Appellate Judge James A. Stewart warns: Don't confuse this with National Lampoon: National Parks Collection.
"This is the wilderness—and the wildness…"
The National Geographic Society started exploring and recording the wilderness, not to mention the wildness, in 1888. The public has seen its work first through National Geographic, and later through television specials. Today, there's a National Geographic Channel and a line of DVDs. National Geographic: National Parks Collection features seven segments from the channel's shows that showcase national parks and monuments across the United States, from the Everglades to Hawaii.
Each segment, meant to fit an hour slot, gets its own DVD:
• "Secret Yellowstone"
• "Secret Yosemite"
• "Extreme Alaska: Denali National Park"
• "Grand Canyon"
• "Death Valley"
• "Hidden Hawaii"
What you'll notice right away, as wolves, waterfalls, geysers, and dead animals flash by in the opening moments of "Secret Yellowstone," is that these aren't stodgy travelogues. There are a few quiet moments in the Everglades and Hawaii segments, admittedly, but, for the most part, these documentaries move fast, possibly too much so.
The documentaries like to shake viewers up a little bit, with footage of firefighters wrangling blazes, slabs falling thousands of feet and stirring up clouds, rafting trips, and dead animals, to name just a few topics. I found one bit, footage of a man getting thrown by a bison at Yellowstone, gratuitous, but they're playing fair. Nearly everything here has educational and informative value. New ideas about fighting forest fires, the range of conditions in Denali National Park or the Grand Canyon, and the Earth's movement in Death Valley are exciting.
As you'd expect, you'll see a lot of beautiful scenery, even with a focus on research, and it's handled well.
Most of these DVDs have DVD-ROM interactive maps, which could be handy if, even after seeing the range of scorpions in Death Valley, you're somehow still interested in a trip. The Everglades and Hawaii segments replace the map with photo galleries.
While guilty of the occasional excess, National Geographic: National Parks Collection acquits itself well through an interesting presentation of fascinating information.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: National Geographic
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