From "Native America," to the Mayo Clinic, to "The Woman in White," PBS will offer a spread of new short-run series this fall. Here are the key ones:
"The Mayo Clinic: Faith-Hope-Science," WNET/13, Sept. 25, 9 p.m. Ken Burns produced this two-hour look at the famed (and huge) nonprofit academic medical center in Rochester, Minnesota, from its founding in the late 19th century to its current position as one of the world's leading medical research establishments, with "insight(s) into ways to make America's health care delivery system more effective, efficient and compassionate."
"American Experience: The Circus," WNET/13, Oct. 8-9, 9 p.m. This four-hour film covers the entire history of the circus, going back to the late 18th century, and on to P.T. Barnum, who turned the circus into an "industrialized" operation toward the end of the 19th century. After World War I, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus became a "moving town" of people, horses, exotic animals and tents. And now, the circus as institution is largely gone.
"The Woman in White," WNET/13, Sundays, Oct. 21-Nov. 18, 10 p.m. This latest BBC adaptation of the 1859 Wilkie Collins novel — often described as literature's first mystery — stars Jessie Buckley as the tragic (and spectral) "woman in white," an escapee from an insane asylum rescued by one Walter Hartright (Ben Hardy of "Eastenders" and "X Men: Apocalypse").
"Native America," WNET/13, Oct. 23, Oct. 30, and Nov. 13 at 9 p.m. This four-hour series narrated by Robbie Robertson offers an ambitious look at not just indigenous cultures in North America but those of South America, promising a "new perspective" on Indians on both continents and how they were linked culturally. The first episode offers clues to who the Americas' "first people" were, while subsequent episodes look at the rise of city-states; cosmological principles of the pyramids; and the advent of the horse-mounted cultures of the American Southwest.
"Frontline: The Facebook Dilemma," WNET/13, Oct. 29, 9 p.m. and Oct. 30, 10 p.m. This yearlong "Frontline" investigation explores in considerable depth the question, "Is Facebook more harmful than helpful?" and relies in part on insider accounts, including those of a former platforms operations manager, Sandy Parakilas, who tells the program that he warned top executives about the risks to users' personal data over five years ago, and that he was ignored.