October 14, 2011

PBS effort to expand arts coverage yields "the usual safety-first pledge-week fare."

Says Terry Teachout (in a very amusing WSJ column). Excerpt:
This week the network launches its new arts initiative with a "festival" of nine arts-related programs... 
Except for [one dance show], all nine programs are carefully designed to please those members of the gray-ponytail set who prefer politically correct popular culture to high art. Straight plays? Who needs 'em? Jazz? Bor-ing. As for the visual arts, they don't even exist in the unserious, unchallenging world of the PBS Arts Fall Festival. Instead we get recycled Puccini, goosed-up Gilbert and Sullivan and yesterday's grunge rock....

[I]n theory, PBS isn't commercial—except, of course, that it really is. It's an audience-driven business that dons the discreet fig leaf of public service in order to justify the government subsidies, corporate contributions, foundation grants and individual donations that keep it afloat. And what do we get for all that money? "Antiques Roadshow" and "Masterpiece Mystery!"
Ha. I'm on the same page as Teachout, including being kinda interested in "Give Me the Banjo."

28 comments:

MadisonMan said...

I flew out of Madison on Tuesday for a trip, and on the way to Truax we were listening to NPR, and the stories were completely cringeworthy. There was one on the phenomena of Black Best Friends on TV shows (The guy was complaining about it) and one on marketing beer to latinos.

(I know, I know, NPR != PBS....I love the TV shows I see on WPT, although they seem to have moved Dr. Who and I can't find him)

edutcher said...

If PBS wasn't commercial, there wouldn't be any sesame Street merchandising.

traditionalguy said...

We watch NOVA and believe that it alone is worth the money PBS costs. Then there is Ken Burns.

john said...

I like Antiques Roadshow.

And, if anything, Jay Black's voice has gotten even better, white pony tail and all. Just call me American.

Dave said...

There's plenty of good content on PBS. I like "Nature" and "This Old House". What I don't care for is the use of my tax dollars, the pleading beg-a-thons, but most especially the ads for remembering PBS in your will - who does that?

YoungHegelian said...

Maybe PBS can sell custom Barbie dolls to collectors during its telethons.

When you pull the string on the Barbie doll she says "High Culture is hard!".

TosaGuy said...

Dr. Who is on BBC America.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

If PBS is soooo trendy, let it make its way on its own pink financial trotters. It and NPR would be two excellent items to chop off the Federal budget - and while we're at it, to back-bill them for the huge capital expenditures that set up their hi-fi and satellite networks.

MadisonMan said...

Dr. Who is on BBC America.

Yes. But older episodes are on WPT. Or they were. Used to be on right after Robin Hood.

Sixty Grit said...

There should be a telethon to raise money to purchase a big boy haircut for that tedious Ken Burns. Dude, Chaz looks more manly than you do.

Ann Althouse said...

"If PBS is soooo trendy..."

As trendy as a gray ponytail.

Patrick said...

I always get a kick out of watching (for brief periods) the music infomercials on PBS (Pledge now, and received a DVD of some washed up hippie folk music!!). They always pan out to the crowd, and there's some other washed up hippie reliving his or her youth, singing along (Poignantly!!) to the song played by the other washed up hippie.

Although I will admit that my first exposure to Leo Kottke was on PBS. For that, I will always be grateful.

PackerBronco said...

I used to know when the PBS pledge week was on because they would drag out the old Peter, Paul, and Mary concert tapes or rerun Simon and Garfunkel at Central Park.

Then they would ask for money telling me that if PBS didn't do these programs, who would?

Exactly, I'd say, and not call.

Carol said...

gray-ponytail set


Bwahaha! Ann you could do a whole series on that one, like Men in Shorts.

I've hated Antiques Roadshow since I first heard it on radio in the UK in 1986. The BBC had some hilariously boring shows.

Rick67 said...

As much as I resent public funding of these guys...

"Dr Who" and "Masterpiece Mystery!" rock.

Tari said...

Dr. Who is not PBS-funded; it is done by BBC Wales. Yes, really, Wales. The indoor sets are in Cardiff.

And I agree, brilliant stuff. In fact, can I send the portion of my taxes that go to PBS to the UK instead, just to fund more Doctor Who and Top Gear episodes? Instead of charter public schools, we can have charter public television.

Steve Koch said...

What's wrong with Antiques Roadshow? I do agree with eliminating the government subsidies but that doesn't mean all the programs are bad.

LordSomber said...

He's sore because he didn't get the tote bag.

sorepaw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

Hey! Don't touch my Antiques Roadshow, I never miss that!

Or Doc Martin, FWIW!

Roger J. said...

To think I supported PBS (and NPR) for 20 years--of course that phase my grey pony tail era came to an end when I lost most of my hair 15 years ago.

Robert said...

I dunno Prohibition was pretty good, so was the Civil War. It could be better though, when they first got started in New York 50 years ago they did The Iceman Cometh with Jason Robards and Peter Falk. Terrific. Does anyone remember the old cable channel Ovation? They had a drama series about James Larkin the Irish labor leader shot after the Easter Rebellion. If those shows are a gold standard PBS doesn't come close. By the way if you don't like the Irish or labor leaders remember Larkin was shot by a firing squad, tied to a chair cause his wounds prevented him from standing, no less.

Ralph L said...

they would drag out the old Peter, Paul, and Mary concert tapes
WUNC saves them for their final evening orgy of fundraising.

If they need inexpensive programming, I'd like to see The Pallisers again, plus there's decades of Julia Child and Wm F Buckley they could excerpt.

When did the Arts & Entertainment channel last have a performing arts program in primetime?


I'd have thought Puccini was too middle brow for the gray pony tail set.

Big Mike said...

Masterpiece Mysteries is the only thing on PBS worth watching.

Big Mike said...

Well, I just finished the first ten minutes of the Guthrie's attempt at "Pinafore." It sucks. Turned off the TV. The set is okay, sort of (rule #1 of good set design -- the set should never distract from the actors). The choreography is twee. The lyrics remain Gilbert's, but the music is no longer Sullivan's.

Pity. I'd been looking forward to an evening of G & S.

Beldar said...

I have no problem at all with PBS trying to cater to the particular market it does. I'm sometimes part of it.

I just don't want the government to subsidize it.

sorepaw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ampersand said...

Pledge week, hell! In Chicago they do 4 pledges yearly, each one at least 3 weeks long, and at least one lasts a month.
1 quarter of what they raise is eaten up in the cost of of pledge- months-on-end itself. All the spokes beggars are actors and I've been told insiders with the local tv actors union.
I used to watch a lot of PBS and was a regular contributor but these
endless begathons became too annoying.

WV: shistr, a lawy r so crook d h 'd
lift the s from und r your nos .