The BEST PBS Shows
The top 32 shows on PBS
#1 - The New Yankee Workshop
In this PBS series, craftsman Norm Abram demonstrates how to build quality furniture in one's own workshop using traditional carpentry techniques. Abram also gives pointers on restoring and caring for antique furniture, along with short history lessons regarding famous craftsmen of America's past.
#2 - Cosmos
Carl Sagan brings us the Cosmos, everything that ever was and ever will be, in an approach that is easily accessible even for those of us that are not science wizards. This 13 part series covers everything from the history of astronomy, the challenges it faced at its creation, how the universe was created and how it all might end.First aired in 1980, updated segments have been added to the series to include recent discoveries and the current theories in astronomy.Winner of an Emmy and a Peabody Award.
#3 - Frontline
Since it began in 1983, Frontline has been airing public-affairs documentaries that explore a wide scope of the complex human experience. Frontline's goal is to extend the impact of the documentary beyond its initial broadcast by serving as a catalyst for change.
#4 - The Vietnam War (2017)
An immersive 360-degree narrative telling the epic story of the Vietnam War as it has never before been told on film. Featuring 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 the winning and losing sides.
#5 - The Civil War
Between 1861 and 1865, Americans made war on each other and killed each other in great numbers - if only to become the kind of country that could no longer conceive of how that was possible. What began as a bitter dispute over Union and States' Rights, ended as a struggle over the meaning of freedom in America.
#6 - American Experience
Since 1988, PBS has broadcast a series that focuses on the history of the United States and what has made it unique. Called The American Experience (now shortened to simply American Experience), the program examines the people, events, technology, and natural resources that have shaped the country. Hosted by David McCullough until 2002 and narrated by a number of well-known personalities - The American Experience uses historians and authors, period images and film, music, dramatic re-enactments, and contemporary context to set the stage for its topics. The series continues to this day with a variable number of installments produced each year. Episodes are generally 60 minutes in length, but some longer episodes and multi-part series have also been produced. The show airs at different days and times on local PBS stations. Though The American Experience has used many films from independent film makers and has been assisted by various PBS stations throughout the country, it has always been spearheaded by WGBH in Boston.
#7 - American Masters
Produced (or acquired) by Thirteen/WNET New York for the Public Broadcasting System, episodes of American Masters are dedicated to documenting and honoring America's most notable creative artists and the inspiration behind their work. Each year a series of special broadcasts profiles a cross-section of the nation's finest artistic pioneers from the past and present.
#8 - Bill Nye: The Science Guy
Comedian/scientist Bill Nye stars as the host of this show designed to get kids interested in the science of everyday, and some not-so-everyday, things. On a full range of subjects, including ecology, biology, chemistry and physics, Nye gives an easy-to-understand, yet informative lesson that both kids and their parents can enjoy.
#9 - Austin City Limits
Great music. No limits. Now the longest-running music series in American television history, ACL showcases popular music legends and innovators from every genre.
#10 - NOVA
Seen in more than 100 countries, NOVA is the most watched science television series in the world and the most watched documentary series on PBS. It is also one of television's most acclaimed series, having won every major television award, most of them many times over.
#11 - America's Test Kitchen
In "America's Test Kitchen From Cook's Illustrated," a team of expert chefs continue to provide viewers with practical recipes and recommendations that they can use to save money, time and effort in the kitchen. With its uniquely scientific flavor, the show uses blind tasting judges, flash animations and laboratory procedures to answer a variety of kitchen questions. Putting everything from pasta and pasta pots, cheese and cheese graters, as well as host Chris Kimball to the test, this series offers surprises that often defy price points and move beyond fancy packaging and brand expectations.
#12 - The War
The War is the story of the Second World War through the personal accounts of a handful of men and women from four American towns. The war touched the lives of every family on every street in every town in America and demonstrated that in extraordinary times, there are no ordinary lives. A seven-part series by Ken Burns which includes interviews and archive footage.
