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PBS Moves Up the Ranks and Announces A New Year of Programming

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As your local PBS station, we’re always incredibly proud to bring you TV worth watching, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun to see the numbers backing us up! With recent Nielsen data showing that PBS ranks No. 5 among all broadcast and cable networks, we can’t wait to see what happens in the next year as we bring you a wealth of wonderful new episodes and specials. 

So what do you have to look forward to through the spring of 2015? Keep reading to find a month-by-month sneak peek of additions and updates to our regular schedule!

JANUARY

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“Downton Abbey: Season 5” on Masterpiece

Sundays at 8 p.m., beginning January 4

This Emmy® and Golden Globe® award-winning hit drama returns for a fifth season of intimately interlaced stories centered on an English country estate — an entertaining formula that has made “Downton Abbey” the highest-rated drama in PBS history. The acclaimed ensemble cast is joined by guest stars Harriet Walter as Lady Shackleton and Peter Egan as Lord Flintshire, together with new characters played by Richard E. Grant, Anna Chancellor and Rade Sherbedgia.


“The Manners of Downton Abbey”

Alastair Bruce, historical advisor to “Downton Abbey,” and the series’ leading cast members explain how they re-create the authentic etiquette of aristocrats and servants. 

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“Antiques Roadshow: Season 19”

“Roadshow” kicks off its 19th season with a record-breaking find and its first trip to New York City in 13 years, showcasing an archive of early Boston baseball memorabilia appraised for a record-breaking $1,000,000, the largest sports memorabilia find in the show’s history 

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“Evolution of a Criminal”

Produced by Spike Lee, this documentary features filmmaker Darius Clark Monroe’s return to the scene of the crime to explore what led him to rob a bank as a teenager in Texas.



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“Genealogy Roadshow: Season 2”


Follow a diverse cast of participants on a journey that uses history and science to uncover their family stories. The programs feature participants from three American cities — St. Louis, New Orleans and Philadelphia — who want to explore a genealogical mystery.

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“Masterpiece: Grantchester”

Sidney Chambers (James Norton), a vicar who turns amateur investigator when one of his parishioners dies under suspicious circumstances, turns to police inspector Geordie Keating (Robson Green) for help, and the two become crime-solving partners and friends in the hamlet of Grantchester.



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“A Path Appears”

Nicholas Kristof, Malin Ackerman, Mia Farrow, Jennifer Garner, Ashley Judd, Blake Lively, Eva Longoria and Alfre Woodard uncover gender oppression and human rights violations in the U.S. and around the world in the special, three-part series. 

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“Shakespeare Uncovered: Season 2”

Six episodes combine history, biography, iconic performances, new analysis and the personal passion of its celebrated hosts — Hugh Bonneville, Christopher Plummer, Morgan Freeman, David Harewood, Kim Cattrall and Joseph Fiennes — to tell the story behind the stories of Shakespeare’s greatest plays.


FEBRUARY:

  

“EARTH A New Wild”

This five-part series takes a fresh look at humankind’s relationship to the planet’s wildest places and most fascinating species. Dr. M. Sanjayan, a leading conservation scientist, takes viewers on a stunning visual journey to explore how humans are inextricably woven into every aspect of the planet’s natural systems. With up-close looks at a range of species, from giant pandas to humpback whales and African lions to Arctic reindeer, Sanjayan reveals that co-habitations with animals can work — and be mutually beneficial.


“Antiques Roadshow: Celebrating Black Americana”

Highlights include Martin Luther King, Jr. ephemera from 1966; a Madam C.J. Walker beauty book, written by the first female American millionaire; and a trip with host Mark L. Walberg and appraiser Leila Dunbar to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. 

 

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“NOVA”

In the three-part “Building Wonders” series, “Mysterious Miracle Building” studies Istanbul’s resilient architectural symbol, Hagia Sophia; “Petra - Lost City of Stone” recounts the daring experiment now underway to uncover how the ancient metropolis was built; and “Secrets of the Colosseum” (w.t.) features a journey into one of the ancient world’s most iconic structures, February 25. Another NOVA special, “The Great Math Mystery" sheds light on the way math works in our brains and ponders the ultimate mystery of why it works so well when decoding the universe through subatomic particles.   

"Independent Lens — Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People”


Thomas Allen Harris tells the story of the pioneering African-American photographers — men and women, celebrated and anonymous — who have recorded the lives and aspirations of generations, from slavery to the present.

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“The Italian Americans”

Trace the evolution of Italian Americans from the late 19th century to today, with Tony Bennett, John Turturro, Gay Talese, David Chase, U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia and more. Once “outsiders” viewed with suspicion and mistrust, Italian Americans are today some of the most prominent leaders of U.S. business, politics and the arts. The series peels away myths and stereotypes to reveal a world uniquely Italian and uniquely American. Stanley Tucci narrates.

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“American Masters — August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand”

From his roots as an activist and poet to his indelible mark on Broadway, this program captures the legacy of the man some call America’s Shakespeare. Film and theater luminaries such as James Earl Jones, Viola Davis, Phylicia Rashad, Laurence Fishburne, Charles Dutton and others share their stories of bringing Wilson’s rich theatrical voice to the stage. Interviews with the playwright and access to theatrical archives bring to life Wilson’s oeuvre, chronicling each decade of the African-American experience in the 20th century. Scholars and critics cite the impact of the plays, and friends and family relate his creative evolution and the triumphs and struggles that led to such seminal works as Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Fences, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Piano Lesson, Two Trains Running and four others before his death in 2005. 

