Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood
The first broadcast of Mister Rogers’ premiered in 1968, though we all watched it growing up, even until its final episode in 2001. The show’s simplicity was quintessential and was a definite appeal to the show. We remember the show for Mister Rogers’ changes between cardigans and suit jackets and for the ending theme song, “It’s Such a Good Feeling,” which always made us a little sad when it was over.
The Magic School Bus
Based on the book series of the same name, The Magic School Bus features the ever-knowledgeable Ms. Frizzle and her students who take the magic school bus on field trips to unimaginable places. Although the show was dropped from PBS’s programming in 1997, selling out to Fox, we recognize its roots in education. As the kids in the magical school bus traveled into the Solar System, the human body and inside a beehive, we, too, learned about these systems. How else would we have known how bees make honey?
Though it only aired for three years, Wishbone became kids’ favorite for its imaginary and effective storytelling. The main character, a cute little dog by the name of Wishbone, envisioned himself as the lead character in stories from classic literature. Not only were the stories epic classics that were introduced to us way before our time (Don Quixote, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Romeo and Juliet, Metamorphoses…), the complimentary costumes Wishbone wore were also adorable and scene-setting, helping us imagine the world of literature.
A weekly spin-off series from Frontline, Frontline/World focuses on issues from around the globe and uses a magazine format in which a few stories are presented in length for about 15-20 minutes each. Most of the episodes feature countries and stories rarely seen on American news, and all of the stories are told by a diverse group of reporters and journalists who tell real first-person stories. Apart from the shows aired on TV, the Web site also features a free podcast.
An ongoing series that examines the lives and works of America’s cultural artists, American Masters has been recognized as one of the best biographical shows ever to appear on American TV. The show averages about two to five million viewers an episode who tune in to watch biographies of everyone from Charlie Chaplin to Allen Ginsberg. Currently, the producers of American Masters are working on developing the series for educational and classroom use.
The highest-rated science series on television, NOVA approaches science-themes by selecting a topic of interest to viewers and producing a documentary-style film that is both entertaining and informative. NOVA attracts more than six million American viewers a week on average. Each show focuses on a different topic, from the Egyptian pyramids to the origins of the Earth.
Short for “Point of View,” P.O.V is television’s longest-running series of independent non-fiction films. P.O.V has premiered 14-16 programs a year since 1988, most of which are intimate, unforgettable and timeless stories with a focus on contemporary social issues. Stories like A Song for Daniel, about a routine day for two nine-year old boys, one living in Baghdad and one in New York City, are presented to a television audience that would otherwise have no way of seeing these non-fiction films.
PBS Pledge Drives
Fortunately for us, PBS is commercial-free. But we will always have to suffer through constant telethons for the station to raise money for programming. After all, it’s “PBS Viewers Like You” that make PBS programming possible. “Thank you.”