PBS (Tues., July 25, 10 P.M. ET)
The answer is, the best PBS show this summer. The question, what is P.O.V.? (The title comes from a filmmaker’s term, point of view.) This edition of the weekly series, which presents independent, nonfiction films, is a mouth-watering double dip of American culture. The first segment, called Wise Guys, takes a backstage look at the annual $100,000 Tournament of Champions of the television quiz show Jeopardy! The second, called Coming Out, is about Washington, D.C.’s debutante cotillion.
Wise Guys, made by David Hartwell, poignantly captures the high-strung Jeopardy! contestants in both victory and defeat. Although the title refers to the program’s finalists, it could just as aptly be applied to Jeopardy’s occasionally caustic host, Alex Trebek, who’s even more caustic off-stage than on.
Coming Out, which was shot in black and white, is a deft, nonjudgmental look at Washington’s annual debutante roundup. Watching these proper young ladies go through all their fatuous rituals, from picking out their dresses to practicing their curtsies, is enough to make you want to take back the corsage, move to India and go to work for Mother Teresa.
Jeff Jarvis is on special assignment.