Judge Victor Valdivia was once profiled on 60 Minutes. "Perpetrator of land fraud" is such an ugly term, though.
Barack Obama's road to the White House.
With a list price of $19.99 and a running time on the packaging of 240 minutes, you'd expect 60 Minutes Presents: Obama: All Access to be a feast for political junkies. The 60 Minutes brand name is usually a reliable trademark of quality, and the prospect of the show's typically superlative journalism examining the 2008 Presidential campaign is enticing. Unfortunately, this DVD is considerably guilty of false advertising. The original segment on Obama's first post-election interview is included, and it lasts about 40 minutes. There's also a segment edited together from all of Obama's previous 60 Minutes interviews and some behind-the-scenes footage from the campaign that lasts about 30 minutes. There are also 15 minutes of interview outtakes. That's it. The remaining running time is taken from the extras, which consist of some of Obama's most famous speeches, like his convention acceptance speech (about 45 minutes), his inaugural speech (about 30 minutes), and others. The actual produced content is shockingly meager. Sure, it's a better buy than most of the cheapie Obama DVDs you'll find at your grocery store, especially since the full-screen transfer and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix look and sound pretty good, but that doesn't mean it's as good as it's marketed.
In fact, even the produced content isn't that great. The post-election interview ("The 44th President") is the only segment included in its entirety, but even though it's the most recent, it actually comes off as the most dated. With its references to the auto bailout and the Obamas' search for a new dog, it's the segment that will stand up the least to repeated viewings. The segment titled "The Road to the White House" does give an overall picture of the campaign, but is so short and superficial that it doesn't reveal much that isn't already known. It does have some fascinating info about Obama's life, especially his early years as a community organizer. There are also some great bits of Obama in the Illinois State Legislature discussing his admiration of Lincoln and some interview snippets with Michelle Obama about their early days together. However, these segments are so brief that just as they start to get interesting they're interrupted by something else. These early years of Obama's political career are the least-discussed parts of his career, so these tantalizing brief glimpses are too short to really do any good.
Don't be fooled by the "All Access" title, either. Apart from some footage of Obama and his aides watching the primary results on Super Tuesday, very little about how his campaign worked is shown here. There are interviews with Obama's senior advisers, like David Axelrod and David Plouffe, but they talk strictly in sound bites that give away little. Obama's campaign could stand as a model for businesses to follow in its extraordinary discipline and efficiency, but how and why it worked as it did isn't explained at all. The outtakes are even less enlightening, consisting mainly of minor forgettable tidbits. If there were some noteworthy moments that occurred during these interviews, they're certainly not included here. Why didn't 60 Minutes just include all of its original segments on the election in their entirety? Chopping them up into a thin gruel makes this DVD much less useful than it could have been. It's true that as of its release date, many people are probably burnt out on hearing about the election, but this is the sort of DVD that's supposed to be kept as a memento of history. Many years from now, if someone wants to remember what the '08 campaign was like, this DVD won't help much.
As for the speeches, they're a decent addition, although most viewers could probably watch them on the Internet. In addition to his acceptance and inaugural speeches, there are also his campaign announcement, his Grant Park victory speech, the foreign policy speech he delivered when he visited Germany, and the speech on race he gave after videos of his pastor giving inflammatory speeches were leaked. Strangely, though most of them are complete, the race and Berlin speeches appear to be slightly edited, which is a shame, because those are probably the best speeches on the set. The race speech is particularly impressive. Anyone who labels Obama some sort of dewy-eyed ethereal naïf should hear it, because it demonstrates as pragmatic, hard-nosed, and realistic a view of race in America as anyone has ever presented. The Berlin speech is also remarkable, laying out a view of foreign policy that's certainly more coherent than anything either Bush or Clinton managed in sixteen years. It's also interesting to see how Obama's speeches evolved over the last two years, from the sometimes overly flowery speech he gave in early 2007 to announce his candidacy to the more down-to-earth inauguration. Still, there are so many other places to find this content that it hardly justifies buying this DVD.
Ultimately, 60 Minutes Presents: Obama: All Access is just not as valuable as it could have been. Rather than present some meaty analysis and insights into the campaign, or even just a complete compilation of all of 60 Minutes' best pieces, it just slaps together some meager content and pads it out with speeches that are easily available elsewhere. It's actually Obama, not 60 Minutes, who did the bulk of the work here. If you're looking to stimulate the economy, spend your money on one of Obama's books instead. Guilty.
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