The BEST PBS Shows

The top 28 shows on PBS

The New Yankee Workshop

#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.

star 9.32
27 votes
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Cosmos

#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.

star 9.17
1,048 votes
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Frontline

#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.

star 8.92
158 votes
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NOVA

#4 - 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.

star 8.67
498 votes
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The National Parks: America's Best Idea

#5 - 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.

star 8.63
36 votes
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Nature

#6 - 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.

star 8.61
89 votes
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Cook's Country from America's Test Kitchen

#7 - 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.

star 8.59
33 votes
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America's Test Kitchen

#8 - 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.

star 8.53
76 votes
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The Joy of Painting

#9 - 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.

star 8.49
136 votes
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Austin City Limits

#10 - 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.

star 8.45
27 votes
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American Masters

#11 - 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.

star 8.43
28 votes
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The War

#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.

star 8.39
77 votes
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NOVA scienceNOW

#13 - 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.

star 8.33
84 votes
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American Experience

#14 - 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.

star 8.24
74 votes
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Bill Nye: The Science Guy

#15 - 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.

star 8.00
188 votes
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This Old House

#16 - 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.

star 7.94
86 votes
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Ask This Old House

#17 - 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!

star 7.44
50 votes
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Curious George

#18 - 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.

star 7.27
107 votes
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Wild Kratts

#19 - 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.

star 7.26
48 votes
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Arthur

#20 - 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.

star 7.03
166 votes
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Mercy Street

#21 - 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.

star 6.92
114 votes
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Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood

#22 - 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.

star 6.71
55 votes
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Dinosaur Train

#23 - Dinosaur Train

Friendly dinosaurs climb aboard a train to visit different times throughout the prehistoric age, learning about dinosaurs and having fun adventures.

star 6.53
36 votes
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Triumph of the Nerds

#24 - 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.

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Once Upon A Time

#25 - 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.

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PBS Specials

#26 - 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.

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Rick Steves' Europe

#27 - 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.

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New Scandinavian Cooking

#28 - 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.

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0 votes
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