2009 televised documentary schedule

There are an increasing number of outstanding documentaries that air on television, and often provide just as much–or more–entertainment as reality TV shows, although in a much more limited timeframe. I regularly cover outstanding theatrical documentaries and made-for-TV documentaries, but since reality shows have their own schedule, so, too, do documentaries.

The following list identifies the television debuts of film or made-for-TV documentaries, but only those that are like reality TV in that they focus on people: the drama that comes from real people’s lives. (There’s a ton of great nonfiction on TV, but, say, animals mating outside of The Real World house aren’t .)

As always, times are in ET (usually the same for PT), and check networks’ web site schedules for repeat broadcasts or last-minute changes, particularly for PBS.

  • The Old Man and the Storm [PBS: Frontline, Jan. 6]
  • Running the Sahara [Showtime, Jan. 10 at 10 p.m.]
  • Inside the New Black Panthers [National Geographic Channel, Jan. 11 at 9 p.m.]
  • American Nazis [National Geographic Channel, Jan. 11 at 10 p.m.]
  • Full Battle Rattle [National Geographic Channel, Jan. 12 at 9 p.m.]
  • Seeds of Summer [Documentary Channel, Jan. 12 at 9]
  • War/Dance [Sundance Channel, Jan. 18 at 10 p.m.]
  • Miss Gulag [Documentary Channel, Jan. 19 at 9 p.m.]
  • Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten [Sundance Channel, Jan. 26 at 10 p.m.]
  • The Trials of Ted Haggard [HBO, Jan. 29 at 8 p.m.]
  • A Time for Burning [Documentary Channel and YouTube, Feb. 4 at 8]
  • Lagerfeld Confidential [Sundance Channel, Feb. 9 at 7]
  • Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? [Sundance Channel, Feb. 10 at 7]
  • No Short Climb: Race Workers & America’s Defense Technology [Documentary Channel and YouTube, Feb. 11 at 8 p.m.]
  • Jack Taylor of Beverly Hills [Sundance Channel, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m.]
  • Marc Jacobs & Louis Vuitton [Sundance Channel, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m.]
  • Yves St. Laurent: 5 Aveneu Marceau 75116 Paris [Sundance Channel, Feb. 15 at 7 p.m.]
  • Right America: Feeling Wronged [HBO, Feb. 16 at 8 p.m.]
  • The Witness: From the Balcony of Room 306 [HBO 2, Feb. 18]
  • Jerome Robbins: Something to Dance About [PBS, Feb. 18]
  • Have You Seen Drum Recently [Documentary Channel and YouTube, Feb. 18 at 8 p.m.]
  • Eleven Minutes [here!, Feb. 20]
  • New York Noir: The History of Black New York [Documentary Channel and YouTube, Feb. 25 at 8]
  • The Black List: vol. 2 [HBO, Feb. 26]
  • Death on a Factory Farm [HBO, March 16 at 10 p.m.]
  • Chances: The Women of Magdalene [Documentary Channel, March 23 at 9 p.m.
  • Lakshmi and Me [PBS, Independent Lens, March 24]
  • They Killed Sister Dorothy [HBO 2, March 25 at 8 p.m.]
  • Metallica: In Their Own Words [Fuse, March 30 at 9]
  • Recycle [PBS, Independent Lens, March 31]
  • Witch Hunt [MSNBC, April 12 at 10 p.m.]
  • The Final Inch [HBO 2, April 1 at 8 p.m.]
  • Flow [Sundance Channel, April 21]
  • Thriller in Manila [HBO, April 11, 8 p.m.]
  • Hail Columbia! [Documentary Channel, April 12 at 8 p.m.]
  • Robert Blecker Wants Me Dead [MSNBC, April 19 at 10]
  • Trouble the Water [HBO, April 23 at 8:30 p.m.]
  • White Horse [HBO 2, April]
  • Inside Guantanamo [National Geographic Channel, April 5 at 9 p.m.]
  • The Alzheimer’s Project [HBO, May 10]
  • Farrah’s Story [NBC, May 19 and June 26]
  • Loot [HBO 2, May 20 at 8 p.m.]
  • China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province [HBO, May 7 at 7 p.m., repeats]
  • Steve-O: Demise and Rise [MTV, May 3 at 10 p.m.]
  • Ice People [Sundance Channel, May 5 at 10]
  • Kick Like a Girl [HBO, May 28 at 6 p.m.]
  • Gene Simmons Family Jewels [A&E, June 7, Sundays at 10]
  • Derek [Sundance Channel, June 1 at 9 p.m.]
  • Smile Pinki [HBO, June 3 at 7 p.m.]
  • Suddenly Last Winter [Sundance Channel, June 8 at 9 p.m.]
  • Chris and Don: A Love Story [Sundance Channel, June 15 at 9 p.m.]
  • Ask Not [PBS Independent Lens, June 16, repeats]
  • The Queen and I [HBO 2, June 17 at 8 p.m., repeats]
  • Rise Up and Shout! [Sundance Channel, June 22 at 9 p.m.]
  • Be Like Others [HBO 2, June 24 at 8, repeats]
  • Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell [Sundance Channel, June 29 at 9 p.m.]
  • Jim McKay: My World in My Words [HBO, July 6 at 7 p.m., repeats]
  • Immokalee USA [Documentary Channel, July 13 at 9, also on YouTube]
