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What Are Some Documentaries and TV Shows That You Recommend To Others? 278

Reader joshtops writes: Wow thanks for the overwhelming response on my previous post. I'm taking notes and intend to give all of the suggested books a go in the near future. If I may, and I hope the editors approve of this, could you also list some of your favorite TV shows and documentaries? Also, is there any show or documentary you think that changed or influenced your life, or at least your perception on any particular subject?
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What Are Some Documentaries and TV Shows That You Recommend To Others?

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  • iZombie (Score:4, Informative)

    by Snotnose ( 212196 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @04:45PM (#54571335)
    A different take on zombies, fun to watch.
    • Re:iZombie (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Athanasius ( 306480 ) <slashdot AT miggy DOT org> on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @06:12PM (#54572135) Homepage
      Seconded, it's a fun mix of police procedural, sci-fi/fantasy arc and a wonderful sense of humour.
    • I second this one. I'm not a big fan of the zombie genre, but this one is great. Quirky and fun. A brief run-down: A medical student with her whole life planned out goes to a party which turns into a zombie feeding session. She survives, but is scratched. She can maintain her normal "human" existence (despite pale skin, white hair, and a dulled sense of taste) so long as she regularly eats brains. She goes to work as a medical examiner so she can sneak brains out of dead bodies.

      The twist: She inherits the p

  • Last Week Tonight (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @04:45PM (#54571339)

    always good.

    Vice also good.

  • I watch Shark Tank and the Profit for business.
    I watch Forged in Fire, and car restoration shows for old school craftsmanship
    I like American Pickers.
    I like certain cooking shows that show of skill-sets of chefs put in bad situations. Many a good dinner came from bad ingredients.

    I recommend variety of different topics.

  • A great look at the guys in the JSC Mission Control during the Mercury/Gemini/Apollo era.

  • James Burke (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @04:50PM (#54571389)

    Anything by James Burke:
    - Connections
    - The Day The Universe Changed
    - The Real Thing

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      yeah this one, pretty much.

      gives some perspective.

      aaand.. well. gives some perspective to how inventions are made and come about..

  • The Expanse (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @04:51PM (#54571397)

    The Expanse, pretty awesome Sci-Fi series.

  • by dysmal ( 3361085 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @04:54PM (#54571431)

    It's THE documentary that all documentaries are measured against in the US.

  • Anything by James Burke. For example:
    - Connections
    - The Day The Universe Changed
    - The Real Thing

  • by dj245 ( 732906 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @04:56PM (#54571455) Homepage
    The Untold History of the United States [wikipedia.org] is a great documentary, although there is very little in it that is "untold". My interest tapered off considerably during the last 3-4 episodes (may reflect my age) but a worldwide perspective on WWII and the cold war was very interesting.

    The Vice Guide to North Korea [vice.com] is very dated now, but it intrigued me enough that I visited the country in 2014. So many things have changed since 2008 that many of the details are no longer accurate, but may be worthwhile to watch after watching a more recent DPRK documentary.

    [Plug] I made a short video [youtube.com] of my DPRK trip in 2014. There are far better ones on Youtube (Aram Pan [youtube.com] has done several), but this one is mine.
    • Interesting DPRK video.

      That steel mill was definitely not like any I've ever seen in the United States! Their workers are much better singers too! LOL

    • The mini-series John Adams [wikipedia.org] starring Paul Giamatti was rivetting and revealing (available on Amazon Prime).

    • Also recommend Hamiltons America [pbs.org], both for the history, which is very real, and as a means of getting the feel of the musical without having to shell out a crazy-high ticket price :)

  • by smillie ( 30605 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @04:56PM (#54571457) Journal
    Connections by James Burke. I remember it was on the Learning channel but wouldn't bet money on that. The DVD set was available at one time from TLC.
    • Seconded. Burke was *the* reason to watch TLC. He followed "Connections" with "The Day the Universe Changed" 7 years later. I rank them both up there with "Cosmos" (Sagan).

