While most of you heathens were watching The Hills and/or The New Adventures Of Two And A Half Men Who Met Your Mother on Monday night, your Uncle Grambo was plowing through the first two and a half hours of the new Frontline documentary, Bush's War. On an emotional level, it was a thoroughly exhausting experience — reliving those nightmarish days of September 2001 and the resulting six-plus years of what can only be described as another long national nightmare had precisely the opposite effect on my sleep patterns as a fistful of Ambien. That said, it deserves classification as essential viewing, regardless of your party affiliation. That said, this post is not about George Bush or politics, nor does it have anything to do with the subject matter of the two-part series that Variety describes as a "great historical drama." Rather, it's about how glorious it was to watch a news documentary that was specifically tailored to HDTV and why we're considering boycotting 60 Minutes until they make the switchover to hi-def programming.
While most of the marketing of HDTV is targeted towards cinemaphiles and sports enthusiasts, there certainly is an net-positive end benefit for connossieurs of news programs to plunk down the $2 grand or so it takes to upgrade to hi-def. Not only does the medium allow viewers to be more sufficiently stimulated on both the visual and audio fronts, this blogger would argue that it makes the viewer more likely to actually absorb and process the information that the program is trying to relay. For instance, in Bush's War, the visual clarity of the footage that was shot in Iraq (not to mention the haunting stills from 9/11) resonates within your head and your heart in a way that traditional, low-def TV cannot possibly compete with.
Which is why we are so surprised that the venerable news division of CBS has staunchly refused to upgrade their flagship show, 60 Minutes, into HD. Sure, no one wants to see Andy Rooney's nose hairs in 1080p, but we're pretty sure they could gauze up their lenses in such a way that everyone's favorite cantankerous crankypants could look as good as Cybill Shepherd did on Moonlighting. But there's no denying that the rest of the show could really use the upgrade. Take last Sunday's segment where Anderson Cooper got in goal to try and stop David Beckham's patented bendy kicks, for example. Since the show has already acquiesced to lowering their journalistic standards to a point where they can justify interviewing someone as vapid and meaningless in our country as David Beckham, why not go the extra mile and take their visual presentation to the next level? We're sure it has something to do with cost, but that excuse quickly flies out the window when you consider that the budget and funding-challenged PBS can afford to do so. So, Sean McManus, the gauntlet has now been thrown. You already have a last-placed news show on your hands, so why not invest the extra $$$ necessary to make the strides to save the last remaining audience members you have left?