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ARE YOU KEEPING UP WITH KEEPING UP APPEARANCES?

Dawn French is the hilarious Reverend Boadicea Geraldine Granger aka the Vicar of Dibley! Dawn French is the hilarious Reverend Boadicea Geraldine Granger aka the Vicar of Dibley!

In the summer of 2011, I changed up the BritCom lineups on Saturdays and added some shows on Thursdays. Emails, calls, blog comments and Facebook postings came in droves from viewers. All feedback is valuable to me, but it definitely showed that our viewers’ tastes have shifted and are slightly divided!

Hollywood at Home and Doc Martin Fans Rejoiced!

Fans came out of the woodwork when we launched the Hollywood at Home series in Fall 2011 on Saturdays at 9pm. Those films have consistently been our top rated shows in any given sweeps month.

Doc Martin premiered on Thursday, September 20th, 2012 at 9pm after a year of die-hard fans contacting me about bringing it to Southern AZ. Imagine the hurrahs when we found the money in the budget to buy it for AZPM! Staff tell me that people mention their love for Doc Martin to them all the time.

This feedback is significant because viewers rarely contact us because they like something, so when someone takes that time to express love for a show, we know we have a winner. So far, we are happy with the audience numbers (56% more viewers on Thursdays compared to Nov. 2011). We even kept the show on during this past pledge drives and people donated money in honor of Doc!

Now that the Hollywood at Home series has legs on Saturdays, and Doc Martin has spiked up our Thursday nights, it is time to look at what we air before and after.

Let’s start with the easier night—Thursdays. A few years ago, PBS had Nature on Sundays and we repeated that show on Thursdays at 8. It worked great. Nature moved to Wednesdays, and suddenly the Thursday repeat didn’t make sense. We have been working on that night ever since. Last summer we experimented with dramas and newer comedies on Thursdays starting with some strong Masterpiece episodes that we called The Men of Mystery! The response to certain episodes showed us that people welcomed less traditional dramas. We also aired “saucier” BritComs later on Thursday nights that didn’t quite fit on Saturday’s lineup with Keeping Up Appearances. The clear fan choices were People Like Us, Worst Week of My Life and Coupling. Outnumbered is a series people either love or hate. The love is pretty strong so we are keeping it on for now and besides, the new season is hilarious!

When appropriate, we will put PBS drama specials leading up to Doc in that 8pm slot like the wildly popular Call the Midwife series. We just launched a new-to-AZPM series from the BBC called Death in Paradise** on Thursday, January 3rd at 8pm, and we hope you check it out if you haven’t already! Watch a promo here. Death in Paradise's  Detective Sergeant Camille Bordey and Detective Inspector Richard Poole! Sara Martins is the Detective Sergeant Camille Bordey and Ben Miller is the Detective Inspector Richard Poole in Death in Paradise.

When the new season of Call the Midwife starts again, we will hold that series for Thursday nights later in the summer.

Okay, I avoided writing about Saturdays long enough. In short, we are looking at bringing back some comedies like Vicar of Dibley and Waiting for God. I will likely phase out Keeping Up Appearances or As Time Goes By with one series, and a few months later, swap out the other. This is to ease the pain of those fans who never want those shows off the air. We learned that after Hollywood at Home, it is too late for folks who love the traditional BritComs. We will continue to air dark comedies like Black Books, Worst Week and the like.

I’d love to try another comedy but it is too early to talk about it! I’m still in “research” mode which really means a weekend on my couch watching TV while avoiding chores.

As always, tell us what you think. We want to know what you are watching, what you miss, what a friend told you about, what you want off the air. And before you say Lawrence Welk, let me say, it’s off the table…for now. (smile) Welked!

Happy Viewing! Susie the TV Programmer


I LOVE SATURDAYS...ESPECIALLY WITH STEVE MCQUEEN

I love Saturdays...especially with Steve McQueen, Cary Grant and Paul Newman.

Hey girl! Bullit was another fan fave this year!

It was a big commitment, and I worried about the risks. Buying the Hollywood film package, that we locally branded as Hollywood @ Home, could have been a disaster…but week after week, it proves to be a very smart buy.

