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Five Things to Know About PBS, 2016-17
July 29, 2016  | By David Hinckley  | 1 comment

BEVERLY HILLS – Here are five things to know from the first day of PBS sessions at the Television Critics Association press tour.

1.)  PBS is going to war next year.

In April, to mark the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into World War I, PBS will run The Great War (right), a three-night, six-hour series directed by Stephen Ives, Amanda Pollak and Rob Rapley. It will include the voices of soldiers and other participants.

Then in the fall of 2017, the network will unveil Ken Burns’s exhaustive Vietnam epic.

2.) PBS’s CEO has a favorite child.

PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger, who is marking her 10th anniversary in that position, has always remained relentlessly noncommittal on matters of personal preference.

But on Thursday she said that if she had to pick, she would say Frontline is the “most important” news program on the network. She particularly cited Frontline’s upcoming "The Divided States of America", a two-night special that will air Jan. 17-18 on the eve of the inauguration of our next President.

3.) The arts will have a classical look.

The network’s upcoming Great Performances musical specials will feature opera singer Renee Fleming and violinist Joshua Bell.

Theatrical features include another round of The Hollow Crown, premiering Dec. 11, and yet more Shakespeare with Shakespeare Live! From the Royal Shakespeare Company,which features Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Helen Mirren, Benedict Cumberbatch and others.

There will also be a full West End production of Gypsy and, on the pop culture side, a Kennedy Center salute to comedian Bill Murray.

4.) Youth will be served.

Kerger announced that PBS is launching a multichannel 24/7 kids’ service on Jan. 16, designed for viewing on mobile devices.

On the air, a new kids’ show called Splash and Bubbles, featuring the adventures of fish, debuts Nov. 23.

5.) Downton is gone, but please don’t go.

Masterpiece Theater chief Rebecca Eaton said she’s optimistic that fans of Downton Abbey,which ended earlier this year, will want to watch some of the many dramas that are still alive, including a second season of Mercy Street starting in January.

Also a second season of Poldark, a third season of Grantchester, and perhaps most importantly, the new Victoria (top), an eight-part series that launches in January about Britain’s famed 19th century monarch Queen Victoria. This is not your grandmother’s Victoria.

Eaton also promised three -- count 'em, three -- new episodes of Sherlock and a new series called The Durrells In Corfu (right), which she called “the most charming and heartwarming drama on Masterpiece in years.”

Not far down the road as well: King Charles III, a British production about what might had happened had Queen Elizabeth passed away and Charles assumed the throne.

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Mary Bolduc McKeown
What is the origin of Mercy St's title? Is it from Shakespeare, "The quality of mercy is not strained, It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven ..." and so on?
Jul 30, 2016   |  Reply
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