Your favorite documentaries?

Discussion in 'TV Shows' started by MikeH1, Nov 11, 2004.

  1. MikeH1

    MikeH1 Screenwriter

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    To cut into this reality TV show forum of HTF I was wondering what everyone's favorite documentaries/nature shows etc are?

    I have always liked this one episode of "Nature" with George Page showing the mangrove forest of SE asia and all the animals living in the intertidal zone, the one with them fish the Mudskippers that can live on land too. Always fascinated me. Actually, the whole "Nature" series is great and I have missed not seeing it for some years.

    World At War is another one although I have probably only seen a few shows. The old pictures and videos of WWII and the stories behind them interests me greatly.

    I find that CBC here in Canada makes/airs some quality documentaries. The Passionate Eye sometimes have some great stories. W5 on CTV (I think) had a good story a few months ago about the Nigerian Scammers and was pure comedy at the end when the W5 crew came out and told the scammer in person he was on TV. He bolted down the street for dear life and had me laughing til I was blue.

    My favorite though has to be Supersize Me. Just watched it last week for the first time and although not at all shocking just a real eye opener.

    Anyhoo, any particular documentary/nature show etc that you can remember that you really enjoyed?

    No 9/11 talk either, I don't want this thread to turn into a political discussion [​IMG]
     
  2. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Civilization
     
  3. Kenneth

    Kenneth Supporting Actor

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    I have lots of favorite documentaries (most from TV). Here are my favorite TV ones:

    Connections - I loved this show when it first started showing on PBS. It was amazing the way two seemingly unrelated things could be "connected". Kind of like six degrees of science and technology [​IMG]

    Cosmos - I really loved this when it first showed and have found the DVD to be just as enjoyable. A true classic.

    The Civil War - Arguably Ken Burn's best work (in my opinion it is). Bringing the human elements through the letters and pictures to one of the most divisive moments in American history was brilliantly done.

    World at War/Victory at Sea - Different approaches and moods made for two classics of the war documentary genre.

    The Greatest Books - I think this was a Discovery show. I loved the analysis of some truly great literary works.

    The only film documentaries that I have seen that stand out for me are (I have probably missed too many good ones):

    Years of Lightning, Day of Drums - A moving documentary about JFK. Although without the darker elements that have since come to light I think this was a suitable tribute to a man who left us too soon.

    For All Mankind - A great look at the American race to the Moon.

    That's all I can think of off the top of my head.

    Kenneth
     
  4. Jean D

    Jean D Screenwriter

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    I loved Supersize Me, and the one Im not allowed to mention. I kind of liked Bowling for Columbine, but there were things in it that I didn't find relevant.
    Its funny this thread came up, last night I was told that CNBC aired A Wal-Mart Special (a
    two-hour Wal-Mart documentary [Sunday at 9 p.m. and 12 a.m. and Monday at 10 p.m. ET.]) And it sounded extremely interesting. Im going to Tivo it. And I have to admit, Im a sucker for documentary's about Tupac, my favorite it probably Thug Angel. I also find Documentary's that focus on the Studio recording of bands I like very interesting and Muse-like.
     
  5. Andrew Chong

    Andrew Chong Supporting Actor

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    PBS is a nice place to catch quality documentaries on TV. I was captivated by Lost Boys of Sudan and thoroughly enjoy watching Globe Trekker every week.

    Lost Boys of Sudan was directed by Megan Mylan and Jon Shenk (the same Jon Shenk who directed, produced, and photographed The Beginning, the documentary about the making of Star Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menace). Globe Trekker is in my opinion the most entertaining travel show on television. In each show, a host ('The Traveller') and small camera crew visit a country and interact with the people, festivals, food and culture. Each show has stunning photography and music. They often venture off the beaten path, stay away from parts that are too 'touristy', and partake in everything the local peoples do. For instance, in Cuba, they avoided visiting resorts (most of which don't allow locals except as employees).
     
  6. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Jean D, I believe we're talking about television-originated docs in this thread.
     
  7. Elinor

    Elinor Supporting Actor

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    Ken Burns' Lewis & Clark was another real winner, right up there with Civil War though much shorter.

    Second the vote for The Civil War. Dang if I don't think that may be the best documentary ever made period.

    I love the quality of the PBS Nature series but just can't watch it any more. Nature documentarians seem determined these days to show just how horrible and cruel nature can be. When I watch a nature show I want to feel warm fuzzies, not like I want to go blow my brains out bec. the little lion cubs starved to death after their mom was killed ....

    Smart Travels with Rudy Maxa is a show I love ... great HD material of beautiful places.

    The "Over [insert country name]" on HDNet is pretty spectacular ... HD flyover shots of different countries.

    Winged Migration isn't a tv doc, but rather a theatrical one, but it has the best photography I have ever seen in my life. Just mind-boggling.
     
  8. Jean D

    Jean D Screenwriter

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    so it may have been misinterpreted along the way. But if I've got it twisted, Im sorry.

