‘Command And Control’ Is An “Explosive” New Episode Of ‘American Experience’

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

On September 18, 1980 America narrowly escaped what could have been one of the worst nuclear disasters that it has ever experienced when a Titan II ballistic missile exploded in its silo in Damascus, Arkansas.  PBS recently profiled the near catastrophic event in a new episode of its history-based series American Experience titled American Experience: Command And Control.  This two-hour program is a visualization of author Eric Schlosser’s book by the same name.  It is a powerful presentation, too that is certain to keep its audiences enthralled just as easily as any big screen action thriller.  That is due in part to its story, its most important element.  The information that is provided within the story is just as important to note as the story itself in examining the program’s overall presentation.  The program’s dual presentation rounds out its most important elements.  Each element plays its own important part in the program’s presentation.  All things considered, they make this episode of American Experience a documentary that is certain to command and control any critic’s list of the year’s top new documentaries.

American Experience: Command And Control is the first great documentary of 2017.  This two-hour program is certain to command and control any critic’s list of the year’s top new documentaries all year.  That is due in no small part to the story at the center of the program.  The story at the center of this program follows the events that unfolded on September 18, 1980.  It follows the events almost hour-by-hour from the events ahead of the near catastrophe to the fallout (no pun intended) that followed from the event.  It is right up there with some of the biggest action flicks of the 20th century.  In fact, being a real life event and not overly embellished by Hollywood writers, it is even more enthralling. Speaking of Hollywood blockbusters, the story’s transitions are just like something that would be used in a major Hollywood production.  It is a minor element, but even as small as it is, it does so much to keep viewers entertained and engaged in the story.  It should also be noted that the story includes a rather scathing indictment of the military and its protocol as the story is told.  That indictment comes direct from those involved in the event.  It also presents a warning about the dangers of nuclear weapons and relying on nuclear buildup as it provides a history on the nuclear weapons accidents that happened before the Damascus accident.  It should be noted that considering the discussions that are raised by those involved in the accident, not every viewer will want to watch this story because of their views.  But those who are not so set in their ways will enjoy and appreciate this story and all of its elements.  Speaking of those elements, they lead into another important piece of the program’s whole, its information content.

The story at the center of AE: Command and Control is in its own way a key piece of the program’s presentation.  It is a story that is just as engaging as any Hollywood blockbuster of its kind, if not even better.  It is just one of the program’s key elements. The information that is presented throughout the story is just as important to note as the story itself.  Audiences learn over the course of the program’s two-hour run time that the 1980 incident was just one of a number of accident that had happened since the end of World War II.  There is mention of the H-Bomb incident in North Carolina and other accidents that happened before and after.  At the story’s end, audiences learn that between the Damascus incident and others, thousands of incidents had been reported by the military but not made public.  It is even revealed here that the Air Force tried to cover up the Damascus incident, which luckily didn’t turn out to be as bad as it could have been, but still could have been.  Thousands of people could have died not just in Arkansas but across the country had it been worse.  That the military didn’t initially tell the public about what was happening as it happened is understandable to a point.  It is also very troubling considering how bad the situation could have been and how many lives could have been lost.  Audiences also learn of how poorly the men involved in trying to stop the incident were treated by the military after the event as part of the presented informational content.  It probably wasn’t the first time the military has done its officers so wrongly, and definitely not the last time it has ever acted so wrongly toward those who wear the assigned uniform.  Between those revelations and other items presented throughout the program, audiences will find that the information presented throughout this program is indeed just as important to its presentation as its story.  It is not the last important element to note, either.  The program’s dual presentation rounds out its most important elements.

The story at the center of AE: Command and Control and the information that makes up the story are both key elements to the program’s presentation.  That is because of their ability to keep viewers engaged, informed, and entertained.  They combine make the program just as gripping as any big screen presentation crafted by any Hollywood screen writer.  As important as they are to the program’s presentation, they are not its only important elements.  PBS Distribution presents the program in both a standard hour-long presentation and a full two-hour presentation.  Why PBS Distribution would even go that route is anyone’s guess.  Perhaps that has to do with its use at certain levels in high school and beyond.  It is possible maybe younger high school-age viewers would only have an attention span for an hour-long presentation while older audiences would be more apt to sit the entire two-hours.  It would be interesting to find out why exactly the company went this route.  Regardless, giving audiences the option of the program’s hour or two-hour-long presentation is certain to be beneficial in one way or another depending on the setting in which each is used.  When this is set alongside the program’s story and its rich depth of information, it rounds out the program’s most important elements.  It joins with them to show once and for all why this program is such an interesting watch.  It is a piece that students and lovers of military history and history in general will appreciate.  All things considered, it is a program that will command and control any critic’s list of the year’s top new documentaries.

American Experience: Command and Control is a work that students and lovers of military history and history in general will appreciate.  It is a work that is certain to command and control any critic’s list of the year’s top new documentaries.  That is due to its wholly engaging story.  The story presented here is just as enthralling as any major Hollywood action thriller with a similar plot.  Being that it is real life, it is even more enthralling than those movies.  The information that makes up the body of the program adds even more depth to the viewing experience.  It will educate audiences and potentially shock them at the same time.  That is because of the revelations that are made throughout the program.  That audiences are given the choice to watch the program in its abbreviated, hour-long presentation and its full two-hour theatrical presentation makes the experience even more engaging.  Each element plays its own important part to the program’s presentation.  All things considered, they make this episode of American Experience a program that will command and control any critic’s list of the year’s top new documentaries.  It is available now on DVD.  It can be ordered online now via PBS’ store both by itself and in a bundle pack with Schlosser’s book.  More information on this and other episodes of American Experience is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AmericanExperiencePBS

Twitter: http://twitter.com/AmExperiencePBS

 

 

 

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