Week of April 30, 2012
Monday, April 30
Decoding Christianity: Secrecy, Symbols, and Mystery
Smithsonian Channel, 1pm EST
We revisit Christianity's origins as a persecuted underground movement and explain how early followers used secret codes and symbols to not only identify themselves to one another but to also find safe places to worship. The understanding of these signs was once a matter of life and death, but have these symbols become a lost language in the 21st century? [From Smithsonian]
Tuesday, May 1
Stealing Lincoln’s Body
H2, 2pm EST
Before Lincoln finally came to rest in a steel-and-concrete-reinforced underground vault in Springfield, the President's body was repeatedly exhumed and moved, his coffin frequently opened. In 1876, eleven years after Abraham Lincoln's assassination, a band of Chicago counterfeiters plotted to steal Lincoln's body and hold it for ransom. Their plan was to demand $200,000 and the release of the gang's master engraver, who was in prison in Illinois. The Secret Service--recently formed to deal with the country's ballooning counterfeiting problem--infiltrated the gang with an informer. It also set in motion a cringe-inducing chain of events in which a group of well-intentioned, self-appointed guardians took it upon themselves to protect Lincoln's remains by any means necessary. This strange story of Lincoln at un-rest reveals how important this man was to so many, and perhaps our reluctance to let such a beloved and visionary leader go. [From H2]
Secret War: The Mafia Connection
Military Channel, 4pm EST
With the fate of the free world in the balance, the US government turns to the head of the New York Mafia for help, and gets far more than they bargained for in return.
American Experience: Jesse Owens
PBS, Check local listing
The most famous athlete of his time, his stunning triumph at the 1936 Olympic Games captivated the world even as it infuriated the Nazis. Despite the racial slurs he endured, Jesse Owens' grace and athleticism rallied crowds across the globe. But when the four-time Olympic gold medalist returned home, he could not even ride in the front of a bus.The story of the 22-year-old son of a sharecropper who triumphed over adversity to become a hero and world champion, Jesse Owens is also about the elusive, fleeting quality of fame and the way Americans idolize athletes when they suit our purpose, and forget them once they don't. [From PBS]
*More on the 1936 Olympic Games at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/goebbels/peopleevents/e_olympics.html
Wednesday, May 2
Mystery Files: Sitting Bull
Smithsonian Channel, 1pm EST
He defied U.S. authorities and led his Lakota tribe to a stunning victory over the U.S. Army at The Battle of Little Bighorn. Or did he? Legend portrays Sitting Bull as a mastermind, the Napoleon of American Indians, but evidence shows he was not the war chief at Little Bighorn. He never even entered the battle. Join historians and excavators as they examine the details of this brutal massacre. By revisiting the battlefield and discovering clues in oral history secretly passed down through generations, they'll finally reveal Sitting Bull's true story. [From Smithsonian]
Thursday, May 3
James Cameron: Voyage to the Bottom of the Earth
NatGeo, 9pm EST
Plunging to the virtually unknown depths of the Mariana Trench, James Camerons DEEPSEA CHALLENGE expedition takes this National Geographic Explorer deeper and further than any filmmaker or solo explorer has ever gone before. The finish line lies below nearly 36,000 feet of seawater, weighing in at about 16,000 pounds of pressure on every square inch of sub. Now join him, moment by nail-biting moment, on this intimate glimpse inside the mind of a master traveler as he recounts his journey to the bottom of the Earth. [From NatGeo]
Saturday, May 5
10 Things You Don’t Know About mini-marathon
Sunday, May 6
H2, 1pm EST
Meet Dr. Benjamin Franklin--a far more complex figure than the squeaky-clean, larger than life Founding Father whose grandfatherly visage graces the hundred dollar bill. Inventor, politician, writer, businessman, scientist, diplomat--that, of course, is the mythic, legendary Ben Franklin. But it's not the only Ben Franklin. By his own admission, Franklin had more than his share of shortcomings and failures. Photographed largely on location in Philadelphia, and featuring in-depth interviews with biographers and historians, as well as liberal doses of Franklin's own, often humorous observations, the special allows viewers to "walk" in Franklin's footsteps. In this vivid portrait, we meet an earthy, brilliant, and flawed Franklin that one biographer believes would feel right at home in today's world. [From H2]
Secrets of World War II: Secrets of the Battle of the Bulge
Military Channel, 5pm EST
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