SHOW: THE PRIZE
TIME: JAN. 11-14, 9 p.m. on most stations, PBS
THE BOTTOM LINE: This eight-hour chronicle of the history of oil is TV's equivalent of a great read.
The first thing a layman may be surprised to learn from The Prize, a new PBS series about the history of oil, is that the stuff wasn't always around. "Rock oil" was known in the early 19th century only as a medicine. It wasn't until 1859 that some Pennsylvania businessmen first extracted it from the ground and refined it into kerosene. For years, the substance was used mainly to light lamps....