    I'm not sure if its considered a documnetary, but VH1 did a show called "Fortune Files" which focused on how some stars make more money dead than alive, and then examined how it came to be and the state of their estates and the legal battles surrounding it. quite entertaining actually..
     
  9. Jesse Blacklow

    Jesse Blacklow Cinematographer

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    Frontline: They've done some damn good shows, and this years' series on politics and the candidates was very well-done. The interviews with those that actually knew both Bush and Kerry were much more insightful than any of the 527s, news channels, or pundits could ever dream of being.

    Connections: So awesome, although the concept sounds a lot simpler than the actual program is. It's like "Six Degrees" with technology. My folks found the companion guide to the first series for 50 cents at a book sale, and it's probably the most bang for the buck anyone could get.

    Nova: Always good, and the recent series on the Universe was mind-boggling. In a good way. I hope they start moving more and more to HDTV like the nature shows, because it's the perfect content for the format.
     
  10. Jean D

    Jean D Screenwriter

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    Discovery HD did a show a month or two back about Cephalopods called "Tenticles". it was really interesting and went on to talk about how the pigmentation of Molluska's change colors and patterns and scientists believe it is their language, they acctually figured out a few patterns and their meanings. Needless to say anything in HD is stunning, I find that underwater documentarys are the best ones. Which reminds me of a show I watched on either Discovery or TLC about a year back. It was about how this certain seaweed had dominated certain coastlines and was ruining the underwater ecosystem cause it was blocking the light from reaching the ecosystem even though it was a tropical climate plant. long story short, they thought it was a naturally mutated strain of seaweed that gave it this incredible versatility and resiliance to climate based ecosystems. But they found out it was man made for fishtanks, so it could have a brilliant green color yet survive in a tank environment. But now its threatening these sea scapes. because it was let into the ocean. I found it extrememly interesting.
     
  11. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Connections
     
  12. Marc Fedderman

    Marc Fedderman Second Unit

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    Nova's The Proof, which details the race to solve Fermat's last theorem, is a personal favorite. I found it's depiction of this tantalizing proposition and the special sort of dedicated (and demented) geniuses who tackled it to be fascinating. I'm fairly certain that this hasn't been released on DVD, but it's worth looking out for.

    The Frontline specials are consistently excellent as well. Two that come to mind (not sure of the titles): 1.the recent film on Somalia revisited was both breath-taking and horrifying and 2. The special on Al Jazeera (Control Room?), which I found to be a fairly objective view of the much-maligned (and far more occidental than we care to admit) pan-Arab news organization.

    The three epic Burns series are wonderful. I've seen all nine "innings" of Baseball many times over and my amazement has not diminished. Here's a third for the Civil War, an astonishing achievement, especially considering the circumscribed nature of detailing an event for which there is no archival film to mine. Jazz is my least favorite of the three. Lacking the focus of the other two, it is, nonetheless, very good. I give Burns and his group a great deal of credit for tackling such lofty and equivocal subjects.

    I remember thinking the Discovery Chanel's Walking With Dinosaurs was an impressive technical achievement at the time. By today's standards it seems rather quaint, but it's still enjoyable.

    This exercise got me to thinking: When's the last time one of the major American networks produced a worthwhile documentary? I mean documentary in the conventional (long, narrative-driven) sense, not the the scurrilous, quasi-news vignettes to be found in such abundance. Moreover, what does this say about the appetites and interests of the American viewing audience (assuming the networks reflect the people's desires and not vice versa)?
     
  13. LizH

    LizH Second Unit

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    There's something you have to remember: the commercial networks are in business to sell audiences to advertisers.

    Whatever they put on the air is going to have to move toothpaste and laundry detergent.
     
  14. EricWilliam

    EricWilliam Agent

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    PBS's Trimuph of the Nerds
    the REAL history of computers, not that crap TBS put out a few years back with Noah Wyle..

    the followup Nerds 2.0 The History of the Internet wasn't quite as good.

    Ken Burns Baseball was great, although i wish he would do another inning on the 90's...
     
  15. Kevin Hewell

    Kevin Hewell Cinematographer

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    I really liked "The Six Wives of Henry the VIII."

    I'm a history geek.

    Plus, I loved Ken Burns' "Baseball."

    I'm also a baseball geek.
     
  16. Casey Trowbridg

    Casey Trowbridg Lead Actor

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    I'll put in another vote for Baseball, and I'll second being a baseball geek.

    I don't watch as many nature ones as I'd like, I used to like Wild Discovery though.
     
  17. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Supporting Actor

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    Rick Burns' New York documentary fascinated me. I checked it out at the local library and it was the best money I never spent. Very educational, intriguing and well done.

    CNN aired the documentary Behind the Veil about a female journalist raised in Britain, but who goes back to Afgahnistan where she was born. It is a very powerful look at the effect of the Taliban regime.

    Even though disagree with Michael Moore's conclusions, I was fascinated by Bowling for Columbine.

    Peace,

    DM
     

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