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Case Number 20548: Small Claims Court

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Bill Moyers, A World Of Ideas: Writers

Acorn Media // 1988 // 637 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Chris Claro (Retired) // January 22nd, 2011

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All Rise...

Judge Chris Claro's world of ideas is a small one after all.

The Charge

Scribes on scribing.

The Case

Bill Moyers has been a public television fixture for over forty years. After serving as press secretary for fellow Lone Star-stater Lyndon Johnson, Moyers brought his brand of solemn wonkery to the small screen, as the creator and host of Bill Moyers' Journal and Moyers on America. With his sober, thorough approach, Moyers has produced some of the most thoughtful television of the last half-century.

Now Athena, a company who encourages you to "engage your mind, expand your world," has released a series of Moyers interviews with some of the great literary minds of the twentieth century. Bill Moyers, A World of Ideas: Writers features the respectful, scholarly Moyers engaging in concise yet penetrating thirty-minute conversations with storytellers of all stripes, including Toni Morrison, E.L. Doctorow, Tom Wolfe, and Nadine Gordimer.

As stripped-down and simple as television gets, A World of Ideas, which originally aired in the late eighties and early nineties, is the kind of programming that has since been relegated to niche websites: a simple conversation, unadorned by flash or sizzle, designed to enlighten, if not entertain. Moyers' grown-up approach isn't for everybody. Viewers in search bells and whistles are advised to steer clear of A World of Ideas. The academic dryness of the discussions shows a respect for the audience's ability to absorb and consider the insights of Moyers and his guests. In fact, this box would be a welcome addition to the library of any higher-level English literature classroom, as hearing authors discuss works such as Ragtime and The Right Stuff could only enhance the study of such novels.

Visually and aurally, Bill Moyers, A World of Ideas: Writers is as unpretentious as its content. Video is clean, with the slight overlighting that we've come to associate with television of twenty or so years ago. The Dolby Digital audio is clean and unfussy, giving the talking heads plenty of clarity and definition. A bonus disc features Moyers talking with additional authors, including Alice Walker and Isabel Allende, on his early twenty-first century series Now.

A comprehensive and detailed examination of the creative process, Bill Moyers, A World of Ideas: Writers is a must-see for anyone who reads, thinks, or thinks about what they read. Its ascetic simplicity and contemplative tone make it both challenging and rewarding.

The Verdict

Not guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 90

Perp Profile

Studio: Acorn Media
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• English (SDH)
Running Time: 637 Minutes
Release Year: 1988
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Interviews
• Biographies


• IMDb

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