Sunday, November 21, 2010

PBS Goes John Lennon Tonight and Monday

PBS takes a decided more youthful demo turn -- John Lennon instead of Lawrence Welk, though I guess he's pretty much disappeared from PBS fundraisers, replaced with baby boomer rock concerts, right? -- with two programs premiering over the next two nights.

Tonight, Masterpiece Theatre, which recently had such a brilliant trio of Sherlock Holmes under their Mystery! banner, goes Contemporary with Lennon Naked, a TV movie originally broadcast on BBC Four in the UK this past June. It covers the life of John Lennon from approximately 1967 - 1971, including his romance with Yoko Ono and other Beatle milestones. We're a little over two weeks away from the 30th anniversary of Lennon's murder, and with such a date looming, and with PBS' sterling reputation, you'd think that this might be as wonderful or special as was their Sherlock triple-pack, but alas it seems not. I'm not a Beatles ultra-aficionado (music in general isn't my bag, exactly) but the reviews are unanimously not overly favorable. However, it's John Lennon. At the very least Lennon Naked is a great curiosity piece, with Lennon played by Christopher Eccleston (2005's Doctor Who and also a short-time regular on Heroes) and Yoko Ono by Naoko Mori (from Torchwood).

Definitely more your thing if you're a serious John Lennon fan is Monday's American Masters documentary presentation LENNONYC, focusing on Lennon's time living in New York with Yoko and their son Sean. This is the one that's getting the great reviews, and there's no way you can beat a great documentary with a so-so TVM. Truth is always more wondrous than fiction, and LENNONYC appears to have done a fitting job in profiling the musical genius' pleasure at crafting a satisfying life for himself and his family in his adopted city of New York.

If you're a Beatles' fan it's inconceivable that you'd miss either one, of course. The 90-minute Lennon Naked on Masterpiece Contemporary preems tonight (Sunday) on your local PBS station at 9pm (probably, but check your local listings) and will encore as well as being available for online viewing starting next week.

LENNONYC on American Masters airs tomorrow (Monday) at 9pm (again probably, but always check your local listings) for two hours and will also encore. It's not currently listed as being available in its entirety online, but you should check the American Masters' video page for updates and other interesting clips.

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