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TV Shows & Series: Best Documentaries TV Shows/Series

A documentary film is a nonfictional motion picture intended to document reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction, education, or maintaining a historical record. "Documentary" has been described as a "filmmaking practice, a cinematic tradition, and mode of audience reception" that is continually evolving and is without clear boundaries. Documentary films were originally called 'actuality' films and were only a minute or less in length. Over time documentaries have evolved to be longer in length and to include more categories, such as educational, observational, and even 'docufiction'. Documentaries are also educational and often used in schools to teach various principles. Social media platforms such as YouTube, have allowed documentary films to improve the ways the films are distributed and able to educate and broaden the reach of people who receive the information. ()

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2,859 TV shows/series found (page 1/96):

Planet Earth II(2016)

TV-G
| 1h per episode | Documentary
4.2/5 (with 169 votes)

David Attenborough presents a documentary series exploring how animals meet the challenges of surviving in the most iconic habitats on earth.

Top Gear(2002-)

TV-PG
| 1h per episode | Documentary
3.7/5 (with 168 votes)

The hosts talk about the latest cars and its specifications. They review the performance of the car and also find out if it is as good as the manufacturers claim. The current hosts are Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc with The Stig.

The Grand Tour(2016-)

TV-MA
| 1h per episode | Documentary
3.9/5 (with 156 votes)

Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May are back with a show about adventure, excitement and friendship... as long as you accept that the people you call friends are also the ones you find extremely annoying. Sometimes it's even a show about cars. Follow them on their global adventure.

Cosmos: A Personal Voyage(1980)

1h per episode | Documentary
4.1/5 (with 70 votes)

Cosmos: A Personal Voyage is a thirteen-part television series written by Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, and Steven Soter, with Sagan as presenter. It was executive-produced by Adrian Malone, produced by David Kennard, Geoffrey Haines-Stiles and Gregory Andorfer, and directed by the producers, David Oyster, Richard Wells, Tom Weidlinger, and others. It covered a wide range of scientific subjects, including the origin of life and a perspective of our place in the universe. The series was first broadcast by the Public Broadcasting Service in 1980 and was the most widely watched series in the history of American public television until The Civil War. As of 2009, it was still the most widely watched PBS series in the world. It won an Emmy and a Peabody Award and has since been broadcast in more than 60 countries and seen by over 500 million people. A book was also published to accompany the series.

Directed by Adrian Malone - With Carl Sagan

Ancient Aliens(2010-)

TV-14
| 2h per episode | Documentary, Mystery
3.3/5 (with 52 votes)

Did intelligent beings from outer space visit Earth thousands of years ago? From the age of the dinosaurs to ancient Egypt, from early cave drawings to continued mass sightings in the US, each episode gives historic depth to the questions, speculations, provocative controversies, first-hand accounts and grounded theories surrounding this age old debate.

Mars(2016-)

3.3/5 (with 48 votes)

The maiden crew of the Daedalus spacecraft must push itself to the brink of human capability in order to successfully establish the first sustainable colony on Mars. Set both in the future and in the present day, this series blends scripted elements set in the future with documentary vérité interviews with today’s best and brightest minds in modern science and innovation, illuminating how research and development is creating the space technology that will enable our first attempt at a mission to Mars.

An Idiot Abroad(2010-2012)

TV-MA
| 1h per episode | Comedy, Documentary
4.0/5 (with 47 votes)

An Idiot Abroad is a British travel documentary television series broadcast on Sky1 and Science, as well as spin-off books published by Canongate Books, created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant and starring Karl Pilkington. The ongoing theme of both the television series and the books is that Pilkington has no interest in global travel, so Merchant and Gervais make him travel while they stay in the United Kingdom and monitor his progress.

Ghost Adventures(2008-)

3.5/5 (with 42 votes)

Paranormal investigator Zak Bagans and his crew, Nick Groff and Aaron Goodwin, search for haunted locations both domestically and internationally. During their investigations, Zak and crew acquaint themselves with the general area; interview locals about the hauntings; and go face-to-face with the evil spirits who reportedly haunt these locations.

Mayday(2003-)

45min per episode | Documentary, Drama
3.9/5 (with 41 votes)

Revealing the dark truth that aviation safety improves one crash at a time, Mayday investigates legendary aviation disasters to find out what went wrong and why. Based on cockpit voice recorders, accident reports and eyewitness accounts, every episode also features interviews, state-of-the-art CGI and gripping reenactments.