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“Independent Lens: American Denial”

Llewellyn Smith’s “American Denial” uses the story of Gunnar Myrdal’s 1944 investigation of Jim Crow racism as a springboard to explore the power of unconscious biases and how the ideals of liberty, equality, and justice still affect notions of race and class today.

 

“Great Performances — La Dolce Vita: The Music of Italian Cinema”

Josh Groban, Renée Fleming and Joshua Bell perform with the New York Philharmonic, led by music director Alan Gilbert, in selections from film scores by composers like Nino Rota and Ennio Morricone for groundbreaking movie classics by directors such as Frederico Fellini, Franco Zeffirelli and Sergio Leone. Featured films include “Amarcord,” “Once Upon a Time in the West,” “Cinema Paradiso,” “Life Is Beautiful” and more. 

MARCH:

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“Call the Midwife: Season 4”

Inspired by the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, “Call the Midwife” follows the nurses, midwives and nuns from Nonnatus House, who visit the expectant mothers of Poplar, providing the poorest women with the best possible care. In Season 4, the community prepares to enter a new decade — the 1960s. Nurse Trixie receives a proposal, Nurse Cynthia starts to think seriously about joining the order as a nun, Chummy takes on the challenge of running a mother and baby home for unmarried girls, and two new nurses join the team.  

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“Mister Selfridge: Season 3”

Jeremy Piven (“Entourage”) returns for a third season as a wheeling-dealing American who shows early 1900s Londoners how to shop. Based on the life of colorful retail magnate Harry Gordon Selfridge, the new eight-part series is created by Emmy Award-winning writer Andrew Davies (“Pride and Prejudice,” “Bleak House”).


“Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies” 

From its first documented appearances thousands of years ago through the epic War on Cancer in the last century, this series takes a close look at the history of cancer. The film examines the disease with a cellular biologist’s precision, a historian’s perspective and a biographer’s passion. Based on the best-selling book by Siddhartha Mukherjee, this is a Barak Goodman film executive-produced by Ken Burns.



“Miracle Baby Unit”

The compelling stories in this three-hour miniseries open windows on the up-to-date science of fetal medicine and illuminate 21st-century breakthroughs in the understanding of human development. Never-before-televised procedures and experiments range from surgeries on the world’s smallest patients (some only six inches long) to experiments testing the potential of maternal/fetal stem cell transplantation.


APRIL:

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“Masterpiece: Wolf Hall”

Fresh from the hit drama “Homeland,” Emmy®-nominated Damian Lewis plays Henry VIII opposite Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell in the much-anticipated adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Booker Prize-winning novels. Bafta-winning director Peter Kosminsky (White Oleander) directs the flagship drama that charts the meteoric rise of Cromwell in the Tudor court, from his lowly start as a blacksmith’s son to Henry VIII’s closest advisor.

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“Nature: Animal House Hunters”

This special, three-part series investigates just how animals build their amazing homes, and the intriguing behaviors and social interactions that take place in and around them. “The Nest” explores how birds carefully select their materials, and craft their homes for the all-important task of protecting their eggs and raising their young. “Location, Location, Location,” shows animated blueprints and tiny cameras that chart the building plans and progress of beavers, tortoises, hummingbirds and woodrats, examining layouts and cross sections as they evaluate the technical specs of their structures. “Animal Cities” explores how some animals find that living in the midst of huge colonies of their own kind is sometimes a matter of necessity and sometimes the most secure and rewarding housing arrangement.

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“America’s Ballroom Challenge”

This three-part series features contestants in all four of the major styles of competitive ballroom dancing — American Smooth, American Rhythm, International Standard and International Latin — who vie for the title of “America’s Best.”


“The Day the Sixties Died”

This film travels back to the turbulent spring of May 1970, when four students were shot dead at Kent State. It was a time when it seemed America was at war with itself. 


“Dick Cavett’s Vietnam”


Look back at the thought-provoking conversations Cavett had about the war with a range of public figures, including Muhammad Ali, Billy Graham and Henry Kissinger.  


“The Draft”

This film covers this history of the draft from the origins of conscription to its turbulent peak in the Vietnam War, exploring the unintended consequences — for soldiers and citizens — of eliminating mandatory service.

 


“Last Days in Vietnam: American Experience”

Filmmaker Rory Kennedy transports viewers to the chaotic final weeks of the Vietnam War as the North Vietnamese Army closes in on Saigon and the panicked South Vietnamese people desperately attempt to escape. On the ground, American soldiers and diplomats confront the same moral quandary: whether to obey White House orders to evacuate U.S. citizens only — or to risk treason and save the lives of as many South Vietnamese citizens as they can. 


“First Peoples”

Two hundred thousand years ago, we took our first steps on the African savanna. Today there are seven billion of us living on planet earth. How did our ancestors beat the odds and spread from continent to continent? What was the secret to their success? This global detective story features new fossil finds and the latest genetic research — and revolves around a shocking revelation.


MAY:

“Homefront”

Military families and experts from all branches of service come together to illuminate the shared experience and culture of the military community.