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Documentaries coming to TV and streaming in winter 2023

Documentaries coming to TV and streaming in winter 2023
A one-week-old Harp seal off the coast of East Greenland, as seen in Frozen Planet II episode 2 (Photo by Rachel Scott/BBCAmerica)

As winter and the holiday season arrives, so do the Christmas specials, which this year range from Mary Berry showing us how to cook Christmas dinner to a “Cyst-mas” special with Dr. Pimple Popper.

Those are among the many feature documentaries and reality show specials coming to TV, which have subjects as varied as Notre Dame, lie detectors, Zora Neale Hurston, and the board game Monopoly.

The guide below includes those documentaries that are premiering on broadcast, cable, premium, and streaming TV services, including PBS, HBO, HBO Max, History, Netflix, Hulu, Discovery+, and Disney+. Some premieres are theatrical films making their television debuts, while others are original to television.

For documentaries that premiered before Dec. 1, 2022, and may still be streaming, refer to the fall 2022 documentary premiere guide.

While I occasionally include multi-part documentaries here, this list generally does not include documentary series, which I define—arbitrarily and imperfectly—as documentaries that have multiple episodes airing over multiple weeks, mirroring episodic television. Those kinds of documentary series will be listed on my reality TV schedule and guide.

In this guide, all times listed are in ET/PT, and are accurate at the time of publication. I update this list frequently, but since networks and streaming services often change their schedules, sometimes at the last minute, please check your guide or other TV listings.

Program descriptions in quotation marks indicate text that has come directly from network press releases, the show’s website, or other official materials.

I always welcome updates, additions, and corrections to this list, so I can make it as comprehensive, accurate, and useful as possible. Just e-mail me. Thank you!

Winter 2022/2023 documentary premieres on TV

December | January | February

December 2022

The Masked Scammer (Netflix, Dec. 1). “Featuring interviews with his accomplices and victims alike, this deep dive explores how a master con man scammed French elites out of millions of euros”

Flip or Flop: The Final Flip (HGTV, Thursday, Dec. 1, at 8). “Tarek and Christina have one final house to flip before going their separate ways. It’s one of their most challenging flips to date, and they’ll look back and share some of their favorite memories and lessons they learned along the way!”

The Territory (National Geographic Channel, Thursday, Dec. 1, at 10; Disney+, Dec. 2). “an immersive look at the tireless fight of the Amazon’s Indigenous Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau people against the encroaching deforestation brought by farmers and illegal settlers. With awe-inspiring cinematography showcasing the titular landscape and richly textured sound design, the film takes audiences deep into the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau community and provides unprecedented access to the farmers and settlers illegally burning and clearing the protected Indigenous land”

The Great American Baking Show: Celebrity Holiday (Roku Channel, Dec. 2). “Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith are joined by hosts Ellie Kemper and Zach Cherry as Marshawn Lynch, Chloe Fineman, D’Arcy Carden, Liza Koshy, Joel Kim Booster, and Nat Faxon compete to be this holiday’s star baker”

Sr. (Netflix, Dec. 2). “about the life, career, and last days of maverick filmmaker Robert Downey Sr. and his relationship with his son”

Week of Dec. 4, 2022

The Tetris Murders (ID, Monday, Dec. 5, at 9). “On September 22, 1998, Vladimir Pokhilko, who was involved with the development of TETRIS, was found dead alongside his wife and their young son in their Palo Alto, California, home. Now, more than two decades later, the Palo Alto Police Department homicide investigators who were first on the scene revisit the haunting crime. Over the course of this gripping three-part docuseries, the investigators unearth new theories and evidence, further unraveling the mystery of this crime. What was once thought to be a murder-suicide in 1998 is now revealed to be something much more sinister.”

Who Killed Jenni Rivera? (Peacock, Dec. 5). “A celebration of the life and an exploration of the mysterious death of award-winning Latin superstar Jenni Rivera. Through intimate footage and interviews delving into the still undetermined causes of the horrific 2012 crash of her plane outside Monterrey, Mexico, it provides an in-depth look at the real story and continuing questions behind the accident and events leading up to it.”

Unveiled: Surviving La Luz Del Mundo (HBO, Tuesday, Dec. 6, at 9, and Dec. 7 at 10). “explores the horrifying, yet relatively unknown story of the Christian church La Luz del Mundo (LLDM) and the sexual abuse that scores of members, many of them minors, say they have suffered at the hands of its successive leaders, known as the ‘Apostles.’ Told from the point of view of the survivors who met on Reddit to share their stories of abuse, the series chronicles the history of one of the most powerful religious groups not only in Mexico where it was founded, but also in the United States, while giving voice to the men and women who were brave enough to stand up and call out the heinous crimes”

Greatest Holiday Commercials Countdown 2022 (The CW, Wednesday, Dec. 7, at 9). “will countdown the 12 best holiday commercials ever – one for each of the 12 days of Christmas” and “features other great commercials from both the U.S. and abroad, that capture the true spirit of the holiday season”

The Elephant Whisperers (Netflix, Dec. 8). “Bomman and Bellie, a couple in south India, devote their lives to caring for an orphaned baby elephant named Raghu, forging a family like no other”

In Broad Daylight: The Narvarte Case (Netflix, Dec. 8). “unveils evidence of corruption in the investigation into the murder of five people in the Narvarte neighborhood of Mexico City in 2015”

Silos Baking Competition: Holiday Edition (Discovery+, Dec. 9). “follows five home bakers across the country that are challenged to perfect a favorite holiday cookie recipe for a $25,000 cash price and a chance to have their winning treat featured on the menu in December at Chip and Joanna’s bakery”

Idina Menzel: Which Way to the Stage? (Disney+, Dec. 9). “follows the beloved actress and singer on her journey to fulfill a lifelong dream to headline Madison Square Garden”

Penn & Teller: Merry Fool Us (The CW, Friday, Dec. 9, at 8). “The magical duo of Penn & Teller is joined by host Alyson Hannigan to help kick off the holiday season with this special complete with magicians, costumes and a Christmas Trophy!”

