DAR TV: The 8 Greatest PBS Shows

By @TrueGodImmortal

When we look back at networks that were a part of our childhood, we tend to remember the shows that made the network so great. One network that fits the description is PBS. The network, which was essentially the "free network" with premium style programming was very popular amongst children during its heyday, due to the block of programming that came on after school. In addition to that, there are other shows that truly enticed their intended audience as well, capturing the older demographic along with the kids, which was smart. The two demographics that would be tuned in much more than usual were locked in to PBS and over the years, the network has managed to delight their audience. With such longevity as a network and so many great programs to choose from, what shows would make the list for the greatest PBS shows? That's why I'm here today. Let's take a look at the 8 greatest PBS shows, and you might be surprised at what lands at no. 1.

8. Austin City Limits
(42 Seasons)

-Its tough to have a show that's been in existence for so long. When you have a show like this, where there is no real end in sight for it, along with the benefit of having musical artists as the focus, this is a formula for victory without question. Austin City Limits didn't seem to worry about the traditional style of show and instead they gave their audience live performances with acoustic elements included. Performers on the show range from Joan Baez, Gnarls Barkley, Trace Adkins, Ray Charles, Tracy Chapman, Coldplay, and many more. All in all, Austin City Limits means a lot to PBS and the network's history.

7. Antiques Roadshow
(21 Seasons)

-There are two different versions of the show, and while the British version is the most popular one, for American TV, this was one of the shows that made you tune in and you really didn't understand why. This is a show that seemed designated for collectors and older viewers, but sometimes it would grab your attention. The series is based around local antique owners in various cities and states who bring in their prized items for appraisals. The show would travel to these cities and sometimes, you would find a number of items that are worth hundreds of thousands or even a million dollars. While this show isn't necessarily as entertaining as some others on the network, it's easily one of the most important and one of the greatest.

6. American Masters
(31 Seasons)

-When I first caught a glimpse of this show, I was pleasantly surprised. A documentary style program which covers the arts and the artists who were behind some of the greatest works in American arts. Whether they took an in depth look at Atlantic Records, Duke Ellington, James Baldwin, Allen Ginsberg, David Geffen, Marvin Gaye, Tony Bennett, James Brown, Sam Cooke, or a number of other amazing innovators in the arts, American Masters made sure to provide an in depth look at the legends that really showcased the full impact of their genius.  Over 31 seasons in the book showcase some thing that most shows didn't have and that's longevity. PBS is infamous for that and this is a show that truly drives this home.

5. Frontline
(35 Seasons)

-PBS would end up having some great programming over the years as I've mentioned, but perhaps, the most engaging show on this network is actually Frontline. With 35 seasons under the belt, along with a slew of subjects and topics discussed, the show, Frontline tackles the social, criminal, and political through their program. It might be an acquired taste for the viewing public today, but during the heyday of PBS, Frontline was must see TV for the most part. If you wanted an in depth look at the elections or the issues affecting politics? Frontline was the go to show. Are there social  issues or even controversial topics that need to be discussed like the NFL Concussion crisis? Frontline has you covered. The truth is, in terms of news and social coverage Frontline is at the very top of the list, earning the spot on this list.

4. Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego
(5 Seasons, 296 Episodes) 

-A lot of people sleep on this show, but it was a classic and its one of the first reasons that I even paid attention to PBS. It was innovative for the time, as it was a game show that attempted to educate children and adults alike who seemingly had little knowledge of geography. With Greg Lee as the host and Lynne Thigpen in her role as The Chief, the show allowed the contestants and participants the opportunity to find out where the titular character was. A number of sketches were given to provide hints on the location. There were multiple rounds and different levels in each round, keeping the show engaging for viewers and contestants alike. The prizes were usually trips to a location of the winner's choice, with more incentives included. Overall, the show was just so much fun to watch as a kid and it still has some fun elements to revisit from time to time now.

3. Bill Nye The Science Guy
(5 Seasons, 100 Episodes)

-What happens when you take an interesting character on a live sketch comedy show and give him a persona that changes his career? This is the result. The show would end up becoming a huge show for kids and their development and learning in science, as it gave out actual lessons from time to time, but mostly focused on Nye and his lead role as the scientist. The most memorable part of this show really comes in the intro montage, as Nye is seen floating through various images. The show features a number of celebrity guest appearances, iconic segments like "Way Cool Scientist" and "Nifty Home Experiment", and overall, it was a regular program in many households. Bill Nye The Science Guy is the greatest show on the network to not feature puppets or animated characters as the primary focus.

2. Sesame Street 
(46 Seasons)

- The only reason this show is not at the top spot is because it's exceeded the lifespan and hasn't been entertaining in general for years. Though it's always been centered for kids, some of the images and things shown on Sesame Street were a bit sketchy, but the fact remains, it was always one of those shows that captivated the intended audience. With iconic characters, guest stars, and a premise that encouraged learning, Sesame Street managed to deliver for a majority of the duration of the show and it's still going. Big Bird, Oscar The Grouch, Elmo, and the rest of the gang would secure a number of awards, nominations, and much more through the years, earning the distinction as the most impactful show on the network for sure, but it falls short of the greatest. Why?

1. Arthur
(21 Seasons, 232 Episodes)

-And I say hey.... what a wonderful kind of day. Arthur is the greatest show in the history of PBS. No Downtown Abbey, no NOVA, no Wishbone, not even Sesame Street. No. Arthur is the one. First off, any show that started off with a melody crested by Ziggy Marley should be held in high regard. Aside from that, for this writer, this show was a regular staple through my childhood, and many others. The show centered around the aardvark who was the titular character, and his life and his family, as well as friends. Living in Elwood City, Arthur attends elementary school and he has two active parents, as well as a little sister named D.W, who is a prominent character on the show, and an infant little sister Kate. Other characters that are substantial include Buster, Binky, Muffy, Francine, and more, all of whom help to add to the Arthur experience. As the show continues to thrive some, it is currently the 2nd longest running animated series behind The Simpsons, and the longest running animated kids show, which earns this program the title of the best PBS show of all time.



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