An original program that presents factual, or supposedly factual, information. Often an hour long, sometimes are part of a series or Mini Series. Many Cooking Show, Home and Garden and News Magazine specials fall in this category.
The format can either feature one long film in each episode like Frontline or multiple shorter segments like 60 Minutes.
Note that using this format does not make the content of the program necessarily "factual".
Overlaps with Docudrama.
Series of Unrelated Subjects:
- In Search of... — Syndicated
- Nova — PBS
- Our America With Lisa Ling — OWN
- Scientific American Frontiers — PBS
- True Life — MTV
- Frontline — PBS
- The American Experience — PBS (U.S. history-themed)
Thematically Consistent Subjects:
- BBC Historical Farm Series
- Blood Diamonds (Not to be confused with the similarly named Blood Diamond.)
- Classic Albums
- Cosmos: A Personal Voyage
- Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
- Cuarto Milenio
- A Crime To Remember
- Bondi Rescue
- ESPN has its 30 for 30 series
- Forensic Files
- Gangland — History Channel
- De Nieuwe Orde — BRT
- Homicide Hunter
- I Shouldn't Be Alive
- Mayday, also as Air Crash Investigation
- Mystery Hunters — Discovery Kids & YTV
- On the Road: a long running series with Charles Kuralt travelling across America to document interesting people and happenings in small towns.
- 100 Greatest Britons — BBC
- Seconds from Disaster
- Tales of the Gun — History Channel
- Terry Jones'
- The Crusades
- Medieval Lives
- Wild West Tech — History Channel
- The World According to Jeff Goldblum
- Worst Jobs In History
Extended Single Subject Mini Series:
- Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire
- Full Color Football — Showtime
- The entire career of Ken Burns on PBS
- O.J.: Made in America — five part ESPN series about O.J. Simpson
- Victory at Sea by Henry Solomon
- Walking with Dinosaurs
Back in the "Golden Age" of TV news, CBS used to do special documentaries called CBS Reports:
- Harvest of Shame is a 1960 made for television documentary presented by broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow. It shows the plight of American migrant agricultural workers. Allegedly, the Coca-Cola Company (which owned agricultural interests) refused to advertise on CBS for many years after it aired. For this reason, among others, the TV documentary rarely exists anymore, and when it does, is almost always a uncontroversial (at least to advertisers) subject.
- Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment
- Dinosaur! (1985)
- The Girl Who Became Three Boys
- The Kids Guide to the Internet