*Could public television be making a full-on, full-blown comeback? In the past few years, the venerable institution seems to have become an afterthought in the television world – overshadowed by the reality-show ratings smashes on the networks, the big budgets of the premium channels, and the boundary-pushing dramas and comedies on the cable networks.
Lately, though, there seems to a bit of a buzz seeping back into the stodgy world populated by Sesame Street and Bob Ross. The network has its first bona fide hit in … well, forever, with the Masterpiece Theater adaptation of Downton Abbey, a soapy and captivating slice-of-life look at Edwardian England. Abbey‘s ratings were enough to grab some major headlines and generate a true wave of Mad Men-like interest in its subject matter.
Let’s hope that same sort of enthusiasm will prompt viewers to tune into some of the truly exceptional, minority-centric documentaries that PBS has scheduled for 2012. The network has always done very well with its focus on minority programming – seen in figures like Tavis Smiley, Henry Louis Gates, and Michael Eric Dyson – but they’ve done just as well with intriguing and enlightening specials.
Both promise to be exceptionally worthy television viewing – let’s hope more people tune into these than the newest Kardashian episode.