Matt Roush, News, Syndicate, Television, Worth Watching

On Juneteenth, Stories of ‘Black Barbie’ and Jesse Owens’ Olympics Triumph, Netflix Streams ‘Dexter,’ PBS Turns to Nature

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TV commemorates the Juneteenth holiday with specials including a documentary about the creation of the first Black Barbie doll and a historical portrait of Olympic track and field legend Jesse Owens, who won four Gold medals at the 1936 Berlin games under Hitler’s watch. In advance of an upcoming prequel on Paramount+ with Showtime, Netflix begins streaming all eight seasons of the original Dexter thriller series. PBS launches two nature series, Dynamic Planet (about extreme environments adapting to climate change) and Hope in the Water (about creative approaches to fishing and preserving our seas).

Shonda Rhimes in 'Black Barbie' on Netflix

Netflix

Black Barbie: A Documentary

When a Black employee at Mattel asked the company’s co-founder Ruth Handler, “Why don’t we make a Barbie that looks like me?,” the stage was set for a breakthrough in representation resulting in the first Barbie of color in 1980. Black Barbie broadens out from the stories of three Black women within Mattel to reveal the history of Black dolls and the significance of children seeing themselves in the toys and dolls of their playtime.

Jesse Owens as seen in 'Triumph: Jesse Owens and the Berlin Olympics'

History Channel

Triumph: Jesse Owens and the Berlin Olympics

One of the most celebrated figures in track and field history, Jesse Owens defied the racist Nazi policies of host country Germany and its leader Adolf Hitler when he competed at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, winning four gold medals (100-meter dash, long jump, 200-meter dash, 4×100-meter dash). A documentary from LeBron James and Maverick Carter’s SpringHill Company and narrated by Don Cheadle, Triumph frames Owens’ success against the racism of his times, including on the home front in his native U.S.

Dexter - Michael C. Hall

Randy Tepper / © Showtime / Courtesy Everett Collection

Dexter

Showtime (or rather, Paramount+ with Showtime) is currently underway on Dexter: Original Sin, a prequel to this breakout thriller about Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall), a serial killer of serial killers and other villains who escaped justice. His ingenious cover occupation: blood spatter analyst for the Miami police. The gripping series’ eight-season run (2006-13) is now available for bingeing — minus the 2021-22 Dexter: New Blood sequel. The show peaked in its must-see fourth season, featuring John Lithgow’s Emmy-winning guest performance as Arthur Mitchell, aka the diabolical Trinity Killer. If this is your first encounter with Dexter, prepare to get hooked.

'Dynamic Planet' on PBS

PBS

Dynamic Planet

If you have sweated through or are about to endure an early eve-of-summer heat wave, welcome to climate change. A four-part docuseries travels to all seven continents of the Earth to witness extreme conditions of global warming, showing how the planet and its inhabitants are adapting and how conservations and scientists are planning for the future. The opening segment, “Ice,” takes us to the melting icecaps of Antarctica and the Arctic and the heights of the Himalayas, with footage of polar bears hunting beluga whales from the shoreline, a seal hunter in Greenland driving his dogsled over thin ice and a village in India where engineers built a 90-foot-tall ice mountain from a retreating glacier to store water for crops.

Baratunde Thurston in 'Hope in the Water' on PBS

PBS

Hope in the Water

David E. Kelley (Presumed Innocent) teams with renowned chef/entrepreneur Andrew Zimmern for a three-part docuseries that looks to our vast watery depths — they call it aquaculture — for new ways to feed the planet and to preserve the oceans. In the premiere, journalist and TV personality Baratunde Thurston (America Outdoors) explores a sustainable diamondback squid fishery in Puerto Rico that emerged from 2017’s Hurricane Maria devastation. The episode also travels to Oahu for the restoration of an ancient fishpond and a Scottish isle that closed its waters to fishing to replenish the marine population.

Josh Gates in 'Expedition Unknown' Season 13

Discovery

Expedition Unknown

Global explorer Josh Gates is back for his 13th season, opening with a wide-ranging two-part premiere in which he joins a team digging in Egypt hoping to discover the lost tomb of Alexander the Great. Excavating in modern Alexandria has its risks, and when a water pump malfunctions, it could put the entire expedition at risk. Followed by the series premiere of Alien Encounters: Fact or Fiction (10/9c), in which UFO mavens Mitch Horowitz and Chrissy Newton assess claims of extraterrestrial encounters, including in the premiere, a geologist who’s found new evidence in debris at the legendary Roswell crash site and a mom whose alleged sighting of a mysterious orb left her with radiation burns.

INSIDE WEDNESDAY TV:

  • Summer Olympic Trials (8/7c, NBC): Coverage of swimming trials continue from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
  • Walker (8/7c, The CW): Only one more episode to go, and Geri (Odette Annable) is determined to get Walker (Jared Padalecki) to open up to her.
  • MasterChef: Generations (8/7c, Fox): The auditions wrap with Gen X chefs vying for those coveted aprons. MasterChef winner Christine Ha returns as the guest judge. Followed by Gordon Ramsay’s Food Stars (9/8c), where the teams create ad campaigns and a commercial for their own branded limited-edition wine to impress enthusiasts.
  • Car Wash (8/7c, Turner Classic Movies): A night of “Soulful Journeys,” reflecting the Black experience in 1970s cinema in celebration of Juneteenth, opens with Michael Shultz’s 1976 ensemble comedy, followed by Diana Ross in 1975’s Mahogany (10/9c), Ron O’Neal in 1972’s blaxploitation hit Super Fly (midnight/11c), Richard Roundtree as 1971’s iconic Shaft (1:45 am/12:45c) and Irene Cara in the 1976 musical melodrama Sparkle (3:30 am/2:30c).
  • Top Chef (9/8c, Bravo): Season 21 wraps with the three remaining chefs — Danny Garcia, Dan Jacobs and Savannah Miller — creating a four-course progressive meal to impress the judges and claim the coveted title. The finale was filmed aboard the cruise ship Eurodam in the Caribbean.
  • Dark Matter (streaming on Apple TV+): Worlds collide in exponential ways in the mind-teasing penultimate episode of the sci-fi thriller. Jason 1, finally back home, and Jason 2 (Joel Edgerton) are sharing the same dimension again, and it’s going to get messy.

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