A per­sonal view of his­tory on ‘We’ll Meet Again’

Imperial Valley Press - - MOVIES & TV - Melissa Craw­ley To com­ment on Stay Tuned, email Melissa at stay­tuned@out­look.com or fol­low her on Twit­ter at @ Melis­saCraw­ley

“We’ll Meet Again,” a new six-part se­ries on PBS, un­der­stands the ap­peal of per­son­al­iz­ing his­tor­i­cal events and of­fers an in­ter­est­ing and of­ten mov­ing ex­plo­ration of what hap­pens when his­tory meets ev­ery­day life.

Each episode high­lights the friend­ships made be­tween peo­ple dur­ing im­por­tant his­tor­i­cal mo­ments and then re­unites those peo­ple, giv­ing them a chance to meet again.

It’s less a his­tory les­son and more a cel­e­bra­tion of the bonds forged be­tween peo­ple who have deeply im­pacted each other’s lives.

The se­ries, hosted by NBC news an­chor Ann Curry, is a com­bi­na­tion of per­sonal interview, archival footage and mys­tery, as the sub­jects of each episode seek help from spe­cial­ists in or­der to dis­cover clues that will lead them to long lost friends.

The well-paced for­mat is some­what sus­pense­ful and has many of the char­ac­ter­is­tics of shows that as­sist peo­ple in dis­cov­er­ing their an­ces­try.

The sub­jects of the first episode are Reiko Naguma, a Ja­panese-Amer­i­can who was 6-years-old when she was sent to an in­tern­ment camp and Peter En­gler, a Ger­man Jewish boy who fled the Nazis with his par­ents in 1938.

Reiko, now 83, wants to find her child­hood friend Mary Frances, to thank her for the kind­ness she showed her when anti-Ja­panese sen­ti­ment was at an all-time high. Peter wants to find Mar­garet, the daugh­ter of Fritz and Stella Adler, a cou­ple who were sur­ro­gate par­ents to him after he ar­rived in the Shang­hai Ghetto, the last refuge for Ger­man Jews es­cap­ing Hitler.

The episode moves be­tween Los An­ge­les and New York City, as Reiko and Peter tell their sto­ries and start their searches.

His­tor­i­cal footage and pho­to­graphs sup­ple­ment their mem­o­ries and Curry, who has a ten­dency to come across as some­what melo­dra­matic in her interview ap­proach, is none­the­less sin­cere as she gen­tly guides Reiko and Peter to re­visit their painful past.

One of the episode’s more com­pelling mo­ments is when Reiko re­traces her jour­ney from Los An­ge­les to the for­mer site of her in­tern­ment camp in Wy­oming.

She re­mem­bers that it was “iso­lated and iso­lat­ing” and as a 6-year-old, she couldn’t un­der­stand why she had to be there.

Watch­ing Reiko and Peter un­cover clues and track down their lost con­nec­tions is in­ter­est­ing, but the show’s big emo­tional mo­ment is their re­unions. Mar­garet tells Peter that “he was part of the fam­ily story.”

Both Reiko and Peter’s sto­ries are about big events, but the take­away is the small acts of kind­ness that made a last­ing dif­fer­ence in their lives.

It’s a les­son as rel­e­vant to the past as it is to the present.

PBS

Reiko and Mary Frances, re­united in “We’ll Meet Again.”

In this Nov. 12, 2014, file photo, Ann Curry at­tends the Pan­there de Cartier Col­lec­tion din­ner & party at Sky­light Clark­son Stu­dios in New York. PHOTO BY EVAN AGOSTINI/ INVISION/AP

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