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The National Parks: America's Best Idea 

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The history of the U.S. National Parks system, including the initial ideas which led to the world's first national parks and the expansion of the system over 150 years.
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2009  
Won 2 Primetime Emmys. Another 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Series cast summary:
Peter Coyote ...  Himself - Narrator 6 episodes, 2009
William Cronon William Cronon ...  Himself - Historian 6 episodes, 2009
Dayton Duncan Dayton Duncan ...  Himself - Writer 6 episodes, 2009
Shelton Johnson Shelton Johnson ...  Himself - Park Ranger 6 episodes, 2009
Alfred Runte Alfred Runte ...  Himself - Historian 6 episodes, 2009
Paul Schullery Paul Schullery ...  Himself - Writer 5 episodes, 2009
Carl Pope Carl Pope ...  Himself - Sierra Club 5 episodes, 2009
Terry Tempest Williams Terry Tempest Williams ...  Herself - Writer 5 episodes, 2009
Murphy Guyer Murphy Guyer ...  Reader 5 episodes, 2009
Philip Bosco ...  Reader 5 episodes, 2009
Kevin Conway ...  Reader 5 episodes, 2009
Tom Hanks ...  Reader 5 episodes, 2009
Kim Heacox Kim Heacox ...  Himself - Writer 4 episodes, 2009
Adam Arkin ...  Reader 4 episodes, 2009
Lee Stetson Lee Stetson ...  Himself - Muir Historian / ... 4 episodes, 2009
Amy Madigan ...  Reader 4 episodes, 2009
Lee Whittlesey Lee Whittlesey ...  Himself - Historian 3 episodes, 2009
Nevada Barr Nevada Barr ...  Herself - Former Ranger 3 episodes, 2009
Juanita Greene Juanita Greene ...  Herself - Journalist 3 episodes, 2009
Gerard Baker Gerard Baker ...  Himself - Park Superintendent 3 episodes, 2009
Carolyn McCormick ...  Reader 3 episodes, 2009
Tim Clark Tim Clark ...  Reader 3 episodes, 2009
Derek Jacobi ...  Reader 3 episodes, 2009
Josh Lucas ...  Reader 3 episodes, 2009
Gene Jones ...  Reader 3 episodes, 2009
Eli Wallach ...  Reader 3 episodes, 2009
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Storyline

The history of the U.S. National Parks system, including the initial ideas which led to the world's first national parks and the expansion of the system over 150 years.

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

27 September 2009 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The National Parks: America's Best Idea See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Florentine Films,WETA See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(6 episodes)

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Connections

Featured in Ken Burns: America's Storyteller (2017) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A mixed bag
12 October 2018 | by richard-1787See all my reviews

I watched this series because I have very much enjoyed other of Burns' documentary series (The War, Baseball, The Civil War), and because I have some interest in the beauty of some of our National Parks in the West.

If you appreciate the beauty of nature, you will love this series. The cinematography is uniformly magnificent. The pictures and film of the great western parks most impressed me, but Burns and his crew took wonderful footage of all the parks they surveyed.

The "storyline" for me was more of a mixed bag. Whereas in The War, The Civil War, and Baseball I thought Burns did a great job of telling a chronological story, here I found that the story of the National Parks took a back seat to a too-large collection of how various average Americans have interacted with the parks. I understand that that is very central to the idea behind this series: that the parks are very closely linked to the average American. I think that point is someone exaggerated, frankly, but it's his point of view. The problem for me, especially in the later episodes, was that the various stories of how Americans have interacted with the parks, what the parks have meant to them, just didn't hold me. That's not a fault of the series. It's just that parts of it didn't coincide with my own interests, perhaps because I have not interacted with the parks as closely. Whereas I felt Burns did a great job, in The Civil War and The War (less so in Baseball), of integrating personal stories into the historical narrative - it is, perhaps, one of his greatest contributions to the art of the historical documentary - here I found that too often it did not work, or at least did not hold me.

Still, the nature photography is magnificent, and I recommend viewing the series.


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