The three-day Memorial Day weekend is a great time to catch up on all those TV and streaming shows that you’ve been meaning to check out. (Have you watched “Tiger King” yet?).
But there’s also some television that actually serves as a reminder of what the holiday is about: honoring and mourning the military personnel who died serving our country.
With that in mind, here are a few viewing recommendations:
“The Pacific War in Color” (3 p.m. Saturday, May 23, Smithsonian Channel): This is a re-airing of Smithsonian’s ambitious, eight-episode series that aims to capture the scale, scope and savagery of the Pacific campaigns from the attacks on Pearl Harbor to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It’s told via rarely seen color home movies and combat footage. The entire series runs through 11 p.m. Saturday.
Sundance channel goes to war: Over the weekend, the Sundance Channel has scheduled several popular war films, including two airings of Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-winning World War II saga “Saving Private Ryan” (5 p.m. Saturday and midnight Sunday) and the 1968 Vietnam-set “The Green Berets” (9 p.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday). Also airing: “MacArthur” (2 p.m. Sunday), “Midway” (8 p.m. Sunday) and “Heartbreak Ridge” (11 p.m. Sunday).
“National Memorial Day Concert” (8 p.m. Sunday, May 24, PBS; check local listings): Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise host this annual celebration of American heroes. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the traditional live concert on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol won’t be held. In its place will be pretaped performances by Cynthia Erivo, Renee Fleming, CeCe Winans, Trace Adkins, Kelli O’Hara and Christopher Jackson.
“Grant” (9 p.m. Monday, History Channel): This three-night, six-hour miniseries chronicles the life of Ulysses S. Grant, one of the most complex and underappreciated generals and presidents in U.S. history. The production blends dramatized scenes, expert commentary and archival imagery to tell the story of a humble man who overcame incredible obstacles to rise to the highest ranks of power. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Chernow and Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio are among the executive producers.
Also of interest:
The National Geographic Channel has two WWII-themed specials airing before the weekend.
“WWII in Europe: Voices from the Front” (8 p.m., Thursday) reveals rarely seen archival footage and photographs and dozens of interviews with some of the last surviving veterans of WWII. Bob Woodruff of ABC News narrates.
And then there’s “Heroes of the Sky: The Real Mighty Eighth” (9 p.m., Thursday). It’s a two-hour special that introduces viewers to the American airmen who played a key role in shifting the outcome of WWII, risking their lives each time they stepped into the cockpit.