Free to air
The Story of the Jews
Saturday, 8.30pm, SBS One Tonight is the second episode of Simon Schama’s epic five-part documentary series on the Jewish people. It is his personal story as a Jewish man, and also the story that inspired him to become a historian. Tonight he looks at how medieval Jews struggled to stay Jewish under the rule of Christians and Muslims, through periods of persecution and tolerance. The program starts with the Jewish expulsion from Spain 1492. It comes after the recent and well-received announcement that Spain will offer citizenship to Sephardic Jews as a gesture of conciliation. It goes to show how history intersects with the present, and real people’s lives.
Cities of the Underworld
Saturday, 7.30pm, Seven Two (Not SA) The conceit of this program is simple to understand: fascinating histories lie beneath the world’s major cities. What defies understanding, however, is why this program carries the supplementary title Land of Manson: Los Angeles. Charles Manson? At the start, there is a failed attempt to uncover more potential Manson victims in the desert, but my best estimate is they uncovered about 10cm of topsoil. Manson unsuccessfully searched the desert in the 1960s for a subterranean refuge. Putting aside this confusion, this episode also features a fascinating exploration of World War II bunkers; a sub-City Hall command and control centre; and ghost terminals from LA’s long-abandoned subway.
Sunday, 9pm, Seven Fate has it in for poor Anna and Mr Bates. Anna continues to keep her rape a secret from him and everyone else, and Bates is left without an explanation for Anna’s unusual behaviour. Lady’s maid Edna Braithwaite got punted from the house once before: why did they ever let her back in? In this episode, her designs on Tom are revealed by Mrs Hughes, whose flashes of temper are genuinely terrifying. Mary and Lord Gillingham have a serious discussion about the future. Am I alone in wondering where Mary’s newborn George is? What an old-school nanny he must have: neither seen nor heard for long stretches. And Mrs Hughes and Carson the butler continue their platonic, The Remains of the Dayesque friendship. Julian Fellowes must be saving up this juicy story-line.