  • Judge Judy (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Watching her show makes me feel smart, successful, and good-looking.
  • by enjar ( 249223 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @05:00PM (#54571485) Homepage
    I've been watching NOVA on PBS for ages. Their "Intelligent Design on Trial" episode detailing how creationists, er, intelligent design proponents try to push it as science along with the corresponding court case was absolutely fantastic, but generally the episodes are well made, well directed and in depth enough for casual viewers. It's also generally acceptable for watching with kids, too.

    Nature is also in a similar vein as NOVA, although more focused on ... nature. Also good family viewing in many cases.

    • They have some amazing shows.

      Most recently, Cold Case JFK (https://www.amazon.com/NOVA-Cold-Case-JFK/dp/B00F1BFM7O/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1496870659&sr=1-1&keywords=nova+dvd+kennedy) great investigation and ignore the low ratings of the conspiracy nuts.

  • My favorite documentary is In Search of Shakespeare [amzn.to] by Michael Wood. If you read other Shakespeare biographies that came out after this documentary, Wood is sometimes accused of making Shakespeare too popular for non-scholars and not serious enough for the serious scholars to take seriously.
  • by Ken D ( 100098 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @05:04PM (#54571519)

    A documentary that explains in solid musical terms why The Beatles were game changing.

    Available on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

  • Triumph of the Nerds (Score:5, Informative)

    by whh3 ( 450031 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @05:06PM (#54571539) Homepage

    I always liked Triumph of the Nerds. Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

    I know that Robert X. Cringely is not a favorite around here, but the documentary series was really interesting. Great interviews with key players and lots of contemporaneous accounts of companies that were awesome but now no longer exist (e.g., Excite!).

    There are plenty of others that are must see, too, but this is the one that I thought of first!

    Will

  • Connections by James Burke.

    Good news: There's three seasons
    Bad news: There's only three seasons.

  • Louis Theroux (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gussington ( 4512999 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @05:10PM (#54571587)
    Anything by Louis Theroux
  • by elvesrus ( 71218 )

    Might be hard to watch outside the UK, but definitely worth at least checking it out.

  • by Gussington ( 4512999 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @05:12PM (#54571601)
    That's the name of the show, it was a series on debunking common myths
    • The first seasons are excellent, but toward the end, Penn Jillette's biases comes out pretty strongly and they put out their own loads of bullshit on quite a few topics.

    • They also have another show "Penn & Teller: Fool Us" where they bring magicians onstage to perform tricks. Then Penn and Teller try to guess how the trick was done. (Often using code words that the magicians will recognize but that audience members not versed in magic won't know.) If the magician fools the pair, they get to perform in Vegas and get a "Fooled Us" statue (with the initials in VERY big letters). Penn and Teller will also perform a trick of their own every episode. There are some amazing ma

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    I watched the WWII series when I was a teen and the way the producers introduce both the political and war machine elements are remarkably effective. I actually thought about buying this for my son, or will maybe look to see if it's on Neflix.
  • by OtisSnerd ( 600854 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @05:18PM (#54571679)
    I've been watching this for a long time, every episode is fascinating. They go to some very interesting places, some of which travelers wouldn't even consider. It's obvious from watching this that a small amount of effort to fit in and not be an 'Ugly traveler' goes a long way to making the traveler feel welcome.
  • People can watch what they want. Not up to me to sell a show.


  • Ken Burns is good but THIS is the best documentary ever made. ;)

    https://youtu.be/6SBLf1tsoaw
  • Zero Day was pretty interesting. I didn't know everything about stuxnet, I came to find. Other recent-ish documentaries that are worth seeking out:

    Score: A Film Music Documentary
    Red Army (the hockey movie)
    An Honest Liar
    Pina 3D (but only if you can somehow see it in 3D)
    Side by Side (digital vs film debate)
    Senna (make sure you see the documentary before the one with Thor in it)
    It Might Get Loud
    Note By Note (probably my most foveritest docu ever)
    Man on Wire (2008 documentary, not the recent dramatization)
    Shut

  • Idiocracy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by avandesande ( 143899 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @05:27PM (#54571749) Journal
    We watch it every couple of years. It's not really a documentary but seem to increasingly resemble one each time we watch it.
  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @05:28PM (#54571761) Journal

    There are a few documentaries that I can say absolutely changed my life. Back in the day, I worked in the video databank of a university, and most of my time was spent watching classic films and documentaries. There was one film, Titicut Follies by Frederick Wiseman that blew me right out of my seat. It's banned now, and very hard to find. It's about the Massachusetts Institute for the Criminally Insane. You can find a few clips from it on YouTube, but not, as far as I can tell, the whole thing. I once rented a 16mm version from Films Inc and transferred it to VHS for my own collection.