#13 - The National Parks: America's Best Idea
The National Parks: America's Best Idea is a six-episode series directed by Ken Burns and written and co-produced by Dayton Duncan. Filmed over the course of more than six years at some of nature's most spectacular locales – from Acadia to Yosemite, Yellowstone to the Grand Canyon, the Everglades of Florida to the Gates of the Arctic in Alaska - The National Parks: America's Best Idea is nonetheless a story of people: people from every conceivable background – rich and poor; famous and unknown; soldiers and scientists; natives and newcomers; idealists, artists and entrepreneurs; people who were willing to devote themselves to saving some precious portion of the land they loved, and in doing so reminded their fellow citizens of the full meaning of democracy.
#14 - The Joy of Painting
Artist Bob Ross takes you to his magical world of happy trees and teaches the laymen step by step how to create wonderful works of art using his trademark wet-on-wet technique.
#15 - This Old House
This Old House celebrates the fusion on old world craftsmanship and modern technology. Each season features two renovation projects. Project One traditionally consists of eighteen or more so episodes and is filmed in Massachusetts. Project Two is taped in a different region of the country to highlight the variety of American architectural styles and renovation issues.
#16 - NOVA scienceNOW
NOVA scienceNOW is a news magazine version of the venerable PBS science program NOVA. Premiering on January 25, 2005, the series was originally hosted by Robert Krulwich, who described it as an experiment in coverage of "breaking science, science that's right out of the lab, science that sometimes bumps up against politics, art, culture". At the beginning of season two, Neil deGrasse Tyson replaced Krulwich as the show's host. Following season five, David Pogue began hosting.
#17 - PBS Specials
The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is an American non-profit public broadcasting television service with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership. However, its operations are largely funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Its headquarters are in Arlington, Virginia. PBS is the most prominent provider of programming to U.S. public television stations, distributing series such as PBS NewsHour, Masterpiece, and Frontline. Since the mid-2000s, Roper polls commissioned by PBS have consistently placed the service as America's most trusted national institution. However, PBS is not responsible for all programming carried on public TV stations; in fact, stations usually receive a large portion of their content (including most pledge drive specials) from third-party sources, such as American Public Television, NETA, and independent producers.
#18 - Cook's Country from America's Test Kitchen
Cook's Country From America's Test Kitchen uncovers the best of American home cooking. Our recipes are developed through in-depth kitchen testing. The result: foolproof recipes you can trust to work the first time—and every time. Cooks's Country From America's Test Kitchen features the cast and crew of America's Test Kitchen, the top-rated cooking show on public television—now in its ninth season. Our new show is filmed in a renovated 1806 farmhouse with a full working test kitchen. Watch us update traditional American recipes—everything from California Barbecued Tri-Tip and Cincinnati Chili to Mashed Potato Casserole and Chocolate Blackout Cake. You'll learn what makes a recipe succeed (or fail) as well as which kitchen tools, cookware, and supermarket ingredients have won our independent tests. Join us every week as we bring the pages of Cook's Country magazine into your home.
#19 - Nature
Nature is a wildlife documentary program that has been airing on PBS since 1982. Its longevity is explained partly by its quality; Nature has won numerous Emmy awards. Documentaries have explored a multitude of different animals, plants, and other aspects of the natural world.
#20 - Wild Kratts
The Kratt brothers go around the world looking for animals and use "creature power suits", suits created by their friend, Aviva, out of the creatures' DNA. There are three villains in the show: Zach Varmitech, who controls the creatures' minds and use them as slaves, Donita Donata, who freezes creatures and sell them alive as jewelry, and Gourmond, who makes expensive gourmet dishes out of endangered species. The Kratts usually use their creature powers to foil these three villains' plots.
#21 - Curious George
George lives to find new things to discover, touch, spill, and chew. Everything is new to George and worth investigating. Of course, in George's hands - all four of them - investigation often leads to unintended consequences! Throughout George's adventures, he encounters and models basic concepts in each of the three content areas.
#22 - The Magic School Bus
A classroom taught by Ms. Valerie Frizzle is always fun and exciting. The colorful teacher owns a Magic School Bus which can transform into different things like a spaceship, a battery, or even an alligator! These things can help Ms. Frizzle with visual teaching methods as she reveals information about anything in science. The students include Carlos, Phoebe, Keesha, Dorothy Ann, Tim, Ralphie, Arnold, and Wanda. Originally, The Magic School Bus aired on PBS. But when production ceased after four years, The Magic School Bus's run on PBS ended with it.
