The riveting and thought-provoking programs of PBS and THIRTEEN stream on desktop, tablet, mobile, and Apple TV, but the buzz around National Steaming Day on May 20 centers on Roku, which coined the day to celebrate its debut nine years ago. Roku is a way of streaming internet content to your television (if you don’t have it, note Roku is offering discounts on players and free content to Roku customers through May 20). Watch previews of our recommendations, below and start streaming any way you like!
How to Watch on Roku
The Roku channel THIRTEEN Explore launched in December 2016, joining other THIRTEEN Anywhere products. You can add THIRTEEN Explore to Roku while in the Roku app or via the Roku site and enjoy critically acclaimed local programs and favorite PBS primetime shows.
Limited Time Only
Dramatic series on PBS stream for two weeks after the broadcast premiere and most national documentaries stream for four weeks or more. After that period, those who become members of their local station can continue streaming through a benefit called Passport. (If you are a THIRTEEN member, here’s how to pair THIRTEEN Passport on Roku.)
Cutie and the Boxer (2013)
The Oscar®-nominated Cutie and the Boxer is a moving account of the chaotic and unconventional 40-year love affair and creative partnership between action painter Ushio Shinohara and his wife, Noriko, also an artist. A bonus to this film is the archival footage of the couple in New York City in the 1970s and 80s. Ushio, who punches canvases with paint-laden gloves, is famous in Japan and in Manhattan’s art circles, yet wider recognition has eluded him (though he has exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum SoHo, National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Leo Castelli Gallery among other places). Noriko, 21 years his junior, put her artistic ambitions on hold to be a wife and mother — and an assistant to her demanding husband. When Noriko’s “Cutie” series of drawings, depicting the relationship between the title character and a volatile figure named Bullie, gains acclaim, it turns the couple’s world upside down. A POV film.
Streaming May 2 – 31, 2017
Ai Weiwei: The Fake Case (2015)
Ai Weiwei has a serious problem with authority: The Chinese government not only kidnapped and imprisoned the world-renowned artist in a secret location for protesting its repressive policies, but after his release it conducted a show trial on baseless charges of tax evasion and pornography. Ai Weiwei: The Fake Case, a stunning and stirring documentary by Andreas Johnsen, dissects the persecution and shows how the government’s attempts to silence Ai Weiwei have turned him into China’s most powerful artist and an irrepressible voice for free speech and human rights around the globe. Ai Weiwei is also an honorary New Yorker: he lived in the East Village and documented the time in photography from 1983 to 1993. A POV film.
Streaming May 2 – 31, 2017
American Epic: The Big Bang (2017)
The Big Bang is the first episode of the new three-part series American Epic, which documents American roots music and how it first got recorded. Travel to 1920s Tennessee as the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, and the Memphis Jug Band make their first records with producer Ralph Peer on a revolutionary portable recording machine, creating the first recordings ever of R&B and country songs.
Streaming May 17 – June 13, 2017
King Charles III – Masterpiece (2017)
A 2016 Tony nominee for Best Play on Broadway, King Charles III is the Masterpiece adaptation for television (and streaming) audiences. The famed British stage and film actor Tim Pigott-Smith reprises his Olivier- and Tony-nominated titular role in this production, which was his last; he died this year on April 7 at the age of 70. This “alternate history” of the Royal family imagines Prince Charles’ ascension to the throne following Queen Elizabeth’s death. The prince has waited his entire life for this moment, yet he finds himself wrestling his conscience over a bill to sign into law. With the future of the monarchy under threat, protests on the streets, and his family in disarray, Charles must grapple with his own identity and purpose, and decide whether the British crown has any real power.
Streaming May 15 – 28, 2017
Nature: Forest of the Lynx (2017)
Austria’s Kalkalpen National Park is the largest tract of wilderness in the Alps and is home to the Lynx. Three years in the making, Forest of the Lynx chronicles life in this remote wilderness and the complex partnerships among plants, insects, animals and trees.
Streaming April 26 – May 26, 2017
Shop local, support area farmers and watch great documentaries made locally by THIRTEEN (New York Metro area), WLIW21 (Long Island and New York), and NJTV (New Jersey).
New York State of Mind
Treasures of New York: Museum of the City of New York
Treasures of New York: The Museum of the City of New York showcases the nearly 100-year history of the museum from its first days operating out of Gracie Mansion to the recent opening of its ambitious new permanent exhibition, New York at Its Core. Since its founding, the museum has worked to display, explore and celebrate New York City’s past, present and future.
Do Not Duplicate
Safecracker, keymaker and locksmith Phil Mortillaro has an obsession: to permanently leave his mark in New York City. After years of labor, he transformed his West Village shop’s facade into a celebration of his profession and an homage to the city of his youth. Phil’s art captures the creativity and energy of an evolving Greenwich Village. Do Not Duplicate is directed by Jonathan Mann and Sean McGing.
Frankie Manning: Never Stop Swinging
This half-hour documentary celebrates the other King of Swing — Frankie Manning, one of the great dancers and characters in New York City history. As a teenager, Manning started dancing in the best venues in Harlem, including the legendary Savoy Ballroom. He became a member of Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers, the energetic, immensely talented group that made the dance a national phenomenon. Manning won a Tony Award for his choreography for Broadway’s Black and Blue. The film Frankie Manning: Never Stop Swinging also has the honor of featuring Manning’s last major interview.
Andrew and Wendy (2014)
The story of how music saved a New York City couple, and how they pay it forward. Andrew is in a coma when his loving wife, Wendy, knowing his deep connection to music, plays Bach’s St. Mathew Passion for him in a last ditch effort to bring him back. Miraculously Andrew stabilizes and wakes up a few days later. This film analyzes the mysterious healing powers of music as Andrew returns to the ICU where his life almost ended bringing music to its desperately ill patients. Andrew and Wendy is directed and produced by Josh Aronson.
It’s a Jersey Thing
Five Finger Discount
In Five Finger Discount, Helene Stapinski reveals with warmth and humor the colorful and criminal history of her extended family in Jersey City. The documentary follows her best-selling memoir, Five-Finger Discount: A Crooked Family History.
I Can’t… I Have Rehearsal
For a select few, the high school musical is sacred. Every year those students come together for the Tonys of New Jersey high school musical theatre: The Rising Star Awards. But first, they have to get their shows off the ground. I Can’t… I Have Rehearsal is the story of six very different high schools from across New Jersey as they rehearse, perform and compete with the very same supercalifragilistic show. Featuring: Laura Benanti, Rob McClure, Shanice Williams, and casts and crews from Franklin HS, Rahway HS, Somerville HS, Summit HS, Union HS, and Vineland HS.
Treasures of New Jersey: Fairleigh Dickinson University – Florham
The premiere episode of Treasures of New Jersey looks at the history, architecture and preservation of a gilded age estate that is now a Fairleigh Dickinson University campus in Morris County, NJ. Florham is one of the last remaining estates built by multi-millionaires in the mid and late 1800s. Home to the Vanderbilt-Twombly family, its mansion and landscaped grounds offer a rare glimpse of the life of America’s elite in the time before taxes.