What to Watch in August

Dan Soles
A Resplendent quetzal (Pharmachrus mocinno) male in flight. El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, Chiapas, Mexico. Photo: BBC NHU 2016
A Resplendent quetzal (Pharmachrus mocinno) male in flight. El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, Chiapas, Mexico. Photo: BBC NHU 2016

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.

Wonders of Mexico

Wednesdays at 9:00 pm, beginning August 1


Maybe you didn’t get to take that vacation this year but still want to travel to extraordinary places. Wonders of Mexico lets you do just that, in three episodes exploring the fantastical landscapes of our neighbor to the south. From the evocative Mayan ruins hiding in the forests of the Yucatán Peninsula to the volcanoes of Mexico’s mountains to the trying deserts of the north, you’ll experience some incredible things – without having to travel at all.

Chicago River: A River in Reverse

Thursday, August 9 at 8:00 pm

The Chicago River

Chicagoans know that Geoffrey Baer is an expert on the history of the Chicago River – just check out his latest river tour for proof. Apparently other people know it too: this documentary about the reversal of the Chicago River (which is also one of Geoffrey’s 10 Modern Marvels That Changed America) features Geoffrey as a local expert. See Geoffrey in a new light!

Frontline: Our Man in Tehran

Monday, August 13 and Tuesday, August 14 at 9:00 pm

Frontline logo

In this two-part documentary, Frontline takes you behind the headlines and into Iran with New York Times correspondent Thomas Erdbrink. What is life actually like for everyday people inside the closed society of one of America’s most visible rivals? Erdbrink speaks with Iranians about everything from their own government to America, offering a necessary glimpse into their private lives and opinions, a corrective to the barrage of flattening news stories we’re accustomed to.

Betty White: First Lady of Television

Tuesday, August 21 at 7:30 pm

Betty White enjoying an off-camera moment on an early version of “The Betty White Show.” Photo: Pioneers of Television ArchivesBetty White enjoying an off-camera moment on an early version of “The Betty White Show.” Photo: Pioneers of Television Archives

Betty White has been delighting people through show business for longer than most people have been alive, 80 years now and counting. Celebrate her life and career, starting near the beginnings of television and stretching all the way to Saturday Night Live and the present day. Ryan Reynolds, Tina Fey, Carl Reiner, and more pay tribute to the indomitable star.

John Paul II in Ireland: A Plea for Peace

Thursday, August 23 at 7:30 pm

John Paul II had only been pope for a year when he traveled to Northern Ireland, the site of a protracted conflict known as The Troubles between Catholic nationalists and Protestants who wanted to remain a part of the United Kingdom. During his visit, the pope made a famous injunction to stop the violence. This documentary, which will air around the same time that Pope Francis travels to Ireland, recalls both that epochal visit and the entire Northern Ireland peace process.


Dan Soles
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