Serial Killer Capital: Baton Rouge (Oxygen, Saturday, Dec. 10, at 9). “examines the 12 years between 1992 and 2004 where more than three dozen women were preyed upon and brutally murdered in all corners of Louisiana’s capital city”

Master of Glass: The Art of Dale Chihuly (Smithsonian Channel, Sunday, Dec. 11, at 9). “Artist Dale Chihuly is widely known as the enigmatic figure behind impressive glass sculptures that are both well-integrated yet strikingly imposing as they float through Finland’s rivers, crowd the narrow canals of Venice, blossom across the ceiling of the Bellagio in Las Vegas, Nevada, and grace the galleries of major museums across the country and across the world. However, these achievements cannot capture the full impact of the profound heart and mind of the man behind the glass. Both complex and compassionate, Chihuly is a beloved father, a supportive friend, a dedicated partner, and a man who has transcended his bipolar diagnosis and great personal tragedy.”

Week of Dec. 11, 2022

White House Christmas 2022 (HGTV, Sunday, Dec. 11, at 6). “First Lady Jill Biden will lead hosts Jonathan Scott (Property Brothers: Forever Home, Celebrity IOU) and Zooey Deschanel (What am I Eating?, Elf, New Girl) throughout the magnificent rooms of the historic home decorated by more than 150 volunteers from across the country and White House Residence staff. This year’s theme, We the People, will capture the spirit of America’s shared values and the belief in possibility, optimism and unity—a reminder that we are stronger in community than we are apart. The theme will be brought to life by an astounding array of decorations, including over 83,615 holiday lights, 77 Christmas trees, 300 candles, 12,000 ornaments, 1,600 bells, approximately 14,865 feet of ribbon, and many décor elements that can be recreated right at home.”

American Masters: The Adventures of Saul Bellow (PBS, Monday, Dec. 12, at 8). “illuminates how Bellow transformed modern literature and navigated through the issues of his time, including race, gender and the Jewish immigrant experience, through rare archival footage and interviews with Philip Roth, Salman Rushdie and many others. The film traces Bellow’s rise to eminence and examines his many identities: reluctant public intellectual, ‘serial husband,’ father, Chicagoan and Jewish American. It also sheds light on his willingness to confront social issues, his criticisms of American society and materialism and his provocative political view.”

Dogs of the Year 2022 (The CW, Monday, Dec. 12, at 8). “highlights the most amazing dog stories of 2022. We celebrate the dogs that go above and beyond, that leave their mark on society, and achieve the nearly impossible”

Baking It: Maya Rudolph and Amy Poehler’s Celebrity Holiday Special (NBC, Monday, Dec. 12, at 10). “Maya and Amy invite their famous friends to ‘cele-bake’ the holidays in a friendly competition to raise some dough for their favorite charities.”

Let the Little Light Shine (PBS, Monday, Dec. 12, at 10). “a look at the dynamic between parents, educators, and students embroiled in a battle over closing a top-ranked elementary school with a predominantly Black student population in a gentrified Chicago neighborhood”

Pelosi in the House (HBO, Tuesday, Dec. 13, at 9). “acclaimed documentarian Alexandra Pelosi offers a candid, behind-the-scenes chronicle of the life of her mother and Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, through her career milestones leading up to the inauguration of President Joseph Biden in January 2021. Filmed in a cinéma vérité style over the course of three decades, Pelosi in the House provides a unique, longitudinal window into the life of a longstanding Democratic politician and history in the making.”

In a Different Key (PBS, Tuesday, Dec. 13, at 9). “follows the mother of an autistic son as she finds and then befriends the first child ever diagnosed with autism – Donald Triplett, who still lives in the small Mississippi town where he was born nearly 90 years ago”

Jeanette Lee Vs. (ESPN, Tuesday, Dec. 13, at 8). “recounts the rise of Jeanette Lee, the billiards player nicknamed ‘The Black Widow,’ who at her peak became, improbably, one of the most recognizable figures in sports”

Don’t Pick Up The Phone (Netflix, Dec. 14) “follows the investigation into a hoax caller who talked managers into strip-searching employees at fast food businesses across the US”

Kangaroo Valley (Netflix, Dec. 14). “In the Outback, a kangaroo joey named Mala faces famine, frosts and a pack of hungry dingoes as she endeavors to survive her incredible first year”

Masters of Illusion: Christmas Magic 2022 (The CW, Wednesday, Dec. 14, at 9). a “holiday special” “featuring some of today’s hottest magicians”

Rebuilding Notre Dame (PBS, Wednesday, Dec. 14, at 9). “In April 2019, the world watched as a devastating fire almost destroyed Paris’s iconic Notre Dame Cathedral. Go behind the scenes with a team of engineers, masons and timber workers tackling the daunting challenges of restoring the historic landmark.”

