What to Watch in October

Dan Soles
Autumnwatch New England. Photo: Denis Tangney Jr./Getty Images
Autumnwatch New England takes you to the region's beautiful fall over three days. Photo: Denis Tangney Jr./Getty Images

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.

POV: Dark Money

Monday, October 1 at 9:00 pm

As the midterm elections approach, we’re airing two thoughtful documentaries investigating elections in today’s world. Dark Money shows a reporter’s attempt to expose the hidden, unlimited funding of anonymous campaign contributions in Montana. I Voted? (airing Thursday, October 18 at 9:00 pm) looks at election security and accuracy, and whether we can count on the votes we cast. These are both non-partisan issues that are vital to democracy, so they’re important watches.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Guns for Hire

Thursday, October 4 at 9:00 pm

This is one of my personal interests that I have to call attention to here because I really enjoy it. Like the Oscar-winning documentary 20 Feet from Stardom, this show gets up onstage with musical legends and takes a look at the background, at the integral sidemen who have supported stars from The Rolling Stones to Billy Joel to Prince. It’s a view you don’t normally see, and it’s thrilling.

Art and Design in Chicago

Fridays, October 5, 12, 26, and November 2 at 8:30 pm

Chicago’s visual arts are often overlooked in favor of artistic scenes on the country’s coasts, but our city has long nurtured a vibrant creative community in both the fine art and commercial design worlds. WTTW’s Art and Design in Chicago grants these scenes the attention they deserve in four episodes, from female sculptors at the 1893 World’s Fair to a husband-and-wife design team who redesigned the visual aspects of the Cubs and Wrigley Field, from a self-taught Bronzeville sculptor to a man who took up drawing in the last decade of his life and became influential to other Chicago artists. And don’t miss the chance to see more of the art and discover more of these incredible people at wttw.com/artdesignchicago!

Itzhak Perlman: American Masters

Sunday, October 14 at 9:00 pm

This moving biography gives you a real sense of the renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman, following him as he moves through everyday life and vastly different settings, from playing the national anthem to performing in a concert to visiting a violin shop. It has a little bit of everything, and is pleasant revelation of the humanity in a legendary artist.

Autumnwatch New England

October 17, 18, and 19 at 8:00 pm

This is the third year in a row the PBS has traveled to a stunning natural area of the United States to give you a real-time glimpse of fleeting moments in nature. Following trips to Monterey and Alaska, this year you'll get to see the glorious foliage and autumn of New England at its peak in same-day footage and broadcasts. It's not to be missed, because the beatuy of the fall is fleeting!

Native America

Tuesdays beginning October 23 at 9:00 pm

We hear and know too little about America’s incredible First Peoples and the splendid civilizations they built hundreds or thousands of years before Europeans came to this hemisphere. This enlightening four-part series rectifies that. Explore the ancient cultures and achievements of Native Americans, from their vast governments and cities to their scientific and cosmological knowledge, and see their commitment to the land and the natural world.

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