What's Up, Docs?

Ah, summer -- everywhere else in the country, it's the sweet season of iced tea and bikinis and electric floor fans. But in central Arizona, iced tea is perennial, bikinis equal melanoma and electric floor fans are roughly as effective as they would be on the equator of the planet Mercury. While everybody elsewhere comes stumbling out from their interminable arctic hibernation, blinking in the unaccustomed light, for a time of festive outdoor play, here in the Valley it's time for us to withdraw inside like lizards wriggling into crevices.

And do what? Well, for one thing, watch TV. But alas, on the networks it's the season of reruns. You can rent movies, of course -- check out the column to the right for some pointers on the vintage Shaft flicks -- but if you want something fresh, it's time to turn to PBS, which once again serves up a season of brand-spanking-new one-hour documentaries on offbeat subjects on P.O.V.

The acclaimed show plays at 10 p.m. Tuesdays, through July 25 (July 4 excepted), on KAET-TV Channel 8. The Tuesday, June 20, selection is Butterfly, by Doug Wolens, a portrait of Northern California activist Julia Hill, who lived in a Redwood tree for two years until it was spared from clear-cutting.

Upcoming selections include Hannah Weyer's La Boda, a portrait of a wedding in the U.S.-Mexico border region (June 27); Elizabeth Barret's Stranger With a Camera, about the murder of a filmmaker in Appalachia (July 11); Elizabeth Thompson's Blink, a study of former white supremacist Greg Withrow (July 18); and Our House in Havana, which concerns a woman's return to Cuba after 40 years, and her attempt to come to grips with her pre-Castro nostalgia.

Several more editions of the show are then slated for selected Tuesdays, through September 26. For details call KAET at 480-965-2308.