American history, midwifery, Broadway and a presidential election. Here are some of the highlights. (All shows air on WNET/13, unless otherwise noted.)

 

DANIEL TIGER'S NEIGHBORHOOD (weekdays, 11 a.m.; WLIW weekdays, 8 a.m.)

This animated newcomer for preschoolers stars Daniel Tiger, the 4-year-old son of Daniel Striped Tiger. Dad was a long-ago star of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," and this show is the first production from the Fred Rogers Company since his death in 2003.

 

PIONEERS OF THIRTEEN: THE '60S -- EXPERIMENTAL DAYS (Sept. 17, 8 p.m.)

A four-part series on the story of Ch. 13, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this fall. Lots of clips from the old days, including John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Bill Cosby, Muhammad Ali, Dustin Hoffman, Bob Newhart, The Doors, Truman Capote, Andy Warhol and even the 1962 inaugural broadcast hosted by Edward R. Murrow. Remaining episodes are "The '70s -- Bold and Fearless," "The '80s -- Trusted Voice," and "The '90s and Beyond -- Changing Landscape." They'll air later this year, dates to be determined.

 

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: DEATH AND THE CIVIL WAR (Sept. 18, 8 p.m.)

From veteran public TV filmmaker Ric Burns, this is based on the Drew Gilpin Faust book "This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War" and how the "unprecedented" death toll -- estimates run as high as 750,000 -- changed cultural attitudes about death.

 

MONEY AND MEDICINE (Sept. 25, 9 p.m.)

A wide-angle look at the multibillion- dollar health-care industry, with special attention to the waste and overtreatment that pervade our medical system. Solutions are offered, and this program also promises to look to ways "to reduce health-care expenditures while improving the overall quality of medical care."

 

BROADWAY OR BUST (Sept. 16 and 23 at 8 p.m.; WLIW/21, Sundays at 4:30 p.m., Oct. 14-28)

The "real-life" stories of high school musical performers as they compete for the Jimmys -- the National High School Musical Theatre Awards. And yes, comparisons with "Glee" are gladly accepted.

 

AMERICAN MASTERS: THE DAY CARL SANDBURG DIED (Sept. 24, 10 p.m.)

It's all about the famed poet and his city of broad shoulders. Other "American Masters" films include "Inventing David Geffen" (Nov. 20), on the music industry titan, and "Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance" (Dec. 28) on the famed ballet company.

 

CALL THE MIDWIFE (Sept. 30-Nov. 4, Sundays at 8 p.m.; WLIW/21, starting Oct. 1-Nov. 5, Mondays at 8 p.m.)

The hit BBC period drama starring Jessica Raine, Miranda Hart and Vanessa Redgrave, about midwives in mid-'50s down-and-out London.

 

TREASURES OF NEW YORK: ROOSEVELT HOUSE (Oct. 11, 8:30 p.m.; WLIW/21, Oct. 9, 10:30 p.m.)

The series that celebrates New York's treasures visits 47-49 E. 65th St., where FDR celebrated his 1932 election victory, and worked out details of the New Deal.

 

HALF THE SKY (Oct. 1 and 2, 9 p.m.; WLIW/21, Oct. 7 and 9, 9 p.m.)

Based on the book, "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide" by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, this four-hour special stars "celebrity advocates" who travel to 10countries in a journey of inspiration to oppressed women. The advocates: America Ferrera, Diane Lane, Eva Mendes, Meg Ryan, Gabrielle Union and Olivia Wilde.

 

UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS: SERIES TWO (Oct. 7-Nov. 11, Sundays ar 9 p.m.; WLIW, Oct. 8-Nov. 12, Mondays at 9 p.m.)

Back to 165 Eaton Place. This update doesn't have the buzz of the original classic -- or "Downton Abbey" -- but PBS does promise "two new arrivals," including "ER's" Alex Kingston. If you missed the first season, by the way, Ch. 13 will air a three-hour marathon Sept. 30.

 

FRONTLINE: THE CHOICE (Oct. 9, 9 p.m.)

"Frontline's" election special is an election-year staple -- an "in-depth" look at the candidates and where they stand.

 

RACE 2012 (Oct. 16, 9 p.m.)

As part of public TV's coverage of the election, this special explores America's racial landscape and how it's reshaping the electoral landscape as well.

 

THE DUST BOWL (Nov. 18-19, 8 p.m.)

Ken Burns looks at the Depression-era disaster that laid waste to the Great Plains and forced a westward migration of the displaced and impoverished.

 

DOWNTON ABBEY: SEASON 3 (Jan. 6)

The acclaimed drama returns, with Shirley MacLaine joining the cast.

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