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Case Number 21435: Small Claims Court

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Frontline: Revolution in Cairo

PBS // 2011 // 60 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // May 28th, 2011

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson uses Frontline for tick prevention mainly. And to add some zest to a flank steak.

The Charge

Go inside with the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Case

PBS' Frontline series turns its attention to the recent political upheaval in Egypt, devoting 60 minutes to exploring the roots of the protest and the twisting plotlines that eventually led to the jettisoning of Mubarak. Crazy times, those, and as we can see to this day, there's still plenty of power to sort out, but the story of how the rebellion sprouted is worth telling and to Frontline's credit, they do a fine job.

Your guide is Charles Sennott, Middle East correspondent and gentleman who does not mind getting all into the craziness of Cairo, talking to Egyptians on the street as well as going right into the headquarters of some of the organizers. The focus for these conversations is how the youth movement became so pivotal in the process, utilizing the Internet to get their stories out. Indeed, this was a genuinely fascinating aspect of the overthrow, the utilization of social networking to circumvent the government's clampdown (as seen to a lesser extent in some of the Iranian hullabaloo that had happened earlier). We get the inside dish on how these enterprising revolutionaries dodged the eyes of the state and it's a great story—and a possible peek at the Twitter-powered future of geopolitical realignment?

The thorniest issue the documentary tackles is referred to in its tagline: the Muslim Brotherhood. No doubt there are question marks about these guys and their vision for Egypt. They are major power brokers in the leadership vacuum and the group's ascendancy has no doubt left more than a few CIA desk jockeys wringing their hands. Even the Egyptians on the ground have some reservations towards the group, with several of the interviewees voicing concerns about the potential of a fundamentalist regime. The program goes for balance with an interview of an Egyptian scholar, who provides a more nuanced dissection of the group.

And that's your sixty minutes. Frontline: Revolution in Cairo is a fine way to spend an hour if you found the Cairo uprising fascinating. I found the segments examining the role of the Web and how the youth harnessed it to be the most appealing.

Not appealing? The half-assed DVD: a mediocre full frame (fake widescreen) presentation, stereo mix and zero extras.

The Verdict

Subject matter? Cool. Presentation? Drool.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 80

Perp Profile

Studio: PBS
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• English (SDH)
Running Time: 60 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary
• Historical
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• IMDb

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