America’s Scenic Railway Journeys (Special
Sound: C+ Extras: C- Main Programs: B-
James Coburn narrates all six segments of America’s
Scenic Railway Journeys, which is a double-DVDF expansion of The Great
Alaska Train Adventure that we previously reviewed on this site. To that disc’s two main segments of Anchorage
To Seward and Anchorage To Fairbanks, lasting about an hour each, we
also get The Canadian Rockies, The Copper Canyon, The
Adirondack and The Coast Starlight.
Needless to say that this is interested in the West Coast and
Over-The-Northern-Boarder locations, but is not bad for seeming so initially
limited. Again, instead of the series
of European-taped shows where half the time we get a point of view from the various
trains, this is interested a bit more that usual in the history and development
of the areas covered.
If you are interested in this subject, Coburn is the
perfect guide. Adding to the history of
Alaska from the previous disc, we see expanded footage (past and present) of
how this country developed and how it co-exists with neighbor Canada.
The full frame 1.33 X 1 image was shot on NTSC video and
shows its age somewhat, despite being produced as recently as 1997, one year
after the Alaska programs. The Dolby
Digital 2.0 Stereo still has vague Pro Logic surround activity, but it works
fine otherwise, with James Coburn’s narration as clear as any audio
element. Extras again include 19 stills
of the history of trans in Alaska, a DVD-ROM link to Acorn Media’s site and a
segment of tour information, but add a nice route map insert in one of the DVD
cases and trip profiles. If this is
your thing, this set outdoes the Alaska-only disc, but you might want to start
with the Alaska disc over this set if you are not certain.
- Nicholas Sheffo