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Celebrate Your Independence By Watching More TV

WGN America

July is traditionally the time of holiday barbecues, family vacations, poolside lounging and sunburn. But with a large flock of shows premiering this month, there is plenty to keep us thoroughly entertained and content in our air conditioned rooms if we so desire. Be it the awaited return of award winning and nominated programs such as Showtime’s one-two punch of Ray Donovan and Masters of Sex or the debut of a slew of new shows, rest assured we’ll all have enough to distract us from the dreaded heat and keep us cool on those hot and lazy summer days.

DRUNK HISTORY

Just in time to honor the memory of all the sacrifices our founding fathers made in order to gain our country’s independence, Comedy Central graces us with a second season of Drunk History. The hazy recollections of significant events in our culture’s past, told in clumsy detail by inebriated storytellers returns for another round starting July, 1st at 10 p.m.

Based off of the award winning Funny or Die web series, co-creator and host Derek Waters crosses the country in order to interview intoxicated guests, who go onto tell their alcohol drenched versions of local history. The tales are then acted out and the storyteller’s slurred words are perfectly lip synched by some of the most well known actors and comedians around today. Jack Black, Winona Ryder, Dave Grohl, and Michael Cera are just some of the names on the long list of people who have appeared on the show.

This upcoming season has been extended to ten episodes, as Waters and his crew seek out the rich history of such cities as Philadelphia, New York City and Hollywood. The founders of this nation were big whiskey fans, there was even a rebellion against its taxation. So I don’t think their spirits will mind if you happen to overly imbibe at that Fourth of July BBQ this summer.

The ‘90s: The Last Great Decade?

Brought to you by the same people who produced last year’s nostalgic miniseries The ‘80s: The Decade That Made Us, which examined the totally tubular trends and news making moments of the parachute pants wearing decade, comes a revision of 1990’s history that questions if the era was indeed the last great decade.

Of course there will be those who will take acceptation to that title, as myself did a good deal of growing up in the ‘90s, and hold memories of having the World War II generation repeatedly crowned throughout the media as the greatest generation. They may have been able to live through the Depression and defeat Hitler in the Second World War, but did they have Presidential blowjobs and the impeachment hearings that followed?

Did they watch former NFL stars on a nationally televised car chase with the LAPD? How about Olympic figure skaters taking each other’s knees out with batons? Or even pregnant teens and a panel of potential fathers on a phalanx of new daytime talk shows? I bet they didn’t even have a recorded police beating of a civilian that set off a week long devastating city riot. The ‘50s gave us suburban sprawl and the ‘90s gave us the birth of reality TV, which seem like equal gifts somehow in the end. The ‘90s: The Last Great Decade? premiers July 6th at 9 p.m. on the National Geographic Channel.

Kidnapped For Christ Official Trailer from Kidnapped For Christ on Vimeo

Kidnapped for Christ

David was a Colorado high school student, who one day made the tremendously bold decision to reveal his hidden homosexuality to his parents. For his bravery, he found himself shipped off to the wilds of a remote mountain town in the far off Dominican Republic. Made to endure behavioral modifications at a therapeutic reform school for “troubled” teens known as Escuela Caribe. “Culture Shock Therapy” was the school’s philosophy and practice, as they subjecting students to forced labor, frequent beatings, which the school playfully deemed “swats”, as well as many other forms of mental and emotional abuse.

Filmmaker Kate Logan, who was able to fund the film through multiple crowd sourcing campaigns, initially set out to find the positive effects, if any, that a place like Escuela Caribe could have on troubled youth. But after spending a summer in the facility and bearing witness to some of the decidedly harsh handling of a good number of the students, Logan turned her attention to shedding light on some of the more shady aspects of the school.

Uncovering such acts as teens being forcible removed from their parent’s homes and relocated in the middle of the night. And facing the tight bureaucracy that administrates and local officials would resort to, in order to keep not only the secrets, but students from ever leaving the cloistered confines of the school. Kidnapped for Christ makes its television premier on Showtime, Thursday, July 10th at 7:30 p.m.

Manhattan

Tucked away in isolated labs at classified locations, smack dab in the middle of the mesas of New Mexico, teams of scientists worked feverishly to find the correct components that would create the world’s first atomic bomb. Many blindly working on projects they believed to be related to other matters of national security, unaware that they were working on the most clandestine government project to date. And in the process helping to give birth to a new era of the military industrial complex.

Manhattan, a new 1940s period drama set to premier on WGN America July 27th, examines what is was like to be one of the select secretive few in on the designing and planning of the historic Manhattan Project nuclear tests.

Sam Shaw, the executive producer of the Showtime hit series Masters of Sex, has brought together an ensemble cast, including John Benjamin Hickey from The Big C, veteran actor Daniel Stern, and Rachel Brosnahan from the award winning Netflix original series House of Cards. Staying true to detail, production set up over a sprawling 12 acre studio oasis in the deserts of New Mexico. Trying to replicate what it was like when the United States employed roughly 130,000 workers to toil in silent service.

The show not only details the beginning of the atomic age, but also the lingering ramifications one dealt with after realizing they were working on a project of such magnitude, which held the potential for such catastrophic events.

History Detectives: Special Investigations
Full episodes at pbs.org

With the History channel now choke full of shows that have little or nothing to do with actual history, it’s nice to see a show that still stays true to its title. Returning after a short hiatus with a new name, (the show formerly known simply as History Detectives) History Detectives: Special Investigations has been spruced up and given an NCIS series type of moniker, but has hopefully retained its PBS credibility.

The “detectives” on the show are a team of reoccurring historical specialists, who explore the backgrounds behind artifacts that people may have stumbled across or have held as heirlooms in their families for generations. Like an Antiques Roadshow for people who aren’t necessarily looking to sell anything. In fact, HDSI host Wes Cowan frequently appears on both programs.

With the expansion of cable channels in recent years and multiple History Channels now available, it’s a shame that most of their content is now dedicated to reality television and conspiracy themed material. So when a program still loyal to historical education finds its way onto the airwaves, it feels like a refreshing change of pace. The new season begins July 1st, at 9 p.m.

 

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In the land of McCulloch

And then there was beer.