In watching this documentary by the BBC about 20th and 21st century contemporary classical music, I kept thinking two things: firstly, I'm so glad the BBC puts out documentaries like this. And secondly, why doesn't this ever happened in the United States?
It seems like a fair question to wonder why our networks never seem to air intelligent documentaries. Occasionally, yes, there are some intelligent shows. But in terms of documentaries, that almost never happens. How do they know people aren't interested in this sort of thing? They don't really have any evidence to prove that they wouldn't be. If you don't let people try something, how can you know that wouldn't like it?
This is almost like the classical music debate regarding contemporary works. In general, 90+ percent of the works of any program are always the "classics". The argument for this seems to be that contemporary works just don't interest concertgoers. But they've never really given new works a chance. It's the same thing here, I think.
It would be nice to see smart documentaries over here, whatever the genre. But until then, I guess we'll have to look to institutions like the BBC/YouTube for the occasional intelligent documentary.