    Two more life-changing documentaries by Fred Wiseman are Meat and Welfare.

    Be advised though: these are not Ken Burns feel-good documentaries with beautiful music and narration that depict a soft-focus view on our history and leave you with a warm feeling. This is a filmmaker who sets up in the corner of a room until people stop noticing him and records film and audio. Very little editing. There are times when you wish it would cut away because what you're seeing on the screen is too horrible...too human...to watch. These are not movies to see with a date.

  • Very funny, very profane and will get you thinking about what are your personal taboos.

    Great seeing all the different comedians.

  • Good documentary based off a good book.

    http://www.pbs.org/wnet/ascent... [pbs.org]

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @05:35PM (#54571827) Homepage Journal

    Yes, Minister [youtube.com].

  • by jwhyche ( 6192 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @05:37PM (#54571839) Homepage

    That is what I suggest. Best 6 bucks a month I spend. It's what the Discovery Chanel used to be, but on demand.

  • The hardest part is finding documentaries the provide a balanced viewpoint. I used to recommend Waiting for Superman, a documentary on the U.S. education. Turns out it's extremely biased. Here is what I would recommend:

    • Anything Frontline. Specifically, Sick Around the World and Sick Around the US talk about health care before the ACA. The Retirement Gamble covers how many 401k plan's fees are so high they soak up all the growth.
    • CGPGrey on YouTube. I think he's a former teacher and has a knack for explaini
  • It's The Outer Limits for the 21st century (which by the way is another great series, although I only watched the 90's remake). Currently it has three seasons with about a dozen episodes, all worth your time. Season 4 is supposed to come out this fall.

    One episode, San Junipero, hit me particularly hard. I don't ever watch a movie/show more than once, but San Junipero is the only one ever that I've watched three times so far and cried my eyes out each time. It managed to pack so much emotion and human co

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    All four parts are worth watching, however I consider part one to not only be thought provoking, but also life changing. It's certainly worth an hour of your time.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

  • Tetris: From Russia with Love https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    If you like video game history, this documentary has tons of insights into some of the early console wars and international issues that were overcome to bring a game outside of Russia to the rest of the world.

  • RICK AND MORTY FOREVER AND FOREVER A HUNDRED YEARS Rick and Morty.. some...things.. Me and Rick and Morty runnin' around and... Rick and Morty time... a- all day long forever.. all a - a hundred days Rick and Morty! forever a hundred times.... OVER and over Rick and Morty... adventures dot com.. W W W dot at Rick and Morty dot com w..w..w... Rick and Morty adventures.. ah- hundred years..... every minute Rick and Morty dot com.... w w w a hundred times... Rick and Morty dot com.......
  • No, you are all wrong. The only correct answer to this question is BBS: The Documentary [bbsdocumentary.com].

  • There's a reason the breathless old bugger's become the canonical naturalist: he's always worked with terrific photographers who use the best equipment available to them at the time.

    The original and still the best!

  • Food, Inc is well worth watching and exposes what's REALLY going on in the US food system.
    From the Earth to the Moon is hands down the best documentary out there on the Apollo program and the moon landings.
    If you have ever wondered about the history of the things all around us, Modern Marvels has episodes on everything from Whiskey to glue to Computers.
    The Internets Own Boy (all about Aaron Swartz)

  • Barbarians Rising
    America: The Story of US
    The Presidents
    Roman Empire: Reign of Blood
  • Century of The Self (Score:5, Informative)

    by l0n3s0m3phr34k ( 2613107 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @06:46PM (#54572423)
    It's a BBC 4-part documentary, about "how those in power have used Freud's theories to try and control the dangerous crowd in an age of mass democracy" and "explores the various ways that governments and corporations have utilized Freud's theories." It's amazingly eye-opening, going into modern PR, how advertising got women to smoke, and includes info about the Lehman Brothers, the Labor Party, the Clintons, use of focus groups...

