Chasing Churchill: In Search of My Grandfather

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Airdate: 10-11 p.m. Monday, July 21 (KCET Los Angeles)

The first of three episodes, "Wanted Dead or Alive," kicks off Celia Sandys' three-part portrait of her grandfather, Winston Churchill, a slow-moving, affectionate travelogue based on her experience and writings. It is shot beautifully and enhanced by occasionally interesting interviews with the descendants of men Churchill met in his youth.

But the excitement quotient is kept slumbering as the meandering footage does little more than move casually from moments of great beauty and genuine historical interest to yawning bits of mundane filler. If the idea is to capture the thrills of Churchill's youth, it's way too laid back.

Despite her intimate knowledge of Churchill, Sandys ranks below average as a raconteur and has that kind of upper-class British yen for the good old days of Empire that smacks unintentionally of Monty Python.

The voyage begins with some brief background, the great man's life at Sandhurst military academy, and then on to New York where Sandys meets with Rudy Giuliani and makes the point in no uncertain terms that she and Rudy consider Rudy to be a latter-day Churchill.

After the Big Apple, it's on to Cuba and recollections of the Cuban revolution against the Spanish and Havana cigars, as well as South Africa, where the Boers were murderously at war.

The two subsequent episodes will air on successive Mondays: "The Other Country" deals with Churchill's love affair with the U.S. "Worth Doing Once" takes viewers to Morocco and the south of France.

Production: CSI Sports Trading. Presented by: Celia Sandys; Producer: Stewart Binns; Director-editor: Stephen Moore Composer: Chris Elliott; Graphic designer: Kim Teddy; Film restoration by Dana O'Reilly.

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