Tuesday, 15 November 2011
After the woeful 'The Jury', last week's great disappointment, a night of first class telly yesterday evening, beginning with University Challenge, followed by Masterchef, then Andrew Graham Dixon on the Art of America, which had a little too much history and not enough art, but still had AGD doing his immensely engaging stuff. After this there was a documentary charting the sad story of the theft of the incomparable Barnes collection of post-impressionist paintings by the Philadelphia establishment, which put one off thoroughly from visiting that city, with its undeniably dodgy-looking Mayor and ethically questionable 'charitable foundations'. This in turn was followed by a documentary telling the extraordinary story of Mark Hoffman, a genius forger but a really crummy murderer (still, to be both these things at the same time is fairly incredible), who attempted to bring down the Mormon church in which he grew up by forging documents calling its founding into question. He also knocked off the odd poem by Emily Dickinson and letters by Melville, Twain, Hawthorne, and even a copy of the earliest printed document in American history. I'd like to have learned more about his techniques but I suppose there wasn't really room for more. Cracking stuff, and the end of a first class evening's viewing.