I often have to challenge myself in my programming choices—if I like it, it doesn’t mean I should do it (and vice versa). I love old and new Hollywood classics. I rarely go out on Saturday evenings anymore, and besides Law & Order reruns, there are few shows I will watch on those weekend nights. It was a conversation with our GM, Jack Gibson that sold me on buying this rather large film package that would commit us to a few years of movies. We were talking about our signal and picture quality. Now that we have 6 channels to offer Southern Arizona, with just a TV and an antenna, one could watch at least 2 or 3 channels of great AZPM programs for FREE. (Yes, free deserved to be in all caps!) Though Netflix and DVR’s are popular, not all of our viewers use those services. Would people watch old movies on PBS 6? Yes!

Hollywood @ Home premiered on Sept 24th with the Thin Man (1934) starring William Powell and Myrna Loy. So far, in every ratings period H@H films make our top 10 most watched hours! (May 2012 ratings haven’t been reported yet. Crossing fingers, those movies made the list!)

Many talented and movie obsessed volunteers have joined the ranks to help promote the series and research each film title for the Hollywood @ Home website providing background behind the film and trivia for movie buffs! Check it out!

A few weeks ago, we got a call from a viewer who was so happy about the uninterrupted broadcast of Papillon, that she made a donation. She exclaimed on the phone, “It’s just wonderful!” I wish I was working that night, as I would have loved to have chatted about the movie! I was watching at home, most likely lying on the couch! It’s very rare that someone makes a donation during non-pledge times. When someone does, it carries a lot of weight with AZPM. We can’t rely solely on ratings for programming decisions. I love to hear from active viewers and members who share what they love, what they’d like to see, and what they dislike. I encourage you to make a contribution at any time, especially when you really appreciate something you've seen. As the programmer, this tells me, in a very concrete way, that you enjoy that type of programming. Okay, okay, enough about pledge…

A few fans have let us know that without Hollywood @ Home, Saturday nights would be lonely. Nothing is on cable, they don’t have Netflix, their local video stores closed down, and they don’t want to watch a movie on their laptop. People have told me that they decide on whether to go out or not based on the movie. Are we encouraging a great night in? Yes!

Hepburn starred in Love in the Afternoon

Lately I’ve been getting the same question from viewers and staffers (and some University of Arizona faculty): What movie will be on next? This summer, I’m definitely going for lighter fare with some classics from the 30’s and 40’s to start us off. For your Saturday night planning, here’s a sample of what’s to come: (all movies start @ 9PM)

Bringing Up Baby on June 23rd

Gaslight on June 30th

Dial M for Murder on July 7th

Hustler on July 14th

Eight Men Out on July 21st

Rocky II on July 28th

Thunderbolt and Lightfoot on August 4th

Auntie Mame on August 11th

I may do a mini marathon with Dial M and Gaslight in one week. Thoughts? I’m thinking maybe in late August, during the Olympics.

Stay tuned!

Susie the TV Programmer

PLEDGE online anytime by clicking here

Hollywood@Home!

Summer Hollywood-at-Home Schedule,

THE MEN OF MYSTERY!

The Game is On!

As the AZPM TV programmer, I often get DVD’s of popout series months in advance. Every so often, I hold back on previewing the series early because I want to enjoy it along with our viewers! Can you believe that I withheld from watching Sherlock? I can’t wait for Sundays @8pm!

That doesn’t mean that the DVD’s just sit in my office. It took only four hours for volunteer Rikki M. to be on a couch with a friend enjoying the new season of Sherlock from the time it landed on my desk.

Here's her review:

"As a former employee and current volunteer of Arizona Public Media, I believed few people were as excited about the new season of Sherlock as I (now I know that my enthusiasm is matched by MANY others all over the world). Through a series of complicated dealings in dark alleys and emails, a friend and I were able to procure an advance copy of the new season one evening at 7pm. The only caveat was that the DVD must be returned the next morning. Watch three 90-minute episodes of Sherlock overnight? Challenge accepted!

Episode one stars Lara Pulver as Sherlock’s temptress Irene Adler in A Scandal in Belgravia. The sexual tension throughout this episode between the two geniuses was wonderful and as always, the reminder of Holmes’ mental abilities was a pleasure to watch. Though personally, I think that my favorite part was the suggestion that perhaps Watson might be a tiny bit jealous of Holmes’ relationship with the social dominatrix.

