PBS Fall Slate: Dates For Ken Burns’ ‘Country Music’, New Contemporary History Series, ‘Poldark’ Finale & More

Erik Pedersen

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PBS has unveiled its fall programming slate, which includes premiere dates for Ken Burns’ 16-hour Country Music along with several other docunmentaries and the new contemporary-history series Retro Report on PBS.

Also on tap are new editions of Frontline, POV, Great Performances, American Masters and Independent Lens; four-part documentary series College Behind Bars; and the fifth and final season of British drama Poldark. Check out the full slate below.

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“PBS is the most prolific platform for documentaries, with more than 200 hours per year,” said Perry Simon, the pubcaster’s Chief Programming Executive and General Manager of General Audience Programming. “This fall, we are showcasing first-rate programs featuring award-winning directors, diverse storytellers, hard-hitting investigations and untold stories, solidifying our status as America’s premier destination for documentary film. We are also excited about our programs representing the best in news, arts, drama, history and science.”

The new four-part docuseries College Behind Bars runs Monday-Tuesday, November 25-26. Executive produced by Burns, it explores the transformative power of education through the eyes of incarcerated men and women trying to earn college degrees. Shot over four years in maximum and medium security prisons in New York State, the series examines America’s failure to provide meaningful rehabilitation for the over two million men and women living behind bars.

Also new is Retro Report on PBS, a weekly hourlong magazine series hosted by journalist Celeste Headlee and artist Masud Olufani and featuring New Yorker humorist Andy Borowitz. It will premiere on Monday, October 7.

A week ahead of the September 15 premiere of Country Music, PBS will air the 90-minute special Country Music: Live at the Ryman, a Concert Celebrating the Film by Ken Burns. Other related programming in September includes American Masters‘ “Charley Pride: I’m Just Me,” Soundbreaking’s “The Art of Recording” and Austin City Limits‘ “Chris Stapleton/Turnpike Tropubadours” and “Willie Nelson.”

Here are more dfetails about PBS’ fall slate:

COUNTRY MUSIC: LIVE AT THE RYMAN, A CONCERT CELEBRATING THE FILM BY KEN BURNS
Premiere: Sunday, September 8, 8 p.m. ET
Encore: Sunday, September 8, 10:30 p.m. ET
Join celebrated musicians for a concert celebrating the film by Ken Burns. Hosted by Burns and featuring performances and appearances by Dierks Bentley, Rosanne Cash, Rhiannon Giddens, Vince Gill, Kathy Mattea, Marty Stuart, Dwight Yoakam and more.

COUNTRY MUSIC
Premiere: Episodes 1-4: Sunday-Wednesday, September 15-18, 8 p.m. ET
Episodes 5-8: Sunday-Wednesday, September 22-25, 8 p.m. ET
Encore: Episodes 1-4: Sunday-Wednesday, September 15-19, 10 p.m. ET
Episodes 5-8: Sunday-Wednesday, September 22-25, 10 p.m. ET
Explore the history of country music — from its roots in ballads, hymns and the blues to its mainstream popularity — and meet the unforgettable characters and storytellers who made it “America’s music.” Directed by Ken Burns.

MASTERPIECE “Poldark”
Season 5 Premiere: Sunday, September 29, 9 p.m. ET
New Episodes: Sundays, 9 p.m. ET
Series Finale: Sunday, November 17, 9 p.m. ET
Aidan Turner returns as the heroic Ross Poldark for a final season of drama in Cornwall. Also returning are Eleanor Tomlinson as Demelza and Jack Farthing as George Warleggan.

FRONTLINE “The Crown Prince”
Tuesday, October 1, 9 p.m. ET
The murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi has drawn the world’s attention to the young Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). FRONTLINE investigates the rise of MBS, his vision for the future, his handling of dissent, and the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

RETRO REPORT ON PBS
Series Premiere: Mondays-Tuesdays, October 7-29, 9 p.m. ET
Understanding the present by revealing the past: Hosts Celeste Headlee and Masud Olufani uncover surprising connections between today’s headlines and the past. New Yorker humorist Andy Borowitz adds a dash of wit.

POV “The Feeling of Being Watched”
Monday, October 14, 10 p.m. ET
When journalist Assia Boundaoui investigates rumors of surveillance in an Arab-American neighborhood outside Chicago, she uncovers one of the largest counterterrorism probes conducted before 9/11 — one that has had profound impacts on the community.

INDEPENDENT LENS “Made in Boise”
Season Premiere: Monday, October 28, 10 p.m. ET
Meet four women who are carrying babies for gay couples, single men and infertile couples. The booming center of the movement is Idaho, where women are choosing to become surrogates despite the mixed feelings of their own families.