    Once you see it, you will grok why many politicians are amorphous flip-floppers, how advertisers and politicians are using our basic human nature and base psychology against us. You can catch the whole thing on Youtube [youtube.com].
  • The Planets [wikipedia.org]
    You'll want the British version because the US version, incredibly, cuts out a hell of a lot of the Soviet accomplishments! Pretty much have to torrent to find that copy. I was completely unaware of how close the Russians were in the space race before this series. Well directed too.
  • Any nature documentary narrated by Sir David Attenborough.

  • 1) The Civil War by Ken Burns. The closest thing to a perfect documentary I've seen. Shelby Foote's storytelling is still fascinating every time I listen to his comments.

    2) Patterns of Evidence: Exodus [netflix.com] - On Netflix streaming, it covers a man seeking for archaeological evidence that the Exodus ever happened. Unlike most "documentaries" that try to tackle the Bible and only preach to the choir, this doc doesn't pretend to have all the answers. It's very balanced and objective, and surprisingly informative abo

  • An excellent document on Russian arts during Stalin's Russia and the man who basically saved it all.

  • The Brain With David Eagleman,
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Brain_with_David_Eagleman/ [wikipedia.org]
    http://http//www.pbs.org/show/brain-david-eagleman/ [http]
    Fairly recently I saw this documentary series and I was very impressed. It covers a lot of ground on many levels physical, philosophical, and social. There's a particularly chilling part dealing with sociopaths.

    Here are a couple of examples of things in the series that happen to come to mind right now which might whet (or not whet) the appetites of some of you out th

  • A tech conglomerate featuring an exec who is in charge of a team of scientists, their adventures, feelings, diversions. It is hilarious, I like that the characters are somewhat believable and the nerds are largely the most likeable of the lot.

  • Features the IT team at a medium sized company. They are led by a clueless CEO, who is as pointy-haired a boss as they come. The IT team manager is clueless but makes the best of her tiny team of unmotivated but probably overqualified IT staff.

    • by rklrkl ( 554527 )

      The IT Crowd started off well (and spawned the classic "Have you tried turning it off and on again?" catchphrase), but there seemed to be less and less IT as the seasons progressed and my enjoyment similarly declined because of that. By the same they did a one-off "last ever episode" special, there were virtually no laughs to be had :-(

      Silicon Valley, on the other hand, has kept up the quality in all 4 of its seasons so far, so in my mind it's overtaken The IT Crowd by some margin. I just wish there was mor

  • Some stuff my wife and I have enjoyed together.

    Longmire: Episodic murder drama, but with small town rural values (the lead is actually an Australian)
    Homeland: OK, it gets a bit silly at times, but still good drama.
    Suits: Legal Drama with lots of type A personalities
    Good Wife: Legal Drama but the series ending was dumb.
    Boston Legal: Old now, but Spader and Shatner are very good.
    Once Upon a Time & WhiteColla: Wife really enjoyed these ones.

    • The Big Short [wikipedia.org] is the best conversion of a non-fiction book I've seen dramatized into a movie, as it somehow manages to teach you the financial math that led to the housing bubble and how a few people foresaw it and cashed in huge on it.
      The same author, Michael Lewis [wikipedia.org], is also behind the non-fiction book that became Moneyball [wikipedia.org].
      Along the same lines, also recommend Margin Call [imdb.com] and Boiler Room [imdb.com].

  • There's a lot here I can second.

