DAVID BIANCULLI

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ERIC GOULD

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'POV: StoryCorps' Special Restores True Holiday Spirit
November 28, 2013  | By Eric Gould  | 1 comment
 

The holiday that reminds us to be thankful has transmogrified to become the largest day of acquisition. On Thanksgiving night, the PBS documentary series POV provides a charming storytelling special showing that the best gifts in life are simple: connection, laughter and understanding.

StoryCorps began to record personal stories for public radio in 2003 as a way of documenting and preserving the power of storytelling and the revelations of the everyday. As founder Dave Isay tells a young nephew at the beginning of the special, called Listening is an Act of Love: A StoryCorps Special,  “You find wisdom and poetry in the words of regular folks.”

He’s right. The latest 30-minute TV StoryCorps special, which airs Thanksgiving night on PBS at 9 p.m. ET (check local listings), trips through six vignettes, told from one family member to another. You quickly learn that everyone has a story to tell, and that they can be as compelling, and likely more meaningful, than any scripted work – or Black Friday item.

There are four new stories in tonight’s episode, including one told by Gweneviere Mann, who lost her short-term memory after a brain operation, and how she had to find new ways to navigate daily life. Another finds Eddie Lanier, who went through rehab for alcoholism 28 times until he found David Wright, a passerby who finally reached out to give him the help, and eventually, the home he needed.

Two stories reprised from older POV specials including the hilarious “Miss Devine” tale as told by cousins James Ransom and Cherie Johnson. They recall their fearsome Sunday school teacher Miss Lizzie Devine, who never allowed a missed class, even if it meant you had to go to school – as James once had to – in his pajamas, claiming he had no other clothes available to wear.

The stories in Listening is an Act of Love are animated by Mike and Tim Rauch, who have been nominated for three Emmys and have won a Peabody for their work on the StoryCorp project. The choice to animate the words is a good one, keeping the focus on the individual voices and adding playful engagement to even the more sober subjects. They’re also artists in their own right, with a distinctive style that is at once edgy and lyrical.

You don’t even have to get up early for Black Friday specials any more, since many stores are now opening Thanksgiving evening. Since the StoryCorps special airs as the shopping starts, it might be good to gather the entire family and get the real spirit of the season.

 
 
 
 
 
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1 Comments
 
 
Angela
EG., I left a comment under "talk back".
Dec 9, 2013   |  Reply
 
 
 
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