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It's the end of the world and they know it

The most-watched show in the history of the National Geographic Channel isn't Wild, Taboo or even the longest-running documentary series on cable tv: Explorer. It's Doomsday Preppers, a show that documents the "lives of otherwise ordinary Americans" as they prepare for the end of the world. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Dec 21, 2012 - 115 comments

"I want to encourage mainstream journalists to speak up when they discover their companies are misleading the people, doing PR for corporations and governments and disguising it as journalism."

Former CNN journalist Amber Lyon is speaking out against the network after it decided for "editorial reasons" not to air its documentary iRevolution on CNN International. Lyon worked on a 13-minute segment interviewing democratic activists in Bahrain, who risked their own safety to be heard. Glenn Greenwald reveals that at the same time, CNN was being paid by the Bahrain Economic Development Board to produce pro-state coverage as part of its "Eye On" series. A senior producer complained to Lyon about the nature of her coverage: "We are dealing with blowback from Bahrain govt on how we violated our mission, etc."
posted by mek on Sep 5, 2012 - 21 comments

This post is just in time for the annual spaghetti harvest.

In the late 1970s the UK's Anglia Television ran a respected weekly documentary series: Science Report. But when the show was cancelled in 1977, the producers decided to channel Orson Welles in their final episode. The result was Alternative 3. Over the course of the hour, the audience would learn that a Science Report investigation into the UK "brain drain" had uncovered shocking revelations: man-made pollution had resulted in catastrophic climate change, the Earth would soon be rendered uninhabitable, and a secret American / Soviet joint plan was in place to establish colonies on the Moon and Mars. The show ended with footage of a US/Soviet Mars landing from May 22, 1962. After Alternative 3 aired, thousands of panicked viewers phoned the production company and demanded to know how long they had left to change planets. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jun 20, 2012 - 22 comments

"...information based in part on theory and conjecture."

In 1973 and 1975, two one-hour television documentaries aired in the US: In Search of Ancient Astronauts (Parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) and In Search of Ancient Mysteries (Parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). The same producers also put out The Outer Space Connection (Parts 1 and 2) in 1975. All were narrated by Twilight Zone's Rod Serling. In 1976 a series was developed. Since Serling had passed away in 1975, popular actor Leonard Nimoy was chosen as host. In Search of... ran for six seasons, from 1976 - 1982, and was devoted to discussing unusual mysteries and phenomena. All 144 episodes can be seen on YouTube. Playlists: Seasons 1 and 2. Seasons 3 and 4. Seasons 5 and 6.
posted by zarq on Apr 23, 2012 - 51 comments

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale...

In 1984, The Voyage of the Mimi set sail on PBS, exploring the ocean off the coast of Massachusetts to study humpback whales. The educational series was made up of thirteen episodes intended to teach middle schoolers about science and math. The first fifteen minutes of each episode were a fictional adventure starring a young Ben Affleck. The second 15 minutes were an "expedition documentary" that would explore the scientific concepts behind the show's plot points. A sequel with the same format, The Second Voyage of the Mimi aired in 1988, and featured the crew of the Mimi exploring Mayan ruins in Mexico. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Apr 9, 2012 - 36 comments

Jews, People with Mustaches, and Divorced People

America in Primetime is a four-part PBS special on four character archetypes that define contemporary television and interviews tons of writers, producers and actors from a set of defining shows. The first episode, Independent Women (which you can stream from their website) aired last night, gaining measured reviews from Bitch and the AV Club. Future episodes: Man of the House, The Misfit and The Crusader.
posted by Apropos of Something on Oct 31, 2011 - 22 comments

Documentary mistakes videogame footage for genuine terrorist footage

Last night, British ITV broadcasted "Exposure: Gaddafi and the IRA", a documentary which included this 1988 Provisional IRA footage the filmmakers found on YouTube. Unfortunately, the footage is actually and blatently from videogame ArmA 2. ITV has stopped streaming the documentary.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 on Sep 27, 2011 - 25 comments

March of Time

From 1935 to 1951, Time Magazine bridged the gap between print & radio news reporting and the new visual medium of film, with March of Time: award-winning newsreel reports that were a combination of objective documentary, dramatized fiction and pro-American, anti-totalitarian propaganda. They “often tackled subjects and themes that audiences weren’t used to seeingforeign affairs, social trends, public-health issues — and did so with a combination of panache and subterfuge that today seems either absurd or visionary.” (Previous two links have autoplaying video.) By 1937, the short films were being seen by as many as 26 million people every month and may have helped steer public opinion on numerous issues, including (eventually) America’s entry to WWII. Video samples are available at Time.com, the March of Time Facebook page and the entire collection is available online, (free registration required) at HBO Archives. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 22, 2011 - 8 comments

