September 20, 2007

Light Fuse, Stand Back

Ya know, the local classickal station has been flogging the new PBS series "The War - A Ken Burns Film" about The Big One and the Greatest Generation. And regardless of whether the series is any good or not, I have the distinct feeling of being hustled.

I guess it's just the whole "Ken Burns" label that bugs me. For all I know, his Civil War series may have been excellent (I never saw it), but he is, in the end, just one guy and surely his take is not the Last Word On History. And yet people seemingly wet their pants over him. And PBS knows this. I really think that PBS could put out a series entitled "Sorting Out The Blue Socks From The Black - A Ken Burns Film" and people would line up round the block to pre-order the DVD and otherwise empty their wallets on related paraphernalia.

Posted by Robert at September 20, 2007 04:08 PM | TrackBack

Burns's reputation descends largely from the way that his documentaries resonate with the audience. I have seen parts of his "Civil War" series, and while they aren't complete or 100% accurate, they make the subject really come to life.

That said, I have no intention of ever watching this latest Burnsfest, because the teasers and trailers that PBS has been running make it look like liberal crap. As far as I can tell, he focuses almost entirely on the home front and the consequences of the War to the families who had to stay behind while their sons and husbands went off to fight. And those consequences were largely negative: the loneliness, the stress, the waiting, the crushing effect of The Telegram. I haven't seen one word in any of the trailers about the reasons or justification for the War. Just about its horrible dreadful no-good effects on people.

Posted by: wolfwalker at September 20, 2007 09:26 PM

I think it was overrated.

If I had to listen to that damn whiny fiddle music again, or hear another depressing diary entry from "Mary Chestnut", I think I'd go hang myself instead.

Bruce Catton. Now there's a civil war writer.

Posted by: The Colossus at September 20, 2007 09:55 PM

I can honestly ask, who is Ken Burns, and why should I care? Never heard of the guy until now.

Posted by: Hucbald at September 21, 2007 12:18 AM

Well, you know I've seen his CW flick (my father bought the entire thing for me) and yeah, it's one man's view. You can borrow it, if you want, but it's all on VHS.

Posted by: GroovyVic at September 21, 2007 06:45 AM

What makes The Civil War worth watching, I think, are the contributions and pleasant voice of Shelby Foote.

Posted by: Ed Flinn at September 21, 2007 07:48 AM

I do like me some Bruce Catton.....

Posted by: Robbo the LB at September 21, 2007 08:00 AM

I did enjoy the Civil War one. The baseball one got a bit preachy though; did you know that baseball had a color line at one time? I never realized that blacks weren't allowed to play in the major leagues until Ken Burns reminded me every freakin' half hour.

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