TV Show Review – JFK: American Experience


Here Is TVRating:  4 (out of 5).  “JFK:  American Experience” is a 4 hour documentary airing on PBS.  The first part of the documentary on Monday shows Kennedy’s life in Europe and his start in politics while Tuesday night covers the period of his presidency through to his death. The critics appreciate what “JFK” has to offer and think it is a well done documentary about the life of the president, not just his death.

Newsday says “JFK breaks no new ground, offers no new assessments, and doesn’t tell people anything they didn’t already know — unless they haven’t been paying attention the past 50 years.” It is “JFK by the book.”

Variety thinks this is a typical “American Experience” fare saying it is “all conveyed in a stately, fascinating and thoroughly comprehensive manner.”

The Washington Post says the documentary offers “a fresh assessment of the enigmatic man, his accomplishments and his unfulfilled promise.”

Forbes says “JFK” doesn’t “disappoint”.  It can make you feel like you are “thrust back in time, shocked at how much innocence the world has lost in the interim.”

Bloomberg calls the film “impressive”. They say it is “courteous and not fawning. Its report card on his presidency might be summed up as “incomplete” and the archival footage alone makes the show exceptional.”

The New York Daily News thinks “JFK” is a “typically thorough PBS documentary on Kennedy, with comments from family members and historians.”

The San Francisco Chronicle says the documentary offers a different perspective on the events of the assassination of JFK calling it “the best of the bunch.” They give producer Susan Bellows credit for understanding that “JFK’s legacy isn’t only about his assassination, and that’s reflected in the stunning four hours of “JFK,” enriched by contributions from writers, historians, politicians and others.”

The Chicago Sun-Times thinks this documentary has a “warts-and-all approach” and it “stand out in a sea of laudatory specials.”

The Denver Post calls it “excellent” although there is a “certain amount of amateur psychology.” They also call this documentary “the best history lesson of the lot” and it “takes the long view, and resists the urge to replay the Dallas footage.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer thinks that of all the shows documenting the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s death, this is the one to watch. They say “American Experience” is “about Kennedy’s life, not just his death, and does a remarkable job of placing his unfinished presidency in context.”

The Minneapolis Star Tribune urges newcomers to watch this saying they will “want to invest in this broad, four-hour documentary that runs the gamut.”

The Los Angeles Times calls it “exceptional” crediting Susan Bellows with a “near-miraculous balance of admiration and clear-eyed assessment.”


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