Call Me Miss Cleo (HBO Max, Dec. 15). “chronicles the rise, fall, and reinvention of controversial and revered ‘90s television psychic Miss Cleo and features testimonials with those closest to her, as well as actresses Raven-Symoné and Debra Wilson”

Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration (ABC, Thursday, Dec. 15, at 8). “will pay tribute to the original Beauty and the Beast from Disney Animation and its legacy by showcasing the fan-favorite movie along with never-before-seen musical performances, brand-new sets and breathtaking costumes inspired by the classic story”

Christmas Around the USA (The CW, Thursday, Dec. 15, at 8). “showcases how Christmas is celebrated around the United States of America, highlighting different holiday traditions and festive seasonal displays from all corners of the country”

With Every Cyst-mas Card I Write (TLC, Thursday, Dec. 15, at 9). “in this one-hour special filled with more than just holiday cheer, Dr. Lee and her medical assistant, Kristi, are rockin’ around the Christmas tree as they recreate scenes from their favorite holiday movies and make cards for their patients. For some, the first thing on their wish list is the removal of unwanted bumps so they can look forward to the most wonderful time of the year! In between the holiday cheer, Dr. Lee and her staff help patients look their best for the upcoming festivities and bring joy as they help their patients look and feel their best festive selves.”

Top Gear: Driving Home for Christmas (BBC America, Dec. 15, at 11). “In this holiday special, Chris Harris, Paddy McGuiness and Freddie Flintoff aren’t choosing their own cars, but instead choosing for one another. Yes, it’s time for Top Gear Secret Santa! After unwrapping their presents in Bethlehem (that’s Bethlehem, Wales, obviously), our three wise(ish) men and their gifts set off on a Yuletide voyage across Britain, stopping off to play the traditional Christmas parlor game of ‘High Speed Visual Charades,’ and deliver a truly enormous tree to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Bath. Because nothing says ‘Merry Christmas’ like a thousand kilos of Norway Spruce on the Royal Crescent. Then, in the words of the great Chris Rea, it’s time for the hosts to do some drivin’ home for Christmas. Home, of course, being the Top Gear test track, magically transformed into a veritable winter wonderland of speed…”

The Volcano: Rescue from Whakaari (Netflix, Dec. 16). “Survivors’ and rescuers’ accounts and minute-by-minute footage fuel this gripping documentary about the deadly 2019 volcanic eruption in New Zealand”

Hi I’m… Haaki Akdeniz (Discovery+, Dec. 16). “Hakki Akdeniz immigrated to America at the age of 21 with a few dollars to his name and no place to stay. Being in NYC in February, he slept in the cold for a few days until he found a homeless shelter where he lived for 96 days. He credits the people there with saving his life through kindness, which he tries to pay back as a now successful pizza entrepreneur.”

Jamie vs Britney: The Father Daughter Trials (Discovery+, Dec. 17). “Free from the controversial conservatorship overseen by her father Jamie, pop star Britney Spears can now speak her mind for the first time in 13 years. But her bizarre social media posts have made some question her sanity and her release. Was the conservatorship an act of love by Jamie to save his mentally unstable daughter? Or was it a ruthless scheme to enslave Britney to keep the money rolling in? This series tells the story from two perspectives and asks: Who was right? Who was wrong?”

Sherri Papini: Lies, Lies and More Lies (Oxygen, Saturday, Dec. 17, at 9). “In 2016, Sherri Papini – wife and mother of two small children – went missing while on a jog near her home. Her entire community mobilized to find her as everyone feared the worst. After 22 days, Papini reappeared, battered and bruised, relaying a horrifying tale of being kidnapped with the intention of being sold into sex slavery. In hellish detail, she described what she endured. It was a story so awful you couldn’t make it up, except that Papini did. As investigators worked the case, they found the evidence pointed not to two women Papini claimed abducted her, but back to Papini herself.”

Week of Dec. 18, 2022

Mary Berry’s Ultimate Christmas (PBS, Monday, Dec. 19, at 9). “Learn how to prepare the perfect three-course Christmas dinner with Dame Mary Berry in this merry new special filled to the brim with her time-tested recipes. Mary provides the only guide you’ll ever need for a festive feast as she and some special friends show how to plan, shop and prep for a delicious, stress-free day”

The Flagmakers (Disney+, Dec. 21). “follows the locals, immigrants and refugees at the country’s largest American flag distributor, Eder Flag, in Wisconsin where they collectively hand-produce five million American flags a year. The film’s subjects represent the nation’s greatest strengths and struggles – from sewing manager Radica, a Serbian immigrant to Ali, a war survivor from Iraq and his young family to Barb, a born-and-raised Midwesterner and SugarRay, a Black man from Milwaukee reflecting on his own relationship with the U.S.”

The Letter: A Message for Our Earth (PBS, Wednesday, Dec. 21, at 8). “In 2015, Pope Francis wrote a pastoral letter called Laudato Si’ (“Praise Be”), a reflection on the state of the planet that confronted the looming calamity of human impact on the Earth and all life on it. One of the most ambitious and revolutionary papal statements in history, it was directed not just to Catholics, but to every single person in the world. The letter sparked both controversy and praise as the Pope took a passionate stance on the issue of climate change, stressing how those whose voices are not heard — the poor and the disenfranchised — are suffering the most devastating effects of the crisis”

Week of Dec. 25, 2022

Woooooo! Becoming Ric Flair (Peacock, Dec. 26). “16-time World Champion and 2-time WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair is one of the most prolific and controversial superstars in professional wrestling history. Flair is a true American icon: from his famous ‘Woooo’ that is still heard in stadiums and arenas throughout the US, to his influence on hip hop music. At 73 years-old Flair remains a constant in American pop culture, but who is the real man behind the outrageous persona? Finally, Flair reveals all, opening up about his storied career, inside and outside of the ring, over the last 50 years.”

