Netflix may have the best documentaries that you can stream, but PBS brings several world-class documentaries to your TV for free every month. In addition to the new seasons of This Old House and Ask This Old House, everything coming to PBS in October is very exciting. Throughout the month, there are new episodes of classic series including Antiques Roadshow, POV, Nova, Frontline, and American Experience. Some of the documentary topics that will be explored are Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, the Houston Astros cheating scandal, the American Buffalo, and more.
Additionally, the Italian drama, Hotel Portofino, returns for its second season, while the Canadian drama, Little Bird, is making its PBS premiere this month. Keep reading for the complete guide for everything coming to PBS in October.
Antiques Roadshow — New Episodes Premiere: 8 p.m. ET Monday, October 2
Antiques Roadshow kicks off the month with the start of all-new fan-favorite Vintage episodes. Roadshow looks back at memorable objects from previous shows to discover what they are worth today and how the market and their value have changed. As a Halloween treat, Roadshow airs Thrills & Chills on October 30, which spotlights appraisals of treasures that gave our guests goosebumps, items with an unsettling past, and some that are just a little odd.
POV ‘Murders That Matter’ — Premieres: 10 p.m. ET, Monday, October 2
How would you handle the trauma of losing a loved one? Set in Philadelphia, Murders That Matter documents an African American, Muslim mother Movita Johnson-Harrell over five years as she transforms from a victim of violent trauma into a fierce advocate against gun violence in Black communities. Her relentless activism exposes the emotional and psychological toll the killings take on those left behind.
Frontline ‘The Astros Edge: Triumph and Scandal in Major League Baseball’ — Premieres: 10 p.m. ET, Tuesday, October 3
The Houston Astros cheating scandal and what it says about baseball today. With reporter Ben Reiter, the making of one of the best teams and worst scandals in modern MLB history, the limited accountability, and how it changed the sport.
Nova ‘Ancient Earth’ — Premieres: 9 p.m. ET, Wednesday, October 4
Dive into the most dramatic events in Earth’s 4.5-billion-year history, from its birth to the emergence of humanity. How did a hellscape of molten lava transform into a lush, green, watery planet filled with life? With dazzlingly realistic animation based on the latest research, each of these five episodes brings to life long-lost worlds that ultimately led to the one we know today.
American Masters ‘Max Roach: The Drum Also Waltzes’ — Premieres: 9 p.m. ET, Friday, October 6
Experience the groundbreaking sounds of bebop pioneer and virtuoso composer Max Roach, whose far-reaching ambitions were inspired and challenged by the inequities of the society around him.
Independent Lens (co-presented with Voces) ‘El Equipo’ — Premieres: 10 p.m. ET, Monday, October 9
A U.S. anthropologist sets out to train Latin American students in the use of forensic anthropology. Their goal was to investigate disappearances in Argentina during the “dirty war.”
Frontline ‘Elon Musk’s Twitter Takeover’ — Premieres: 9 p.m. ET, Tuesday, October 10
The story of Elon Musk’s long and often troubled relationship with Twitter. The award-winning team of James Jacoby and Anya Bourg (Amazon Empire, and The Facebook Dilemma) chart Musk’s journey from one of the site’s most provocative users to its sole proprietor, exploring what motivated the acquisition, the changes he has implemented since taking over, the raging debate about free speech and online safety, and questions about the company’s uncertain future.
Secrets of the Dead ‘The Sunken Basilica’ — Premieres: 10 p.m. ET, Wednesday, October 11
In 2014, a survey flight over Lake Iznik in Turkey unexpectedly revealed the sunken remains of a 4th-century basilica. The discovery prompts scientists to probe the elusive history and geology behind the demise of the church that was built in ancient Nicaea–now known as Iznik. When was the basilica destroyed? How did the basilica get swallowed up by Lake Iznik? And what happened to its community? Journey across the globe for an in-depth investigation with a world-renowned team in this underwater excavation. With exclusive access to the site, including critical aerial and underwater cinematography and spectacular CGI, travel through the centuries, back to the Roman and Byzantine times and at the foundation of Christianity itself.
Little Bird — New Series Premieres: 9 p.m. ET, Thursday, October 12
In 1968, five-year-old Bezhig Little Bird was forcibly removed from Long Pine Reserve and adopted into a Jewish family in Montreal and renamed Esther Rosenblum. Eighteen years later, she embarks on a journey to unravel her history. Through this epic journey of connection and self-discovery, Bezhig Little Bird begins to find her lost family and put the pieces of her fragmented past back together.