FRONTLINE “For Sama”
Tuesday, November 19, 10 p.m. ET
An intimate and visceral documentary about a mother’s experience during the Syrian war, as she determines whether to flee or stay. This film, produced by Channel 4 News/ITN Productions for Channel 4 and WGBH/FRONTLINE is the 2019 winner of the Cannes Film Festival Best Documentary Award, and the Documentary Feature winner at the 2019 SXSW Feature Film Grand Jury Awards.

COLLEGE BEHIND BARS
Monday-Tuesday, November 25-26, 9 p.m. ET
Explore the transformative power of education through the eyes of a dozen incarcerated men and women trying to earn college degrees — and a chance at redemption — from one of the country’s most rigorous prison education systems. Directed by Lynn Novick.

ADDITIONAL FALL SEASON PROGRAMS AND LISTINGS

POV “Farmsteaders”
Monday, September 2, 10 p.m. ET
As agriculture moves toward large-scale farming, the Nolans return home to resurrect their family’s dairy farm. Clear-eyed and intimate, this film offers an unexpected voice for a forsaken people: those who grow the food that sustains us.

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE “The Feud”
Season Premiere: Tuesday, September 10, 9 p.m. ET
Discover the real story behind the most famous family conflict in American history — the bloody backwoods battle between Appalachian clans, the Hatfields and the McCoys. This new film goes beyond the myth to show how the feud was ignited.

GREAT PERFORMANCES “Now Hear This”
Miniseries Premiere: Friday, September 20, 9 p.m. ET
Journey across Europe to discover how composers Bach, Vivaldi, Scarlatti, and Handel created their timeless masterworks in a four-part miniseries. From legendary concert halls and backstreet jazz clubs to historic music schools and obscure archives, host Maestro Scott Yoo, chief conductor and artistic director of the Mexico City Philharmonic, encounters music virtuosos, local artists, artisan instrument makers, scholars, students and fans. Each episode is dedicated to a famed classical composition and proves how each piece is relevant to the culture of today.

MASTERPIECE “The Durrells in Corfu”
Season Premiere: Sunday, September 29, 8 p.m. ET
New Episodes: Sundays, 8 p.m. ET
Series Finale: Sunday, November 3, 8 p.m. ET
Return to the sun-soaked island of Corfu for a fourth and final season of the heartwarming dramedy. This season sees the entire family start new chapters in their lives, and plenty of adventures, including the opening of a beauty salon, turning the family villa into an inn and of course, more animals.

HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH

PBS celebrates Hispanic Heritage month with a lineup of programming that entertains, informs and explores the culture of Hispanic and Latino Americans.

AMERICAN MASTERS “Raúl Juliá: The World’s a Stage”
Friday, September 13, 9 p.m. ET
Discover the life and career of Raul Julia, the charismatic, award-winning actor and humanitarian known for versatile roles on stage and screen, from Shakespearean plays to “The Addams Family.” A co-presentation of VOCES and AMERICAN MASTERS.

VOCES ON PBS “The Pushouts”
Season Premiere: Friday, September 20, 10 p.m. ET
Meet Victor Rios, a high school dropout and former gang member-turned-award-winning professor, author and expert on the school to prison pipeline, who works with young people who have been “pushed out” of school for reasons beyond their control.

VOCES ON PBS “Adios Amor: The Search for Maria Moreno”
Friday, September 27, 10 p.m. ET
See how the discovery of lost photographs sparks the search for a hero that history forgot — Maria Moreno, an eloquent migrant mother of 12 who became an outspoken leader for farmworker rights. Her legacy was buried — until now.

VOCES ON PBS “Provenir, Texas”
Friday, October 4, 10 p.m. ET
Discover the true story behind the 1918 massacre of 15 Mexican men in Provenir, a tiny border town in Texas. One hundred years later, the film asks what led to the events of that fateful night and reveals the tensions that still remain along the border a century later.

THE HISPANIC HERITAGE AWARDS (2019)
Friday, October 11, 10 p.m. ET
Join the country’s highest tribute to Latinos by Latinos. The program includes performances and appearances by celebrated Hispanic artists. Honorees to be announced later.

OCTOBER 2019: PREMIERES

NATURE “Octopus: Making Contact”
Season Premiere: Wednesday, October 2, 8 p.m. ET
Follow an Alaskan professor as he raises and studies a pet octopus in his home, making remarkable discoveries about its extraordinary intelligence, personality and skills. Octopuses are able to recognize faces and interact with other individuals.

MASTERPIECE “Press”
Miniseries Premiere: Sunday, October 6, 10 p.m. ET
Set in the world of newspapers in London, this razor sharp and observant drama explores the current turbulent media landscape and the ethical dilemmas that journalists and editors face each day. Charlotte Riley (“Peaky Blinders”) and Ben Chaplin (“Apple Tree Yard”) star along with Priyanga Burford (“King Charles III”) and David Suchet (“Poirot”).