50 Cent Origin of Me

50 Cent discovers Mongolian slaves in South Carolina (slyt pretty much) [more inside]
posted by AceRock on May 9, 2011 - 69 comments

God's Angry Man

God's Angry Man - a documentary portrait of Dr. Gene Scott by Werner Herzog.
posted by Joe Beese on Mar 2, 2011 - 41 comments

Schillervision

Tom Schiller is best known for his work on NBC's Saturday Night Live, particularly for his filmed "Schiller's Reels" and "Schillervision" segments from 1975 through 1990. Examples [mouseover for more details on each]: [ Don't Look Back in AngerJava JunkieFalling in LoveThe Land Before TelevisionSwedish TV One investigates Hidden Camera Commercials: What Are They Hiding?Broadway StorySearch For Akasa ] [more inside]
posted by not_on_display on Aug 2, 2010 - 10 comments

We are storytellers

The Neistat Brothers move from online to primetime on HBO. [more inside]
posted by Potomac Avenue on Jun 26, 2010 - 9 comments

1991 BBC Omnibus documentary on Peter Greenaway

Some kind soul recently uploaded, in five parts, a 1991 BBC Omnibus television documentary about Peter Greenaway, who never ceases to inspire me in his dedication to push film into new, richly interesting places, to liberate it from its addiction to stale 19th-century psychological narrative and to open it up to accept and incorporate all manner of artistic information it's usually denied. Cleverly titled Anatomy of a Filmmaker — Greenaway is an enthusiast of the nude human figure, which he sees as the single constant of art — it covers the filmmaker's career from his earliest shorts up through Prospero's Books. There are bits about the time he spent honing his skills cutting together British propaganda, his experience with painting and his longtime collaboration with Sacha Vierny. It also presents subsections on Greenaway's own inspirational creators, including John Cage and the increasingly-intriguing-to-me R.B. Kitaj.
posted by colinmarshall on Jun 14, 2010 - 16 comments

They have cameras. And lions. And penguins. And sharks. And...

Wild Film History is a guide to over 100 years of wildlife filmmaking, highlighting landmark films (1959's Serengeti Darf Nicht Sterben, aka Serengeti Shall Not Die - Clip 1, Clip 2) as well as historical relics (1910's The Birth of a Flower - Clip). Check out the links on the Key Events page for an overview of how the genre developed. The site also features biographies and oral history interviews with pioneers (mostly U.K.-based) in the industry. A project of Wildscreen.
posted by amyms on May 1, 2010 - 6 comments

20 ans

Capa TV. One for the francophones. The French television production agency Capa (no relation) is celebrating its 20th anniversary with excerpts from its best documentaries along with commentary from the reporters that made them. I particularly recommend two that have nothing in common : Vivre et Mourir à Sarajevo (1993) and Les Chouchous du Camping (1991). But be warned, navigation is annoyingly difficult.
posted by Lezzles on Jan 31, 2010 - 5 comments

There is no evidence that Quetzalcoatlus could see dinosaur pee with its ultraviolet vision, or that a herd of hadrosaurs could knock over a predator with their concentrated infrasound blasts.

Paleontologist Matt Wedel was a talking head in the Discovery Channel's Clash of the Dinosaurs, but was not very happy with the final product. The production company, Dangerous, responds. Finally, the Discovery Channel steps up.
posted by brundlefly on Dec 17, 2009 - 61 comments

Swastika Tube

Spiegel TV has tracked down rare Nazi TV footage, complete with everything from bizarre cabaret acts to interviews with people like Albert Speer. Pop culture done by Nazis, the banality of showbiz evil. [more inside]
posted by hortense on Aug 28, 2008 - 29 comments

Dan Treacy/Television Personalities documentary

Dan Treacy and his band Television Personalities have had a long and storied history. Here's a nice little documentary (part one, two, three, four) on 'em. [more inside]
posted by item on May 20, 2008 - 10 comments

Why Democracy?

Why Democracy? "In October 2007, ten one-hour films focused on contemporary democracy will be broadcast in the world's largest ever factual media event. More than 40 broadcasters on all continents are participating, with an estimated audience of 300 million viewers. Each of the broadcasters - an A-Z which includes everyone from Al Arabiya to ZDF - will be producing a locally-based seasons of film, radio, debate and discussion to tie in with the global broadcast of the Why Democracy? films."
posted by St Urbain's Horseman on Oct 5, 2007 - 21 comments

"If people do not accept our position on creationism, they do not have to watch."

