Thursday, September 27, 2007

Too Much "The War"

Have you been watching Ken Burns' "The War" on PBS? We have. It's terrific, what more can we say.

Burns even did a nice job interweaving the stories of Hispanic WWII vets after Hispanic groups complained that they were not represented in the series. (Their complaints had some justification, but their attacks on Burns did not; fortunately, he and PBS were able to rise above that.)

Still, we wonder why PBS decided the run the whole 14 plus hour series in one week. Really, it's too much. It's a little like going to dinner and having nothing but five buffet tables of dessert available. Yes, dessert is nice, but too much, all at once, makes you feel bad.

Moreover, The War is a lot to take in and absorb. A lot of it is disturbing. War is hell, after all. A full week of this is enough to disrupt anyone's sleep.

We don't think too many Americans can just carve out 14 hours of TV time in one week for a special, especially one so deep and moving. Thank goodness for TiVo and its imitators!

Is this so hard for the "suits" at PBS (do they wear suits at PBS?) to figure out? Two hours each week over seven weeks or so would've been terrific. Something to look forward to while the networks dribble out their inevitably disappointing new fare. And, of course, the way PBS stations run their shows, they might well have aired the same episode on two or three different nights each week, at different times, to maximize exposure for the recording impaired amongst us.

Unfortunately, by throwing the entire series on us in one week, the PBS ratings are likely to be lower than if they had stretched it out over a few weeks. That, in turn, will incorrectly lead PBS "suits" to think that similar projects are not as financially worthwhile as if it had been a ratings hit.

We applaud Burns--another masterpiece on another war. Too bad PBS didn't have the good sense to showcase it optimally.

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