To cite Tom Wolfe’s quotation of Marshall McLuhan, “People don’t read the morning newspaper, they slip into it like a warm bath.” OK, there are fewer of us who read the morning newspaper that way anymore. But other art forms are just as inviting.
PBS documentaries come to mind. Ever since Ken Burns’ “The Civil War” arrived way back in 1990, people have come to expect a certain kind of nonfiction film to provide not just information and education, but an all-enveloping environment — complete with a gift shop, if it’s pledge-drive month.
The three-part “American Experience” documentary miniseries “Chasing the Moon” (9 p.m., PBS, TV-PG) offers viewers more than a glance back at the Apollo program of some 50 years ago. It’s a long, languid meditation on the entire Space Race and the Cold War that inspired it.
“Chasing” opens with what seems like a 10-minute tracking shot of a Saturn V rocket. It’s a belabored and indulgent scene that sets the tone for this meditative effort.
According to PBS, the filmmaker spent five years scouring government and film archives for original material. And he’s hit some pay dirt. We see rare footage of President Kennedy inspecting a Saturn booster at Cape Canaveral scant days before his assassination. We also visit a cocktail lounge in Cocoa Beach and listen to a singer deliver a slightly risque song about her astronaut lover.
“Chasing the Moon” includes insights from television producers who created the legendary imagery, gossip about the emerging news media and space program, and even insights from the son of Nikita Khrushchev, the Russian leader who made the most of Soviet space triumphs.
Beautiful and belabored, this “American Experience” is a little lacking in broad historical perspective and in historians.
The Space Race was very much a product of a time in the Cold War when Democrats were far more hawkish than Republicans about the Soviet rocket threat and about military spending in general. After Sputnik shocked the world in 1957, Democrats won the Senate in 1958 and the White House in 1960 by painting Republicans, personified by President Eisenhower, as out of touch with the new era that they would soon dub the New Frontier.
Kennedy’s vigor, gung-ho attitude and impetuous energy inspired him to reach for the moon. It also landed the American military in a quagmire called Vietnam. The very war that “old-fashioned” Eisenhower had resisted for his entire presidency.
These issues might arise if this were a historical documentary and not a soothing three-night soak in a hot tub time machine.
• Dudes don’t look like a lady when the “American Pickers” (8 p.m., History, TV-PG) guys check out Aerosmith’s tour bus. Stick around for “Chuck Norris’s Epic Guide to Military Vehicles” (9 p.m., History, TV-PG) or check out the 15th season opener of “Fast N’ Loud” (9 p.m., Discovery).
• Obstacles galore on “American Ninja Warrior” (8 p.m., NBC, TV-PG).
• Jamie Foxx hosts “Beat Shazam” (8 p.m., Fox, TV-PG).
• Sluggers swing for the fences at the 2019 Home Run Derby (8 p.m., ESPN).
• Stage 3 of the 2019 Tour de France (8 p.m., NBCSN).
• Gitmo intrigue on “The Code” (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
• The Los Angeles auditions conclude on “So You Think You Can Dance” (9 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
• A guest worries Santiago on “Grand Hotel” (10 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
• Climbing the family tree on “Legion” (10 p.m., FX, TV-MA).
• Will and Jaden Smith star in the 2006 drama “The Pursuit of Happyness” (9:30 p.m., Sho2), a rare film that asks viewers to empathize with characters experiencing poverty and homelessness.
On two helpings of “The Neighborhood” (CBS, R, TV-PG), a grim reminder (8 p.m.) romance (8:30 p.m.) ... A woman wooed on “The Bachelorette” (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) ... Illusionists audition on “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” (8 p.m., CW, TV-PG) ... A new episode of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” (9 p.m., CW, TV-PG), followed by a repeat (9:30 p.m., TV-14) ... Evidence tampering on “Bull” (10 p.m., CBS, R, TV-14) ... “Dateline” (10 p.m., NBC, TV-PG).
Jimmy Fallon welcomes Kate Beckinsale, Ralph Macchio and Rudy Francisco on “The Tonight Show” (11:35 p.m., NBC, R) ... Olivia Munn, Ramy Youssef and Matt Maeson visit “Late Night With Seth Meyers” (12:35 a.m., NBC, R) ... Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson and Zachary Levi appear on “The Late Late Show With James Corden” (12:35 a.m., CBS, R).
Jul 05, 2019 11:51AM (GMT 14:51) - 249 words
By AMANDA LEE MYERS Associated Press
Eds: Updates with quotes. Links photo. AP Photos. With AP Photos.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The first openly transgender actor in the Marvel Universe says there needs to be more representation of his experience.
Zach Barack plays a classmate of Peter Parker's in "Spider-Man: Far From Home." His gender identity is not addressed in the brief role.
Barack said that to him, superhero movies "always felt like a trans story because it's talking about identity."
"It's about separating what people know about you and what they don't," Barack said at last week's premiere of the film. "And I think that's something I kind of live with every day. And on top of that, I don't see a lot of trans-masculine people on television or trans men specifically, and getting to be part of that is beyond unreal."
The 23-year-old Chicago-area native, who also appeared in the TV series "L.A.'s Finest," said there needs to be more roles for trans people in all sorts of movies.
"The truth is you have to put out there what people want to see and what people need to see," he said. "And as a young person who is trans, I didn't see a trans man on TV ever, ever, really, until I was like, 17. So having a fun movie about a class going on a trip together, and I get to be part of that, I can't even ..."
The new Spider-Man movie is now playing in theaters.