Series premieres Sept. 27
PBS's biggest documenter of Americana, Ken Burns, covers the story of Yellowstone and company in 12 hours, which is just slightly less time than it took the Colorado River to carve out the Grand Canyon. Of course, exhaustiveness is a given for Burns, whose fans count on him to cover any subject in the kind of fine-grained detail that's missing in today's cut-to-the-chase media. And there's a big idea informing The National Parks: the notion that, through collective action, Americans preserved a natural heritage that otherwise would have become strip-mined or strip-malled. It's a provocative issue in the era of debate over the role of government, but with plenty of purple mountains and other majesty to entertain the eyes.