The Wild West Is Corralled On PBS

Saddle up, partners. There’s good news for anyone who likes to explore the heroes and the hardships of the Old (and not so old) West. PBS presents a series of programs that explore life on the American frontier, as well as the legends and lore that persist today.

• In April, PBS presents “Show Cattle,” a new documentary that takes viewers behind the scenes of the Fryeburg Fair-New England’s biggest and most prestigious show cattle competition. Held annually in October, the fair signals a time when cattle lovers gather to bathe, groom, clip and show their animals over three days of intense competition for the coveted crown of Supreme Champion.

• In May, viewers can circle their wagons around the latest hands-on-history series, “Texas Ranch House.” This program challenges a group of intrepid time-travelers to experience the exhilaration and exhaustion of life in the Old West.

• Leaving the present in search of the past, viewers in May can also travel to the heart of Western history in “Remember the Alamo.” Long before the Alamo made heroes of Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett, Jose Antonio Navarro and a group of Tejanos-Mexicans of Texas who had lived there for generations-started the battle for Texas. This program explores the life of the famed Tejano leader and his efforts to protect the sovereignty of his homeland as it passed through the hands of many governments.

• The trail moves from the harsh realities of Western life to the legends that life has created in “Annie Oakley,” which tells the tale of the star of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, the young woman who thrilled audiences around the world with her daring shooting feats. A champion in a man’s sport, Oakley forever changed ideas about the abilities of women, yet she opposed female suffrage.

• The journey ends with a modern-day look at the ways two masters of American cinema collaborated to create a number of classic Western movies in “John Ford/John Wayne: The Filmmaker and the Legend.” Their friendship and professional collaboration resulted in a remarkable body of work that included “Stagecoach,” “Fort Apache,” “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” and “The Searchers.”

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