Little Bird: Wanna Icipus Kupi (Coming Home) — Premieres: 10 p.m.ET, Thursday, October 12
Little Bird: Wanna Icipus Kupi (Coming Home) is a compelling feature-length documentary that takes viewers behind the scenes of the dramatic series Little Bird and the ground-breaking movement for Indigenous narrative sovereignty. This film is a celebration of Indigenous resilience and homecoming while delivering a hard-hitting reality check for audiences unfamiliar with the Sixties Scoop and subsequent policies created to dismantle Indigenous families.
Next at the Kennedy Center ‘Robert Glasper’s Black Radio’ — Premieres: 9 p.m. ET, Friday, October 13
Robert Glasper, five-time Grammy Award-winning pianist, composer, and producer, invites his tightly knit community of collaborators to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his iconic, award-winning, and cross-genre revolutionary album—Black Radio. Accompanied by Lalah Hathaway, Meshell Ndegeocello, Bilal, and many more, Glasper reimagines his seminal album and reflects on how the album has profoundly transformed black music in the decade since its conception.
Hotel Portofino Season 2 — New Season Premieres: 8 p.m. ET, Sunday, October 15
Hotel Portofino returns for a second season set in the breathtakingly beautiful Italian seaside town of Portofino during the “Roaring 20s,” starring Natascha McElhone and Mark Umbers as Bella and Cecil Ainsworth. Season 2 begins in the summer of 1927 as Bella is still devoting all her energy to making Hotel Portofino a success. Having overcome earlier blackmailing threats from a local politician, the hotel is finally starting to prosper. Aside from her hotel duties, Bella is also concerned for her children — Lucian, whose marriage to Rose might be facing trouble, and Alice, who needs a break from her responsibilities at the hotel. Bella’s husband, Cecil, has not been seen since returning to England at the end of the previous summer. With Cecil’s unannounced return to Portofino, the messy private lives of her children, and an imminent visit from a travel guide that could make or break the hotel’s future, Bella has her work cut out to keep all the plates spinning.
World on Fire on Masterpiece (Season 2) — New Season Premieres: 9 p.m. ET, Sunday, October 15
Telling the story of World War II through the eyes of ordinary people, following intrepid young heroes fighting for freedom, Season 2 of World on Fire will take viewers from the war-torn streets of Britain deep into Nazi Germany, the resistance within occupied France, and the brutal sands of the North African desert. Jonah Hauer-King (The Little Mermaid) and Lesley Manville (Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris) star.
Annika on Masterpiece (Season 2) — New Season Premieres: 10 p.m. ET, Sunday, October 15
Annika (Nicola Walker, Unforgotten on Masterpiece) and the team return to solve more murders that wash up from Scotland’s waters. Annika shares her wry insights on the crimes while raising her teen daughter, Morgan.
The American Buffalo — New Series Premieres: 8 p.m. ET, Monday, October 16
The American Buffalo, a new two-part, four-hour series, takes viewers on a journey through more than 10,000 years of North American history and across some of the continent’s most iconic landscapes, tracing the animal’s evolution, significance to the Great Plains, near demise, and relationship to the Indigenous People of North America.
Nature ‘The Platypus Guardian’ (Season 42) — New Season Premieres: 8 p.m. ET, Wednesday, October 18
Witness the story of an extraordinary man and a mysterious animal living on an island at the end of the world … Tasmania. Pete Walsh is a Tasmanian with no background in natural history, yet he’s become obsessed with one of nature’s least understood creatures, the platypus. Before it’s too late, Pete is on a mission to observe and understand these animals and save them from urban development in the capital city of Hobart. Pete befriends a female platypus he names Zoom. She lets him into her secretive world and Pete learns more about the life of this enigmatic species, capturing unique footage of their behavior.
Secrets of the Dead ‘Jurassic Fortunes’ — Premieres: 10 p.m. ET, Wednesday, October 18
Discover the world of dinosaur collecting, a controversial hobby with a booming market. Hear perspectives on the fossil trade from private collectors, paleontologists, and others, as Big John—the largest triceratops fossil ever found — is assembled in Italy and auctioned in France.
