With the debut of Ken Burns’ The Roosevelts tonight on PBS, we will once again surely see why Public Broadcasting produces and airs better TV documentaries than anybody. Here are five must watch PBS historical documentaries from this admitted PBS junkie.
The granddaddy of all TV documentaries came out in 1990, when I was in High School. I watched it start to finish then, and have watched at least a dozen times start to finish since. It is by far the most complete documentary you will ever see.
This PBS documentary is more Roman lifestyle focused than political. The First Century C.E. was a tranquil time for Rome by comparison of what had happened in the last century B.C.E. and what was to come in the subsequent centuries for the empire.
Most American Experience PBS programs are worthwhile but this one is a particular standout. Reconstruction is an era that is often glossed over in American history but this program creates much raw emotion when watching it. A must see.
Last year, we featured the final installment of the second series of Eyes on the Prize because it revolved around race relations in Miami. But the precursor to that series was the excellent mid 1980’s documentary about the Civil Rights movement in the south. Almost thirty years on, it remains a timeless classic of an era which many now are beginning to forget about.
The American Experience President’s series features ten twentieth century Presidents. My favorite of the series is the documentary on Truman which is a more intimate portrait of one of our greatest leaders than anything available on TV or DVD.