Fall TV Preview 2011-12: PBS

Just as HBO prepares to open the second-season of its Prohibition-era “Boardwalk Empire,” PBS will tell viewers the true tale of the period, with Ken Burns’ documentary “Prohibition” premiering the first of three episodes on Oct. 2.

And the way Burns and PBS talk about it, his presentation will be anything but sedate.

“Americans always love to watch people who get to kill the people who piss them off and women who take their clothes off at the drop of a hat,” Burns says.

Adds John Wilson, PBS’ senior VP and chief TV programming executive: “I think Ken Burns’ ‘Prohibition’ will really resonate with viewers. It has all the excitement and drama of any feature film from that era — sex, violence, wild women, thugs and guns — set against this great bitter cultural divide in the country.”

PBS also is launching its first — and it hopes, annual — Arts Fall Festival, featuring programming captured from around the country.

The series will bow Oct. 14 and run for nine weeks. Shows will take viewers from Seattle, with “American Masters’ Pearl Jam Twenty,” celebrating the band’s 20th anniversary, to the Blue Ridge Mountains, where it will explore the history of American music in “Give Me the Banjo,” with the multitalented Steve Martin narrating.

In addition, “Nova” translates Brian Greene’s best-selling book, “The Fabric of the Cosmos,” into riveting television, says Wilson, with episodes airing every Wednesday in November.

“It’s a stunning example of how entertaining and exciting science can be,” he says.

Watch the full episode. See more Ken Burns.

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