TV Critic’s Corner

The Woodstock anniversary is coming at you, and PBS is on it

Joe Cocker onstage at Woodstock in August 1969.
Don Hogan Charles/The New York Times
Joe Cocker onstage at Woodstock in August 1969.

Next year is 2019, which means you ought to get ready for a lot of 50th anniversary madness for baby boomers. Yup, Woodstock will be five decades old, and media hysteria will ensue. Brown acid jokes will rain down upon us.

As is proper, PBS is already on it. The channel just announced a slate of upcoming projects, and one of them is a two-hour “American Experience” documentary due next year called “Woodstock,” directed by Barak Goodman. Three days, 500,000 people, and an eternity of ratings promise.

PBS has also named two other future docs. A four-hour film called “Reconstruction: America After the Civil War,” is due next spring. Executive produced and hosted by Henry Louis Gates Jr., it will look at how the divided nation struggled to rebuild. And “Ken Burns Presents the Gene: An Intimate History,” which will be executive produced by Burns and based on Siddhartha Mukherjee’s 2016 book, is due in 2020. The three-hour film will look at the role of genes on heredity, disease, and behavior.


PBS also announced a few upcoming “Masterpiece” series. Ruth Wilson, currently on “The Affair,” is producing a three-parter about her own grandmother, a woman who learned after her husband’s death that he was married to a number of women at the same time — and that he was a spy. Called “Mrs. Wilson,” it’s due next year, and Wilson will play her grandmother. “Press” will be a six-parter about rival newspapers in London, starring Ben Chaplin, David Suchet, and Charlotte Riley, and “Sanditon” will be an eight-parter based on Jane Austen’s unfinished novel, as adapted by Andrew Davies. Neither has a release date.

In addition to the return of “Poldark” and “The Durrells in Corfu,” next season’s “Masterpiece” schedule includes a few newcomers, by the way. “The Miniaturist” which begins on Sept. 9, is based on Jessie Burton’s novel about an 18-year-old woman sent to Amsterdam to marry a wealthy merchant in 1686. And “The Woman in White,” a five-parter starting Oct. 21, is based on Wilkie Collins’s 1859 classic, in which a young artist encounters the titular phantom and gets drawn in a mystery. The cast includes Ben Hardy, Dougray Scott, Charles Dance, and Jessie Buckley.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.