Where Have All the Good Documentaries Gone?

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Have you noticed the lack of good historical documentaries lately? And by lately, I mean in the past several years. Some channels are chock full of documentaries  about how aliens/Atlanteans/whomever built the pyramids, about the prophecies of Nostradamus, and about subjects that are not remotely history-related.

Where are all the documentaries about real history?

History International fortunately shows a lot of documentaries, most of them about mainstream history with reputable talking heads. And when National Geographic has history documentaries they're pretty good too.

But the best documentaries on TV are the reruns from several years ago. The problem with that, of course, is that some of them are starting to get outdated.

Having said that, I have seen a few great new documentaries lately. I loved the History Channel's "The Real Face of Jesus," both as a Christian and a history buff. And a few days ago I saw "The Madness of Henry VIII," which was also brilliant. The filmmakers had obviously put a great deal of care into the documentary. The clothing and sets were lavish. I loved it, although I do wish they had spent a little more time on Henry's madness and a little less time on his first two wives.

Have you seen any recent documentaries that you liked? Do you think that the quality and quantity of historical documentaries are declining, or do you disagree?


  1. it seems like a lot of the more recent documentaroies are either focused more on conspiracy and technology theories about the future than reflections of the past. I find this sad because history teaches us so much about ourselves.

  2. I know, I'm so sick of conspiracy theories! I think it started several years ago with The DaVinci Code and all the documentaries that it spawned. But at least those documentaries seriously explored the issue, opting for a level-headed approach rather than an hysterical obsession. And there were many other great related documentaries about life in Jesus' day. Now it seems that the weirder the theory, the more documentaries there are. Akhenaten and Nefertiti are depicted with elongated heads and spindly limbs? Clearly they were space aliens! The Mayan calendar runs out in 2012? Let's talk about the end of the world, because we'd rather conveniently ignore the fact that the calendar is just supposed to start over when it runs out! The whole thing is really ridiculous and disheartening.