PBS revels in plastics

Monday, February 9, 2004

I always suspected that there were historical artifacts in the bottom of my mother's freezer, but until I watched "Tupperware!" (8 p.m., PBS) I was never truly sure. Best known for its solid biographies of American presidents and insightful documentaries about broad historical themes, this "American Experience" documentary takes a detailed and occasionally whimsical look at the burp-able plastic kitchen storage ware that launched a million living-room parties -- and turned thousands of housewives into entrepreneurs.

"Tupperware!" recalls the chance combination of technology and marketing and the collaboration between a cantankerous inventor and a woman with a knack for sales. Earl Silas Tupper was an unsuccessful New England inventor until, inspired by an empty paint can, he happened upon the idea for turning raw polyethelene, a plastic developed for war use, into sealable containers.

Tonight's other highlights

Late night

Dr. Phil McGraw appears on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno welcomes Pamela Anderson on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).

Russell Crowe and Alicia Silverstone are booked on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (11:35 p.m., NBC) ... Gary Cole appears on "The Late, Late Show with Craig Kilborn" (11:37 p.m., CBS).