What to Watch in February

Dan Soles
Clockwise from top left: Pullman Porters, Condoleezza Rice in American Creed, Pinkalicious and Peterrific. Images: APT, Citizen Films, WGBH
Images (clockwise from top left): APT, Citizen Films, WGBH

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.

Rising from the Rails: The Story of the Pullman Porter

Thursday, February 1 at 8:00 pm

Rising the Rails: Pullman PortersImage: APT

This is a story of African American empowerment with a strong connection to Chicago. The Pullman Company, based in Chicago with a planned community near its factory on the South Side, was one of the largest employers of African Americans in the country in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The black porters who served the white customers on the company’s luxury cars became integral to the labor movement, the civil rights movement, and were important members of the emerging black middle class.

We’re Here for a Fish Fry!

Thursday, February 22 at 8:00 pm

We're Here for a Fish Fry! in Wisconsin

From Friday night fish fries in church basements during Lent to elevated fries at celebrated supper clubs, this quirky documentary examines a beloved tradition of our neighbor to the north in Wisconsin. Hop on a Lake Michigan fishing boat, explore some unusual fish fry creations, and meet the people who love and preserve this communal tradition.

Pinkalicious & Peterrific

Weekdays at 9:00 am, beginning Monday, February 19

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood

Weekdays at 10:00 am, beginning Monday, February 26

Peterrific and Pinkalicious. Image: WGBHImage: WGBH

What adult doesn’t love watching a great children’s show every once in a while? This month, you can both revisit a show you may have loved growing up – classic episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood will air with episodes of its successor Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood that cover the same theme, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Mister Rogers’ premiere – and enjoy a brand-new series that celebrates creativity and the arts – Pinkalicious & Peterrific, based on the popular book series. Reconnect with your inner kid!

American Creed

Tuesday, February 27 at 9:00 pm

Eric Liu in American Creed. Photo: Citizen FilmsPhoto: Citizen Films

I have to mention this documentary featuring former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David M. Kennedy because I think it is such an important film for our time and I have spent a lot of time with it as the executive producer. It investigates what holds Americans together in this fractured time and features the stories of citizen activists, including our very own Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon. It’s necessary for us to see Americans coming together in a positive, affirming way, sharing ideals and crossing lines, right now, and this documentary shows just that.

Learn more about the film in a conversation with its director, Sam Ball, and visit its website.

Frontline: Bitter Rivals: Iran and Saudi Arabia

Two parts: Tuesdays, February 20 and 27 at 9:00 pm

We often hear about the various conflicts in the Middle East and the sectarian divides that partly drive them, but it can be difficult to understand the nuances of the region’s political and religious disagreements and rivalries. In this two-part special, Frontline investigates the two biggest players and rivals in the region, Iran and Saudi Arabia, lending clarity to an often muddy conflict.

TV Highlights
Dan Soles