The National Parks: America’s Best Idea

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Product Description
The National Parks (six episodes, twelve hours) tells the human history of five of the nation’s most important and most heavily visited National Parks (Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Acadia, and Great Smoky Mountains) and the unforgettable Americans who made them possible. Set against some of the most beautiful landscapes on earth, each park’s story is filled with incidents and characters as gripping and fascinating as American history has to offer. Woven … More >>

The National Parks: America’s Best Idea

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5 Comments
  1. See my full review under the DVD version.

    This is not really about the National Parks; it is really about the people and politics of making the National Parks.

    You will not be seeing much of the actual National Parks here. And what you do see will be repetitive, archival, and poorly done.

    Rent it.

    Check it out from the Library.

    Borrow it from someone that has it.

    See it on TV.

    But don’t buy it until you HAVE seen it, and know for sure you want it.
    Rating: 1 / 5

  2. Arrived as promised, but I have not viewed. did not realize that Blu-Ray doesn’t play on regular players….
    Rating: 5 / 5

  3. You need to be on a caffeine high not to be asleep within the first two hours of this video. Seriously, this is a documentary of the political history behind the establishment of 5 of the many national parks, but in 12 hours of video you might get 30 minutes of the picturesque park views you were expecting. You really need to view this documentary series on free TV or rent the DVD before spending your hard earned money on the BD set. If you looking for the early history of a few of the national parks presented in the same manner and with the same grainy B&W stills that Burns used in his excellent Civil War documentary, then you may really like this presentation. But, BD will add little to its enjoyment as it is a limited visual experience. If you are expecting a broad presentation on most of national parks and monuments told through high definition scenic panoramas of those parks and monuments, then I think you will be very disappointed.

    I’m a history buff, but this documentary is mostly a political history told from a certain perspective, so it didn’t grab me like Burns’ previous documentaries. By the end of the fourth hour I was ready to scream if I had to hear another anecdote regarding John Muir and see the same grainy B&W portrait of him. One gets the impression that Burns would rather have had Muir on Mount Rushmore than Teddy Roosevelt.

    But I digress. I have loved visiting our national parks and monuments over the the past 60+ years, with Glacier National Park being my personal favorite. I was expecting/hoping for a history of the the development and physical changes of most of our major national parks told through beautiful HD vistas of the actual parks today. After all, they have 12 hours of video to use up. But, that was not to be. The DVDs I’ve purchased in the parks over the years are much more informative regarding the parks and provide much more visual pleasure. Too bad they aren’t BD.

    I gave this video 3 stars because it is adequate for what it is, but isn’t what it could have been or what many were expecting. If I were rating it based solely on it delivering what I was expecting or at least hoping for, then it would only have received 1 star. It was very disappointing and the PBS promos were like a movie trailer, showing you all the best scenes in a few seconds, but ignoring what you’d actually see 99% of the time. Buyer beware!
    Rating: 3 / 5

  4. I bought this DVD set for my husband with high expectations, having read some fine reviews.

    Normally, we would both love this kind of thing, certainly love the subject matter but we were both fast asleep after an hour!

    The pace of the filming, the repetitive style, the dreary music without any change in the rhythm.. both of commentary or filming, made the whole thing drag.

    While I can see the need to take a slow amble through the nature’s wonders in order to appreciate its riches when you are out there in the midst of it all, it just didn’t work for me, in my arm chair, watching my TV!!

    Disappointing!
    Rating: 2 / 5

  5. I just purchased this Blu-ray set The National Parks: America’s Best Idea [Blu-ray]. We watched discs 2-6 rented from Netflix, disc 1 is listed in our queue as “Long Wait” 🙁

    There is so much to say about the experience of watching this series, I don’t know where to begin… I guess I’ll say that Ken Burns has done it again! Thanks to him and his crew. And regardless what others claim, Blu-ray is currently the best format for watching this (HD-DVD is long dead, unfortunately, so BD is the best even with BD-Java). BUY IT!!!

    My utter enjoyment of this series is amplified by my personal experiences. In 1952, my family drove “across country” in a ’51 Ford Woodie station wagon. We camped in many places (couldn’t afford hotels/motels… my dad was a Master Sergeant in the US Marines), but my strongest memories are of Yellowstone NP, Badlands NP, and Mount Rushmore NM. Watching this series brought so much back (and tears to my eyes, even now, thinking how fast a lifetime flies) about that trip, as well as other “return” trips to National Parks. One particularly vivid memory was when we were stuck for hours in one of the infamous traffic jams in Yellowstone caused by folks wanting to feed the black bears or wanting to watch folks feeding the black bears. As we sat there, we were all (5 people) watching a family feed several black bears to the left of our car. A (LARGE!) black bear stuck its head into my mom’s window and nosed her head… there was quite a ruckus to say the very least, and the fastest upping-windows ever! Man that was cool! I was also a National Park Ranger in the Golden Gate National Recreational Area for two years before I began working for the man.

    Since 1952, I’ve been fortunate enough to travel (and many places camp in) this beautiful world of ours including Canada (NWT, BC, Yukon, Alberta), England, Scotland, France (Ahhh, Paris!), Netherlands, Switzerland (ahhhh, Grindelwald), Austria, Philippines, Hong Kong, Australia… but I’ve never seen anything to compare with our National Park System.

    In the past 57-years, I’ve visited the following parks, many more than one visit: Redwood NP, Great Smokey Mountains NP, Grand Canyon NP, Arches NM, Canyonlands NP, Grand Tetons NP, Rocky Mountains NP, Saguaro NP, Tuzigoot NM, Dinosaur NP, Zion NP, Bryce Canyon NP, Death Valley NP, Lake Mead NRA, Joshua Tree NP, Yosemite NP, Pinacles NM, Lassen Volcanic NP (honeymooned there), Point Reyes NS, Muir Woods NM, Lava Beds NM, all of Washington DC’s fabulous places, Oregon Caves NM, Mount Rainier NP, Olympic NP, Craters of the Moon NM & Preserve, Colonial NP, several Civil War Battlefields, Shenandoah NP, Gettysburg NMP, Valley Forge NHP, Ellis Island NM, Statue of Liberty NM, Boston NHP, Robert E. Lee Memorial, Jamestown NHS, Theodore Roosevelt Island Park, Everglades NP, Carlsbad Caverns NP, Haleakala NP, Hawaii Volcanoes NP, Glacier Bay NP & Preserve, Sitka NHP, Denali NP, Wrangell-St.Elias NP & Preserve.

    After watching this series, my wife and I have decided we “need” to visit Yellowstone in the Winter season (maybe this year), and definitely Crater Lake NP.
    Rating: 5 / 5

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