Human Planet(2011)

1h per episode | Documentary
4.2/5 (with 39 votes)

A cinematic experience bringing you the most amazing human stories in the world. Humans and wildlife surviving in the most extreme environments on Earth.

Jackass(2000-2002)

TV-MA
| 30min per episode | Reality-TV, Comedy, Documentary
3.0/5 (with 35 votes)

Jackass is an American reality series, originally shown on MTV from 2000 to 2002, featuring people performing various dangerous, crude self-injuring stunts and pranks. The show served as a launchpad for the television and acting careers of Bam Margera, Steve-O, and also Johnny Knoxville, who previously had only a few minor acting roles. Since 2002, three Jackass films have been produced and released by MTV corporate sibling Paramount Pictures, continuing the franchise after its run on television. The show sparked several spin-offs including Viva La Bam, Wildboyz, Homewrecker, Dr. Steve-O and Blastazoid. The show placed #68 on Entertainment Weekly's "New TV Classics" list.

Man vs. Wild(2006-2011)

1h per episode | Action & Adventure, Reality-TV
3.6/5 (with 34 votes)

Bear strands himself in popular wilderness destinations where tourists often find themselves lost or in danger.

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The Curse of Oak Island(2014-)

TV-PG
| 43min per episode | Mystery, Documentary
3.7/5 (with 33 votes)

Follows brothers Marty and Rick Lagina through their effort to find the speculated - and as of yet undiscovered - buried treasure believed to have been concealed through extraordinary means on Oak Island.

Secretos del Universo con Morgan Freeman(2010-2017)

44min per episode | Documentary
3.9/5 (with 33 votes)

Hosted by Morgan Freeman, Through the Wormhole explores the deepest mysteries of existence - the questions that have puzzled mankind for eternity. What are we made of? What was there before the beginning? Are we really alone? Is there a creator? These questions have been pondered by the most exquisite minds of the human race. Now, science has evolved to the point where hard facts and evidence may be able to provide us with answers instead of philosophical theories. Through the Wormhole brings together the brightest minds and best ideas from the very edges of science - Astrophysics, Astrobiology, Quantum Mechanics, String Theory, and more - to reveal the extraordinary truth of our Universe.

Africa(2013)

1h per episode | Documentary
4.1/5 (with 31 votes)

Africa, the world's wildest continent. David Attenborough takes us on an awe-inspiring journey through one of the most diverse places in the world. We visit deserts, savannas, and jungles and meet up with some of Africa's amazing wildlife.

The World at War(1973-1974)

1h per episode | War & Politics, Documentary, Drama
4.2/5 (with 31 votes)

The World at War is a 26-episode British television documentary series chronicling the events of the Second World War. At the time of its completion in 1973 it was the most expensive series ever made, costing £900,000. It was produced by Jeremy Isaacs, narrated by Laurence Olivier and includes a score composed by Carl Davis. A book, The World at War, was written by Mark Arnold-Forster, and released in 1973, to accompany the TV series. Since production was completed, The World at War has attracted acclaim and is now regarded as a landmark in British television history. Following the time of its completion, and as the Second World War remained fresh in many people's minds, the producer Jeremy Isaacs was considered ahead of his time in resurrecting studies of military history. The series focused on, among other things, portrayal of the devastating human experiences of the conflict; how life and death throughout the war years affected soldiers, sailors and airmen, civilians, the tragic victims of tyranny and concentration camp inmates.

Penn & Teller: Bullshit!(2003-2010)

TV-MA
| 30min per episode | Comedy, Documentary
4.0/5 (with 29 votes)

This daring original series stars postmodern bad boys of magic Penn & Teller as they question many of our culture's most cherished and widely held beliefs. From the truth about palm readings and TV psychics to the reality behind Feng Shui and Ouija boards, the archly comic masters of misdirection host this eye-opening analysis of the middle-ground between perception and reality.

With Penn Jillette, Teller, Penn & Teller

The Angry Video Game Nerd(2004-)

15min per episode | Comedy, Documentary
3.9/5 (with 29 votes)

The Angry Video Game Nerd is an adult web television series of comedic retrogaming video reviews created by and starring James Rolfe. The show's format revolves around his commentary and review of older, but unsuccessful video games which are deemed to be of particularly low-quality, unfair difficulty or poor design. The series began as a feature on YouTube and later became a program on ScrewAttack Entertainment before moving to GameTrailers exclusively. The show was renamed The Angry Video Game Nerd to prevent any trademark issues with Nintendo and due to the fact he started reviewing games from non-Nintendo consoles such as those made by Atari and Sega. Rolfe's character, "The Nerd" is a short-tempered and foul-mouthed video game fanatic. He derives comic appeal from excessive and inventive use of anger, profanity, and habitual consumption of alcohol while reviewing video games. A feature-length film, Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie, is expected to be released between 2013 and 2014.

