The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance. Done by PBS. Probably my favorite of the three, split into six episode of an hour each. Since it's episodic, there quite a bit of repeated information, and the same themes are often played up over several, which makes watching them consecutively significantly less interesting. They certainly did a fair bit of design research: the costumes the actors wear for the recreation scenes look appropriate. The experts are knowledgeable, and you get a good sense of 15th century Italian politics.
It is also unfortunately guilty of over dramatising things, or dramatising the wrong things. This also leads to several instances of omitted or mistaken information. For example, they make the claim that Machievelli was the leader of the recreated Florentine republic near the end of the 15th century, which was hostile to the Medici. This then is depicted as a confrontation between the figure of Machievelli and the family, specifically the Medici cardinals. Machievelli was in no way the leader of the republic. That made me rather upsets, as I'm sure people can imagine.
Another problem is that the focus is too personal at times, especially on the artists that the Medici employed, yes their contributions are important, but not at the expense of information on the family itself. There are leaders of the Medici family who are never mentioned, especially the later Medici, who are only shown as students of Gallileo, hardly a fitting picture of a rather well connected family tied to many of the most royal houses of Europe.
China in the 20th century, 1911-1991Decent overall, comprised in the main of eyewitness reports and interviews. Starting in 1911 I find a little silly, as it ignores the fall of the Ch'ing dynasty completely, focusing in stead on the revolutionary/rebellious movements right from the start(excepting the Boxers). A better documentary, but lacking in expert analysis, which I found a little disappointing. Especially good at covering the 50s and 60s. It also inspired this icon, which is a picture of Premier Deng Xiaoping in a cowboy hat, when he visited a rodeo as part of his tour of the US in 1979.
National Geographic Special Report: the Pentagon. I was immediately worried when this thing started, because in the opening sequence they included a fair few photos of the 9/11 hit. Well, it didn't get better, and I stopped halfway through rather than try to stomach the rest of it. A propaganda piece, and a bad one. Basically unconcerned with discussing the development of institutional culture, which what I was hoping for. A few facts and figures, and after about fifteen minutes of intro with 9/11 front and center, they finally got into the how the thing was conceived and built, which while it included some interesting footage, was extremely undetailed, clearly intended as background info. And then it was on to the reconstruction efforts, and after a bit of that I stopped watching.
*Climbs on soapbox* National Geographic, and by association the DoD, should not be attempting to foster strong sympathy for the institution because of the damage, largely superficial, done to the building and some of its inhabitants. While I certainly believe that it's unfortunate that those 168 (or whatever the number is) people died, it is not a tragedy comparable in any way to the Twin towers attack. The Pentagon is a military target (in fact, it's probably the military target in North America, if not the world) and as such must be treated differently. There are civilians that work there, yes. However , those civilians have a very peculiar status, because they assist the military administration directly, and in many cases have access to highly classified documents. As such, they swear special oaths in order to work there. I certainly wouldn't consider them innocent in the same way as twin towers victims.
There may be exceptions to this. It is possible that there are people that are just responsible for tightening this or that widget, have no idea what goes on in the place, and don't know anything important. But I don't think there are that many of those people.
It's also worth pointing out that the attack is still terrorism.
The difference between military and civilian targets is this: the military targets are not only capable of resistance, they are also capable of aggressive action. The way to legitimately defeat a country with force is to destroy their military forces and their military infrastructure. Not their civilian infrastructure and certainly not their civilian population.
Furthermore, part of being a soldier means being able to accept sudden violent death in the course of duty. While the Pentagon is not a battlefield, everyone in that building was on duty to the extent where I feel so special sympathy for their deaths, less so than I feel now for those dying in Iraq.
Last note: One of the more interesting conspiracy theories floating around is that it was not in fact a 757 that hit the Pentagon on 9/11, but something else. I don't feel like citing sources or explaining all the arguments on either side: do a google search for "Pentagon Missile Conspiracy" and you'll learn all about it. I think, despite my distaste for them generally, this conspiracy theory has some weight to it. Certainly, I'm more in favor of it after watching the BS they tried to feed me.