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TV Shows & Series: Best Documentaries TV Shows/Series

A documentary film is a nonfictional motion picture intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction, education, or maintaining a historical record. Such films were originally shot on film stock—the only medium available—but now include video and digital productions that can be either direct-to-video, made into a TV show, or released for screening in cinemas. "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. ()

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We've found 2,590 TV shows/series (page 1/87):

Top Gear(2002)

1h per episode | Documentary
3.8/5 (with 138 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 126 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.

Planet Earth II(2016)

TV-G
| 1h per episode | Documentary, Kids & Family
4.2/5 (with 119 votes)

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

Cosmos: A Personal Voyage(1980)

1h per episode | Documentary
4.2/5 (with 55 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.

With Carl Sagan

An Idiot Abroad(2010)

1h per episode | Comedy, Documentary
4.0/5 (with 41 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.

With Karl Pilkington, Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant, Warwick Davis

Ancient Aliens(2010)

TV-14
| 2h per episode | Documentary, Mystery
3.2/5 (with 40 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.

Ghost Adventures(2008)

TV-14
| 45min per episode | Documentary, Mystery, Reality-TV
3.5/5 (with 33 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.

Gold Rush(2011)

TV-PG
| 45min per episode | Documentary, Reality-TV
3.2/5 (with 31 votes)

Follow the lives of ambitious miners as they head north in pursuit of gold. With new miners, new claims, new machines and new ways to pull gold out of the ground, the stakes are higher than ever. But will big risks lead to an even bigger pay out?

Mars(2016)

3.3/5 (with 31 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.

Directed by Everardo Gout - With Jihae, Alberto Ammann, Ben Cotton, Sammi Rotibi, Anamaria Marinca, Olivier Martinez, ...

Through the Wormhole(2010)

44min per episode | Documentary
3.9/5 (with 30 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.

Human Planet(2011)

1h per episode | Documentary
4.1/5 (with 30 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.

Africa(2013)

1h per episode | Documentary
4.1/5 (with 27 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.

Man vs. Wild(2006)

1h per episode | Documentary
3.5/5 (with 27 votes)

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

With Bear Grylls

The Curse of Oak Island(2014)

TV-PG
| 1h per episode | Mystery, Documentary
3.6/5 (with 26 votes)

The Curse of Oak Island follows brothers Marty and Rick Lagina originally from Kingsford, Michigan 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. The brothers became fascinated with the island after reading the January, 1965 issue of Reader's Digest magazine which featured an article on the Restall family's work to solve the mystery of the so-called "Money Pit."

Penn & Teller: Bullshit!(2003)

TV-MA
| 30min per episode | Comedy, Documentary
4.0/5 (with 25 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 World at War(1973)

1h per episode | War & Politics, Documentary, Drama
4.1/5 (with 25 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.

The Angry Video Game Nerd(2004)

15min per episode | Comedy, Documentary
3.9/5 (with 24 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.

Mayday(2003)

45min per episode | Documentary, Drama
3.8/5 (with 24 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.

Directed by Bryn Higgins - With James Murray, Dylan Ramsey, Hrant Alianak, Paul Braunstein, Robert Moloney, Hillary Clinton, ...

Life's Too Short(2011)

30min per episode | Documentary, Comedy
3.6/5 (with 23 votes)

Life's Too Short is a British sitcom mockumentary created and written by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant from an idea by Warwick Davis, and is as described by Gervais, about "the life of a showbiz dwarf".

How It's Made(2001)

30min per episode | Documentary
3.7/5 (with 23 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
3.5/5 (with 23 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.

With Neil Ross, Jay O. Sanders

How the Universe Works(2010)

TV-PG
| 42min per episode | Documentary
4.2/5 (with 22 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.

VICE(2013)

TV-MA
| 30min per episode | Documentary, News, War & Politics
3.5/5 (with 21 votes)

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

From the Earth to the Moon(1998)

4.1/5 (with 19 votes)

This twelve part HBO mini-series tells the story of the United States' space program, from its beginnings in 1961 to the final moon mission in 1972. Tom Hanks served as Executive Producer and introduced each segment.

Directed by David Frankel

Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath(2016)

TV-14
| 47min per episode | Documentary
4.1/5 (with 17 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.

American Pickers(2010)

1h per episode | Reality-TV, Comedy, Documentary
3.7/5 (with 17 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.

Dirty Jobs(2003)

1h per episode | Documentary
3.7/5 (with 16 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.

With Mike Rowe

Bill Nye The Science Guy(1993)

TV-Y
| 26min per episode | Comedy, Documentary, Kids & Family
3.7/5 (with 16 votes)

Bill Nye the Science Guy is an educational television program that originally aired from September 10, 1993 to June 20, 1998, hosted by William "Bill" Nye and produced by Buena Vista Television. The show aired on PBS Kids and was also syndicated to local stations. Each of the 100 episodes aims to teach a specific topic in science to a preteen audience. The show is frequently used in schools as an education medium, and it still airs on some PBS stations for this reason. Created by comedian Ross Shafer and based on sketches on KING-TV's sketch program Almost Live!, Bill Nye the Science Guy was produced by Disney Educational Productions and KCTS-TV of Seattle. Bill Nye the Science Guy won nineteen Emmy Awards during its run.

With Ivyann Schwan

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown(2013)

TV-PG
| 45min per episode | Documentary
3.6/5 (with 16 votes)

Bourdain travels across the globe to uncover little-known areas of the world and celebrate diverse cultures by exploring food and dining rituals. Known for his curiosity, candor, and acerbic wit, Bourdain takes viewers off the beaten path of tourist destinations – including some war-torn parts of the world – and meets with a variety of local citizens to offer a window into their lifestyles, and occasionally communes with an internationally lauded chef on his journeys.

The First 48(2004)

1h per episode | Documentary, Drama
3.8/5 (with 16 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.

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