Vanguard (TV series)

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Vanguard TV.jpg
Title Card
StarringChristof Putzel
Mariana van Zeller
Adam Yamaguchi
Narrated byCorrespondent of episode
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons6
No. of episodes62 (including a special interview with Laura Ling)
Executive producer(s)Adam Yamaguchi
Jim Fraenkel
Running timeapprox. 44 minutes (without commercials)
Original networkCurrent TV
Original release2008 –
Followed byAmerica Tonight
Related showsAmerica Tonight, Fault Lines

Vanguard is a television documentary series that was broadcast on the now defunct Current TV television network. Vanguard reported on such issues as the environment, drugs, and the effects of globalization and conflict.

The focus of most Vanguard episodes is to explore and immerse viewers in global issues that have a large social significance. Unlike sound-bite driven reporting, the show’s correspondents conduct interviews with affected peoples and the regions involved usually being led by a guide and translator who facilitates access. Since Vanguard's subject matter often involved exposés about organized crime, drug trafficking and armed revolts, the correspondents can face significant danger because of their reporting due to unstable political or security situations.

Vanguard has received some of the media industry’s highest honors for journalism, including the 69th Annual Peabody Award, given for excellence in electronic media,[1] and the 2010 Television Academy Honor, which recognizes "achievements in programming that present issues of concern to our society in a compelling, emotional and insightful way." [2] Vanguard has also been awarded the 2009 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award and the 2009 Livingston Award, and has been nominated four times for a News and Documentary Emmy Award and also for a Sports Emmy Award.[3]

Vice president of the Vanguard journalism unit Laura Ling and her colleague Euna Lee were detained in North Korea after they allegedly crossed into North Korea from the People's Republic of China without a visa. They were subsequently pardoned after former U.S. President Bill Clinton flew to North Korea to meet with Kim Jong-il. They were producing a piece for Vanguard at the time of their detainment as shown in a Vanguard episode titled "Captive in North Korea".

In April 2012 Current announced that it would produce six new episodes of Vanguard.[4] However, according to their own Facebook Page, apparently only two episodes were created in season 6 before the Vanguard series was ended, falling 4 episodes short of their originally announced plan.[5] The Vanguard homepage and blog, a section of Current TV's website, were also ended when the Current TV website was shut down.

In 2013 Al Jazeera Media Network bought Current TV and after several months created Al Jazeera America. The new channel took what remained of Vanguard's team and merged them into Al Jazeera's investigative unit and the America Tonight team. Christof Putzel continues on at Al Jazeera America as a correspondent on the investigative reporting series America Tonight'." [6]


Season 1[edit]

Episode Number Episode Title Correspondent Description
1 A Day With the Tribe Laura Ling Brazilian tribe
2 The Meth Trail Christof Putzel Methamphetamine in the gay community
3 Diving Too Deep Mariana van Zeller Depletion of lobsters in Nicaragua
4 Death Train Mariana van Zeller Illegal immigrants from Central America
5 Rebels in the Pipeline Mariana van Zeller Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta
6 From Russia With Hate Christof Putzel Growing Neo-Nazi movement in Russia
7 Elixir of the Toxic Frog Mariana van Zeller The Kambo frog could hold secrets for modern medicine
8 Prison Power Play Laura Ling Prison gang politics
9 Saving Madagascar Adam Yamaguchi Environmental issues in Madagascar
10 Blood Roses and Deadly Diamonds Mariana van Zeller Unromantic truth behind two symbols of love
11 Scarf Wars Laura Ling Extremes of enforcing separation of church and state in Turkey
12 Lost in Democracy Christof Putzel Bhutan
13 City on Steroids Adam Yamaguchi Chongqing
14 End of the Road Jael de Pardo Pan-American Highway
15 Lagos la Vida Loca Mariana van Zeller Lagos, Nigeria
16 Destination Anywhere Tracey Chang Emigration from Philippines
17 World's Sugar Daddy Mariana van Zeller Ethanol in Brazil
18 Pollution to Protest Laura Ling Electronic waste
19 World Without Water Adam Yamaguchi Droughts in China, Florida, and Lake Mead

Season 2[edit]

