Retro Report on PBS is a new one-hour magazine-format series hosted by journalist Celeste Headlee and artist Masud Olufani and featuring New Yorker humorist Andy Borowitz. Retro Report on PBS offers viewers a fresh perspective on current headlines, revealing their unknown — and often surprising — connections to the past.
In today’s 24-hour news cycle, with breaking headlines, all-news networks and online outlets constantly competing for attention, Retro Report on PBS aims to widen the discussion, revealing the story behind the story, providing new insights into how today’s events have been shaped by the past.
Each episode will explore four distinct stories, closing with “Now It All Makes Sense,” a special segment featuring the wit and wisdom of Andy Borowitz.
When to Watch
The eight-episode series comes to CPTV Mondays at 10 p.m. and Tuesdays at 9 p.m. beginning Monday, October 7 and Tuesday, October 8, 2019. Episodes will also be available to stream on pbs.org and the PBS App.
Episode 1: Monday, October 7 at 10 p.m.
Explore how social media’s addictive power today might be explained by psychological experiments from the 1950s. Discover how recent NFL protests have ties to 1968. See how Wall Street women fought harassment before #MeToo, and learn why pythons are invading the Everglades. Andy Borowitz compares political ads to cigarettes.
Episode 2: Tuesday, October 8 at 9 p.m.
See how data pulled from DNA websites is solving cold cases and how drug rules stem from one pill’s side effects. Learn how a screen addiction cure is rooted in the past and why Americans are ambivalent about robots. Andy Borowitz objects to “no news.”
Episode 3: Monday, October 14 at 10 p.m.
Dig into bystander behavior and learn how a decades-old murder can shed light on how we react to online violence. Explore the connection between the Navy’s 1990s Tailhook scandal and the decision to open combat roles to women today. See why psychedelic drugs like LSD have become a promising treatment for depression. Follow the voyage of a trash barge in the 1980s that persuaded us to recycle. Andy Borowitz highlights lunar hoaxes.
Episode 4: Tuesday, October 15 at 9 p.m.
President Trump’s strategy for dealing with the press is strikingly similar to the path taken decades ago by a previous president. Learn the origin of vaccine fears and why measles cases are soaring. Discover the origins behind free agency in sports, which date back to a baseball pioneer, and the unintended consequences of a law intended to rescue wild horses. Andy Borowitz bemoans the no-apology apology.
Episode 5: Monday, October 21 at 10 p.m.
Learn why texting may be able to reduce suicide rates and why surrogate parenthood is still being shaped by the Baby M. case. Investigate why lead, banned years ago, is still a danger, and why a solution for global warming may come from a Cold War concept. Andy Borowitz recalls a flaming river.
Episode 6: Tuesday, October 22 at 9 p.m.
Discover the lessons from a 1970s public housing experiment and understand the roots of routine newborn testing. Explore head injuries in pro sports and see why too few people, not too many, is a problem. Andy Borowitz takes on Space Force.
Episode 7: Monday, October 28 at 10 p.m.
Learn how risks are measured after the Challenger disaster and how current immigration controversies echo the past. Discover the truth behind the infamous lawsuit over hot coffee and the origin of special ops forces. Andy Borowitz tackles TV bullying.
Episode 8: Tuesday, October 29 at 9 p.m.
Discover how current sex education programs are informed by past failures and how a myth about juvenile crime has now been debunked. Uncover the story behind new AIDS hot spots and learn the legacy of Napster. Andy Borowitz looks at Anita Bryant’s unintended influence.