PBS Fall 2017 lineup has a mix of hard-hitting journalism, history, family trees, Great Performances, and a dramatic slate of Masterpiece dramas.
The broadcaster announced its full fall schedule with Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s previously announced docuseries The Vietnam War taking the spotlight. The 10-part epic tells the story of the Vietnam War as it has never been told before via testimonies from Americans and Vietnamese who fought in the war, Vietnamese citizens, and those who opposed the war.
In addition, Frontline will air a two-part documentary series of Russian President Vladimir Putin, his rise to power and his motivations. A new season of Finding Your Roots will feature celebrities such as Aziz Ansari, Ava DuVernay, Scarlett Johansson, and more exploring their family trees, while Great Performances will showcase Broadway. Masterpiece is also back with new seasons of Poldark and The Durrells in Corfu.
Also: the January 2018 broadcast of Tony Bennett: The Library Of Congress Gershwin Prize, a PBS music special taping this fall to honor the singer, this year’s recipient of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.
See below for a complete listing of PBS’s Fall 2017 schedule.
THE VIETNAM WAR
(Sunday-Thursday, September 17-21, 8 pm ET)
(Sunday-Thursday, September 24-28, 8 pm ET)
Ken Burns and Lynn Novick direct a 10-part, 18-hour documentary series that tells the epic story of the Vietnam War as it has never before been told on film. Features testimony from nearly 80 witnesses, including many Americans who fought in the war and others who opposed it, as well as Vietnamese combatants and civilians from both sides.
FINDING YOUR ROOTS WITH HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR., SEASON 4
(Tuesdays, October 3 – December 26, 8-9 pm ET)
The acclaimed series returns with Professor Gates exploring the mysteries, surprises and revelations hidden in the family trees of popular figures including Aziz Ansari, Scarlett Johansson, Ted Danson, Larry David, Ava DuVernay, Bryant Gumbel, Garrison Keillor, William H. Macy, Suzanne Malveaux, Ana Navarro, Amy Schumer, Mary Steenburgen, Christopher Walken and more.
BROADWAY’S BEST, FRIDAY NIGHTS
(Fridays, October 20–December 1, 9-11 pm ET)
GREAT PERFORMANCES “She Loves Me”
(Friday, October 20, 9 pm-12 am ET)
Two feuding clerks in a 1930s Budapest parfumerie unwittingly find solace in each other as anonymous romantic pen pals—not realizing their respective correspondents are in fact each other. Laura Benanti, Zachary Levi, Jane Krakowski and Gavin Creel star.
GREAT PERFORMANCES “Present Laughter”
(Friday, November 3, 9 pm ET)
Enjoy a sparkling revival of Noël Coward’s Present Laughter, a comedy about a self-obsessed actor in the midst of a mid-life crisis. The cast features Kevin Kline, who won the Best Leading Actor Tony Award, as well as Kate Burton, Kristine Nielsen and Cobie Smulders.
GREAT PERFORMANCES “In the Heights – Chasing Broadway Dreams” (Encore)
(Friday, November 10, 9-10:30 pm ET)
In the aftermath of the phenomenal success of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s blockbuster Broadway musical Hamilton in 2016, GREAT PERFORMANCES presents a special encore of “In the Heights: Chasing Broadway Dreams,” a performance-documentary chronicling the story behind Miranda’s first Tony Award-winning hit in 2008.
GREAT PERFORMANCES “Prince of Broadway – A Tribute to Harold Prince”
(Friday, November 17, 9-10:30 pm ET)
Winner of 21 Tony Awards (more than any other individual) with a career spanning more than six decades, producer and director Harold Prince is the living embodiment of Broadway’s Golden Age, with a peerless resume that includes The Pajama Game, Damn Yankees, West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, Cabaret, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, Evita, The Phantom of the Opera and Kiss of the Spider Woman.
GREAT PERFORMANCES “Holiday Inn”
(Friday, November 24, 9-11:30 pm ET)
The Roundabout Theatre Company presents a Broadway adaptation of the 1942 movie musical that starred Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. This heartwarming classic with a contemporary sparkle features thrilling dance numbers, laugh-out-loud comedy and a parade of Irving Berlin hit songs.
GREAT PERFORMANCES “Hamilton’s America” (Encore)
(Friday, December 1, 9-10:30 pm ET)
GREAT PERFORMANCES follows the creation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s pop culture Broadway phenomenon, Hamilton, and the history behind it. Interviews with Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, Nas, Questlove, Stephen Sondheim and more.
FRONTLINE – Untitled Putin documentary
(Wednesdays, October 25 – November 1, 10-11 pm ET)
For months, reports of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election have dominated the headlines. But what does Vladimir Putin really want? In a special two-part documentary with original reporting from Moscow and Washington, DC, FRONTLINE filmmaker Michael Kirk and the series’ award-winning political team examine Putin’s rise, rule and motivations. Against the backdrop of investigations by the FBI and Congress into possible collusion between Trump campaign members and Russian officials, the documentary traces how Putin went from low-ranking KGB agent to long-serving president of a newly assertive Russia with the ability to wage cyber-war in the U.S. and across the globe.