Episode Number Episode Title Correspondent Description
1 America's Secret War with Iran Mariana van Zeller Alleged secret war
2 The Great American Detour Lauren Cerre American youth
3 Modern Day Pirates Kaj Larsen Malacca
4 I Heart Global Warming Adam Yamaguchi Greenland
5 Maxed Out None Economic crisis
6 Chinatown, Africa Mariana van Zeller Chinese in Africa
7 Getting Out of Prison Laura Ling Parolees
8 Japan: Robot Nation Adam Yamaguchi Loss of employment to robots
9 Fully Automatic America Kaj Larsen Guns in the US
10 The Most Controversial Jail in the World Adrian Baschuk Guantanamo
11 Hot SexXxy Young Cerissa Tanner Underage prostitution
12 Battle of Saipan Adam Yamaguchi Economy
13 Narco War Next Door Laura Ling Mexican drug gangs
14 Beach of Death Christof Putzel & Kaj Larsen Somalia conflict
15 Lost Vegas Laura Ling Recession in Las Vegas
16 Outsourcing Unemployment Adam Yamaguchi Recession in China
17 Thank You, Recession Tracey Chang & Lauren Cerre Argentine Recession

Season 3[edit]

Episode Number Episode Title Correspondent Description
1 The Oxycontin Express Mariana van Zeller Pain killer trade in Florida (won 2009 Peabody Award)
2 Cuba: Waiting for a Revolution Adrian Baschuk Communism in Cuba
3 Forest of Ecstasy Adam Yamaguchi Cambodian rainforest
4 Sri Lanka: Notes from a War on Terror Mariana van Zeller Tamil Tigers
5 Porn 2.0 Christof Putzel New media and adult entertainment
6 Prison Contraband Janet Choi Smuggling contraband into prison
7 Remote Control War Kaj Larsen Technology and war
8 Cocaine Mafia Christof Putzel Cocaine in southern Italy

Season 4[edit]

Special - Captive in North Korea (Interview with former Vanguard VP Laura Ling)

Episode Number Episode Title Correspondent Description
1 Missionaries of Hate Mariana van Zeller Anti-gay bill in Uganda
2 Rape on the Reservation Mariana van Zeller Sexual assaults on Native American reservations
3 The World's Toilet Crisis Adam Yamaguchi Open defecation in Southeast Asia
4 Soccer's Lost Boys Mariana van Zeller Human trafficking of African boys for soccer
5 War Crimes Kaj Larsen Rise of PTSD among war veterans
6 American Jihadi Christof Putzel American-born Somali terrorist Omar Hammami
7 Life and Death on the Border Christof Putzel Illegal crossing of the US/Mexico border
8 Marijuana Wars Part 1 Adam Yamaguchi Mexican drug trafficking organizations growing marijuana in the US
9 Marijuana Wars Part 2 Adam Yamaguchi Taking down low-level planters and high-level financers

Season 5[edit]

Episode Number Episode Title Correspondent Description
1 Gateway to Heroin Mariana van Zeller OxyContin and heroin in Boston
2 Sex, Lies, & Cigarettes Christof Putzel "Smoking Baby" and Big Tobacco in Indonesia
3 Sushi to the Slaughter Adam Yamaguchi The cost of sushi to bluefin tuna
4 City of God, Guns, & Gangs Mariana van Zeller Transforming Rio de Janeiro's slums for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics
5 Tiger Farms Adam Yamaguchi Black market tiger trading
6 This (Illegal) American Life Mariana van Zeller Personal stories of illegal immigrants living in America
7 Recovery High None A New England high school which helps students struggling with addiction[7]
8 Arming the Mexican Cartels Christof Putzel The gun-fueled drug war in Juarez, Mexico
9 Islamophobia Adam Yamaguchi Islamophobia's rise in the US and the UK
10 Under the Knife Abroad Adam Yamaguchi Medical tourism in India, Mexico, and Barbados
11 The War on Weed Christof Putzel The enforcement of marijuana laws across the United States
12 Two Americas None A month in the lives of two American families at different ends of the economic spectrum
13 The 99 Percent Christof Putzel The Occupy Wall Street movement
14 Cage Fighting in the USA Mariana van Zeller Mixed Martial Arts' growth as a sport in America

Season 6[edit]

Episode Number Episode Title Correspondent Description
1 Arming the Mexican Cartels Christof Putzel Investigating the trafficking of guns into Mexico from the United States.
2 The 99 Percent Christof Putzel Camp out with the crowd of Occupy Wall Street.
3 Showdown in Klan Town Christof Putzel Explore the modern-day Klan in the city of Harrison, Arkansas.
4 The Right to Kill: Stand Your Ground USA Christof Putzel Go behind the headlines of "Stand Your Ground Laws" in the USA.


  1. ^ 69th Annual Peabody Awards, May 2010.
  2. ^ "Emmy Website". Retrieved December 19, 2013.
  3. ^ "DRG". Retrieved December 19, 2013.
  4. ^ "Vanguard Blog". Archived from the original on April 26, 2012. Retrieved May 2, 2012.
  5. ^ "Vanguard Facebook Page". Retrieved December 19, 2013.
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Vanguard References". Archived from the original on 2011-08-09. Retrieved 2011-08-08.

External links[edit]