Guess who's censoring references to evolution out of David Attenborough documentaries? That's right, the Dutch. See the differences; here's a detailed write-up by a Dutch biologist and documentary enthusiast comparing the two versions side-by-side (in Dutch).
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Aug 28, 2007 - 41 comments

On the edge of Aquarius, I'm living on the edge

Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession. In the late 1970s to the end of the 1980s, LA's Z Channel was a pay-TV cable channel that would play loads of esoteric films. It'd been credited with starting the trend of "director's cuts", bringing passed-over directors and films to the public's attention, and in some cases, was directly responsible for Oscar Nominations -- and was basically the work of one man, Jerry Harvey. Unfortunately, Z Channel folded shortly after Jerry Harvey killed his wife and then himself. Xan Cassavetes' film tells the story of Jerry Harvey and Z Channel through interviews with filmmakers and those involved, including an archival interview with Harvey himself.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me on Jul 20, 2005 - 6 comments

Wal-mart: Sith Lord of unbridaled capitalism

That "liberal bastion" PBS and that "wacky" Christian Right AGREEING on something? Does the "Sith Lord of unbridaled capitalism" really deserve to be hated? Does it bear watching? A new movie will take a look: (Registration -free link). Why are growing numbers "ready to join the ranks of all right-thinking people the world over in declaring Wal-Mart an outpost of hell on earth"??? The full 60 minute Frontline program video is available online.
posted by spock on Jun 6, 2005 - 28 comments

N-I-G-G-E-R

Cable channel Trio drops the N-bomb An original documentary, premiering tonight, takes a close look at a troublesome word.
posted by LinusMines on Jul 4, 2004 - 21 comments

Great television science presenters and their shows

Great television science presenters and their shows: Tim Hunkin "the Secret Life of Machines", Jacob Bronowski "The Ascent of Man", James Burke "Connections", David Attenborough "Trials of Life" "Blue Planet" etc., Marlin Perkins "Wild Kingdom", Don Herbert "Watch Mr. Wizard", Adam Hart-Davis "Science Shack" "Rough Science", Jack Horkheimer "Star Gazer". Does anyone else have any favorites, past or present?
posted by milovoo on Jun 4, 2004 - 30 comments

Ghosts of Rwanda

Ghosts of Rwanda
10 years later, FRONTLINE delivers one of the most powerful episodes in their excellent series of reports. Also covered in The Economist last week, and a couple years ago in The Atlantic in a sublime article: "Bystanders to Genocide". When you first heard about the tragedy did you wish you could have done something, if you had only known more?
posted by specialk420 on Apr 1, 2004 - 40 comments

StringThread

The elegant universe. A 3 hour PBS NOVA documentary on string theory [in 24 ~5-10 minute chunks of real player or quick time video]. Welcome to the 11th dimension.
posted by srboisvert on Nov 14, 2003 - 18 comments

Ripper Case Closed?

Walter Sickert was a renowned impressionist painter. In her new book, author Patricia Cornwell also claims that Sickert was Jack the Ripper. Whether you believe her theory or not, Cornwell is certainly getting a lot of press out of this. If all these links aren't enough for you, you can also watch a documentary on Cornwell and her Jack the Ripper theory tonight at 10 p.m. EST on The Learning Channel.
posted by Reggie452 on Dec 9, 2002 - 18 comments

Thoughts on the 9/11 documentary.

Thoughts on the 9/11 documentary. We've already talked about would you watch. Now that it's aired, did you watch? Was it what you expected? Did it trivialize by turning horrible tragedy into heartwarming fare, or did it bring the harsh reality of 9/11 home to those who weren't there?
posted by IPLawyer on Mar 11, 2002 - 44 comments

Hackers: Computer Outlaws

Hackers: Computer Outlaws A TLC show(that I'm 3/4 through) that seems to actually use reliable sources to discuss not just cracker behavior, but also the creative side of hackers, pointing out the developments attributed to some hackers. Now Markoff and Mitnick. Not a bad little show....
posted by dglynn on Jan 9, 2002 - 7 comments

Taxi Dreams

Taxi Dreams Did anyone watch the PBS show- "Taxi Dreams"? The PBS site is very informative. I enjoyed the video clips in the gallery . The facts and figures section was decent. Overall, I thought it was a great way to study the immigrant experience and the American dream.
posted by SandeepKrishnamurthy on Jan 4, 2002 - 3 comments

Good PBS program alert! Tonight is the premiere of The First Year, which aims to show "the human side of (American education): the determination and commitment of five novice teachers as they struggle to survive their first year in America's toughest schools." Check your local listings.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to ask the community for thoughts/ideas/cautions/resources for people interested in going into teaching.
posted by msacheson on Sep 6, 2001 - 21 comments

Code Rush Documentary

Code Rush Documentary Did anyone get to watch the Netscape documentary on PBS. In my area, it aired at 2am. I fell asleep trying to catch it...
posted by Dean_Paxton on Mar 31, 2000 - 4 comments

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