TV tonight: ‘The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross’ plus ‘NCIS’

The Henry Louis Gates Jr. documentary starts tonight on PBS Photo: Flickr/The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2013 —Despite five new shows on the other major networks, CBS has easily maintained its dominance of prime time Tuesday. “NCIS,” NCIS: LA” and “Person of Interest” have all won their respective time slots so far this season. Bless CBS for recognizing the value of good storytelling and sticking to the formula. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.

Also on tonight is the first installment of the Henry Louis Gates Jr. documentary “The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross.” The six-part, six-hour PBS series begins tonight and continues weekly through Nov. 26. For those unfamiliar with Gates, he is an American literary critic, educator, scholar, writer, and editor. He is also recognized by many as the nation’s pre-eminent black scholar.


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Gates has hosted several PBS television miniseries in the past so it should come as no surprise that the network gave the noted Harvard professor a forum for his expanded version of African American history. But don’t tune in expecting a Ken Burns like narrative or you will be disappointed.

Unlike Burns, Gates is highly visible throughout his documentary. As we navigate 500 years of African American history, Gates is ever present as our host and tour guide.

Gates’ documentary remains faithful to the familiar template of African American history we learn in school. But by adding the less familiar facts and figures of history to the story, he gives us a much broader perspective.

Tonight that perspective includes the fact that the very first African to come to North America was a free man who accompanied Ponce de León 100 years before the first slaves arrived. This is just one example of the many gaps in our current understanding of African American history that Gates fills in.


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It is also worth noting that Gates’ own role in African American history is no less inspiring. Born in Appalachia in 1950, Gates overcame the many racial roadblocks of that era and rose to become one of the most influential African Americans in the country today. Throughout his distinguished career Gates has been the recipient of 51 honorary degrees and numerous academic and social action awards.

If anyone has earned the right to share a personal interpretation of the history of black people in America, it is indeed Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Tonight’s viewing:

All times are EDT

8 p.m.

ABC: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: (New) An elusive girl may hold the key to a mystery that brings the team to Asia; a secret jeopardizes Skye’s relationship with the team.

CBS: NCIS: (New) DiNozzo remembers his time in the Baltimore Police Department when he chases a suspect from a 15-year-old case.

FOX: Dads: (New) Warner’s plan to hire an older office assistant so Eli won’t be attracted to her backfires when Crawford and David start competing for her attention.

NBC: The Biggest Loser: (New) The trainers must roll a die to determine which of their contestants will weigh in on behalf of the entire team.

CW: The Originals: (New) Davina talks Marcel into letting her attend the annual Dauphine Street music festival; a mysterious doctor has a shocking surprise for Hayley; Klaus takes an interest in Cami.

PBS: The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross: (New) Henry Louis Gates Jr. chronicles the history of African-Americans, beginning with the years 1500 to 1800. Included: the first documented introduction of slaves to North America, which occurred in 1619 at Jamestown, Va.

8:30 p.m.

FOX: Brooklyn Nine-Nine: (New) Unhappy Amy must wear a costume to go on patrol with Charles; Jake bets Holt he can steal his Medal of Valor.

9 p.m.

ABC: The Goldbergs: (New) Adam, Erica and Barry learn about Murray’s romantic past while cleaning out the garage; Adam falls for his neighbor.

CBS: NCIS: Los Angeles: (New) A former Navy officer’s girlfriend is kidnapped, and demands are made for classified intelligence; Deeks accidentally breaks one of Hetty’s rules.

FOX: New Girl: (New) Jess throws a Halloween party in an effort to reconnect with Cece; the loftmates pretend to be Michael Keaton to cheer up Schmidt; Schmidt makes a big decision.

NBC: The Voice: (New) The coaches use their final artist battles and steals to complete their teams for the upcoming knockout rounds.

CW: Supernatural: (New) Dean and Sam try to protect Castiel from a group of angels; Castiel encounters surprises as he makes his way through the city.

PBS: Held Hostage: (New) An examination of a four-day assault on a gas plant in North Africa by Al Qaeda, featuring remarks from workers who came face to face with the attackers; and a dramatic reconstruction of events.

9:30 p.m.

ABC: Trophy Wife: (New) Pete and Kate try to carve out some alone time at Diane’s school fundraiser; the kids help Jackie with her online dating profile.

FOX: The Mindy Project: (New) Mindy goes to an MMA fight with the guys, thinking they’re actually MoMA-bound.

10 p.m.

ABC: Shark Tank: (Repeat) Animator Seth MacFarlane shows his support for a man who designed a new fly trap; multi-functional child cover; food storage container; follow-up on a manicure system.

CBS: Person of Interest: (New) Shaw must stay close to a 10-year-old girl with highly developed surveillance skills when she is identified by the machine; Carter’s mission could be exposed.

NBC: Chicago Fire: (New) McLeod sets her sights on ousting Chief Boden from Firehouse 51. Mena Suvari guest stars.

Basic cable:

New episodes of:

Pretty Little Liars at 8 p.m. on ABCFAM

Snake Salvation at 8, 8:30, 9 and 9:30 p.m. on NGC

I Dream of NeNe: The Wedding at 8 and 9 p.m. on BRAVO

Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition at 9 p.m. on LIFE

Face Off at 9 p.m. on Syfy

Top Gear at 9 p.m. on BBC

Income Property at 9 p.m. on HGTV

Tickle at 9 and 9:30 p.m. on DSC

19 Kids and Counting at 9 and 10 p.m. on TLC

The New Atlanta at 10 p.m. on BRAVO

Tosh.0 at 10 p.m. on Comedy Central

House Hunters at 10 p.m. on HGTV

Sons of Anarchy at 10 p.m. on FX

Cold Justice at 10 p.m. on TNT

Snooki & JWoww at 10 p.m. on MTV

American Daredevils at 10 and 10:30 p.m. on History Channel

American Hoggers at 10 and 10:30 p.m. on A&E

Buying Alaska at 10:30 p.m. on DSC

House Hunters International at 10:30 p.m. on HGTV

Brickleberry at 10:30 p.m. on Comedy Central

For movie lovers:

8 p.m.

The Andromeda Strain on ENC

The Wood on FLIX

Hitchcock on HBO

Pulp Fiction on IFC

Inside Out on TMC

Later Tonight:

Swimfan at 9:30 p.m. on ENC

Bending the Rules at 9:35 p.m. on TMC

Pitch Perfect at 9:50 p.m. on MOMAX

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers at 10 p.m. on AMC

Savages at 10 p.m. on CINEMAX

Paper Soldiers at 10 p.m. on FLIX

Boys Don’t Cry at 10 p.m. on HBO

The Insect Woman at 10 p.m. on TCM


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Lisa King

I was born and educated in Southwest Virginia, traveled with my job all over America in my twenties and early thirties then came back to the mountains to raise my daughter.

I’ve been employed as everything from a quality control technician in industrial construction, to a mail processing plant manager, to postmaster of a small town. I’ve been to forty nine of the fifty states, as well as many other countries. Traveling will always be a passion I indulge, and something I’ll call upon often in my writing. 

I come from a long line of story tellers, and will shamelessly exploit a family tree resplendent with colorful and unique characters, both past and present.

In short my perspective will reflect the pride and familiarity I have of my Appalachian heritage. My stories will be a reflection of the values I believe we hold dearest here, all embellished with a healthy dose of Southern Appalachian flare.

 

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