American Masters: Groucho & Cavett (PBS, Tuesday, Dec. 27, at 8). “explores the enduring friendship between Emmy Award-winning television personality Dick Cavett and iconic comedian Groucho Marx”

Ocean Emergency: Currents of Hope (The CW, Tuesday, Dec. 27, at 8). “Hosts Dean Cain, Laura McKenzie, Elizabeth Stanton and Montel Williams go around the globe to share a first hand look at the state of emergency our oceans are facing and while providing tips on how viewers can help mitigate this worldwide issue”

Rise of Empires: Ottoman (Netflix, Dec. 29). “Years after conquering Constantinople, Sultan Mehmed II consolidates power, but a merciless ruler in Wallachia threatens to bring down his empire”

Wildcat (Amazon Prime Video, Dec. 30). “follows the emotional and inspiring story of a young veteran (Harry Turner) on his journey into the Amazon. Once there, he meets a young woman (Samantha Zwicker) running a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center, and his life finds new meaning as he is entrusted with the life of an orphaned baby ocelot. What was meant to be an attempt to escape from life turns out to be an unexpected journey of love, discovery, and healing”

This Place Rules (HBO, Friday, Dec. 30, at 11). “Andrew Callaghan brings his gonzo style reporting to … a wild RV journey through America to take the pulse of a divided nation. In 2020, as COVID rages, protests sweep the country, and a monumental election looms, Callaghan captures the chaos in the streets and a wide spectrum of views – with just a camera and a microphone.”

January 2023

Week of Jan. 1, 2023

Manifesto of a Serial Killer (Oxygen, Sunday, Jan. 1, at 7). “When a documentary filmmaker sets out to tell the story of one of the biggest serial killer cases in California history, he uncovers a terrifying tale that begins in 1984 with the disappearance of San Francisco resident Paul Cosner. As investigators search for Cosner, they discover Leonard Lake’s cabin, where among buried human remains they find Lake’s recorded manifesto. When Lake’s accomplice, Charles Ng, flees the country, a manhunt ensues and the fight for justice begins.”

Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over (CNN, Sunday, Jan. 1, at 9). “directors Dave Wooley and David Heilbroner profile the artist behind such timeless hits as ‘That’s What Friends Are For,’ ‘I Say A Little Prayer,’ and ‘Don’t Make Me Over’ in this intimate portrait of the velvet-voiced songstress, who rose to music superstardom from humble beginnings in Jim Crow America. Warwick is the first African American female artist to win a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Pop Vocal Performance (‘Do You Know The Way To San Jose’). Still recording and touring, she also continues to use her voice to fight for humanitarian causes, civil rights, and HIV/AIDS awareness and compassion”. The CNN Films documentary Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over premieres Sunday, January 1, at 9pm ET/PT on CNN, with limited commercial interruption”

Surviving R. Kelly: The Final Chapter (Lifetime, Monday and Tuesday, Jan. 2 and 3, at 9). “focuses on the fall out of the former R&B superstar’s crimes as he faces multiple federal and state trials”  

Independent Lens: Children of Las Brisas (PBS, Monday, Jan. 2, at 10). “In Venezuela, amidst a backdrop of poverty, murder, and corruption, the El Sistema youth orchestra offers children hope and the opportunity to pursue a life of art in spite of the harshness of the society around them. Yet the country’s spiraling collapse and political repression threatens the musicians’ dreams of a better life.”

Sometimes When We Touch (Paramount+, Jan. 3). “the untold story of soft rock, whose artists dominated pop music worldwide in the ‘70s, only to crash and burn in the ‘80s, eventually experiencing one of the most unlikely comebacks in music history”

The Lie Detector (PBS, Tuesday, Jan. 3, at 9). “In the 1920s, as law enforcement began to develop more scientific methods, researchers claimed they could tell whether someone was lying by using a machine called the polygraph. Popularly known as the ‘lie detector,’ the device transformed police work, seized headlines and was extolled in movies, TV and comics as an infallible crime-fighting tool. Husbands and wives tested each other’s fidelity. Corporations tested employees’ honesty, and government workers were tested for loyalty and “morals.” But the promise of the polygraph turned dark, and the lie detector became an apparatus to frighten and intimidate millions of Americans.” Directed by Rob Rapley, the film is a tale of good intentions, twisted morals and unintended consequences.”

Frontline: Global Spyware Scandal: Exposing Pegasus (PBS, Tuesday, Jan. 3 and 10, at 10). “A months-long investigation with Forbidden Stories and news organizations around the world into a powerful hacking tool called Pegasus, sold to governments around the world by the Israeli surveillance company NSO Group and used to spy on journalists, human rights activists, the fiancée of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and others.”

Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street (Netflix, Jan. 4). “traces Madoff’s rise from humble beginnings to one of the most influential power brokers on Wall Street. Through an innovative visual approach and an entertaining, edge-of-your-seat financial thriller tone, prolific filmmaker Joe Berlinger (Conversations with a Killer, Crime Scene, Brother’s Keeper) reveals the genesis and, for the first time, the mechanics of Madoff’s fraudulent investment advisory business, uncovering how the fraud was not just the brainchild of one evil genius, as many people came to believe”

January 6th (Discovery+, Jan. 5). examines “January 6th from the unique perspective of the heroes, first responders, and survivors of the attack. It’s an apolitical story of resilience and bravery that features Speaker Nancy Pelosi, DC Police Chief Robert J. Contee III, Congresswoman Liz Cheney, and over 50 Senators, Representatives, staffers from both sides of the aisle, and police officers as they reveal their first-hand experience of the attack. It is the only documentary for which the Capitol and Metropolitan Police Departments granted full access to their officers.”