How It's Made(2001-)

30min per episode | Documentary
3.8/5 (with 27 votes)

Have you ever wondered how the products you use every day are made? How It's Made leads you through the process of how everyday products, such as apple juice, skateboards, engines, contact lenses, and many more objects are manufactured.

With Mark Tewksbury

NOVA(1974-)

TV-PG
| 55min per episode | Documentary
3.6/5 (with 25 votes)

PBS' premier science series helps viewers of all ages explore the science behind the headlines. Along the way, NOVA demystifies science and technology, and highlights the people involved in scientific pursuits.

When They See Us(2019)

TV-MA
| 1h 15min per episode | Drama
4.4/5 (with 25 votes)

Five teens from Harlem become trapped in a nightmare when they're falsely accused of a brutal attack in Central Park.

How the Universe Works(2010-)

TV-PG
| 42min per episode | Documentary
4.2/5 (with 24 votes)

A users' guide to the cosmos, from the Big Bang to galaxies, stars, planets and moons: where did it all come from and how does it all fit together? A primer for anyone who has ever looked up at the night sky and wondered.

American Pickers(2010-)

1h per episode | Reality-TV, Comedy, Documentary
3.5/5 (with 23 votes)

Pickers like Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz are on a mission to recycle America, even if it means diving into countless piles of grimy junk or getting chased off a gun-wielding homeowner’s land. Hitting back roads from coast to coast, the two men earn a living by restoring forgotten relics to their former glory, transforming one person’s trash into another’s treasure.

VICE(2013-2018)

TV-MA
| 30min per episode | Documentary, News, War & Politics
3.6/5 (with 23 votes)

A documentary news series with a taboo-breaking team who deliver incredible news stories from around the world.

Evil Genius(2018)

TV-MA
| 3h 10min per episode | Crime, Documentary
3.9/5 (with 22 votes)

This baffling true crime story starts with the grisly death of a pizza man who robs a bank with a bomb around his neck - and gets weirder from there.

From the Earth to the Moon(1998)

TV-PG
| 1h per episode | Action & Adventure, Drama
4.2/5 (with 22 votes)

The story of the United States' space program, from its beginnings in 1961 to the final moon mission in 1972.

Directed by David Frankel

Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath(2016-)

TV-14
| 47min per episode | Documentary
4.1/5 (with 20 votes)

Leah Remini, along with high level former Scientology executives and Church members, explores individual accounts from ex-Church members and their families through meetings and interviews with Leah. Each episode features stories from former members whose lives have been affected by the Church's harmful practices, even well after they left the organization.

The First 48(2004-)

1h per episode | Documentary, Drama
3.8/5 (with 20 votes)

The First 48 follows detectives from around the country during these first critical hours as they race against time to find the suspect. Gritty and fast-paced, it takes viewers behind the scenes of real-life investigations with unprecedented access to crime scenes, autopsies, forensic processing, and interrogations.

Dirty Jobs(2003-2012)

1h per episode | Documentary
3.7/5 (with 18 votes)

Dirty Jobs is a program on the Discovery Channel, produced by Pilgrim Films & Television, in which host Mike Rowe is shown performing difficult, strange, disgusting, or messy occupational duties alongside the typical employees. The show premiered with two pilot episodes in November 2003. It returned as a series on July 26, 2005, running for 8 seasons until September 12, 2012. The show's setting was refocused in Australia for the eighth season, advertised as Dirty Jobs Down Under. There is also a European edition of the show, hosted by Danish former goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel. On November 21, 2012, Mike Rowe announced that Discovery Channel had cancelled Dirty Jobs.

Chef's Table(2015-)

TV-MA
| 50min per episode | Documentary
3.9/5 (with 18 votes)

In this Emmy-nominated docuseries, find out what's inside the kitchens and minds of the international culinary stars who are redefining gourmet food.

With Dan Barber, Massimo Bottura, Francis Mallmann, Niki Nakayama, Magnus Nilsson, Ben Shewry, ...
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