For documentarian Ken Burns, the Dust Bowl should be more than just a tragic piece of American history.
“Conventional wisdom and shorthand history seem to always relegate the story of the Dust Bowl to just a handful of storms and an inevitable connection to John Steinbeck’s ‘The Grapes of Wrath,’ ” he told journalists recently.
“We quickly discovered, however, a much more complex, tragic and interesting story that continues . . . to resonate today.”
“The Dust Bowl” (8 p.m. EST Sunday and Monday; check local PBS station listings) is a massive documentary that examines the environmental crisis of the 1930s that changed life in the Great Plains and Midwest. Archival footage, interviews and environmental experts talk of the Dust Bowl and its impact.
Burns calls the event “the greatest manmade ecological disaster in American history” and a 10-year “apocalypse” marked by hundreds of dust blizzards that killed people, crops and cattle.
As a chronicle about endurance, “the Dust Bowl just remains as a good story,” Burn says, “and you can find it in these lessons, and, fortunately, we don’t have to hit you over the head with it.”
Other highlights for the week of Nov. 18-24 (listings subject to change; check local listings):
— “American Music Awards” (8 p.m., ABC). The 40th-anniversary live edition of the awards show is scheduled to include performances by Carrie Underwood, Pink, Taylor Swift and Pitbull. Winners are determined by fan votes in categories of pop/ rock, country, electronic dance music and others.
— “The Voice” (8 p.m., NBC). The Top 10 singers perform.
— “Dancing with the Stars: All Stars” (8 p.m., ABC). A week before the finale, the last remaining contestants vie for votes in a rush.
–“Hawaii Five-0″ (10 p.m., CBS). McGarrett has his own holiday trials: He tries to reunite his mother and his sister.
— James Bond movie marathon (midnight, Syfy). It begins with “For Your Eyes Only” and will also include “Thunderball” (airing 3 a.m. Friday).
— “My Brother The Serial Killer” (9 p.m., Investigation Discovery). This fact-based film tells the story of serial killer Glen Rogers through the eyes of his siblings.
— “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade” (9 a.m., NBC). The annual event glides through Manhattan, with dozens of elaborate floats, marching bands and celebrities.
— “Bad25″ (9:30 p.m., ABC). Spike Lee put together this track-by-track tribute to Michael Jackson’s iconic album “Bad.” Producer Quincy Jones and Martin Scorsese are interviewed about how it was made and the impact it left on music.
— “Jingle and Bell’s Christmas Star” (7 p.m., Hallmark Channel). A dog displaced by a move learns an important message about how to celebrate the holidays properly.
— “Frosty The Snowman” (8 p.m., CBS). A must-see for families: The classic holiday special with the late Jimmy Durante as the narrator.
— “Dungeons and Dragons: The Book of Vile Darkness” (9 p.m., Syfy). A warrior risks his life fighting dragons and other supernatural creatures in order to save his father.
Email Terry Morrow of The Knoxville News Sentinel in Tennessee at [email protected]