libertyRecently, out of my collection of videos, I screened the PBS documentary entitled, Liberty, a six hour retrospective telling the tale of the American fight for independence, narrated by actors sharing actual written history taken from letters, diaries, and other documents from people many of us had never heard of. One of the recurring characters is a wood-be soldier who ended up fighting in the colonial army, sharing his life during the 8 year long conflict, another a 16 year old teenager’s tale recorded in her diary as the British attempt to win the war using southern sympathizers. It’s a rich documentary, well constructed, thoughtful, filled with living history presented in such a way that one can truly see the choices people make can and DO effect others which makes history something more than dates, and tired dead facts.

Because I recorded the program live from a broadcast, portions of the program were interrupted by a request for viewer subscriptions denoting an annual pledge drive. “Ah-ha”, I thought, “this is what PBS used to look like; inventive, and thoughtful additions to television programing!”

I compared this to the most recent drudge offered as an excuse to gain viewers and money. Recently almost all local PBS affiliates were broadcasting what seemed to be a tired oder musical special featuring a 50’s music revival, bringing back performers long since retired. This particular program ran almost hourly….but wait there’s more! As if this was not enough, a tribute to the Big Band age was also aired, using older footage from shows produced from what appeared to be former shows aired in the 1960’s. When the 50’s music program was not on television, the Big Band show was replayed over and over and over again.

As I watched my own replay of the Liberty! I was struck by the denigration of creative, and interesting programing formerly offered to viewers by PBS and immediately thought, “shame on you.”