Next at the Kennedy Center ‘Embracing Duality: Modern Indigenous Cultures’ — Premieres: 9 p.m. ET, Friday, October 20
In bridging traditions from past to present, this episode explores the subtle and complex representation of the contemporary Indigenous experience. It features special performances and interviews by two-spirit writer and interdisciplinary artist Ty Defoe, Native and African American singer-songwriter Martha Redbone, and electronic music duo The Halluci Nation.
POV ‘Aurora’s Sunrise’ — Premieres: 10 p.m. ET Monday, October 23
At 14, Aurora Madriganian survived the horrors of the Armenian Genocide and escaped to New York, where her story became a media sensation. Her newfound fame led to her starring as herself in “Auction of Souls,” one of Hollywood’s earliest blockbusters. Blending storybook animation, video testimony, and rediscovered footage from her lost silent epic, “Aurora’s Sunrise” revives her forgotten story.
Native America (Season 2) — New Season Premieres: 9 p.m. ET, Tuesday, October 24
Season 2 of Native America is a groundbreaking portrait of contemporary Indian Country. Building on the success of the first season, this four-part Native-directed series reveals the beauty and power of today’s Indigenous world. Smashing stereotypes, it follows the brilliant engineers, bold politicians, and cutting-edge artists who draw upon Native tradition to build a better 21st century.
Spy in the Ocean, A Nature Mini-Series — Premieres: 8 p.m. ET, Wednesday, October 25
The latest installment of the popular “Spy in the Wild” series takes place in the ocean, the largest ecosystem on Earth. This four-part Nature miniseries employs animatronic spy cameras disguised as marine animals to secretly record behavior in the wild. These uncanny robotic look-alikes take us to places where no spy has gone before. They will swim, float, paddle, waddle, drift, and fly into every nook and cranny to film rarely-seen behavior that reveals how ocean animals possess emotions and behavior like humans–including the capacity to love, grieve, deceive, and invent.
Secrets of the Dead ‘Eiffel’s Race to the Top’ — Premieres: 10 p.m. ET, Wednesday, October 25
Find out about the race to build Paris’ most famous landmark when two men vied to be the first to build a monument 1,000 feet tall. See how one man’s vision transformed the Paris skyline, making the Eiffel Tower a global icon. Dramatic recreations, official renderings, and personal correspondence tell the story.
New York City Ballet in Madrid — Premieres: 9 p.m. ET, Friday, October 27
New York City Ballet returns to Great Performances with an evening of works recorded during the company’s European tour in spring 2023. Captured in peak performance at Madrid’s TeatroReal, the program features two masterpieces choreographed by NYCB co-founder and original Artistic Director George Balanchine, “Serenade” and “Square Dance.” Also featured is a 2017 work choreographed by current NYCB Resident Choreographer Justin Peck, The Times Are Racing.
American Experience ‘The War on Disco’ — Premieres: 9 p.m. ET, Monday, October 30
In the 1970s, disco dominated American pop music. A major stylistic departure from rock, its rise to the top of the charts signaled a cultural shift that some found threatening. Disco’s roots lay in the urban subculture, and the artists who created it were largely African-American and Latino. In the gay dance clubs where it flourished, disco was much more than music–it was an expression of pride. To others, disco was anathema. Chicago DJ Steve Dahl, who lost his job when his rock radio station changed to an all-disco format, gave voice to disco-haters by holding “death to disco” rallies. On July 12, 1979, the Chicago White Sox featured Dahl at a “Disco Demolition” event that turned violent; Chicago police in riot gear were summoned to restore the peace. The event became a flashpoint in the culture wars of the 1970s. The War on Disco explores the movement that gave rise to disco music, and the backlash that tried to destroy it.
POV ‘Fire Through Dry Grass’ — Premieres: 10 p.m. ET, Monday, October 30
Wearing snapback caps and Air Jordans, the Reality Poets don’t look like typical nursing home residents. In Fire Through Dry Grass, these young, Black, and brown disabled artists document their lives on lockdown during COVID-19, using their poetry and art to underscore the danger and imprisonment they feel. In the face of institutional neglect, they refuse to be abused, confined, and erased.
- Everything coming to PBS in December 2023
- Everything coming to Peacock in December 2023
- Everything coming to Disney+ in December 2023
- Everything coming to Netflix in November 2023
- Everything coming to Paramount+ in November 2023