Mumbai Mafia: Police vs The Underworld (Netflix, Jan. 6). “In 1990s Mumbai, a crime boss and his network wield unchecked power over the city — until the rise of ‘encounter cops,’ who brazenly kill their targets”

Week of Jan. 8, 2023

Giuliani: What Happened to America’s Mayor? (CNN, Jan. 8 and 15 at 9). “goes behind the scenes to witness Giuliani’s operatic life of victories and defeats from his heyday at the Southern District of New York to his mayoralty and key role in the Trump administration. This revealing series is the definitive telling of the Giuliani story, exposing the psyche of one of America’s most iconic politicians.”

POV: I Didn’t See You There (PBS, Monday, Jan. 9, at 10). “Spurred by the spectacle of a circus tent outside his Oakland apartment, a disabled filmmaker launches into a meditative journey exploring the history of freakdom, vision, and (in)visibility. Shot from director Reid Davenport’s physical perspective – mounted to his wheelchair or handheld – I Didn’t See You There serves as a clear rebuke to the norm of disabled people being seen and not heard”

The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker (Netflix, Jan. 10). “chronicles a happy-go-lucky nomad’s ascent to viral stardom and the steep downward spiral that resulted in his imprisonment”

Super League: The War for Football (Apple TV+, Jan. 13). “documents the high stakes battle that is set off when plans for a breakaway league emerge and the past, present, and future of European football collide, leaving the game’s most powerful leaders to defend, or upend, the traditions of the sport”

Suzan & Freek (Netflix, Jan. 13). “After going viral from posting covers on social media, a passionate music duo and couple navigate remarkable success and accompanying fame”

Week of Jan. 15, 2023

Murf the Surf: Jewels, Jesus, and Mayhem in the USA (MGM+, Jan. 15). “pulls back the curtain on America’s most infamous jewel thief, Jack Roland Murphy … whose name was propelled into pop culture after the heist—creating a notoriety that would stretch far beyond the caper. What followed Murf’s meteoric rise is a spiraling tale of unspeakable crime, murder, deception, and mayhem which, to this day, remains shrouded in mystery”

Independent Lens: The Big Payback (PBS, Monday, Jan. 16, at 10). “A rookie alderwoman from Evanston, Illinois, led the passage of the first tax-funded reparations for slavery bill in U.S. history for Black Americans. While she and her community struggle with the burden to make restitution for its citizens, a national racial crisis engulfs the country. Will the debt ever be addressed, or is it too late for this reparations movement to finally get the big payback?”

Amber: The Girl Behind The Alert (Peacock, Jan. 17). “Most people know the Amber Alert. Now, discover the true story behind Amber Hagerman’s kidnapping and a murder mystery that remains unsolved after 27 years. Nine year-old Amber was riding her bike in Arlington, Texas when a man abducted her in broad daylight. The community was shocked – not only to learn of the abduction but also the bizarre coincidence that a news crew had been following Amber’s family for months. Footage of Amber was released and a desperate search began. Tragically, her body was found days later in a nearby creek, leading police to suspect the perp was local. Despite thousands of leads Amber’s killer remains at large, but her legacy lives on. Lessons learned from her case inspired the alert system that could have saved Amber’s life but instead has saved more than a thousand children. Amber’s mother shares her final interview and, for the first time, reflects on the hours of chilling documentary footage that captured Amber’s final days.”

Zora Neale Hurston: Claiming a Space (PBS, Tuesday, Jan. 17, at 9). “a new biography of the influential author whose groundbreaking anthropological work would challenge assumptions about race, gender and cultural superiority that had long defined the field in the 19th century. Best remembered for her novel ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God,’ Hurston was a key figure of the Harlem Renaissance. But even as she gained renown as a writer, she pursued anthropological studies at Barnard College. Throughout her career, she struggled for recognition in two worlds — literary and scientific — writing novels and collecting folklore, drawing on her ethnographic expertise to inform her artistry. Through her trailblazing work, Hurston would reclaim, honor and celebrate Black life on its own terms — an idea that remains radical today.”

Nature: WildHeart (PBS, Wednesday, Jan. 18, at 8). “the Scots pine tree is a symbol of Scotland. Standing firm against the assaults of a fickle climate, the Scots pine is at the center of a complex ecosystem offering a home to hundreds of other wildlife, from the iconic golden eagle to the feisty red squirrel. But as one of Scotland’s longest-living species, it’s also been witness to the island’s history. The film depicts 500 years in the life of a Scots pine and its ever-changing wild highland home.”

Week of Jan. 22, 2023

Independent Lens: No Straight Lines (PBS, Monday, Jan. 23, at 10). “When Alison Bechdel received a coveted MacArthur Award for her best-selling graphic memoir ‘Fun Home,’ it heralded the acceptance of LGBTQ+ comics in American culture. From DIY underground comix scene to mainstream acceptance, meet five smart and funny queer comic book artists whose uncensored commentary left no topic untouched and explored art as a tool for social change.”

American Masters: Roberta Flack (PBS, Tuesday, Jan. 24, at 9). “illuminates where reality, memory and imagination mix to present music icon Roberta Flack, a brilliant artist who transformed popular culture, in her own words. With exclusive access to Flack’s archives of film, performances, interviews, home movies, photos, hit songs and unreleased music, the film documents how Flack’s musical virtuosity was inseparable from her lifelong commitment to civil rights.”

