If more reality TV were like Circus, there would probably be a lot fewer reality snobs out there. But Circus isn't a typical reality show. For one thing, this captivating six-hour series (airing over three Wednesdays, starting this week) is on PBS, so the proper way to describe it is probably "docu-reality," as the show goes behind the curtain of the Big Apple Circus to give a fly-on-the-tent look at...
As sprawling as the 24-story-high vessel it follows for a six-month Persian Gulf deployment in 2005, the 10-hour, five-night docu-miniseries Carrier immerses the armchair traveler in the daily life and routines of the USS Nimitz. "This boat is drama," says one of the scores of participants interviewed along the way.
Drama in this case means bursts of high-flying adrenaline leavened by long periods of grinding boredom and endless drudgery, as well as the wrenching ongoing soap opera of relationships tested by distance while forbidden liaisons erupt below decks or on shore leave.
With its scenic photography, slick editing and relentless pop-rock soundtrack, Carrier has the feel of a movie, or maybe the world's longest recruitment video. It's also an engrossing, rewarding and addictive study of personal endurance and sacrifice.
The war is something of an off-camera abstraction to much of the crew. For some, who enlisted to escape dead-end lives of po