Nova – Fire Wars
Sound: C+ Extras: C Main Program: B-
It is one thing that firefighters since the 1980s have had
to face budget cuts, closed firehouses, then see many paying jobs replaced by
volunteer fire departments. If that was
not enough, it turns out that wildfires are still an even worse problem and The
United States is seeing it as a mounting problem in Fire Wars, a blunt,
disturbing installment of the ever-great Nova series on PBS as produced
by WGBH in Boston.
This is a billion-dollar-a-year crisis and even with the
latest technologies, the size and length of burning-up of priceless forests and
lands gets worse and worse. There are
those who are setting fires for religious reasons, those whose simple
carelessness sets off catastrophes, and strategies that include setting other
fires to stop the spreading. In the two
hours the program runs, the news reports that show these fires all the time
seem timid and more distant. The
impressive thing about this program is that it is willing to get its hands
dirty and show how bad this really gets.
When you see local fires, a few houses and even a city block is bad
enough, but we are talking millions of square acres and the loss of who knows
what species and their habitats. The show
spells out that it is a situation that needs a solution quickly and offers some
possibilities. As for the idea of
declaring war on fire that seems like a doomed prospect that will do more harm
than good eventually becoming some bureaucratic money machine/misery
spreader. Hopefully, science and the
right people will pull through.
The letterboxed 1.78 X 1/16 X 9 image is not
anamorphically enhanced, but looks good despite detail limits, likely
originating in digital High Definition.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is clean enough, but surprisingly has no
Pro Logic surrounds. Extras are few,
but include PBS link, PDF-formatted teaching materials, video descriptive
services, and a text page on five other series installments.
- Nicholas Sheffo