Nature: Soul of the Ocean (PBS, Wednesday, Jan. 25, at 8). “In ocean waters lies a complex world. Acclaimed underwater filmmaker Howard Hall … returns to NATURE with a never-before-seen look at how life underwater co-exists in a marriage of necessity”

The Impact Atlanta reunion (BET+, Jan. 26). “a behind-the-scenes look at the first season … hosted by TV personality Kendall Kyndall, and will feature Ari, Arrogant Tae, Dess Dior and Lakeyah”

Week of Jan. 29, 2023

Prisoner of the Prophet (Discovery+, Jan. 30). “Briell, the 65th wife of prophet Warren Jeffs, details her time living—and surviving—in the FLDS Church. Briell’s story exposes the darkest secrets of the polygamist cult.”

Independent Lens: The Picture Taker (PBS, Monday, Jan. 30, at 10). “From his Memphis studio, Ernest Withers’ nearly 2 million images were a treasured record of Black history, but his legacy was complicated by decades of secret FBI service revealed only after his death. Was he a friend of the civil rights community or an enemy — or both?”

Pamela, a love story (Netflix, Jan. 31). “An intimate and humanizing portrait of one of the world’s most famous blonde bombshells, Pamela, a love story follows the trajectory of Pamela Anderson’s life and career from small town girl to international sex symbol, actress, activist and doting mother”

The Devil’s Confession: The Lost Eichmann Tapes (Amazon Prime Video, Jan. 31). “features 28 hours of taped interviews—long believed to be lost—with Nazi SS officer Adolf Eichmann, recorded in 1957 while he was in hiding in Argentina. In the interviews, conducted by Nazi journalist Willem Sassen, Eichmann confesses to his own role in the genocide perpetrated against the Jewish population of Europe as an architect of the Holocaust.”

Frontline: Putin and the Presidents (PBS, Tuesday, Jan. 31, at 10). “Drawing on in-depth conversations with insiders from five U.S. presidential administrations, former U.S. intelligence leaders, diplomats, Russian politicians, authors and journalists, the documentary reveals how the miscalculations and missteps of multiple American presidents over two decades paved the way for Putin’s attack on Ukraine — as seen through the eyes of people who were in the room.”

February 2023

Gunther’s Millions (Netflix, Feb. 1). “Multi-millionaire Gunther VI lives in the lap of luxury: He travels on private planes, eats gold-flaked steaks for dinner, and surrounds himself with a glamorous entourage of spokesmodels and entertainers. He is also a German shepherd. As the legend goes, Gunther’s great-grandfather was originally owned by a mysterious countess whose son died tragically. Having no heirs, the countess bequeathed her considerable fortune to her beloved dog, and placed him in the care of her son’s close friend, an Italian pharmaceutical heir and aspiring impresario named Maurizio Mian. Over the past 30 years, Mian has built an empire on behalf of his canine boss, including glamorous real estate purchases, controversial social experiments, and one of the biggest tax fraud schemes of all time.”

Schoolhouse Rock! 50th Anniversary Singalong (ABC, Wednesday, Feb. 1, at 8). “taking viewers to school, inviting friends and family around the county to gather and enjoy classic Schoolhouse Rock! hits that are as educational as they are catchy, all in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the beloved series”

NOVA: London Super Tunnel (PBS, Wednesday, Feb. 1, at 9). “For over a decade, more than 10,000 engineers and construction workers hurry to build a brand-new subterranean railroad under London: the Elizabeth Line. One of Europe’s biggest engineering projects, the construction teams confront immense challenges, from building platforms and concourses the size of aircraft carriers beneath London’s busiest shopping venue, Oxford Street, to designing, outfitting and testing a fleet of 70 new high-speed trains in just two years.”

Rowdy (Amazon Freevee, Feb. 3). “focuses on NASCAR Cup Series Champion driver Kyle Busch as he navigates one of the greatest comebacks of all time in sports”

Killing County (Hulu, Feb. 3). “a look at Bakersfield, a big city with the soul of a small town deep in California’s heartland, where things are not always what they seem. A deadly hotel shooting makes the Ramirez family question everything they know about their town. Desperate to find out what really happened to their loved one, they soon learn they are not alone in their tragedy and fight for the truth. The three-part series is a story of twists and turns, alleged corruption and cover-up. Raising the question: who do you turn to when the ones who are supposed to serve and protect you are the ones you can’t trust?”

Stand (Showtime, Friday, Feb. 3, at 9). an “examination of the remarkable life of social activist and basketball prodigy Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf” that “details Abdul-Rauf’s unprecedented journey from schoolboy prodigy to NBA All-Rookie team to national pariah. STAND explores the personal struggles of Abdul-Rauf – born Chris Jackson in Gulfport, Mississippi – and how he overcame overwhelming odds, including extreme poverty and Tourette’s Syndrome, to make it to basketball’s biggest stage. The film also details Abdul-Rauf’s conversion to Islam and his groundbreaking stand against racism and for social justice, and the backlash that ensued.”

Week of Feb. 5, 2023

Titanic: 25 Years Later with James Cameron (National Geographic, Sunday, Feb. 5 at 9; Hulu, Feb. 6). “features the surprising story of how the long-lost ship was found, explores historical questions about how the Titanic sank, and digs into the debate about whether additional lifeboats on board would have saved more lives. In a new segment, Cameron adds a postscript to his fictional retelling of the tragedy. After hearing fans insist, Jack didn’t have to die that night, he gathers hypothermia experts and mounts tests to determine, once and for all, whether both Jack and Rose could have fit on the raft and survived.”