THIRD RAIL WITH OZY
(Fridays, September 8 – October 20, 8:30-9 pm ET)
Join Emmy Award-winning journalist Carlos Watson for this seven-part cross-platform series. Each week, expert and celebrity guests engage with Watson to debate a timely, provocative topic, incorporating audience input and exclusive national polls.
MASTERPIECE (Sundays, October 1-November 19)
For more than 45 years, Masterpiece has enthralled audiences with period and modern British dramas and mysteries, interpreted by the world’s foremost actors.
“Poldark, Season 3” (Sundays, October 1-November 19, 9 pm ET)
Season 3 finds Ross and Demelza attempting to repair their relationship, while George Warleggan builds his empire to crush the Poldarks. Elizabeth harbors a dangerous secret, and Dwight is captured during the war with France. Will Ross risk everything to save his friend?
“The Durrells in Corfu, Season 2” (Sundays, October 15-November 19, 8-9 pm ET)
Louisa Durrell (Keeley Hawes, Upstairs Downstairs) and her four willful children return in the acclaimed series called “irresistible” (The Wall Street Journal) and “gorgeous” (USA Today). The second season continues to chronicle the family’s adventures with the island’s townspeople, customs and wildlife.
ANNE OF GREEN GABLES – THE GOOD STARS
(Thursday, November 23, 8-9:30 pm ET)
Anne turns 13 and faces complex situations with friends, adults and Gilbert. Her free-spirited nature is challenged by her perceived need to be sensible, a journey fraught with confusion and some unfortunate — albeit amusing — mishaps.
LAST TANGO IN HALIFAX HOLIDAY SPECIAL
(Sundays, December 17-24, 8-9 pm ET)
Packed with shocks and surprises, the heartwarming drama continues the compelling story of childhood sweethearts, reunited after nearly 60 years apart, as they and their families negotiate the highs and lows of life and relationships.
CALL THE MIDWIFE HOLIDAY SPECIAL
(Monday, December 25, 9-10 pm ET)
With Poplar under a thick blanket of snow, the midwives face the challenge of the coldest winter in 300 years. Battling snow, ice, power cuts and frozen pipes, the midwives strive to provide care for their patients.
(Wednesdays, September 13 and November 15)
An in-depth look at the solar system and beyond, highlighting NASA’s historic Voyager mission, the Cassini space probe’s mission to Saturn, and a glimpse of astronauts training for the next giant leap for mankind – the journey to Mars.
THE FARTHEST: Voyager in Space (Encore)
(Wednesday, September 13, 10 pm-12 am ET)
Learn how NASA’s epic Voyager missions, launched in 1977, revolutionized our understanding of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and their dazzling moons and rings. In 2012, Voyager 1 left our solar system and ushered humanity into the interstellar age.
NOVA “Death Dive to Saturn”
(Wednesday, September 13, 9-10 pm ET)
For more than a decade, the Cassini space probe has been sending dazzling images of Saturn’s breathtaking rings and mysterious moons. A suspenseful ride during Cassini’s final hours as it dives into Saturn’s atmosphere.
A YEAR IN SPACE (Encore)
(Wednesday, November 15, 8-9 pm ET)
Follow astronaut Scott Kelly’s record-breaking 12-month mission on the International Space Station, from launch to landing, as NASA charts the effects of long-duration spaceflight by comparing him to his identical twin on Earth, astronaut Mark Kelly.
BEYOND A YEAR IN SPACE
(Wednesday, November 15, 9-10 pm ET)
Picking up where the first film left off — Scott Kelly’s last day in space and return to Earth — the final installment also introduces the next generation of astronauts training to leave Earth’s orbit and travel into deep space.
ADDITIONAL SCIENCE PROGRAMMING
(Wednesdays, 8-9 pm ET)
Experience the splendors and compelling stories of the natural world from all over the globe.
“Naledi: One Little Elephant”
(Wednesday, October 4, 8-9 pm ET)
Born inside a rescue camp in the wilderness of Botswana, Naledi the Baby Elephant loses her mother and faces the world alone. It is now up to a devoted team of caretakers to urge Naledi to survive and help find her place in the herd.
“H Is for Hawk: A New Chapter”
(Wednesday, November 1, 8-9 pm ET)
Helen Macdonald’s best-selling book H Is for Hawk told the story of a grieving daughter who found healing in training a goshawk. Now she digs deeper into the world of these raptors by following a family in the wild and raising a goshawk of her own.
(Wednesdays, 9-10 pm ET)
Explore the science behind the headlines in the premier science series on PBS.
