4 must-see documentaries and miniseries

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1: ‘Prohibition’

Ken Burns brings his thorough, engaging documentary storytelling to the 18th Amendment in a three-part PBS miniseries. “The conventional image of the Prohibition era is, of course, the rain-slicked Chicago streets around which the Model T is careening, machine guns blasting — or the flapper who is shimmying in her miniskirt with her bobbed hair,” Burns says. “We have a lot of that, and it is very exciting and sexy, violent. But we felt that the story that we told had also encompassed other things.” (Premieres Oct. 2 at  8 p.m. on PBS.)

2: ‘Five’

Jennifer Aniston serves as an executive producer to this anthology of five short films — directed by Aniston, Alicia Keys, Demi Moore, Patty Jenkins and Penelope Spheeris — exploring the impact breast cancer has on people through very personal stories. Jeanne Tripplehorn heads an all-star cast as oncologist Pearl, the central character who ties together each film. “We were all there for a beautiful cause, and I think that brought the best to the table, you know, in all of us,” says Tripplehorn.
(Premieres Oct. 10 at 9 p.m. on Lifetime.)

3: ‘Pearl Jam Twenty’

Filmmaker Cameron Crowe turns his lens to Pearl Jam, one of the rock bands that defined the early ’90s, in honor of the group’s 20th year together. A friend of the Seattle grunge outfit, Crowe was given unprecedented access while using his journalist’s eye to tell the whole story. The truth, however, isn’t that salacious. “Nobody dies. Nobody ODs,” Crowe says. “So it’s really about what happens with a band that develops an audience and stays with their fans.” (Premieres Oct. 21 at 9 p.m. on PBS.)

4: ‘Vietnam in HD’

Through cooperation with the U.S. military, History Channel presents “Vietnam in HD,” a six-part documentary featuring never-before-seen footage from the Vietnam War, restored and airing in high-definition. “We have at least a hundred different personal [film] collections that were shot by people who served in Vietnam,” says executive producer Susan Werbe. “Dexter” star Michael C. Hall serves as narrator, with an A-list roster lending their voices to the stories of war veterans. (Premiere date TBA this fall on History Channel.)


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