Chyna: Wrestling with Demons (Reelz, Sunday, Feb. 5, at 9). Profiles “Joanie Laurer who emerged from obscurity to share wrestling’s biggest stage as Chyna alongside legends including Triple H, The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin”

Murder in Big Horn (Showtime, Sunday, Feb. 5, at 10) “a powerful portrait of tribal members and their communities within Big Horn County, Montana battling an epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) that has been prevalent since colonization”

Autopsy: The Last Hours of…Owen Hart (Reelz, Sunday, Feb. 5, at 10). “explores his wrestling career and the accident that sparked controversy and prompted questions over who was to blame”

Autopsy: The Last Hours of… ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper (Reelz, Sunday, Feb. 5, at 11). “examines his untimely death that cut short a dazzling career in which Piper was a wild and witty wrestling icon”

Black Travel Across America (National Geographic, Monday, Feb. 6, at 10). “In a time of racial prejudice, price gouging and physical violence, safe travel was all but inaccessible to many Americans. Victor Hugo Green, pulling from his experiences as a Harlem-based postal worker, wrote a guide that would revolutionize travel for the African American community: “The Negro Motorist Green Book.” Published annually from 1936 to 1966, this travel guidebook provided a list of hotels, restaurants and service stations from Connecticut to California that served African American patrons. A few of these historic landmarks still stand today.” Martinique Lewis will visit these modern-day historic landmarks and gain valuable stories and knowledge of these locations from local experts.”

Independent Lens: Outta the Muck (PBS, Monday, Feb. 6, at 10). “Wade into the rich soil of Pahokee, Florida, a town on the banks of Lake Okeechobee. Beyond its football legacy, including sending over a dozen players to the NFL (like Anquan Boldin, Fred Taylor and Rickey Jackson), the fiercely self-determined community tells their stories of Black achievement and resilience in the face of tragic storms and personal trauma.”

All that Breathes (HBO, Tuesday, Feb. 7, at 9). “follows two brothers who devote their lives to the quixotic effort of protecting the black kite, a majestic bird of prey essential to the ecosystem of New Delhi that has been falling from the sky at alarming rates. Amid environmental toxicity and social unrest, the ‘kite brothers’ spend day and night caring for the creatures in their makeshift avian basement hospital”

Bill Russell: Legend (Netflix, Feb. 8). “Featuring an interview with Bill Russell prior to his passing in 2022, Bill Russell: Legend is the definitive telling of the remarkable life and legacy of an NBA superstar and civil rights icon”

NOVA: Star Chasers of Senegal (PBS, Wednesday, Feb. 8, at 9). “A NASA spacecraft named Lucy blasts off from Cape Canaveral on a mission to the Trojans, a group of asteroids over 400 million miles from Earth thought to hold important clues about the origins of our solar system. Just hours before, in Senegal, West Africa, a team of scientists sets out to capture extraordinarily precise observations vital to the success of the Lucy mission—crucial data needed to help NASA navigate Lucy to its asteroid targets across millions of miles of space. The team’s leader, Senegalese astronomer Maram Kaire, takes viewers on a journey to investigate his nation’s rich and deep history of astronomy, reaching back thousands of years, and the promising future ahead.”

Stolen Youth: Inside the Cult at Sarah Lawrence (Hulu, Feb. 9). “follows the story from the cult’s origins in 2010 on the Sarah Lawrence campus until its recent demise, when the last members find their own paths to survival”

Week of Feb. 12, 2023

Puppy Bowl XIX (Animal Planet, TBS, and HBO Max on Sunday, Feb. 12, at 2). “will showcase more puppies, more animal shelters and rescues, and more inspiring adoption stories than ever before as the puppy players from Team Ruff and Team Fluff take to the gridiron in the Puppy Bowl stadium”

Great American Rescue Bowl (Great American Family, Sunday, Feb. 12, at 4). “Beth Stern and Larissa Wohl host”, “showcasing playful, adoptable kittens, puppies, dogs, and cats to drive awareness for shelter pet adoption”

Independent Lens: Love in the Time of Fentanyl (PBS, Monday, Feb. 13, at 10). “As deaths in Vancouver, Canada reach an all-time high, the Overdose Prevention Society opens its doors — a renegade supervised drug consumption site that employs active and former drug users. Its staff and volunteers do whatever it takes to save lives and give hope to a marginalized community in this intimate documentary that looks beyond the stigma of people who use fentanyl and other drugs.”

NOVA: Ancient Builders of the Amazon (PBS, Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 9). “Recent discoveries in archaeology are exploding the myth of the Amazon as a primeval wilderness, revealing traces of ancient civilizations that flourished for centuries, with prehistoric populations numbering in the millions”

Week of Feb. 19, 2023

Michigan Hell House (Travel Channel, Sunday, Feb. 19, at 9). “From the summer of 1974 to the spring of 1975, the Pomeraning family endured relentless, bizarre and violent paranormal phenomena. … Now [Steve] Shippy, along with world-renowned psychic medium Cindy Kaza, armed with new evidence, will finally uncover the source of the evil that terrorized the Michigan Hell House”

O.J. Simpson: Blood, Lies & Murder (Reelz, Sunday, Feb. 19, at 9). “Tom Lange who was LAPD lead investigator on the double murder case presents detailed reconstructions of the brutal crime scene with step-by-step breakdowns of crucial evidence that prosecutors left out of the trial”

Ruthless: Monopoly’s Secret History (PBS, Monday, Feb. 20, at 9). “For generations, Monopoly has been America’s favorite board game, a love letter to unbridled capitalism and — for better or worse — the impulses that make our free-market society tick. But behind the myth of the game’s creation is an untold tale of theft, obsession and corporate double-dealing.”

NOVA: New Eye on the Universe (PBS, Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 9). “follows scientists as they peer deep in time to answer some of astronomy’s biggest questions. How did the first stars and galaxies form? What role did supermassive black holes and dark matter play? And can we see the fingerprints of life in the atmospheres of distant exoplanets?”

