Put on Your Thinking Cap

Connected

A fun investigation of “the surprising and intricate ways in which we are connected to each other, the world and the universe.” Great to watch with kids who are into science. 

The Mind, Explained 

Ever wonder what’s happening inside your head? From dreaming to anxiety disorders, discover how your brain works with this illuminating series. Narrated by Oscar winner Emma Stone.

Self-Made: Inspired by the life of Madam C.J. Walker

This mini-series chronicles how Madam C.J. Walker went from being a widowed laundress to creating her own line of haircare products, becoming America’s first female self-made millionaire. The series provides a window into the life of African-American women in the early 1900s. Academy Award-winning Octavia Spencer, who stars as the title heroine, fights to overcome post-slavery racial biases and find her place in a man’s world of capitalism.

Roots

Yep, the original blockbuster miniseries. Roots ran for only eight episodes, but it changed the way America saw its own history. Roots set ratings records in January 1977 – a 100 million Americans tuned in live as it followed Alex Haley’s true family history from Africa to the slave ship to the plantation, without any attempt to water down the violence for mainstream appeal.

Anne With an E

If you loved the eight-part book series, Anne of the Green Gables, you’ll find Netflix’s reimagining that much more entertaining. The titular orphaned character, Anne Shirley is still mischievous as ever while coming into her own as a young woman.

The Good Doctor

Shaun Murphy, a young surgeon with autism and Savant syndrome, is recruited into the surgical unit of a prestigious hospital where he continues to encounter people in his personal and professional who don’t believe in him and question his abilities as a medical doctor and as a human being capable of having a meaningful connection with another human being. Yet, it also shows the best of humanity and how love, friendship, and compassion can truly make a difference in someone’s life.

A Million Little Things

This program is about a group of friends who become motivated to living fuller lives after the unexpected death of a close friend. This TV show is an excellent example of people trying to find hope, meaning and be a good friend after an unexplainable tragedy. It also highlights the realistic impact that depression can have on people (even those who have a good career, loving family, and solid group of friends). Without being overly dramatic or sugary sweet, it offers hope to people who are suffering from the psychological and material stresses of life.

Jamie At Home

Filmed at Jamie Oliver’s farm each episode focuses on a single seasonal vegetable or protein, how it’s gathered from the farm and a couple of recipes in which it can be used. It’s also beautifully shot, with every looking like a page out of some farm and garden magazine right down to Jamie’s selection of scarf and boots.

John Adams

Charting his journey from public defender all the way up through being George Washington’s successor, this is an ambitious attempt to summarize the achievements and missteps of someone who looms large in the nation’s history. To see a parade of Declaration of Independence and Constitution signers float through this narrative without it ever becoming overly stodgy or biographically stiff is an achievement itself.

Angels in America

Translating a play to the screen is never an easy task, especially when we’re talking about one of the theater world’s most epic, profound, and beloved works. But the extraordinary cast of Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Patrick Wilson, Mary-Louise Parker, Emma Thompson, Justin Kirk, Jeffrey Wright, Ben Shenkman, and James Cromwell were used to their greatest advantage in this ’80s-set tale about the AIDS crisis and fantastical visions of angels and the world beyond our knowing. The world only spins forward, but thanks to HBO we still have a perfect encapsulation of why this play has stayed so vibrant in our minds for decades.

How It’s Made

Ever wonder how they make a cyclone fence? Or bowling ball? Or a tennis racquet? This is your show where you’ll spend 30 minutes finding out how different items are made…just like the title says. Simple, yet hard to turn off.

A&E Biography

There are literally hundreds of A&E biographies available to view and all are excellent. From celebrities to historical figures, you’ll learn about the people who have made, or are making, history.

The Curse of Oak Island

In 1795, three boys found a money pit said to have been dug by pirates on a small island off Canada’s eastern coast. Centuries later, two brothers from Michigan are literally spending a fortune to find the rest of the loot. A fascinating look at treasure, history and just a touch of obsession.

Good Eats

Alton Brown’s original cooking show does more than show you how to make a tasty dish. IT shows you the science behind the cooking. Add in a host of wacky characters and some truly inspired propping, and you’ve got a classic hit.

The Last Dance

ESPN’s 10 part documentary on the last title run of the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan. It’s as in-depth a story as you’ll ever find about the greatest basketball player of all time. Sorry not sorry LeBron and Kobe fans.

Pawn Stars

What will people bring into a pawn shop located just off the Las Vegas strip? Everything from old toys to million dollar cars. It’s a great show not only for the colorful cast of characters but the amazing amount of history that some of these treasures (or trash) hold.

American Pickers

There’s something fascinating about two guys going around the country looking to haggle for other people’s collections of things for their antique store. And by things, it’s cars, metal signs, dolls, bikes and, well, just about everything. This show offers an interesting insight into Americans and their love of “things.”

The Men Who Built America

An American history buff’s dream. This show uses recreated scenes to show how the people who made this country, from Davey Crockett to Henry Ford, lived, worked and schemed to get where they did. And they took more liberty with laws than you might imagine.

Planet Earth

One of the finest BBC series ever produced, this show will take you from the highest mountains to the depths of the oceans, revealing places on the planet people have never seen before. With a powerful musical score and even more stunning camerawork, this show will grab you the first moment you see it.

Washington

Here’s the story of how George Washington, a fatherless young soldier full of personal ambition, becomes a leader of men willing to sacrifice all for the common cause. How a once-loyal British subject rises to battle an empire in a liberty-or-death campaign to forge a new nation. And then how, at the zenith of his power, the victorious general voluntarily steps down, becoming what King George III would call “the greatest man in the world.”

The UnXplained

Each week, this non-fiction show does a one-hour exploration of the most fascinating, strange and nearly unbelievable subjects. As a bonus, to add to the entertainment level, it’s hosted by the always-on William Shatner. 

America’s Test Kitchen

Comfort in edible form. This PBS show gives every home cook inspiration and plenty of interesting insight into why they cook turns out how it turns out. It’s a mix of science, food and some fun product reviews. After all…we’re all cooking a lot more these days so give it a look.  

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