Next Friday, November 22nd marks the fiftieth anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Everybody knows the story of how Kennedy was gunned down while riding through the streets of Dallas, Texas. Countless conspiracy theories have been crafted about his death in the years since his murder. Just as many people know the associated conspiracy theories. But just how many people know what Kennedy was doing in Dallas to begin with? PBS answers that question and more in the new episode of its hit series, American Experience: JFK follows the life and career of John F. Kennedy from his birth to his rise to the Presidency to his untimely death in 1963. Along the way, viewers are given a look not only at his own life, but how his own family roots led to his career in politics as well as much more. This is one part of what makes this documentary an impressive addition to any history buff’s home library. Those same history and political science junkies will appreciate the addition of some familiar footage from Kennedy’s career, and some more rare footage from his personal life as well as his career. JFK is made even more impressive thanks to the manner in which the story was assembled. The four-hour, two-part documentary is split up into a way that doesn’t require viewers to be afraid of missing anything. That aspect of the overall presentation works with the previously mentioned factors to make it one that anyone with even the slightest interest in history and/or political science will appreciate.
Most audiences that watch JFK are sure to come into the presentation with at least a general knowledge of Kennedy’s time in office. After watching this presentation, audiences will come out of it having learned more about Kennedy than they ever thought they would learn about him. That is thanks to the bounty of information provided about his life and that of his family. While more seasoned viewers might already know, others will be interested to find out that John and his brother Bobby weren’t the only politicians in the Kennedy clan. Their father was also a well-known politician. And their brother died serving America. Just as noteworthy are the revelations about the secrets of the Cuban missile crisis. According to the program, narrated by veteran actor Oliver Platt, Kennedy negotiated a secret deal with Nikita Khrushchev in order to get Khrushchev to remove his missiles from Cuba. Platt goes on to explain that even after the crisis, this part of the story had not been revealed to Americans. It wasn’t until years later that this information was made public. There is much more information provided with JFK. And viewers will find that it collectively makes this program another enjoyable addition to PBS’ American Experience.
The story presented by writer Mark Zwonitzer and his cohorts behind the documentary is one that is certain to interest anyone with even a fleeting interest in JFK’s life. The story alone isn’t all that makes this edition of American Experience work so well. Audiences will be just as impressed by the inclusion of so much vintage footage throughout the feature. Some of the footage is relatively similar. A prime example is that of Kennedy riding through the streets of Dallas, TX. Less familiar but just as interesting is footage of Kennedy talking to his cabinet throughout the Cuban missile crisis. There are also still photos of Kennedy in the Oval Office used to illustrate his state of mind through his ups and downs. They and the video footage together make the overall presentation of this episode of American Experience even richer.
The video footage, still photos, and historical information together are key elements that make JFK another successful episode from PBS’ American Experience. The overall makeup of the presentation puts it over the top. That’s because of the “episode’s” four-hour run time. Four hours over two discs seems like a lot. Those four hours are split into much shorter and distinct segments. Viewers aren’t forced to take in large amounts of information at one time. This plays perfectly to the attention span of the average viewer. And in turn, it makes this feature even more of a win for PBS because that means it could potentially bring in an audience group that they otherwise might not have had if only for that reason. That aspect of the feature mixed with everything already mentioned will not only bring in more casual viewers, but those that are more inclined to watch regardless. It will be available next Tuesday, November 19th, on DVD and Blu-ray and can be ordered direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=24514266&cp=1378003.29088156&ab=Aspot_JFK&parentPage=family. More information on this and other programs from PBS’ American Experience is available online at http://www.facebook.com/AmericanExperience and http://www.pbs.org/americanexperience. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.