NOVA: Eclipse Over America
Monday, August 21, 9-10 pm ET
Join scientists and citizens alike as they observe the first total solar eclipse to traverse the U.S. mainland in more than a generation. Discover the storied history of eclipse science and follow current, cutting-edge research into the solar corona. Airs just hours after the eclipse.
“Secrets of the Shining Knight” (w.t.)
(Wednesday, October 4, 9-10 pm ET)
Discover what it was like to be a knight in shining armor and follow the historic manufacturing process.
Explore the lives and creative journeys of America’s most enduring artistic and cultural giants.
“Richard Linklater – dream is destiny”
(Friday, September 1, 9-10:30 pm ET)
An unconventional look at the fiercely independent filmmaking style that emerged in the late 1980s-90s, sparked by the Oscar-nominated filmmaker of Boyhood, Slacker and Dazed and Confused. Features never-before-seen footage and interviews.
(Friday, September 8, 9-10:30 pm ET)
Discover the art, life and enduring impact of Tyrus Wong, the renowned Chinese-American painter behind Bambi and Rebel Without a Cause, who once exhibited with Picasso and Matisse, via new and never-before-seen interviews, movie clips and art.
“Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive”
(Monday, October 30, 9-10:30 pm ET)
Discover the real story of the notorious author, starring Denis O’Hare as Edgar Allan Poe. Explores the misrepresentations of Poe and reveals how he tapped into what it means to be human in a modern and sometimes frightening world.
“Bob Hope” (w.t.)
(Friday, December 29, 9-11 pm ET)
Explore the entertainer’s life with unprecedented access to his personal archives, clips from his classic films (the Road pictures, My Favorite Blonde), radio and TV shows, and interviews with Chevy Chase, Tom Selleck, Brooke Shields and others.
DAVID LETTERMAN: THE KENNEDY CENTER MARK TWAIN PRIZE
(Monday, November 20, 8 pm ET)
Celebrate beloved talk show pioneer David Letterman, the 20th recipient of The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
Watch television’s longest-running performing arts anthology to enjoy the best in music, dance and theater.
“Fifty Years – Ninety Miles: Havana Time Machine”
(Friday, October 6, 9-10 pm ET)
Take an intoxicating musical journey where past, present and future collide in joyful celebration. A US-Cuba collaborative musical showcase, this performance-documentary provides context on the cultural scene in today’s Cuba through evocative performance segments, hosted by Grammy-winning, Cuban-born bandleader of The Mavericks, Raul Malo.
“Grammy Salute to Music Legends 2”
(Friday, October 13, 9-11 pm ET)
The series joins forces with NARAS to produce an all-star concert organized around the Grammys 2017 Lifetime Achievement, Trustee and Music Educator awards as a way to include the Academy’s honorees from many music genres.
LIVE FROM LINCOLN CENTER
Celebrate performances by the world’s finest artists on Lincoln Center’s legendary stages.
(Friday, September 15, 9-10:30 pm ET)
The country’s premier Latino dance company presents two of its iconic works: CARMEN.maquia, a modern take on Bizet’s passionate opera, and Club Havana, a virtuosic reimagining of a sizzling nightclub by Cuban-born choreographer Pedro Ruiz.
A poignant and hilarious look at a modern family set amidst the emerging AIDS crisis. Christian Borle stars as Marvin, with Stephanie J. Block as his ex-wife and Andrew Rannells as his lover.
NEWS & DOCUMENTARY
(September, Tuesdays at 10 pm / October – November, Wednesdays at 10pm)
Experience powerful investigative storytelling that answers only to you. From criminal justice to politics to global issues, the reporting of PBS’ flagship public affairs documentary series takes you inside the controversial, complex stories shaping our times.
“Abacus: Small Enough to Jail”
(Tuesday, September 12, 10 pm ET)
From acclaimed director Steve James (The Interrupters), Abacus: Small Enough to Jail tells the saga of the Chinese immigrant Sung family, owners of Abacus Federal Savings of Chinatown, New York. Accused of mortgage fraud by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., Abacus becomes the only bank prosecuted after the 2008 financial crisis. The indictment and subsequent trial forces the Sung family to defend themselves – and their bank’s legacy in the Chinatown community – over the course of a five-year legal battle.
(Mondays, starting November 6 at 10 pm ET)
Features documentaries united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement and unflinching visions of independent filmmakers.
(Monday, November 6, 10-11:30 pm ET)
Explores the life and music of jazz great John Coltrane, from his Southern childhood to his years with Miles Davis to his tenure as leader of one of jazz’s most revered quartets. Featuring Denzel Washington speaking the words of Coltrane.
(Mondays at 10 pm; season began June 26 through November 13)
The longest-running television showcase featuring the work of America’s best contemporary-issue independent filmmakers. The season lineup (previously announced) continues this fall.
Scheduled in conjunction with Veterans Day, the season closer will be:
(Monday, November 13, 10-11:30 pm ET)
In an attempt to put haunting combat experiences behind them, two friends embark on a 2,700-mile trek on foot across America.