NATURE “The Serengeti Rules”
Wednesday, October 9, 8 p.m. ET
Explore some of the most remote and spectacular places on Earth with a pioneering group of scientists who make surprising discoveries that transform human understanding of nature and ecology. Based on a book of the same name.

POV “Blowin’ Up”
Monday, October 21, 10 p.m. ET
Working within a broken criminal justice system, a team of rebel heroines work to change the way women arrested for prostitution are prosecuted. This film celebrates acts of steadfast defiance, even as it reveals the hurdles these women must face.

NATURE “Okavango: River of Dreams”
Wednesdays, October 23 – November 6, 8 pm ET
Experience the wildlife of the Okavango Delta, an unlikely oasis and lush paradise in Southern Africa that connects and supports a wide array of creatures. Lions chase elephants, who chase hippos, who chase crocodiles. F. Murray Abraham narrates.

LIFE FROM ABOVE
Wednesday, October 23, 10 p.m. ET
Behold Earth as it has never been seen before. Cameras in space tell stories of life on our planet from a brand-new perspective, revealing its incredible movements, colors, patterns and how fast it’s changing.

VETERANS DAY & NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH

SONGWRITING WITH SOLDIERS — VETERANS DAY
Friday, October 25, 10 p.m. ET
Join SongwritingWith:Soldiers’ unique collaborative of professional artists working with veterans to tell their stories of war and the return home through song. This concert special celebrates music’s power to heal and bring diverse people together.

THE WARRIOR TRADITION — VETERANS DAY & NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH
Monday, November 11, 9 p.m. ET
Learn the heartbreaking, inspiring and largely untold story of Native Americans in the United States military. The film relates the stories of Native American warriors from their own points of view — stories of service, pain, courage and fear.

AMERICAN MASTERS “N. Scott Momaday: Words from a Bear” – NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH
Monday, November 18, 9 p.m. ET
Delve into the enigmatic life and mind of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and poet N. Scott Momaday, best known for “House Made of Dawn,” and a formative voice of the Native American Renaissance in art and literature.

NOVEMBER 2019

ANTIQUES ROADSHOW “Extraordinary Finds”
Monday, November 4, 8 p.m. ET
In honor of ROADSHOW’s 500th episode, look back at pivotal moments of some of the most amazing objects, and enjoy all-new interviews, appraisal updates and more.

NOVA “The Fall of Violence”
Wednesday, November 20, 9 p.m. ET
Despite the constant news of violence, Steven Pinker believes we’re living in the most peaceful period in human history. Journey through history and the human mind to explore why violence has diminished — and how we might create a more peaceful world.

NOVA “Animal Espionage”
Wednesday, November 27, 9 p.m. ET
Camera traps and drones are revolutionizing the study of wildlife by providing an up-close look at animals without disturbing them. See how these technologies are helping us understand everything from mysterious whale behavior to tiger migration.

BROADWAY’S BEST

This fall, PBS brings viewers broadcast premieres of Broadway’s best every Friday night, beginning November 1.

GREAT PERFORMANCES “42nd Street”
Friday, November 1, 9 p.m. ET
Tap-dance along to this musical extravaganza about a starry-eyed performer who gets her big break on Broadway, set to a lively score of iconic songs including “Lullaby of Broadway,” “We’re in the Money” and the show-stopping title song.

GREAT PERFORMANCES “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I”
Friday, November 8, 9 p.m. ET
Kelli O’Hara and Ken Watanabe star in a Tony Award-winning revival of the beloved musical about a British school teacher instructing the royal children of the King of Siam, featuring classic songs including “Hello, Young Lovers” and “Shall We Dance.”

GREAT PERFORMANCES “Red”
Friday, November 15, 9 p.m. ET
Experience the passion of painter Mark Rothko in this six-time Tony-winning play dramatizing Rothko’s greatest challenge, creating the murals for New York’s iconic Four Seasons restaurant. Stars Alfred Molina with Alfred Enoch as Rothko’s assistant.

GREAT PERFORMANCES “Much Ado About Nothing”
Friday, November 22, 9 p.m. ET
Recorded live at The Public Theater’s Free Shakespeare in the Park, this modern interpretation of Shakespeare’s romantic classic with an all-black cast features Danielle Brooks and Grantham Coleman. Directed by Tony Award winner Kenny Leon.

GREAT PERFORMANCES “Kinky Boots”
Friday, November 29, 9 p.m. ET
Rejoice with the Tony Award-winning high-heeled hit musical with songs by pop icon Cyndi Lauper and a book by Broadway legend Harvey Fierstein about an unexpected duo that embraces their differences to create an extraordinary line of shoes.
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