I love PBS. Frontline, American Experience, Nova, Charley Rose are best things on American television. If I could buy a retired East German television one could set to only one channel, I would buy one for my kids welded to PBS. I would therefore fiercely defend public broadcasting against its various know-nothing congressional opponents. Every now and then, PBS makes this job harder with some dumb or tone-deaf decisions.
Case in point: Did I dream that Stanley Tucci is hosting a PBS wine tasting show? Was this a Daily Show sketch, maybe a Rush Limbaugh riff? No. It is real, a show called Vine Talk. I somehow missed this until today, when I heard about it on Slate’s Culture Gabfest, which panned it.
Aside from embodying every stereotype of boring upper-class bicoastal gastronomic snobbery, Vine Talk is another example of PBS larding its schedule with stuff that might once have belonged on the pre-cable PBS, and that might today be fine on the Cooking Channel or CNBC, but that serves no broader public purpose. I’m not even counting the unwatchable Pledge Drive shows that showcase Suzie Orman or various septuagenarian ’60’s Motown stars onstage in, well, unfortunately choreographed performances.
With everything happening in the world, I don’t get why PBS feels it should do stuff like this. Foodies don’t seem to like the show. I don’t care about that. Even if this program were excellent, it’s hardly the sort of thing that needs to be on public broadcasting. I just don’t get it. It’s a joke, right?