A rare, detailed look at 20th-century Philadelphia premieres tonight at 10 on the Military Channel (which is up there in the low hundreds on your cable dial, depending on where you live).

The one-hour American Arsenal shows how Philadelphia, notably hard-hit in the Depression, rose from ashes to become, well, the American arsenal in World War II.

It comes close to a paen to the muscular manufacturing prowess of Philadelphia, which produced weapons of all kinds, not just for U.S. forces but for all the Allies.

The show makes the case that without Philadelphia, the Allies might have lost the war.

Battleships and all sorts of other warcraft came out of the shipyards. Terrestrial weapons and bombs also were produced here.

The show examines how wartime pressures - Nazi spies, explosions, government cover-ups - as well as race riots rocked the city during the tumultuous period.

Just the sort of wonderful documentary WHYY could produce, if it produced documentaries.

- Jonathan Storm