Give War A Chance

I'm talking about Ken Burns' new documentary, The War which premieres Sunday September 23rd at 8:00 p.m. on PBS.

Do yourself a big favor and give up the cruddy TV you'd normally watch over the next week, and tune in to see this incredible film. I guarantee this is the best television you will see all year.

Critics are calling it THE television event of the Fall. The best documentary film produced in years. Period. Bar none.

I know what you're thinking. PBS, nothin' but antiques, crazy-haired painters, and outdated British sitcoms sandwiched in between insanely boring pledge drives. But trust me, the Burns film will change your mind about public television.

The seven-part series explores World War II in a way that has never been done before, through the eyes of a handful of people from four quintessential American towns: Waterbury, Connecticut, Mobile, Alabama, Sacramento, California, and the tiny farming town of Luverne,

Minnesota. Using personal accounts, photographs and vivid combat footage, he shows how World War II affected every family on every street in America.

Sure, you can flip over to the History Channel and catch a thumbnail version of some aspect of World War II. But those shows just scratch the surface. What Burns does is miles above anything else. His film doesn't try to lecture us about what we should be learning. It shows us World War II in a way that we can all relate to and understand, by taking us inside the lives of the people who lived it -- those who survived, and those who didn't.

Just watch it. It's 14 hours out of your life. 14 hours that will change your life. I promise.

I shouldn't have to do this much convincing. Ken Burns' track record speaks for itself. This is the man who gave us The Civil War, Baseball, Jazz.... Do I really need to go on?

Burns says he resisted a World War II documentary for a long time. After making The Civil War, he was emotionally drained by the idea of another film about war. But he changed his mind and decided to make The War after hearing two stunning facts. First, that America is losing World War II veterans at an alarming rate -- more than 1,000 a day. Second, after learning that many graduating high school seniors are under the incorrect impression that the U.S. fought WITH Germany and AGAINST Russia in WWII.

That's nauseating. Parents everywhere should be alarmed (and some should be ashamed). This isn't ancient history, folks. World War II veterans and people who served their country on the home front are still all around us. Chances are pretty good that someone in your family fought in World War II. My grandfather did. Have you even asked yours?

Just watch The War. It will change what you think you know about World War II. It will change the way you think of your parents and your grandparents. It'll make you smarter.

But bring your hankies. Burns doesn't hold anything back.

Episode one of The War premieres Sunday September 23rd at 8:00 p.m. with Episodes 2, 3 & 4 to follow on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Then the series picks up again with Episodes 5, 6 & 7 starting on Sunday September 30th.

Ethan Morris: "Not always right, but never in doubt." Go ahead and write me.