‘Globe Trekker’: Flip to PBS on practically any day and odds are you’re only a few hours from this landmark show, which got a leg up on the current travel-oriented TV craze with its mission of seeing the world on a budget and its knack for breathtaking outdoor adventures. Plus with reruns stretching as far back as 1994, you have a chance to see former host and current “Sexiest Man” Bradley Cooper battle both the Alaskan wild and a serious case of ‘90s hair.
‘The Debt’: The film was initially promoted as a Helen Mirren-as-James Bond thriller, but the pleasures in this straightforward yet still tense drama run much deeper than chase scenes and shoot-'em-ups. The movie concerns a Mossad team’s bungled attempt to capture a Nazi doctor and the fallout from its ultimate outcome, and its flashback-heavy structure may disappoint Mirren fans. But when she’s on-screen, Mirren carries the film’s regret-fueled core as few actresses can.
TV series as cult objects: Whether the result of the Internet’s thirst for chatter or the ease with which shows can be consumed in obsessive binges, it’s no longer enough for a series to be good, it must become a cause. Consider “Downton Abbey,” a well-done (if familiar) British costume drama earning PBS some deserved press: Can’t such a show just be enjoyable without inspiring theme parties, evangelical social media testimony and inevitably unrealistic expectations?
National anthem outrage: If a sports championship is near, it must be time for a celebrity to bungle a pregame take on the singer-slaying “Star-Spangled Banner.” Last week, it was Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, who outraged a nation of frustrated “American Idol” judges; after so much outcry, it’s time for two choices. Accept that, like nations, no two versions of the song can be alike, or prevent future hand-wringing by opting for the more agreeable “America the Beautiful.”
— Chris Barton