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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Modern Marvels: Frontline Reporting
Modern Marvels: Frontline Reporting
A&E Video // Unrated // June 24, 2008
List Price: $24.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted August 28, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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The Show:

Recently the History Channel released a whopping 14 disc collection of its popular and long-lasting series Modern Marvels. In it were random episodes from different points in its run but the unfortunate thing is that we haven't had a complete collection as of yet. Granted fans still have to wait but if you have the space on your DVD shelf there are still single volumes coming out that are worth adding to the collection. One of the more recent additions to the Modern Marvels series is the Frontline Reporting episode.

If you have turned on the TV any time since 2003 you have undoubtedly seen in-field reporters entrenched with soldiers over in Iraq. Since the dawn of the new age of war things changed drastically with the way war is reported and how we find out about it. Via live satellite feeds we are able to watch what's going on in a remote part of a country across the world. It has given unprecedented coverage of the conflict and the debate is still out whether or not this is really a good thing. Thankfully rather than debate the moral implications of such an endeavor, Modern Marvels objectifies the topic and looks at the burgeoning technology.

In Frontline Reporting we get to see just how reporting the war has changed over the years. From the earlier days with transcribed drawings and notes to the advent of the photograph and moving pictures, this episode clearly defines how war has been brought home to the masses. Scattered throughout are stock footage, photographs, and newsreel clippings from World Wars I and II. From there the documentary evolves on to feature other conflicts such as the Vietnam War which totally changed the face of wartime reporting.

During the Vietnam War reporters and news organizations were given a wide open pass that essentially allowed them to go anywhere and everywhere. Through the jungle with soldiers as bullets whizzed by their heads and through the marshes where grenades were going off meters away. Vietnam allowed people at home to see the true atrocities of war first hand and it arguably was one of the defining factors that shaped the opinions of the American public. The taste for war quickly wanes when you see first hand the death and destruction of battle; not to mention watching American soldiers burn whole Vietnamese villages to the ground. It had social and political ramifications and decidedly put a cap on the freedom of reporters during times of war. Over the decades the involvement of reporters and what they were allowed to cover was heavily restricted. According to the episode and reporters involved there wasn't so much censorship as heavily implied regulations regarding content. Walter Cronkite even appears to talk on the subject matter and it was certainly nice to see him again.

As Frontline Reporting starts to wind down it goes on to discuss the current situation overseas and how technology is being brought together to report it. From digital cameras to smaller pieces of communication which are easy to assemble on the go there's definitely some interesting stuff out on the field. Even by comparison from the Gulf War to this one the leaps in technology are quite impressive in this particular field. All in all Frontline Reporting is a very interesting episode of Modern Marvels with some good commentators and information. If you appreciate the show or are interested in the subject matter then by all means check this one out. Granted it's probably more of a rental but it's entertaining nonetheless.

The DVD:

Video:

Modern Marvels: Frontline Reporting is presented on DVD with a full frame aspect ratio that mirrors the show's broadcast and other DVDs in the series. Like most documentary shows this one offers a mix of stock footage, field shots, and finely filmed interviews in a prepped setting. The result is a solid looking series without a lot of frills. The video is clean with only a little grain, there is some edge enhancement, and the picture has a tendency to be soft. With that being said the look of this show is very appropriate for the content and on par with other History Channel releases on DVD.

Audio:

Modern Marvels: Frontline Reporting comes with a 2.0 Dolby Digital stereo presentation that lives up to expectations. The quality is relatively flat but on par with what you'd hear from the show's broadcast. This being an educational/documentary type series there really isn't a need for something more robust or immersive so the audio is adequate enough for the material.

Extras:

Like the other DVDs in the series there are no bonus features on this release.

Final Thoughts:

At the end of the day Modern Marvels: Frontline Reporting is another fine release for the series. It's a solid subject matter that isn't explored very often and the amount of information contained here is diverse and interesting. If you're even the least bit interested in the material then this episode deserves a rental. It's too bad A&E doesn't pack more episodes onto these discs because one fifty minute episode just doesn't really warrant a purchase no matter how good it is.


Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!

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