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Documentary

PBS special explores “Custer’s Last Stand”

Much of how we view history is based on interpretation, and perhaps no figure in American lore creates more diverse opinions than Gen. George Custer. To some, he was a military hero; to others, he was a controversial figure whose arrogance ultimately led to his infamous death at The Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876. As part of its fantastic American Experience series, PBS tonight airs a two-hour biography of one of our countries most lauded and criticized icons of 19th century. Premiering at 8pm ET, Custer’s Last Stand documents his heroic Civil War battles while also exploring the narcissistic […]

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Documentary

“Secrets of the Manor House” looks at real-life homes that inspired “Downton Abbey”

Fans of Downton Abbey will be able to get a glimpse inside the real world of the Edwardian homes and English society that inspired the acclaimed drama when the documentary Secrets of the Manor House airs Jan. 22 at 8pm ET on PBS (check local listings). Shot on location at some of Britain’s finest estates and country houses, and featuring interviews with contemporary masters and servants, the special reveals that life in the manor house was a world unchanged for nearly a thousand years, until the 20th century entered its second decade, when mounting financial, political and social pressures altered […]

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Historical Programming

Discovery Channel’s “All Star Dealers” on deck

It’s one of the most American of American dreams — finding a home run ball hit by a Lou Gehrig, a Mickey Mantle or a Hank Aaron and buying it for a song. And there was a time when the realization of that dream was tantamount to folklore. But in a world in which the market is flooded with collectibles, valuable and otherwise, there’s always the risk of counterfeit goods, forged signatures and other troublesome merchandise. It’s all part and parcel of the memorabilia game, and it’s at the heart of a new series, All Star Dealers, premiering on Discovery […]

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Documentary

PBS separates the man from the myth in “Billy the Kid” special

Many people are familiar with the legend of Billy the Kid, but those who want to know how an Irish immigrant named Henry McCarty became one of America’s most storied killers ever should definitely tune into PBS tonight. Premiering at 9pm ET as part of the the network’s popular “American Experience” series, Billy the Kid goes behind the folklore and examines the developments in McCarty’s life that transformed him from a likable teenager into to a cold-blooded murderer. Born in New York without a father, he and his mother Catherine moved to New Mexico after the Civil War. According to those […]

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Historical Programming

The Infamous Borgias Are The Focus Of Showtime’s New Historical Drama Series

Of the three drama series featured in this cover story, the only one based on actual historical people and events is Showtime’s The Borgias, which chronicles the infamous Spanish family that held power in Italy — and throughout the church — during the early Renaissance after their patriarch, Rodrigo Borgia (played in the series by Oscar winner Jeremy Irons), manipulated his way into being elected Pope Alexander VI. Despite being tied to historical people and places, though, The Borgias definitely does not suffer from lack of drama. Where the other series may be able to rely on myth and make-believe, […]