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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Health > Social > TV > The Peter Jennings Collection

The Peter Jennings Collection (Anchor Bay)


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



The recent loss of Peter Jennings was not just a blow to ABC News, but to no less than all of international journalism.  He was one of the best of his generation, maybe of all time.  So significant is he, that the new Peter Jennings Collection DVD set from Anchor Bay marks the second video company (after Koch) to put his work out.  This double set offers the following investigative reports:


How To Get Fat Without Really Trying

Ecstasy Rising



From The Tobacco Files

No Place To Hide (about privacy after 9/11)



They are six excellent examples of Jennings and television journalism at their best, and all this from a commercial network, not PBS.  The first two are my particular favorites here, though you will find more of Jennings work by looking up “ABC” in the search engine.  How To Get Fat Without Really Trying is the kind of show that uncovers something no one is talking about, the food industry making a financial killing by marketing cheaply made, overprocessed foods supplemented by the government that seems to be developing a health catastrophe.  It comes from today, but reaches back to the late 1970s when this kind of journalism was common and the news media was seriously serving the public for the common interests and best health of the country.  The way one government agency’s initiatives were shot down by powerful politicians then were sad previews of the corruption we have seen full force in the 1980s since.


Even I like some of the junk food featured, but it is becoming gaudy junk food of junk food of junk food and it really does not taste as good as it used to, something the special does not get into.  Maybe because it just keeps selling as more people want to try so many variants of already established products.


Ecstasy Rising dares to discuss the hot new drug since the 1980s that became the cocaine of the next generation, but like all such drugs, the earlier purer version would have been the ideal time to take it before it became a giant underground business and the product became denatured, except that (as usual) there is no way to know the side effects and long term ramifications of a street drug.  In an era where so many of the government approved prescription drugs are killing people, it is obvious we are too much of a chemical society.  The special just stays on Ecstasy and how it has had few side effects even long term and had become extraordinarily popular instantly and stayed that way for over two decades, despite so many efforts to criminalize it.  It shows how the U.S. Government dropped the ball in it campaign against it and skips how insiders may have feared a new counterculture movement from it as a result of its low short-term side effects in the middle of the Reagan years.  But then that is great journalism at its best, allowing you to think for yourself instead of being told what to think by being told how the world “obviously” is.  I’ll save the others for you to see, which you will want to look at after the first two segments alone.


The 1.33 X 1 image was shot on professional analog NTSC video and is nice and clean, if displaying the usual limits of the format.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has no real surrounds, but is just fine for the purpose and more than clear enough.  There are no extras, but this is more than substantial enough for you to catch, so don’t miss it.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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