What to Watch in November

Dan Soles
Geoffrey Baer on the Chicago River and Joffrey Ballet rehearsing the Nutcracker.
Photos: Ken Carl (left); Todd Rosenberg (right)

There’s a huge amount of worthwhile TV out there nowadays, so it can be hard to choose what to watch. But who better to recommend shows than the person who programs them? Dan Soles, Senior Vice President and Chief Television Officer at WTTW, constructs the WTTW schedule by searching through offerings from many different sources, which include the national PBS network, the BBC, and independent filmmakers, to put together a varied and engaging broadcast schedule. Each month, he’ll recommend a few shows that he thinks you should watch.

Hot Doug’s: The Movie 

Thursday, November 2 at 8:00 pm

Doug Sohn of Hot Doug'sDoug Sohn of Hot Doug's

November has a wealth of great local shows – in fact, all of my picks are both about Chicago and produced here. It starts off with a colorful documentary about the beloved, now shuttered sausage shop Hot Doug’s, its gregarious owner, and the adoring fans who made the restaurant a Chicago institution.

inCommon Chicago: Builders, Doers, Dreamers – A Legacy of Hope

Thursday, November 9 at 9:00 pm

The Chicago Bears versus the Green Bay PackersBoth Bears and Packers join Tom Fink in working with underprivileged children in 'inCommon Chicago'

This is a moving program about Tom Finks, the son of the renowned former general manager of the Chicago Bears Jim Finks, and his work setting up football games with underprivileged Latino children. Ex-Bears and even Packers help teach the sport (it so happens that the Bears and Packers play each other the week of broadcast!), and together they make a significant impact in the community.

Fighting on Both Fronts: The Story of the 370th

Friday, November 10 at 8:30 pm

Company D, 8th Illinois Volunteer Regiment, circa 1899, which eventually became the 370th Infantry RegimentCompany D, 8th Illinois Volunteer Regiment, circa 1899, which became the 370th Infantry Regiment in World War I.

Fighting on Both Fronts reveals a forgotten but extremely important history. The 370th Infantry Regiment was one of only a few African American regiments to fight in World War I, and the only one with all black officers. Despite their bravery, these men, largely from the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago, faced racism both at war and once they returned. Although they are honored by the Victory Monument at 35th Street and King Drive, few people know their story.

Making a New American Nutcracker

Thursday, November 16 at 8:00 pm

The Joffrey Ballet rehearsing a new Nutcracker. Photo: Todd RosenbergThe Joffrey Ballet rehearsing a new Nutcracker. Photo: Todd Rosenberg

Last year, the Joffrey Ballet took a risk: they decided to overhaul a classic and create an entirely new Nutcracker. They relocated the ballet to the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and made the wealthy family of the original a working class immigrant family. In this WTTW national production, we show you how the talented creative team behind the new ballet reinvented a holiday tradition, all while preserving the magic of the original. You can also find the documentary online at wttw.com/nutcracker, plus photos and featured stories.

The Chicago River Tour with Geoffrey Baer 

Monday, November 27 at 7:30 pm

Lady Grebe and Geoffrey Baer on the Chicago River. Photo: Ken CarlThe yacht Lady Grebe with Geoffrey Baer on the north branch of the Chicago River. Photo: Ken Carl

The Chicago River is the lifeline of the city, and the way we view it changes as much as the buildings along it. Geoffrey Baer has explored the river before, but now he returns to chronicle the waterway as it is today in this new WTTW production, hopping into a canoe in the lagoons to the north, riding a barge in the industrial passageway of the south, and pointing out the new developments downtown. Geoffrey’s tours are always fascinating, revealing, and most of all, fun! There’s a lot more beyond the documentary, too: we’re creating a whole website of additional resources about the river, touching on everything from environmental issues to recreation possibilities. Explore it, and watch the program, at wttw.com/river

TV Highlights
Dan Soles