Ken Burns’ National Parks doc is best viewed on the big screen

Sep 28, 2009
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Filmmaker Ken Burns returns to television this week with the premiere of his newest documentary, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. Although PBS had good intentions with the free Ken Burns’s The National Park app, it doesn’t measure up to the standards usually associated with Burns’ talent. Everything I found in the app was also found on […]

Filmmaker Ken Burns returns to television this week with the premiere of his newest documentary, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.

Although PBS had good intentions with the free Ken Burns’s The National Park app, it doesn’t measure up to the standards usually associated with Burns’ talent. Everything I found in the app was also found on PBS.org, including the 26-minute series preview. Burns’ work is always impressive (and typically gorgeous), and something that translates better on a screen larger than that offered by the iPhone or iPod touch. There is still some content better for monitors and high-definition television sets. That said, after the slow load time, the app’s behind-the-scenes video did play crisply.

The app also boasts mini-documentaries called “Untold Stories,” but there are only two included, as opposed to the five available on the PBS Web site. Four wallpapers are also available inside the app (along with instructions on how to take a screen shot to use them). But again, there are 12 wallpaper screens available on PBS.org. I have to wonder what the reasoning was for not including the PBS web site content in its entirety, especially because reference to the site are plugged throughout the app. Because of this, I see very little need for anyone to grab the app instead of logging on to the PBS Web site.

The 12-hour, six-part documentary The National Parks: America’s Best Idea begins airing on Sept. 27 at 8 p.m. EST. A series schedule, with episode descriptions, is also included in app.

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