The Sunday premiere of Mercy Street, PBS’s first original American drama in more than a decade, drew an audience of 3.3 million.
That’s a good start for a series that has two daunting jobs to do at once: A) replace Downton Abbey, the most successful drama in PBS history; B) prove that American public television can make great scripted TV instead of just importing it from the U.K.
“I just don’t think that this kind of fake prestige television will fool anyone,” she told me on The Pub.
This week, we hear Thomas’ take on where PBS’s big-budget effort went wrong, and contemplate the role of expensive dramatic series in public service broadcasting.
Also, Michigan Radio proves what public media is all about with its Flint water coverage, and I make an argument that is unlikely to win me friends: News people should stop referring to Martin Luther King Jr. as “Dr. King.”
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Adam Ragusea hosts Current’s weekly podcast The Pub and is a journalist in residence and visiting assistant professor at Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism.
Related stories from Current:
- PBS’s Mercy Street debuts with Amazon streaming deal in place
- Historical details set bar for Mercy Street, a rare American drama on PBS
- Kerger on end of Downton: “Great television begets great television”