    * The Century Of The Self
    * Ken Burns; for us, most recently, it was The West which we found surprisingly informative, once we got used to the dead-slow pacing
    * James Burke

    Both on my TODO list already:
    * David Attenborough
    * Louis Theroux; so far only Louis and the Nazis which was interesting, but also imperfect

    Not yet seen here:
    * Glenn Gould: The Russian Journey

    It was on YouTube in early 2016, but has since flat-mouthed (flat != level). Here's one remarkable passage:

    I will tel

  • The Secret Life of Machines, from the UK, looks at the inner workings and history of household and office machinery.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
    The series covers topics like: The Vacuum Cleaner, Television Set, Internal Combustion Engine, Quartz Watch, Telephone, Word Processor, Photocopier.
  • I'd recommenced anything by Adam Curtis [wikipedia.org].

    I'd start with "The Century of the Self" [wikipedia.org]. A real eye-opener; quite scary in some ways. (Online http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com]

    Then watch "All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace" [wikipedia.org]. (Online: http://www.youtube.com/playlis... [youtube.com] )

    Then "HyperNormalisation" [wikipedia.org]. (Online: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com] )

    Then, be angry with yourself and the modern world.

    (Other people above have already mentioned James Burke [wikipedia.org] many times, which is also my recommendation. Why Sid Meier

  • Vertical Video Syndrome
  • I highly recommend the book & documentary "The Corporation [thecorporation.com]"—watch it online [archive.org] and buy a copy [thecorporation.com]. I highly recommend the 2-disc DVD set because the interviews and extras on the second DVD are compelling. It continues to be valuable to debunk the corporate-friendly media that passes for informative entertainment today. I watch this documentary at least once a year and I always manage to find something I'd almost forgotten in it. It's deeply informative, compelling, and the underlying thesis is intriguing

  • The Gatekeepers [imdb.com] - Interviews with all surviving former heads of Shin Bet, the Israeli security agency. Whatever you might feel about McNamara in The Fog of War it's puny compared to these guys.

    A selection of documentaries by Stacey Dooley [wikipedia.org] - She has a unique and rather naive way of approaching some EXTREAMLY difficult subjects that gets her access to people and insights to the surrounding complexities like nothing I've seen. She's done a lot and quality varies, but there's plenty that are poweful enough to m

  • Princes of the Yen: About how the founders of modern Japan were basically a bunch of WW2 fascists, and their methods of social engineering:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]
    The Century of the Self: About social engineering and propaganda.
    https://youtu.be/eJ3RzGoQC4s [youtu.be]
    The Collapse of the American Dream Explained in Animation: About debt slavery and banking.
    https://youtu.be/mII9NZ8MMVM?l... [youtu.be]
  • It is much easier to state what I don't like, which is most, modern 'soft documentaries' that are almost homeopathic when it comes to facts and understanding, and invariably comes with poor narration, constant soundtrack of muzak and 'artistic' cutting. But there are a few people that have done good documentaries for BBC: Dr Lucy Worsley, who makes slightly crazy (in a good way) historical documentaries, and Francesco da Mosco with his journeys through Italy are just very, very pleasant and relaxing to watc

  • This 47 minute documentary will explain why the people doing all of the real work in the economy struggle under a perpetual burden of debt while bankers, who provide very little of actual value, rake in billions.

  • classic

  • James Burke programs are spectacularly engaging for anyone with more curiosity than a sea slug.
    Ken Burns documented the US Civil War in a way that brings the dusty reality to life.
    The mini-series Longitude [wikipedia.org] was just as engaging and provides an excellent frame of reference for the impact of invention-to-need. Like the James Burke material, it's also pure fun to watch.
  • My favorite music related documentaries are: Scratch - About the birth and evolution of record scratching DJs and Buena Vista Social Club - Great documentary about cuban music, as well as an amazing soundtrack another great documentary is Dishonest - about the justifications of why people cheat (on each other, exams, etc)
  • Even if you're not a Deadhead, Amir Bar-Lev's Long Strange Trip [wikipedia.org], just released on Amazon Prime, is a really excellent documentary about the band, the times that produced them, and how the times changed. If for nothing else, it's amazing to see the film footage of Ken Kesey [wikipedia.org], Neal Cassady [wikipedia.org], and other figures from the The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test [wikipedia.org] for whom the then-called Warlocks were the original house band.

  • The Pruitt Igoe Myth - https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    Mommy Dead and Dearest. - https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

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