Top PBS HD Documentaries of 2009

I have recently been matching many PBS documentaries on Nature and Nova, which are now all broadcast in high definition (HD). (I've been watching these via my personal media network, incidentally.) What follows is a list of the best such documentaries for 2009, and a brief synopsis. Also see my recommendations for the top PBS documentaries of 2006-7 and 2008.
  1. Nova: Becoming Human (3 episodes). The evolution of man is documented with numerous remarkable discoveries and findings. Dramatic climate change in ancient Africa forced our ancestors to evolve, and those most able to adapt to changing conditions survived. Ancient tools, burial sites, skeletons and artwork are examined. Compelling theories and deductive paleontology give a detailed picture of the numerous branches of the human family tree. Specific findings give a snapshot of individuals during important life events, while the big picture of the spread and evolution of human ancestors across the world is stunning and eye-opening.
  2. Nature: Life in Death Valley. The extremes of weather, topography, and biology are profiled for the largest of the national parks in the continental U.S. Some animals manage to survive in these extreme conditions, including multiple rare species of fish. Tall mountains rise up from a valley floor that is below sea level. Historically the valley, now parched dry, was flooded with water. Today, flash floods rush through the dry valley only occasionally, but can be deadly when they do.
  3. Nature: Sharkland. A unique confluence of water currents and food sources off the southern coast of Africa draw dozens of species of sharks to a small area. Dramatic close-up footage of sharks and their prey fill this amazing episode. The sharp divide between cold water and warm currents provides a line in the water separating habitats and species.
  4. Nature: Violent Hawaii. The volcanoes, huge waves, and other extreme conditions of Hawaii contrast strongly with the peaceful image of the islands. Lava devastates neighborhoods, but creates entire new islands. Massive humpback whales battle beneath the waves. Lifeguards train in the massive Maui north shore surf to rescue surfers who come to tackle some of the worlds largest waves.

Last modified on 12 Jan 2010 by AO

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