The second episode, The Hounds of Baskerville, was kind of a nice departure from the intensity of the previous episode. Holmes and Watson head out to the moors to find out the truth surrounding the rumors that a gigantic hound is stalking its territory. There were a couple moments of genuine suspense. That being said, it did drag a bit at points and I’m not a huge fan of a hint of the supernatural in the super logical world of Sherlock Holmes. Nevertheless, I am a self-disclosed Cumberholic, so I will forgive this trespass.

I think it is a terrible crime that they only see fit to create three episodes a season. However, if you are only going to create three episodes, you better make the last one worth it. The Reichenbach Fall is worth at least five episodes of another series. Andrew Scott as Jim Moriarty is both insanely creepy and charmingly sincere in his ability to challenge Holmes to solve the “final problem.” I don’t want to say anything else about this episode because any fan will want to go in to this one blind.

Overall, I loved Season 2 of Sherlock. The writing, acting, and the cinematography make each episode feel like a short movie that I didn’t want to end. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Thanks so much to Arizona Public Media for giving me a chance to preview this wonderful program!"

--Rikki Mioduski, Volunteer Social Media Manager and former AZPM staffer

You are very welcome, Rikki! The perks of volunteering!

In anticipation of seeing Sherlock and Watson, a lovely, dysfunctional duo, I looked over the Mystery! films and came up with a great lineup from the AZPM vaults. Why not dedicate a month to the Men of Mystery?

Only on PBS HD 6 will you see Poirot, Foyle, Zen, Lewis (Hathaway!), and Wallander in one month! These cunning, calculating, charming and dangerous risk takers will take their turns every Thursday @ 8pm for your viewing pleasure. I’ve got my opinions as to who the charmers are. See below for the episodes and airdates!

Kevin Whately stars as Inspector Lewis teamed with his cool, cerebral partner Detective Sergeant Hathaway (Laurence Fox)

The Men of Mystery! Schedule: Thursdays @ 8pm

--May 3rd: Poirot Mrs McGinty's Dead Check out the preview here

--May 10th: Foyle's War Broken Souls Check out the preview here

--May 17th: Zen: Cabal Check out the preview here

--May 24th: Inspector LewisYour Sudden Death Question Check out the preview here

--May 31st: Wallander Faceless Killers Check out the preview here

The Sherlock schedule: Sundays @ 8pm

6th: Sherlock, Series II: A Scandal in Belgravia

13th: Sherlock, Series II: The Hounds of Baskerville

20th: Sherlock, Series II: The Reichenbach Fall

Check out the new series website for previews and interviews! Click here

Happy Viewing! Please share your favorites with me!

Stay tuned, Susie the TV Programmer

Rufus Sewell stars as Italian detective Aurelio Zen

Mystery Schedule Sherlock Summer,

ABBEY ADDICTS OR DOWNTON DIVAS?

Downton Abbey Returns!

I was talking with a viewer today about Downton Abbey. That has been happening alot lately. Discussions range from costumes, Maggie Smith, and the eagerness for the new season to begin.

Fantastic costumes, incredible acting, brilliant writing--not uncommon compliments for Masterpiece dramas. Why is Downton so addictive? Could it be the length? The first season had 4 episodes and was six hours total. Plenty of time to get absorbed.

Abbey addicts or Downton divas might agree that the show simply allows you to escape. It is of no world we are used to, the issues are ones we generally don't face, and through great acting or writing or both, every character is relatable while being intriguing. The series is simply elegant and absolutely witty.

Screenwriter Julian Fellowes won an Oscar for his English country house mystery, Gosford Park, proving that an English country estate is a great place to establish drama! Masterpiece has a great interview with Lord Fellowes online. Check out the interview here.

Facebook can't contain my excitement, nor any of my friends. In the past few weeks, we have been sharing interviews, reviews, games and photos. Whenever a viewer and I get to talking about Downton, I end up passing along the games, photos and reviews to them as well. I thought I'd share a few with you!

Who are you?

I am Robert, Earl of Grantham! I am lady mary!

