All you really need to know about Ken Burns' newest marathon documentary you can learn from the title: The National Parks: America's Best Idea. Really, the best? Better than the polio vaccine, air conditioning, the Internet, the airplane, liberal democracy, rock 'n' roll, bourbon and the abolition of slavery? Better than toilet paper?
Unfortunately, The National Parks -- an exhausting and overwrought series airing for a total of 12 hours over the next six nights -- is full of such ill-considered hyperbole, to the point that it feels less like a documentary than a recruiting film for a druidic cult.
At various points during the first two hours (which, frankly, was all I could bear to watch), Burns' documentary refers to the national parks system as the basis for American democracy, the foundation of human DNA and God's only earthly refuge from rampaging sin and Satanism.
In fact, it barely stops short of demanding a loyalty oath to national parks. Read my full reviews of The National Parks: America's Best Idea and The Story of Florida's State Parks in Sunday's Miami Herald.