PBS has recently announced a number of not-to-be-missed programs, from documentaries about a famous Science Guy and a little-known but important Chicano to a magisterial overview of global civilizations' greatest artistic achievement. Take a look at some of the premieres occuring between now and the end of April.
#MeToo, Now What?
Fridays at 8:30 pm on WTTW Prime and Sundays at 4:30 pm on WTTW11, beginning February 2
The necessary conversations occurring across the country in the wake of sexual harassment charges against powerful men in entertainment, media, politics, and more industries come to PBS in this five-part, half-hour series. Hosted by humanitarian, talk show host, author, and founder of Women for Women International Zainab Salbi, the series will include both conversations with a diverse range of people and in-the-field reporting about various aspects of sexual harassment: how race and class affect it, how we move on from here, and more.
The Rise and Fall of the Brown Buffalo
Friday, March 23
“A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.” That’s how Hunter S. Thompson described his friend Oscar Zeta Acosta, a lawyer, writer, and activist in the Chicano movement of the ‘60s and ‘70s who disappeared mysteriously in Mexico in 1974. Acosta is most famous for his appearance in Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as the sidekick Dr. Gonzo, but this film aims to showcase Acosta’s own radical work fighting racial bias, especially within the criminal justice system.
Fridays, March 30 and April 6
Shakespeare’s works are inexhaustible, so a third season of Shakespeare Uncovered is a welcome gift. The history, implications, and themes of six of the Bard’s plays are explored, each by an actor associated with it: F. Murray Abraham on Jews in The Merchant of Venice, Romola Garai on the libertine politics of Measure for Measure, Brian Cox on tyranny in Julius Caesar, and more. You can stream the previous season for free.
Masterpiece: The Child in Time
Sunday, April 1
If you’ve missed Benedict Cumberbatch since the latest season of Sherlock early last year, he’s back. He stars as a children’s book author whose life and marriage are uprooted when his four-year-old daughter disappears, in this Masterpiece and BBC adaptation of a novel by Ian McEwan. McEwan’s poignant books have already been proven effective on screen, in the acclaimed film adaptation of his Atonement with Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, and – surprise! – Benedict Cumberbatch.
Tuesdays, April 10-May 15 and June TBA
In 1969, the British art historian Kenneth Clark produced a television series on the history of Western art called Civilisation that garnered huge audiences. Now, the nine-part Civilizations updates that monumental series by including the entire globe, rectifying Clark’s focus on male, white artists. From Chinese landscapes to Olmec sculptures to African bronzes to French Impressionist paintings, it’s a whirlwind tour guided by respected historians, artists, and scholars.
POV: Bill Nye: The Science Guy
Wednesday, April 18
Bill! Bill! Bill! You may only remember him from his TV show, but the Science Guy has re-emerged as an advocate for scientific literacy in the face of recent anti-scientific movements such as climate change deniers and the anti-vaccine movement. This POV documentary looks at his career, his goals, and some of his more controversial decisions, such as inviting the creationist Ken Ham to debate evolution with him on TV.
Wednesdays, April 25-May 30
NOVA typically explores topics about which we know a lot, but this new six-part series instead investigates cutting-edge areas of research and unanswered questions. From the mysteries of animal communication to artificial intelligence, from dark matter and dark energy to genetic engineering and synthetic biology, NOVA: Wonders looks at some fascinating – and complicated – subjects.