Our sister station in DC has created a Downton Abbey Personality Quiz. I took the quiz and found out I am Robert, Earl of Grantham. "Honest and old-fashioned, you’re primarily motivated by honor and duty. You’re so honorable, you’re actually willing to let a virtual stranger inherit all your worldly goods rather than risk breaking up your family’s legacy. Some people might call you a stick in the mud, but you can be extremely generous and forgiving toward those you feel have earned your loyalty." It's not the worst character I could have been! (smile) Take the quiz here

In the UK, the Guardian created a quiz too and I am Lady Mary Crawley. "You yearn for glamour and excitement. And the exhumation of poor Mr Pamuk. Oh how you miss him!" The questions are pretty funny and worth a moment to take their quiz here

The Twitterverse will be celebrating the return of Downton Abbey with a live Twitter event during the broadcast. Special guests include bloggers Austenprose and Tom + Lorenzo, Vanity Fair magazine, and comedian Patton Oswalt. Yes, Patton Oswalt. Add #DowntonPBS to your tweets and join in the fun: http://to.pbs.org/DA2PBS

A new special is being offered that we will premiere on January 22nd @ 7pm. Secrets of the Manor House will air right before an episode of Downton Abbey and will give viewers a historical context. Exactly 100 years ago, the world of the British Manor House was at its height. It was a world of luxury that that has provided a majestic backdrop to a range of movies and popular costume dramas to this day. But what was really going on behind these stately walls and under the servants' stairs? Secrets of the Manor House looks beyond the fiction to the truth of how life was in these ancient British houses, and how mounting financial, political and social pressures were about to bring momentous changes to both the wealthy and their servants.

Entertainment Weekly reviewed Secrets of the Manor stating, "Fingers crossed we hear about sex, scandals, and someone with as biting a tongue as Maggie Smith’s Violet Crawley."

INDEED!

Stay tuned,

Susie the TV Programmer

Abbey,

IT'S NOT JUST DICKENS! MY HOLIDAY PROGRAM GUIDE

The Dickens Classic, Oliver Twist airs on Xmas Day!

Each year, there are new TV specials, films and songs celebrating the holidays. When you were a kid, what holiday show, song or movie meant the most to you? Ours varied every year! I could never miss the original Miracle on 34th Street with a young Natalie Wood. We also loved holiday music and sang along with Bing. That is until When Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer came out--we sang that song over and over again and considered it a "classic" in my house for several holiday seasons. My poor Mom!

I had to tap into those winter-like feelings a few months ago when I started my December TV schedule. It was kind of weird to think of music shows and movies for the holidays when Halloween hadn't started yet!

We are airing loads of holiday type programs this winter but I’m only sharing my faves with you here! There’s a great mix of traditional, new stuff and BritCom comedies. Enjoy!

Starting tonight (Wednesday), Dec. 7th and throughout the weekend:

The most gorgeous NATURE of them all airs @ 9:30pm-- Christmas in Yellowstone! It will repeat on Friday, Saturday and Sunday on PBS HD Ch. 6. Christmas in Yellowstone

Thursday, December 15th: The premiere of Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir featuring David Archuleta and Michael York airs @ 8pm! For those traditionalists, The Nutcracker, Live from Lincoln Center airs @ 9pm. Check out the preview HERE

Tuesday, December 20th: Celebrating culture! A great night for food, music and giving!

My favorite lady, Lidia B. has a brandnew special called Lidia’s Holiday Tables and Traditions that premieres @ 8pm. This is her first special and she is planning on creating more! Check out the preview HERE

The Klezmatics, Cantor Alberto Mizrahi and Mare Winningham among many others perform in Lights Celebrate Hannukkah Live in Concert broadcasts @ 9pm.

Do you find people to be generous and kind? I do!

A thoughtful and uplifting documentary called Passion for Giving airs @ 10pm. I’ve aired this before and viewer response was great. I think it may be your favorite. Check out the preview HERE

Thursday, December 22nd:

A night of modern and traditional music starts with The National Christmas Tree Lighting @ 8pm, then Jessica Simpson’s Happy Christmas Concert airs @ 9pm!

Christmas Day:

For the kiddos, I recommend you turn on PBS KIDS! Check out the schedule HERE

We will have dramas and music on throughout the day, including Downton Abbey @ 8pm! My fave is Masterpiece Classic’s Oliver Twist! Part 1 & 2 will air from 2:30- 5:30 pm.

It’s a Vicar of Dibley Christmas! Catch the infamous episodes on Xmas Eve and Xmas Night! Not to be missed! Vicar airs right after Annie Get Your Gun on Saturday, and immediately following Downton Abbey on Sunday.