#23 - Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood
A new animated continuation to Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, where all the original characters are now grown up with their own preschool-aged children.
#24 - Ask This Old House
The crew at This Old House take on some pretty big projects, which means they can only work on one or two houses a year. But homeowners have a virtual truckload of questions on smaller projects, and the TOH crew is ready to answer. Ask This Old House solves the steady stream of home improvement problems faced by viewers - and the crew even makes house calls!
#25 - Dinosaur Train
Friendly dinosaurs climb aboard a train to visit different times throughout the prehistoric age, learning about dinosaurs and having fun adventures.
#26 - Mercy Street
Based on real events, Mercy Street takes viewers beyond the battlefield and into the lives of a distinctive cast of characters — doctors, nurses, contraband laborers and Southern loyalists — realizing the chaotic world of Union-occupied Alexandria, Virginia, and the Mansion House Hospital in the early years of the Civil War.
#27 - Arthur
Arthur Read, the spectacular bespectacled aardvark, stars in this children's series about growing up. Typical childhood problems such as bratty siblings, schoolyard bullies and classroom cliques are addressed by this popular program which has been running for 20 years on PBS. Developed from Marc Brown's beloved books, Arthur reminds us all of how it feels to be 8 years old. Just like your average kid, Arthur overcomes the dreaded obstacles of third-grade life, such as his tough teacher Mr. Ratburn, bullies, and mountains of homework. At home, Arthur must also face the pint-sized terror known as his sister Dora Winifred, or D.W. for short. Everything between these two is a struggle; such as who gets control of the television remote, or who can play their Crazy Bus CD. Arthur often relies on his best friend Buster Baxter, a rabbit.
#28 - Caillou
This show is about the life of a young bald boy named Caillou, his family and his friends. It is based on the books by Christine L'Heureux and Helene Despeteaux, which is highly popular in the Quebec area in Canada. There are actually two versions of the show. The first version premiered in late 1997, is only 5 minutes in length, consists of 65 episodes, and is fully animated. The plot line of this version is that a grandmother reads her grandchildren a Caillou book. While this version enjoys success in some countries outside the US, it was never formally aired in the US. The second version, which premiered in late 2000, has the show extended to 30 minutes, and has puppets, music and live action segments thrown in. The animation parts, however, are a mixture of the first version of the show with the "grandma reading to kids" part of the story lopped off and some new stories (however, Season 3 no longer contains animation parts from the first version of the show).
#29 - New Scandinavian Cooking
The best of Nordic cuisine and culture come to life in New Scandinavian Cooking. The show broadens the scope of Scandinavian cuisine to encompass the delicacies and destinations of the entire Nordic region, including Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Greenland— and even brief forays to Iceland and the Cognac region of France. A rotating cast of Scandinavia’s best-known cooking personalities guide viewers through each adventure. These charming and enlightening hosts share the culinary highlights, history and unusual ingredients of Nordic cuisine. In each episode, one host embarks on a culinary adventure to intriguing locations in the Nordic countries and beyond before creating tantalizing recipes outdoors, against majestic backdrops.
#30 - Triumph of the Nerds
It happened more or less by accident; the people who made it happen were amateurs; and for the most part they still are. From his own Silicon Valley garage, author Bob Cringely puts PC bigshots and nerds on the spot, and tells their incredible true stories. Like the industry itself, the series is informative, funny and brash.
#31 - Once Upon A Time
A children's show centering around a witch named Kerfumbly, who has kidnapped a librarian named Marion, and holds her prisoner in her dungeon. In each episode, Kerfumbly demands a different kind of story from Marion, who gathers materials from the dungeon, puts them into a machine, and out pops a book. Marion then reads the book to the audience while illustrations of the story are shown on the screen. This show was filmed in Omaha, Nebraska for Nebraska Public Television, and was shown widely in the late 1970's and early 1980's.
#32 - Rick Steves' Europe
Rick Steves has been the "travel guinea pig" for American Public Television since Travels in Europe with Rick Steves debuted in April of 1991. In his program, Rick shows some out-of-the-way places the average traveler misses, offers countless travel tips, and always enjoys being immersed in the adventure.