  • Teddy: In His Own Words [HBO, July 13 at 9 p.m., repeats]
  • Ted Williams [HBO, July 15 at 9:30, repeats]
  • J. K. Rowling: A Year in the Life [ABC, July 16 at 8]
  • Barbaro [HBO, July 20 at 7 p.m., repeats]
  • Prom Night in Mississippi [HBO, July 20 at 9 p.m., repeats]
  • Breaking the Huddle: The Integration of College Football [HBO, July 27 at 7 p.m., repeats]
  • The Yes Men Fix the World [HBO, July 27 at 9 p.m., repeats]
  • Assault in the Ring [HBO, Aug. 1 at 10 p.m., repeats]
  • Boy Interrupted [HBO, Aug. 3 at 9 p.m., repeats]
  • Broken Noses [Sundance Channel, Aug. 6 at 10]
  • The Nine Lives of Marion Barry [HBO, Aug. 10 at 9 p.m., repeats]
  • Chain Gang Girls 2 [WEtv, Aug. 11 at 9]
  • Let’s Get Lost [Sundance Channel, Aug. 13 at 10]
  • High Seas Heroes: Fighting Back Pirates [TLC, Aug. 16 at 8]
  • Fixer: The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi [HBO, Aug. 17 at 9 p.m., repeats]
  • In a Dream [HBO2, Aug. 19 at 8, repeats]
  • Chop Suey [Sundance Channel, Aug. 20 at 10]
  • Which Way Home [HBO, Aug. 24 at 9 p.m., repeats]
  • Battle Of The High School Musicals: Guys ‘N’ Divas [Showtime, Aug. 27 at 8 p.m. repeats]
  • Bruce Weber short films: Liberty City is Like Paris to Me, Backyard Movie, Gentle Giants, The Teddy Boys of the Edwardian Draper Society, Wine and Cupcakes [Sundance Channel, Aug. 27 at 10]
  • Youth Knows No Pain [HBO, Aug. 31 at 9 p.m., repeats]
  • Working on a Dream: A Super Bowl Journal [NFL Network, Sept. 7 at 8 p.m.]
  • Manson [History, Sept. 7 at 9 p.m.]
  • The Last Truck: The Closing of a GM Plant [HBO, Sept. 7 at 9 p.m.]
  • E-Mail Order Bride [National Geographic Channel, Sept. 9 at 9 p.m.]
  • The Last Beekeeper [Planet Green, Sept. 12 at 8 p.m.]
  • Pressure Cooker [BET, Sept. 12 at 6:30 p.m.]
  • Bring Your ‘A’ Game [BET, Sept. 12 at 9
    p.m.]
  • Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo [Cinemax, Sept. 17 at 7 p.m.]
  • Our Disappeared/Nuestros Desaparecidos [PBS Independent Lens, Sept. 21 at 10, repeats]
  • Ken Burns’ The National Parks [PBS, Sept. 27 to Oct. 2]
  • Finishing Heaven [HBO 2, Sept. 30 at 8 p.m., repeats]
  • Locks of Love: The Kindest Cut [HBO Family, Oct. 3 at 6 p.m., repeats]
  • Inventing LA: The Chandlers & Their Times [PBSee, Oct. 5 at 9 p.m.]
  • Being Lincoln: Men With Hats [Documentary Channel, Oct. 5 at 9 p.m.]
  • Outrage [HBO, Oct. 5 at 9 p.m., repeats]
  • 30 for 30 series [ESPN, Oct. 6]
  • Tip of the Spear [MSNBC, Oct. 11 at 8 p.m.]
  • Hubble’s Amazing Rescue [PBS' Nova, Oct. 13 at 8]
  • Tell Them Anything You Want: A Portrait of Maurice Sendak [HBO, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m., repeats]
  • Joan Baez: Untitled (American Masters) [PBS, Oct. 14 at 8]
  • Schmatta: Rags to Riches to Rags [HBO, Oct. 19 at 9 p.m., repeats]
  • When We Were Beautiful [Showtime, Oct. 24 at 9 p.m.]
  • By the People: The Election of Barack Obama [HBO, Nov. 3]
  • Broke and Famous: Willie Aames [VH1, Nov. 5 at 10 p.m.]
  • Family Inc. [Documentary Channel, Nov. 9 at 9]
  • James May on the Moon [BBC America, Nov. 10 at 8 p.m.]
  • The Glass House [Sundance Channel, Nov. 16 at 9]
  • Mortal Lessons [Documentary Channel, Nov. 16 at 9]
  • Being Neil Armstrong [BBC America, Nov. 17 at 8 p.m.]
  • Terror in Mumbai [HBO, Nov. 19 at 8 p.m.]
  • Bus 174 [Documentary Channel, Nov. 23 at 9]
  • Apollo Wives [BBC America, Nov. 24 at 8 p.m.]
  • The Beatles On Record [History, Nov. 25 at 10]
  • Cash and Marry [Documentary Channel, Nov. 30 at 9]
  • Love in a Time of HIV [Showtime, Dec. 1 at 9 p.m.]
  • I Dreamed a Dream: The Susan Boyle Story [TV Guide, Dec. 13 at 8 p.m.]
  • Mermaid Girl: The Last Six Months [TLC, Dec. 13 at 8 p.m.]
  • Every Fucking Day of My Life [HBO, Dec. 14 at 10 p.m., repeats]
  • Eric Bana’s Love the Beast [Speed, Dec. 18 at 8 p.m.]
  • Patti Smith: Dream of Life [PBS: POV, Dec. 30 at 9 p.m.]

Frankie leads Big Brother's parade of delusion

Frankie on Big Brother

Heading into the finale, the delusion continues, with a re-appearance by evicted Frankie.

Related: The unwatchable cast of Fox's Utopia keeps yelling and screaming.


Shark Tank is getting a spin-off

Shark Tank

Companies that get deals on the show will be followed for this new spin-off.

Also: Before the show began, Shark Barbara Corcoran was cast and then replaced--but then she sent this amazing e-mail and won the job.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.