PBS History Detectives Reformatted with Cold Case Investigations, 7/1 - 7/22
History Detectives SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS, a new take on a PBS favorite, delves into the past this summer to explore some of America's most intriguing mysteries. Four episodes introduce the fresh perspective of a new detective and focus on a single story per hour. HDSI, the reformatted eleventh season of HISTORY DETECTIVES, debuts Tuesday, July 1-22, 2014, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET on PBS. Also debuting on July 1 is TIME SCANNERS at 8:00 p.m.
In each episode of History Detectives SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS, veteran detectives Tukufu Zuberi and Wes Cowan join forces with new host Kaiama Glover to probe a single iconic mystery from America's past. What was behind the tragic sinking of the SS Sultana, one of the worst maritime disasters in U.S. history, at the end of the American Civil War? Can the detectives solve the mystery of one of the country's first recorded serial killings, the Austin Servant Girl Murders of the 1880s? What led to the mysterious vanishing of big band leader Glenn Miller during World War II? Who killed Jimmy Hoffa - and why?
The HDSI team brings modern forensic Science and cutting-edge tools to these historical conundrums. As they discover new evidence, sift through clues and crisscross the country in search of answers, they uncover fresh leads and information to tell captivating stories from a new angle.
"We're giving the History Detectives a broader mission this season," says Bill Gardner, Vice President of Programming and Development for PBS. "They're using modern technology to solve some of the toughest cold cases in U.S. history, and what they uncover is pretty surprising."
The hosts of History Detectives SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS are:
• Wesley Cowan, independent appraiser and auctioneer;
• Tukufu Zuberi, professor of sociology and the director of the Center for Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania; and
• Kaiama Glover, professor of literature of the French-speaking Caribbean and sub-Saharan West African cinema at Barnard College, Columbia University.
OFFICIAL PROGRAM DESCRIPTIONS:
HISTORY DETECTIVES SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS--Civil War Sabotage?
Tuesday, July 1, 2014, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET
It was one of the worst maritime disasters in U.S. history. Officially, the death toll was 1,500. Unofficially, the count may have been far higher. When it mysteriously exploded on April 27, 1865, the Mississippi steamboat SS Sultana was packed with Union soldiers. The war had ended that month; at every stop more and more men clamored to board the homeward-bound ship, which blew up mid-river. However, the story of the sinking quickly vanished from the papers. What really sank the Sultana? Was it Confederate sabotage? Securing the original investigative report and its archives allows the team to forensically examine and scientifically test theories of the boilers' failure. The team also researches the stories of a Confederate agent and spy who burned Union ships on the Mississippi and was an expert in using "coal torpedoes" and a former Union inspector's deathbed revelation.
HISTORY DETECTIVES SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS--The Disappearance of Glenn Miller
Tuesday, July 8, 2014, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET
One of the most celebrated, beloved entertainers of the wartime era takes off from England in heavy fog, heading to France to entertain troops. His plane vanishes. Glenn Miller's disappearance is perhaps the biggest mystery and cold case of World War II. This History Detectives investigation contains a great deal of new information: Miller's pilot was a rank novice who had never flown over the English Channel, never mind in appalling weather; documents from a Lancaster bomber pilot support another possible accounting of the plane's disappearance; and a 17-year old plane spotter's notebook - discovered in 2012 at a UK Antiques Roadshow - answers a question that has long baffled investigators: which route did Miller's aircraft take? In addition, the German-speaking Miller was working for the U.S. Army's Psychological Warfare Division, recording German language propaganda broadcasts and musical performances.
HISTORY DETECTIVES SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS--Texas Servant Girl Murders
Tuesday, July 15, 2014, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET
In 1885, six African-American servants and two white society women were killed in Austin, Texas - almost all bludgeoned with an ax, dragged from their beds and raped. As quickly as the killings started, they stopped. No killer was ever identified. Desperate to find someone to blame, the authorities first rounded up hundreds of black men. Later, they pointed the finger at a white man, James Philips, whom they accused of murdering his teenage bride. Although Philips was eventually acquitted, the trial was akin to the OJ Simpson trial, with sensational, lurid details spilling out in court. After the furor and panic died down, so did the memory of the killings. Can the History Detectives solve these murders? They pore over the records and apply cutting-edge police techniques to determine who killed the servant girls of Austin.