Week of Feb. 26, 2023

The Devil’s Academy (Travel Channel, Sunday, Feb. 26, at 9). “On October 25, 1979, all hell broke loose at the Miami Aerospace Academy (MAA) when the school’s student body seemed to fall victim to a mass demonic possession. Terrifying reports of what occurred at the high school spread like wildfire: one girl claimed the devil was inside her and was seen levitating, a boy seemed to display superhuman strength and a full-on riot broke out as students ripped doors off of hinges and smashed windows. Forty years later, former MAA students, as well as law enforcement, psychologists, paranormal investigators and demonologists, come together to explain what happened that fateful day the devil took over the school.”

Black Broadway: A Proud History, A Limitless Future (PBS, Tuesday, Feb. 28, at 8). “celebrates iconic stage performances made famous by Black artists and features the best of the current generation of Black Broadway stars. Performing classics from The Wiz, The Color Purple, Company, Porgy & Bess, Ain’t Misbehavin’ and more, the cast is joined by multiple guest conductors and a choir of students from HBCUs Howard University and Morgan State University.

March 2023

Beauty and the Bleach (Fuse, Wednesday, March 1, at 9). Tan France “shares his personal mission to take down the global beauty trend of skin lightening”

Week of March 5, 2023

The New York Times Presents: “Sin Eater” (FX and Hulu, Friday, March 10, at 10). “Hollywood’s dirtiest private investigator didn’t operate within the law to hide the sins of the rich and powerful. Pellicano’s victims accused him of harassing and intimidating them — in some cases ruining their lives forever. Ultimately, Pellicano went to prison for wiretapping and racketeering but now he’s out, and he’s talking. The Times obtained nearly the entire FBI case file, including audio recordings of Hollywood stars and powerbrokers that have never aired publicly. Using these tapes and confidential documents, ‘Sin Eater’ investigates how the rich and powerful in Hollywood got an edge over the legal system and faced few consequences when Pellicano was exposed.”

Week of March 12, 2023

Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming, with Dave Letterman (Disney+, March 17). “filmmaker Morgan Neville captures Dave Letterman on his first visit to Dublin to hang out with Bono and The Edge in their hometown, experience Dublin, and join the two U2 musicians for a concert performance unlike any they’ve done before”

April 2023

Week of April 2, 2023

The Sun Queen (PBS, Tuesday, April 4, at 9). “For nearly 50 years, biophysicist and inventor Mária Telkes applied her prodigious intellect to harnessing the sun’s power. She designed and built the first successfully solar-powered house in 1949 but was perplexed by the knotty scientific challenge of developing a reliable and economical way to store captured solar energy. She was also beset by rampant sexism and fought pitched battles with her boss and colleagues — all men — at MIT’s Solar Energy Fund. Despite these obstacles, Telkes persevered, helping to build another experimental solar-powered house in 1971. Upon her death in 1995, she held more than 20 patents.” 

The New York Times Presents: “The Legacy of J Dilla” (FX and Hulu, Friday, April 7, at 10). “Dilla’s influence has been celebrated far more since his death than it was while he was alive, but mainstream recognition remains elusive. With exclusive access to Dilla’s family, the film is an intimate portrait of a creative powerhouse, and it explores the complications that have arisen as so many people try to control his legacy. ‘I’m a Detroiter and I’m a fighter,’ his mother, Maureen Yancey says. ‘I will stay in there and I will fight. I won’t let anybody put my son down, what I do for him down, because I’m here to lift up his music, his legacy.’”

Week of April 16, 2023

Secrets of the Elephants (National Geographic, Friday and Saturday, April 21 and 22, at 9). “travels the world — from the Savannahs of Africa to the urban landscapes of Asia — to discover the strategic thinking, complex emotions and sophisticated language of elephants, shaping a unique and dynamic culture. Featuring renowned National Geographic Explorer and elephant expert Dr. Paula Kahumbu, the four-part series not only reveals the extraordinary lives of different families of elephants but also highlights how similar they are to us”

Week of April 23, 2023

Carol Burnett: 90 Years of Laughter + Love (NBC, Wednesday, April 26, at 8). “Paying tribute to a beloved national icon for her birthday, … The star-studded event will feature an A-list lineup of musical performances and special guests who will come together to share their love for one of the most cherished comediennes in television history.”

Nova: Chasing Carbon Zero (PBS, Wednesday, April 26, at 9). “The U.S. recently set an ambitious climate change goal: to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and slash emissions in half by 2030. But is that even feasible? What exactly would it take? Chasing Carbon Zero takes a hard look at the problem and identifies the most likely real-world technologies that could be up to the task. From expanding the availability of renewable energy options, to designing more energy-efficient buildings, and revolutionizing the transportation sector, the film casts a hopeful but skeptical eye. A wave of innovation is beginning to take hold, but can these solutions be scaled and made available and affordable across the country? The problem is vast and time is running out, but there is still hope that we can achieve carbon zero in time to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”

June 2023

Casa Susanna (PBS, Tuesday, June 27, at 9). “In the 1950s and 60s, an underground network of transgender women and cross-dressing men found refuge at a modest house in the Catskills region of New York. Known as Casa Susanna, the house provided a safe place to express their true selves and live for a few days as they had always dreamed — dressed as women without fear of being incarcerated or institutionalized for their self-expression. Told through the memories of those whose visits to the house would change their lives, the film provides a moving look back at a secret world where the persecuted and frightened found freedom, acceptance and, often, the courage to live their lives out of the shadows.”

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart

    Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

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