9/11 Specials Look Back with Heartbreak, Forward with Hope

Lower Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001 (Photo: History Channel)

Lower Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001 (Photo: History Channel)

It’s the time of year when TV fans are looking forward to a new fall television season, but before that can happen, there’s something more serious that we’ll all have to get through first: 9/11.

Next Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the terrorist sneak attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and TV has already begun commemorating the event as never before (or at least since the fifth anniversary in 2006).

Appropriately, the lion’s share of special commemorative programming will be seen on that actual date – Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011. Expect live coverage on all the broadcast networks and cable news channels of all the various memorial events — from the World Trade Center site in New York to the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa.

But even before next Sunday rolls around, TV will be hip-deep in 9/11 specials – a number of which have already premiered: “George W. Bush: The 9/11 Interview” on National Geographic Channel, the two-part “Rising: Rebuilding Ground Zero” on Discovery Channel, and “Nick News with Linda Ellerbee: What Happened? The Story of 9/11” on Nickelodeon.

Watch a clip from Discovery’s “Rising: Rebuilding Ground Zero” here:

[iframe http://xfinitytv.comcast.net/tv/Rising%3A-Rebuilding-Ground-Zero/106434/2103369768/Lifting-120-Tons-of-Steel/embed 580 476]

There are literally dozens of 9/11 shows from which to choose this week — a number of them repeats from commemorations past, and a number of them newly produced. Among the channels planning multiple programs are NatGeo, History Channel, TLC and all the cable news channels – Fox, CNN and MSNBC. Also look for special programs on CBS, ABC and NBC.

How do you choose which ones to watch? We have a few recommendations to help you out, starting with what’s on this weekend and beyond:

Saturday (Sept. 3) on National Geographic Channel: “CIA Confidential: 9/11 Mastermind” (8/7c), “Giuliani’s 9/11” (9/8c), “George W. Bush: The 9/11 Interview” (10/9c).

“Targeting Bin Laden,” Tuesday, Sept. 6, at 8 p.m./7c on History Channel: This new two-hour show is billed as the definitive story of the raid last spring on the Pakistani compound that resulted in the death, finally, of Osama bin Laden. Among those interviewed: President Obama.

“Nova: Engineering Ground Zero,” Wednesday, Sept. 7, at 9/8c on PBS: Nine years ago, “Nova” produced the best of all the 9/11-related docs, an episode titled “Why the Towers Fell,” which explained in fascinating detail how the airliners were able to cause the collapse of the Twin Towers. We expect this new “Nova,” about the rebuilding process at the World Trade Center site, to be just as definitive.

“The Love We Make,” Saturday, Sept. 10, at 9/8c on Showtime: This is the newly produced documentary — from renowned documentarian Albert Maysles (“Gimme Shelter,” “Grey Gardens”) about Paul McCartney, and how he became stranded in New York on 9/11 and then threw himself into the planning of a 9/11 benefit concert.

“The Space Between,” Sunday, Sept. 11, at 9/8c on USA Network: It’s not another documentary but a scripted movie starring Melissa Leo as a flight attendant on 9/11 who finds herself responsible for a Muslim boy who was traveling alone on her flight and then was grounded with her when air travel was halted. We think a sensitive, scripted movie is as fine a way as any to mark the 9/11 anniversary.

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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