Friday, October 2, 2009

The National Parks: America's Best Idea

"I have here seen the power and glory of a Supreme being: the majesty of His handy-work is in that 'Testimony of the Rocks.' That mute appeal-pointing to El Capitan-illustrates it, with more convincing eloquence than can the most powerful arguments of surpliced priests." - Lafayette Bunnell
I'm not sure if it's more indicative of the quality of programming the PBS is able to produce, or the lack of quality shown by the other offerings, but PBS has been -- by far -- the best channel on American television for sometime now, and yes, I have cable.

PBS has again defended it's place at the top of the pile with it's decision to broadcast the latest documentary from the esteemed film maker and historian Ken Burns called "The National Parks: America's Best Idea".

The six-part mini-series is a home-run, an amazingly in-depth look at America's greatest, most sacred, and probably most under-appreciated treasures. The awe-inspiring cinematography is surpassed only by the grippingly interesting stories about larger-than-life historical figures such as the great and eloquent naturalist John Muir - an East Lothian-born man and son of a Presbyterian minister who found new life amidst the soaring Secoyas of California and went on to play an instrumental role in the foundation of the National Parks idea - and Stephen Mather - a wildly successful businessman who would spend large sums of his own fortune supporting the parks he would eventually go on to run, and who often succumbed to deep spells of depression but found himself miraculously cured by trips into the wilderness.

This seems to be Burns' magnum opus, and that is high praise considering the quality of his work, and is a must watch for anyone interested in history or the natural world. For those who haven't seen it, and wish to, the episodes are online until October third at:

1 comment:

jose_santana said...

When I first read it, I thought about it a bit and could not get my finger on why I agreed so much with this, but in the end, I found out why: PBS has been there since I was a little boy. It's one of those channels made to last b/c of its programming, in which they range from children's programming to world news, to this, The National Parks.
(P.S. - I sometimes sit and watch parts of Fetch! and The Electric Company...they are cool, in their own way)