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Archive for Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tune In Tonight: ‘American Experience’ gets under the hood of Henry Ford

January 29, 2013

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Ford, the man and the car, get their due on “American Experience” (8 p.m., PBS).

The program explains how Ford, a natural inventor, tinkerer and experimenter, always intended to build cars for average families, like the neighbors in his isolated Michigan farm community. Ever the perfectionist, he worked his way methodically through the alphabet before arriving at the Model T, the car that revolutionized daily life in America and around the world.

We see how Ford’s use of the assembly line (inspired by the mechanized slaughterhouse) fundamentally changed manufacturing and how his promise of a $5-a-day wage created an instantly wealthier working class that, in turn, provided a huge market for his automobiles.

We also learn how he undercut managers, employees and, most notably, his only son, Edsel, in a paranoid effort to maintain total control of his corporation. Having ushered in 20th-century industrial culture, Ford created a pastoral 19th-century theme park where he spent much of his time, pretending to farm. His lifelong distrust of speculators and investors began to express itself in the crudest anti-Semitism, popularized in Ford’s own newspaper. His $5-a-day wage made him champion of the workingman in 1914. But by the 1930s, Ford became the most vicious and often violent enemy of organized labor.

Two hours in length, “Henry Ford” leaves one wanting to learn more about this complex figure, an eighth-grade dropout who changed the world.

How huge was Henry Ford in his day? Unmentioned in this documentary is the bleak futuristic novel “Brave New World,” written in 1931 by Aldous Huxley. In it, Henry Ford is worshiped as a god.

Tonight’s other highlights:

• Wedding bells on “Raising Hope” (7 p.m., Fox).

• Blind auditions on “The Taste” (7 p.m., ABC).

• Emily distrusts Sutton on “The Lying Game” (8 p.m., ABC Family).

“Starter Wives Confidential” (8 p.m., TLC) visits with women who sacrificed much for their husbands’ careers, only to have them depart.

• A manipulative setup on “The Mindy Project” (8:30 p.m., Fox).

• Mia’s dad surprises Jack on “Vegas” (9 p.m., CBS).

• A senator tangles with corrupt cops on “White Collar” (9 p.m., USA).

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