ST. CROIX- Finn Kennedy, student, Brown University, free dives off of Buck Island Reef National Monument. He was joined by a pod of dolphins that wanted him to join their pod. This moment is just one reason why we should expand the Buck Island Reef National Monument. (Photo credit: Bryce Groark)

If you take the plunge with Nat Geo’s “Sea of Hope: America’s Underwater Treasures” (Sun, 7pm), you’ll get a lesson on protecting underwater habitats along with exquisite views of marine life. But that’s only part of the story. Some of the behind-the-scenes happenings as ocean explorer Dr Sylvia Earle and her team of teenage aquanauts embark on a quest to preserve our oceans are nearly as interesting. The hour-long doc culminates in President Obama revealing he’s creating the world’s largest marine preserve in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands and the first national marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean. The president takes a walk with Dr Earle and then goes snorkeling. Viewers are told that renowned National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry captured the first-ever footage of a US president diving underwater. But there was a bit more drama than that. “The White House people seemed skeptical and said there was no room on the boat,” despite an invitation to come along from chief White House photographer Pete Souza, Skerry told the audience at a DC screening of the doc. After an interview in which Obama praised Skerry’s work, suddenly there was a seat for him. For the record, Skerry reports Obama is a “phenomenal swimmer” and very fit. Another memorable moment is some beautiful footage of divers swimming with dolphins. Observant viewers may notice that author Max Kennedy, part of the expedition, is fully clothed. That’s because off camera he convinced the ship captain to just let him jump in with the marine mammals clothes and all. Skerry, who had just spent two years covering dolphins, at first ignored it. “That’ll be over in 10 seconds,” he said, describing how dolphins never stick around in such instances. Sure enough, they started to swim away. But then something amazing happened. They swam back, frolicking there for several minutes. “I started to panic I was not going to have a still,” said Skerry (he thankfully did manage to get in the water in time for a few shots!). While Obama gets big billing in the doc (Nat Geo is premiering it ahead of 2-hour special “Obama: The Price of Hope”), Dr Earle and her enthusiasm for what’s fathoms below is the real star. “I am in awe of anyone who has done so much for ocean conservation,” Obama says on meeting her. So are we. – Amy Maclean

Reviews: “The Young Pope,” premiere, Sun, 9pm, HBO. We sometimes urge viewers to hang in with new series. A confession: “The Young Pope” takes 4 eps of penance before reaching absolution. Initially viewers feast on appetizers: a Fellini-like, fictitious Vatican drama with gorgeous production values and gorgeous Jude Law as an initially unlikeable impenetrable pontiff, American and holier-than-thou (really). — “Is O.J. Innocent?,” Sun, 9pm, ID. More O.J., but an interesting, investigatory take. Not bad. — “Obama: The Price of Hope,” Sun, 9pm, Nat Geo. This is masterful filmmaking. The footage is tremendous, ditto the storytelling: clear, ostensibly dispassionate, with great access to advisors and cabinet members who, since they’re out of power, offer more candor in seconds than they allowed themselves during years of White House employment. The president, too, is extremely candid, which makes for a tremendous inside-the-oval-office look at the economy and ObamaCare, for example. Yet hagiography this is not, or a hatchet job. It’s extremely subtle, loading the screen with Democrats, yet omitting to mention the name of the president who preceded Obama and left him with an economy on the brink. Eventually it becomes opaque: the filmmakers believe “The Price of Hope,” the president’s undying optimism, cost him. Spent largely and perhaps unwisely to reform healthcare, hope cost his congressional majority and a successful presidency. – Seth Arenstein

The Daily


Mediacom Fights Against Rip & Replace Changes

A request by the Rural Wireless Association for the FCC to prioritize Eligible Telecommunication Carriers [ETCs] for funding to remove and replace communications equipment deemed harmful isn’t sitting well with Mediacom.

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