From dramas to docs, the Titanic centennial wont escape TVs notice. On special programming, viewers will be welcomed aboard the doomed luxury vessel, hear stories of its passengers and crew, and explore the legacy of its tragic end.
If you dont feel as if heading for your local movie house to see James Camerons Titanic re-released in 3-D splendor, you can catch a new dramatic telling of the epic saga on ABC.
This four-hour miniseries cant claim Leonardo DiCaprio, but it does have a big name attached: Julian Fellowes, the acclaimed screenwriter of Gosford Park, The Tourist and Downton Abbey. It airs through two nights, beginning at 7 p.m. April 14 and concluding the next night at 8 p.m. to mark the 100th anniversary of Titanics sinking.
Linus Roache (Law & Order) stars as lofty first-class passanger Hugh, Earl of Manton, while his wife, Louisa, is played by Geraldine Somerville (the Harry Potter films). Their daughter Georgianna is played by Perdita Weeks (The Tudors).
Each hour follows similar events from the perspectives of different passengers and crew, building to a powerful conclusion in the final hour that draws together all the stories during Titanics final moments and the final moments of many people it was carrying.
Other Titanic programming includes:
Saving the Titanic (premiered Sunday on most PBS stations) is a historical drama that tells of the self-sacrifice and bravery of the ships engineers, stokers and firemen in the face of impending death. What happened in the engine and boiler rooms after the collision? Based on eyewitness accounts, its the story of nine men from the engineering crew who battled to fight back the sea and keep the power running, even when they realized all was lost.
Titanics Final Mystery (Thursday on the Smithsonian Channel) re-examines two critical questions of the Titanics demise: Why did it hit the iceberg in the first place? And why did the ship closest to Titanic, the Californian, never come to its rescue? Author and Titanic expert Tim Maltin uncovers evidence that both ships were deceived by mirages, dooming Titanic to its fate.
Titanic: the Final Word with James Cameron (Sunday on National Geographic Channel) follows the Oscar-winning filmmaker and National Geographic explorer-in-residence as he dives back into Titanics mysteries. Cameron gathers some of the worlds leading Titanic experts to pore over underwater footage from Camerons more than 30 dives to the wreck, as well as historical records, survivor eyewitness accounts and scenes from Camerons blockbuster hit, as well as a never-before-seen stress model and forensic evidence. The goal: to answer questions about how the ship broke apart and why its remains are scattered.
Save the Titanic with Bob Ballard (April 9 on National Geographic Channel) sets the man who discovered the ships final resting place on a new quest: protecting Titanics underwater graveyard. As evidence mounts that the ship is under siege by natural forces, careless visitors and, possibly, rogue salvage attempts, Ballard mounts an effort to protect the legacy of historys most famous ship. Ballards odyssey takes him to the shipyards of Northern Ireland to meet with descendants of the men who helped build Titanic, then sailed on her maiden voyage.
The Titanic with Len Goodman (April 10 on most PBS stations) examines the impact of the sinking on the thousands of affected families, part of the Titanic legacy that lives on in the victims descendants. Len Goodman, best known as a judge on Dancing With the Stars, has his own connection: Before he was a dancer, he was a welder in East London for the company that built Titanic, in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Goodman takes viewers on an exploration of the ships 100-year legacy through the stories of the handpicked group of men who helped build Titanic and then died with it.
Why Ships Sink (April 18 on most PBS stations) is a Nova program that investigates the safety of current-day cruise ships, which keep getting bigger and bigger. Some engineers fear that these towering behemoths are dangerously unstable, and the recent tragedy of the Costa Concordia has raised new questions about their safety. Nova brings together marine engineering and safety experts to reconstruct the events that led to famous cruise disasters, including the ill-fated Concordia, the Sea Diamond and the Oceanos.