SMOKE BREAK #1009: Six Documentaries To Watch With Your Debilitating Hangover

December 31, 2012.

So it’s New Year’s Eve and we’re all rather likely to get a little soggy this evening. And good for us. To aid in our (eventual) recovery, we’ve collected the following six escapist documentary films. Stream them in the morning, specifically during the hours between the time the room stops spinning and you feel mobile enough to make some toast. We’re all in this together after the leap…

The Lost World Of Tyntesfield

If you like Sir David Attenborough’s style of documentary presentation, you’ll dig the affable, animated, whispery style of art historian Dan Cruickshank. He’s done plenty of shows (Adventures in Architecture, Around The World In 80 Treasures, etc.), but his series on the great country houses of Britain is our fave. It’s a beautifully presented window on a cloistered and largely lost world. If you’re hooked after the Tyntesfield episode above, catch more of them here, especially the episode on Wentworth Woodhouse (arguably the most beautiful pile we’ve ever seen).

Bones Brigade

Even if you’ve never ridden a skateboard in your life, chances are you’ve heard of Tony Hawk. You may have even heard of Mike McGill, the inventor of the “McTwist” (aka the 540 air). They were part of a crew of professionals sponsored by Powell & Peralta, the skateboard manufacturing company that dominated the scene in the 1980’s. They were known as the Bones Brigade, and they pretty much invented modern skateboarding. One of their number – freestyler Rodney Mullen – invented most of the complicated tricks that today’s skateboarders count as the most difficult (360 kickflip, triple kickflip, darkslide, ollie impossible, etc.). They were heroes to many, and watching them tell their own stories is a gas. Watch it on Netflix or via iTunes.

Networked Society – “On The Brink”

We’ve gotten lost in this one, which we found on

On The Brink discusses the past, present and future of connectivity with a mix of people including David Rowan, chief editor of Wired UK; Caterina Fake, founder of Flickr; and Eric Wahlforss, the co-founder of Soundcloud. Each of the interviewees discusses the emerging opportunities being enabled by technology as we enter the Networked Society. Concepts such as border-less opportunities and creativity, new open business models, and today’s dumb society are brought up and discussed. We’re entering a new era. Technology has enabled us to interact, innovate and share knowledge in whole new ways – creating a dynamic shift in mindset. People are empowered, business is liberated and society is more connected than ever.

Riveting stuff.

We The Tiny House People

And now for something completely different

Kirsten Dirksen invites us on her journey into the tiny homes of people searching for simplicity, self-sufficiency, minimalism and happiness by creating shelter in caves, converted garages, trailers, tool sheds, river boats and former pigeon coops.

Time Team: The Big Roman Dig

Though little known in North America, Time Team has enjoyed tremendous success in the UK, with over 20 seasons already under its belt. The show focuses on different archaeological dig every episode. The site could be a Roman villa, a Norman castle, a Bronze Age burial mound, or all three stacked one on top of the other. Over the many years, there have been dozens of “specials”, and all of them are available online. I’ve embedded one of my favourites above (Dinnington, Somerset), but there are plenty more where that came from.


Roko Belic’s 2011 documentary on Happiness is precisely the sort of thing you’ll want to watch if you’re feeling a little out of sorts on New Year’s Day. Light and fluffy, bordering on the uplifting. Watch it on Netflix or via iTunes.


  • Kate

    “Bones Brigade” is great, and would pair well with a documentary about East German skateboarders, “This Ain’t California”.

    Also, “The Other ‘F’ Word” would accompany both well.

  • Kirk

    Checked out Bones Brigade on New Year’s Day absolutely incredible a must see for sure.

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