History Channel // 2005 // 482 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 4th, 2005
One nation's rise to independence
The History Channel has a pile of DVDs for you American history aficionados out there. The American Revolution box set features five discs, each with two forty-five minute educational installments of Founding Father craziness.
The programs are revived from way back when and repackaged in digital format, though, frankly, there's not much difference between the DVD version and what I assume are the old VHS versions. But more on that later.
Content-wise, there's plenty of grist for Revolution fans, and, ideally, high school history teachers. The set consists of a mixture of documentaries detailing the major battles of the war and A&E Biographies of some of the era's heavy-hitters.
"The American Revolution: The Conflict Ignites"
Here the seedbed is laid for revolution as America's patriots prepare to face off with Britain. Spotlighted are: Paul Revere and his famous ride, the passage of the Townshend and Stamp Acts that would piss so many colonists off, the Boston Tea Party, and the fateful "shot heard round the world" at Lexington and Concord.
"The American Revolution: 1776"
As events get rolling that would lead to the formation of the United States, the big brains meet at the Second Continental Congress to form the Continental Army and place George Washington at the top as general. In other news, Benedict Arnold -- yep, that one -- dominates on the battlefield and The Declaration of Independence is drafted.
"The American Revolution: Washington and Arnold"
On this disc: Washington's legendary crossing of the Delaware and his subsequent victories at Trenton and Princeton, the pivotal battle of Saratoga brings glory to Horatio Gates, and Ben Franklin convinces the French to enter the war.
"The American Revolution: The World at War"
The war continues on two fronts: George Washington, fresh off his stay at Valley Forge, leads his troops into Monmouth and Indians engage the colonists on the frontier.
"The American Revolution: England's Last Chance"
It's a naval theme as some of the war's big ship battles grab attention on the disc. John Paul Jones does his thing taking out the British ship Serapis and the British run through Charleston. Meanwhile, an important battle looms in Cowpens.
"The American Revolution: Birth of the Republic"
The Battle of Cowpens demoralizes the British and decimates one of their elite battle squads. Hostilities end when Cornwallis surrenders and the United States officially gains its independence at the Treaty of Paris.
"Biography: Paul Revere -- The Midnight Rider"
The truth behind the man and his mythic ride is revealed as well as his history in the early rumblings of the revolution and his role in the Sons of Liberty.
"Biography: Benedict Arnold -- Triumph and Treason"
Benedict Arnold, the man synonymous with the word "traitor," actually was a bad-ass mofo before he turned into a punk. This feature examines all aspect of Arnold's rise and fall in American history.
"Biography: George Washington -- Founding Father"
It's all about the man here. From his life as a Virginian farmer to his selection as the commander of the Continental Army to his election as the nation's first president, Washington and his huge role in the formation of the U.S.
"Biography: Benjamin Franklin -- Citizen of the World"
The superstar of America and intellectual extraordinaire was as critical to the War for Independence as the boots on the ground. Here his accomplishments and lore are delved into.
The features are all of high quality, and incorporate interviews with experts and historians, authentic photographs and stills, and dramatizations. Yes, the programs are fairly dated, but hey, it's not like the historical content has changed. There's plenty of learnin' to be had with this set.
While there's plenty of substance on deck, don't expect to be wowed by the technical merits of this set. The episodes are in full frame and the transfer brings some recording flaws, like several audio hiccups. There are no extras.
Review content copyright © 2005 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: History Channel
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 482 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Wikipedia: The American Revolution