Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Get The (Really) Big Picture

By Suzanne Kashuba

Watch America Revealed - Preview on PBS. See more from America Revealed.

I’m taken with the new FOX dramatic series “Touch” in which 10-year-old, curly headed Jake holds an intense fascination with numbers. Through them, he “sees” the big picture — the seemingly random interconnections among the billions of people on the planet.

It’s mind-boggling to think about – we’re all in this together.

From a non-fiction perspective, the sweeping, new PBS series, “AMERICA REVEALED” allows you to experience the “big picture” of the nation’s infrastructure and systems. In four parts, you learn how America’s massive networks “touch” all 310 million inhabitants.

Shasta Dam Lion Television


(When to tune in)


Wednesdays at 10 p.m.

ThinkBright and Well/WORLD TV

Thursdays at 8 p.m.

Food Machine
(food origins and outlets)

April 11

April 12

Nation on the Move

April 18

April 19

Electric Nation
(energy sources)

April 25

April 26

Made in the USA

May 2

May 3

In creative and innovative ways, the series explores the hidden patterns and rhythms that feed, power, move and supply the consuming behemoth of America. There are many reasons to tune in, but here are my Top 12:

1. The host: You may know Yul Kwon as the winner of “Survivor: Cook Islands” (though he says making “America Revealed” was a tougher challenge). But he has a diverse, Amer_REv_4ultra-impressive resume. He’s been a lawyer, an aide to U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman, a management consultant and a CNN correspondent. He also was profiled in “People” magazine’s 2006 “Sexiest Men Alive” issue. His genuinely inquisitive nature makes him a fun and engaging host.

2. Bird’s eye views: Each program includes stunning visuals Amer_REv1from the air to send you soaring over circular farms in Kansas, yellow cabs in Manhattan, superhighways in L.A. and a massive wind turbine farm in the Columbia River Gorge. Get the picture?

3. Fascinating people/jobs: The series constantly piques curiosity and exposes you to the realities of some very cool careers. Kwon interviews an international salesman, an urban farmer, a robotics pioneer, an Alaskan commuter pilot, a school bus driver and a traffic helicopter reporter, to name a few.

4. Insider’s perspective: What’s it really like inside a meat-packing plant or the Federal Aviation Administration’s command center? How clean does Intel keep its microchip factory? What’s it like to work for Facebook? (A clue: ping pong’s allowed.)

5. Action/adventure: Throughout the series, Kwon dives (literally) into his job, reveling in exciting, on-the-edge activity. He skydives, snowmobiles, drives a two-story monster truck, gets pelted with tomatoes and climbs a 300-foot wind turbine.

6.Trivia: Ever wonder how many ingredients are in a chicken nugget? Where did the word “gridlock” originate? How much concrete is in Shasta Dam? Tune in to find out!

7. Insight: Beyond trivia, the programs make you aware ofAmer_REv_3 how our current systems evolved and the future directions they are taking. How did an arid California desert become lush farmland? Why do all national rail lines end in Chicago? Is American manufacturing dying?

8. High-tech graphics: GPS mapping and high-tech imageryAmer_Rev_5 clearly illustrate patterns, trends and logistics. You “see” wind paths; where food outlets are concentrated; how New York’s subway routes intertwine; and how much energy is wasted in Cleveland.

9. Fast pace: The background music, stunning visuals and fast-paced content carry you along on a captivating journey. Though it’s geared toward adults, I predict kids as young as middle-school-age will be glued to the screen.

10. Solutions/best practices: “America Revealed” offers an upbeat picture of American ingenuity. For example, learn how Vermont cows are helping to generate energy; how Las Vegas is controlling traffic at a tiny fraction of the cost of road construction; and how an Alabama company is making new steel from scrap. Fascinating stuff! Why isn’t everyone doing it?!

11. “Wow!” moments: There are so many! After watching, you will never again look at your everyday world in quite the same way. From turning on a light switch to ordering a pizza, you’ll gain new respect for the systems (and the people!) that keep your daily routine rolling. As Kwon says, “we can’t take it for granted.”

12. Online/multimedia extras: More great content continues online. Check out America Revealed... Revealed!, a behind-the-scenes look at how the series was made. And tell every teacher you know about the education resources, including lesson plans.

In a nutshell, I think this remarkable series accomplishes all the objectives of WNED’s mission: to entertain, educate, enlighten and inspire. That is both rare and wonderful television!

What else would you like to see revealed about America?

1 comment:

  1. While I find this article to be fun and thoughtful, I can't help but be fixate on how much energy is wasted in Cleveland? It's been 45 years since the Cuyahoga River caught fire - the world and America has moved on. Just as the haze was clearing and Clevelanders were feeling pretty good - until today, when our name was used in the same sentence as "wasted". What's next, the Plain Dealer will be reporting corruption all around town? Give us a break!