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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Architecture > History > America's Castles - The Grand Tour

America’s Castles – The Grand Tour


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: D     Episodes: B-



A&E has issued a double DVD set of highlight shows from their America’s Castles series from back in 1995.  The hit series is about how the United States went out of its way to try and match the legacy of other countries, especially European ones, in leaving an expensive and elaborate legacy of great homes for the ages.  Today, this kind of construction comes under more scrutiny.  Of course, part of the catch to all of this was that the homes should be innovative and like nothing built before.  The two discs offer the following:


1)     Grand Plantations

2)     Florida’s Grand Estates

3)     Gold Coast Estates

4)     Hudson River Valley Estates

5)     Newport Mansions

6)     Adirondack Camps



Running about 45 minutes each for their hour-long timeslot, they have a good mix of history and video footage of each locale.  When all is said and done, however, it seems like so much more could have been shown and said.  Also, can this be the culmination of all the places they could find?  The most glaring problem is that the footage is simply older professional NTSC video in a time when we are coming to expect more and more digital High Definition.  Maybe A&E will revisit all these sights to update and expand this series.  This is still a nice treasury and is not politically correct in elaborating on the history.


The 1.33 X 1 image is as good as can be expected for the kind of taping it is, derived nicely enough from the masters.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has no surrounds, but is clean and clear enough as is almost always the case in A&E releases.  There are no extras, which is a shame, because an update would have been nice.  For what is here, you should see it if you missed it.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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