PBS explores the mystery of Jimi Hendrix’s life, music


Hard to believe, but in the four decades since Jimi Hendrix died, no one has made a great documentary about him. Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train a Comin’ on American Masters fixes that problem (8 p.m. Tuesday, PBS). It capably tells the story of Jimi’s rise from impoverished Seattle youth to rock star to drug casualty — an extraordinary journey of just 27 years.

The film is a trove of rare photos, previously unseen concert footage, letters and home movies. Hendrix’s colleagues (including a star-struck Paul McCartney) describe a shy young man who utterly transformed when he walked onstage. Indeed, it’s hard to connect the quiet Jimi in interviews with the strutting psychedelic god who slashes through “Purple Haze” and “Foxy Lady.” None of the commentators adequately explain the power of his music, whose mix of the earthy and the ethereal still raises hairs on the back of your neck.

I can’t explain it either. Stop reading this review and watch Hendrix in action.

Grimm friday, 8 p.m. (Nbc) I
know a lot of people like this drama about a Portland detective who, as
a descendent of the Brothers Grimm, fights ancient evil in the modern
world. I want to like it myself, but as an infrequent viewer, I struggle
simply to understand what’s going on.

this week’s episode, our hero, Nick (David Giuntoli), turns into an
animal. Sort of. Then all his friends inexplicably begin calling him

Meanwhile, a
medium with a thick accent makes a pretty blond woman perform weird
rituals with a corpse. “You must become accustomed to zee smell of
death!” she insists. Why this is true, I never figured out. I was too
busy trying to decipher the bits of German dialogue.

the end of the episode, I was more confused than when I started. But I
admit I had become slightly more accustomed to zee smell of death.

Time of Death friday, 8 p.m. (showtime) Time of Death is
a reality series, but not the fun kind. Call it a grim-reality series.
It brings us close to terminally ill people facing their mortality and
follows them up to the last minutes of their lives. In the premiere
episode, we meet Maria, a single mother, and Michael, a Navy vet, both
of whom have cancer. We know from the outset that their stories won’t
end happily, at least in the conventional TV sense. But given that we’ll
all be in their boat one day, we can find inspiration in their humor, their sense of perspective
and their concern for their loved ones. Maria and Michael look
unflinchingly at the transience of life, and Time of Death asks us to do the same.

Dracula friday, 9 p.m. (Nbc) Last week, I denounced Dracula’s premiere
episode while eagerly looking forward to episode two. Why would I look
forward to another hour of preposterous plotting, nonsensical dialogue
and cringe-inducing characters? Because Dracula is not simply
bad, but deliriously, entertainingly bad. What makes it a trash-TV
classic is that the filmmakers take the would-be horror seriously, not
realizing that viewers at home are howling with laughter. You know your
Dracula series is in trouble when even the main characters are confused
about the plot points.

Civil War 360 sunday, 7 p.m (smithsonian channel) In
each of its three parts, this documentary offers a new point of view on
the Civil War. Actress Ashley Judd tells us about the Union, actor
Dennis Haysbert about the slaves and country singer Trace Adkins about
the Confederacy. In this day, representing the Confederacy’s perspective
is the tricky part. Adkins can’t go so far as to celebrate its cause
without offending most of the national audience. Believe it or not, he
celebrates their cause. Adkins insists that the South merely “wanted to
define freedom on its own terms,” without acknowledging that such
“freedom” involved owning people. A single, sensible sentence about the
evils of slavery would have gone a long way toward making the episode

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