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This American Life - Season One
This American Life - Season One
Actor: Ira Glass
Genres: Television, Documentary
UR     2008     2hr 0min

The widely popular, award-winning Chicago Public Radio show of the same name is now a Showtime show. Drawing on a different theme each week, viewers hear compelling stories from everyday folks culled from six months on the...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Ira Glass
Genres: Television, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Television, Documentary
Studio: Showtime Ent.
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Dubbed
DVD Release Date: 09/23/2008
Original Release Date: 03/22/2007
Theatrical Release Date: 03/22/2007
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 2hr 0min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 6
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English, Spanish

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Movie Reviews

What You'd Expect Reality Television To Really Be Like
SORE EYES | 02/23/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I'm continually impressed with Ira Glass as an editor, interviewer and now with his new Showtime programme, This American Life, TV host. I honestly can't believe how good this series is. I've watched every episode back to back twice and I'm still reeling.

Quite simply, this is reality television or what reality television should have been before it got commandeered by posers in constructed atmospheres. Have you ever thought about why it's called "Reality TV" when there isn't anything real about it? A bunch of people who would never meet up in real life are thrown together in a completely artificial situation-a house, an island-to compete for something equally artificial-a modeling contract, a million dollars. That's not real. This American Life is a hundred percent human, real, and down to earth all the time. The stories are forthright, touching, amazing.

It's a testament to Ira's skill as an interviewer that he somehow manages to find people and tell their stories without artifice-there isn't an ounce of cheese or a single turn of spin in any one of these stories. You don't hear Ira or his staff ask a lot of questions on camera, but he must be amazing at his job because he brings out the best in people. Also the camera shots in this series are outstanding. In one interview a 13 year old boy rallies against love while his red headed classmate floats dreamily though a field of grass. In another interview the viewers get to see Chance the Bull through the kitchen window of it's owner. It's beautiful. All of it. It's simply amazing. My husband and I were both teary eyed after several of these stories.

Besides meeting a 13 year old boy who has sworn off love, you'll visit a Chicago hot dog stand where customers and staff swear at each other in a free for all that brings out the worst in human nature, sit with a man who watches TV in his wife's mausoleum every other day, walk the ranch of a kind hearted Texas man who had his beloved bull cloned and you'll probably give up meat after "smelling" an Iowa pig farm. And after every single episode you'll feel like the human race isn't headed for a big black hole in space after all. You'll feel like we're good, like there's hope for us because it can't be that bleak if this is what people are really like-vulnerable, kind, interesting, good hearted.

If you're looking for more culture like this-I'd recommend The New Kings of Non-Fiction edited by Ira Glass and Best American Essays 2007 edited by David Foster Wallace. And for a movie that's down to earth (if a little quirky) Eagle v. Shark."
Innovators In Radio NOW on TV
Black Eagle Child | Wisconsin | 09/20/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Ira Glass and company have been producing the lovable radio show "This American Life" for years now. Fans of the radio show will undoubtedly be interested in the television show.

The show is masterfully photographed, and very well produced. I thought at first that if the television show was to be as effective as the radio show, it would be nearly impossible to produce, but apparently not so! Content-wise, it's very similar to the radio show. Every story follows a common narrative arc, but each story also features the unique setting that the radio show is known for. There's really little more to be said, especially if you are already a fan of the radio show. This is real American journalism focused on uncommon people who every day pass for common. Ira Glass and his show bring us these people's stories and do so with great artistry.

Often humorous, sometimes sad, but always interesting, "This American Life" is groundbreaking television!"
But would it be as good as the radio version?
James Hiller | Beaverton, OR | 02/03/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

".... was a question I'm sure many people asked when hearing that the most innovative, wonderful NPR radio program "This American Life" was going on television. It seemed almost impossible to believe that they would be taking their winning format and trying it out in a totally different medium. Would the intimacy that radio provides be possible on TV? Would seeing ruin the visuals the stories build in your heads? Rest assured, the show was in good, good hands and the result is a winning combination.

Host Ira Glass, with his nasally calm voice, introduces each week a theme, and spins stories on that theme from a wide pancea of possibilities, each a complete story within it's own, each adding to the examination of the question without ever directly answering it. The television show picks up the same concept, albeit in a shorter, half-hour version. More about this later.

The opening episode tells about reality, and two disparate stories (and one of the funniest introduction stories I ever heard) that you can possibly imagine. One about a tame bull named Chance and his unlikely offspring, and the other about a radical improv group in New York City. That's the beauty of Glass' radio show: taking these two stories, that literally happen in different worlds in our own country, and putting them together to make beautiful poetry. That's Glass' and the show's genius.

I found the show's visual aspects to not be a detractor, but to enhance the storytelling of the show. One segment in the second episode tells about a group of dastardly senior citizens deciding they were going to make a movie for Sundance. The story was definitely enhanced by seeing the woman who was selected playing the robber, a plastic mask covering her face, her hand shaking. Less needs to be said description wise as the stories are told (yes, I did miss that), but it's nice to actually see the "reality" of it.

My only small beef is the length of the show. It cuts at a half hour, and every time the episode ended and the credits rolled, I did feel ripped off. I'm very used to the hour format of the radio show, and the three act format (although even the radio show bends that format by doing one or two act shows, depending on the content). I simply want an hour of the show!

Glass manages to tells diverse stories of our diverse country, honoring the people telling the stories, and giving them a wonderful sense of dignity. Their realities may not be one ounce similar to your or my realities, yet we find common themes that unite us together. This American Life expertly unites all of us by helping us understand life in other people's shoes just that much more. Bravo for that!"
Quirky and clever -- works for me!
Joe Sixpack -- | Middle America | 10/14/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Like, oh so many of my geeky, nerdy kith and kin, I love listening to "This American Life" on NPR... Was there ever a better show to wash dishes to, or be stuck in traffic with? But when I heard it was being adapted to television, I confess I had my doubts. So much of the charm of radio is that, well... it's radio! It's a medium that engages your imagination in a way unlike any other... and how much of that ineffable, undefined charm would be taken out in a concretized, on-film version? Turns out -- no worries! The TV "This American Life" is every bit as odd and arresting as the audio version... Indeed, they recycle some of the same stories we've already heard on-air, but they are even weirder and kookier here. The format changes that do effect the content have more to do with length than with style: this is a half-hour show, and the stories are generally shorter and fewer, and the concept of a through-line for each show are a little less well-developed. Still, it's a great show, and Ira Glass and his pals sure know how to grab your attention. I've showed this to friends who have never heard the radio show, and their jaws dropped... they couldn't believe how addictive this was. Definitely worth checking out. (Joe Sixpack, Slipcue film reviews)"