READY TV Austin City Limits is ringing in the New Year with a Coldplay LIVE starting @ 11pm. Folks, I'm not sure there will be a cooler show than Austin City Limits that night. It is the must-see concert!

National Tree Lighting Ceremony show will air on Dec. 22nd!

That's my guide. There's more holiday shows airing and I encourage you to check out azpm.org for our schedules.

As always, I appreciate your feedback!

Stay tuned, Susie the TV Programmer


I FOUND ELVIS @ A CONFERENCE

I found him!

Every November, pub TV programmers attend the American Public Television (APT) Fall Marketplace. It is at this conference that Desert Speaks, Globetrekker and Bill Moyers present their new season, amongst many other great shows. Programmers watch and later vote on what they would like offered nationally.

So, what where my goals for this trip, besides voting?

Find Elvis! Goal #1 accomplished!

Find new programs for Ready TV and Ch. 6 schedules. Two down, 2 more to go! My favorite ongoing shows were here. I saw clips from the new season of Globetrekker, Rick Steves, Vine Talk, Nick Stellino, and P. Allen Smith from Garden to Table. They are all coming to Southern Arizona in 2012.

By the way, P. Allen Smith and I had a long chat about a coming to Tucson and focusing on farming practices and gardening techniques in the Southwest. If anyone has leads on who we should talk to about getting him to town, let me know.

The World Channel showed us some of their new original documentaries coming this Winter and Spring and they looked powerful. I also found out that unfortunately, our free ride is over. The World Channel will now cost money to air!

A great new documentary was offered with an interesting title—World Peace and Other 4th Grade Achievements. The film is about a remarkable teacher named John Hunter and his World Peace Game. John is an award-winning teacher, a 2011 TED Conference speaker and educational consultant. He was our keynote speaker on our last day, and I must admit that I got very emotional from his speech. When an educator talks passionately about students and actions they took to help a student, I can't help but think of the few but monumental teachers I have had in my life. I know that the impact may or may not have been noted by that student at that time, but they will later. My mother was an educator and teachers hold a special place in my heart. Check out the trailer here.

Goal #3: Have a chat with Bill Moyers. DONE! I got a lot of emails and calls from angry viewers who thought I took Bill Moyers off the air over a year ago. I hope you all know that Mr. Moyers retired. This summer I started to get numerous calls and emails demanding I put him back on ASAP. They wondered why I wasn’t airing his new show! Was he back? How did my viewers know and I didn’t? I guess more than a few folks follow his blog (smile) and read that he was working on producing a new show. He’s back? He’s back! Until I spoke to Bill Moyers about his new series and his return, I wasn’t sure where and when Moyers & Company was coming to air in Southern Arizona. He presented his new series at the conference that is set to launch in January. To see his trailer, check out Bill’s website. Broadcast information will be available on azpm.org and AZPM’s Facebook page once it is final.

Bill was the keynote speaker for our first day at the meeting. AZPM's priority is public affairs and news, giving our community the tools needed to make informed decisions about how they want things run. I would love to have Bill in town, as I think our community, and UA Journalism students would find great value in what he sees ahead. "There is a deepening crisis of hope in America...real news keeps our freedoms."

Goal #4 was to watch for one last time, our new and final season of Desert Speaks get offered nationally. Congratulations to the AZPM production team, especially Tom Kleespie who has been the Sr. Producer on the series for several years, as it was well received! Tom has moved on to his next AZPM production, a project we hope we can get funding to make a full series and have for many years.

I returned from Memphis in hopes that my budget was going to be increased. No such luck! Friends, I hate shopping except when it comes to TV programs! Between the stellar BBC Conference in October and APT in November, I test the boundaries of my budget.

For those of you who are members, I thank you for allowing AZPM the chance to offer Desert Speaks one last time at the APT marketplace. Your member dollars helped us produce that show for all these years. I am also appreciative that I can bring home programs like the Hollywood at Home series, This Old House, Rick Steves, and many of the great cooking shows APT offers. I hope you donate like a fan, and watch as a donor because there’s so much to be proud of!

John Hunter, Keynote Speaker
John Hunter, teacher and subject of World Peace and other 4th Grade Achievements documentary.

Stay tuned,

Susie the TV Programmer

About Inside TV

Insider tips on what and why to watch from the programmers who put it on air.