Underground Pittsburgh (2007/WQED DVD)
Sound: C+ Extras: C+ Documentary: B
When you hear the term “underground”, one might think of
something illicit, something bad done at night or something being hidden from
the mainstream. When it comes to Pittsburgh, maybe Andy
Warhol would come to mind. When it comes
to the impressive 2007 TV special Underground
Pittsburgh, they literally mean geological locations and it is amazing how
diverse and entertaining this special is.
Even if you are not from the city, Pittsburgh
is so much an older city (and Allegheny
County, where it is located is the
second oldest in the U.S.A.)
so it offers surprises you might expect more from shows on European cities (we
have some on the site) and other more ancient locales. For instance, Pittsburgh homes can differ from many in the
country, from having new styles of architecture being tried out to
cellars/basements many homes in other countries do not have. In addition, many have toilets, which are
usually not found in many basements to boot, but were there so hard working men
in mills could get cleaned up away from the family upon arriving home.
There are also amazing amounts of insects in the city of
all kinds. The trolley system was slowly
dismantled and eventually replaced by light rail transit known simply as the “T”. Sound of the city, a one-of-a-kind outdoor
pool in the borough of Dormont was due to close until neighbors pulled together
to save it. Now it is not only saved,
but preserved and working better than ever.
Just a northern country away is what is now known as Iron
Mountain, a facility that has many precious items (music, film, video, photos
and much more) stored away, along with government projects and other activities
we do not even get to know about. There
are many underground tunnels, walkways, older structures under newer ones and
even tunnels under tunnels or even bridges.
Most productive coal mine in the world is also part of the landscape and
that is just an example.
Rick Sebak hosts yet another winning installment of the
Pittsburgh History Series and is as interesting a place to start as any in one
of the richest and most successful such series in TV history. See for yourself and be surprised.
The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image is pretty good
for one of the first Sebak/WQED widescreen productions, but can be a little
soft with some motion blur, but editing, color and many shots look good. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is clean and
clear as a new recording should be and the Sebak/WQED programs usually are.
Extras include a promo for this and several for both the
Pittsburgh History Series (20) and National Programs done regionally (eight)
also on DVD, plus More Underground Bits, progress on the North Shore Tunnel
Connector that expands the T to a new casino for starters and three stories
from other great Sebak/WQED specials that could have fit here.
- Nicholas Sheffo