HTF REVIEW: National Geographic - The FBI

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Herb Kane, Aug 6, 2003.

  1. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

    May 7, 2001
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    National Geographic: The FBI

    Studio: Warner Brothers
    Rated: Not Rated
    Film Length: 60 Mins.
    Aspect Ratio: Standard Made for TV (OAR)
    Audio: DD 5.1
    Subtitles: None

    The Feature:
    National Geographic presents The FBI – A Revealing Inside Look At The Bureau. This documentary (narrated by Dennis Haysbert) takes us on a tour of the Bureau’s top secret Strategic Information & Operations Center. Featured are agents handling everything from an intelligence station in Istanbul, Turkey to a Special Agent preparing security for the yearly Army and Navy football game. An Explosives Team, Anti Terrorist Team, Hostage Rescue Team and Hazardous Material Team are also briefly featured.

    We get to spend a day in the life of the Director of the FBI. We travel with him while he is briefed on daily affairs – then briefs the President. We see the Director swearing in a number of new recruits and then meeting with their parents and family members for photographs.

    Although this huge institution is only referred to by three letters, it is a symbol known worldwide...

    If there is anyone that factors A/V quality into their decision making when purchasing a documentary (ah, work with me folks, trying to be funny here...), then pay close attention. The transfer on this special is beautiful. Extremely detailed, clear and sharp. Colors were extremely vibrant. Obviously, some of the older clips were not the greatest, but what was recorded for this documentary is most impressive. Truly stunning.

    Although I noticed a couple of interviews with a slight amount of hiss, the audio presentation was excellent. Presented in 5.1, dialogue was very clear, mild use of surrounds for scoring etc. was pleasing.

    Special Features:
    On this disc, there are some worthwhile extras. Upon entering the Special Features section, we are offered two options. The first is Spy Tour – Inside Base Camp. This features an interview with retired FBI Agent David Major and retired KGB Agent Oleg Kalugin. Very interesting stuff. We are shown many tricks of the spy trade including concealed weapons, listening devices and photos etc. While I liked the content of what was discussed, the presentation was “Survivor like”. My disdain for the interviewer certainly didn’t help. The only thing missing was an entry by Jeff Probst to announce the next secluded island of choice. It wasn’t very appropriate given the subject material. I will say this….the audio and video presentation was stunning during this segment. There were a few clips of Washington DC shown and the image was breathtaking – almost HD like. Dialogue was extremely clear. Duration: 23.00 minutes.

    The second bonus feature was called School For Feds. This special, focuses on 5 FBI recruits during their 14 weeks of training at the FBI Academy. We hear from the recruits and how they feel about their progress as well as a lot of role playing for various scenarios at the mock town called Hogan’s Alley (built for training purposes). While it was interesting to see how in depth the organization focuses on training, again, I felt the presentation was rather “hokey”. This footage appeared to be older than the previous interviews but the transfer was very good with clear dialogue. Duration: 24:00 minutes.

    On the main menu there is also an option titled Time Line. Here, we have a group of eight dates and a photo for each date. These are various dates of significance for the organization shown in chronological order. Each date is narrated with a brief sentence or two explaining the significance of each entry.

    Finally, we have more advertising for National Geographic. There are three feature titles advertised, they are:

    - Inside The Pentagon
    - The Search For Kennedy’s PT109
    - Ambassador – Inside The Embassy

    The Kennedy doc is a Ballard search which does look very interesting.

    Final Thoughts:
    I recently received three of these National Geographic documentaries to review from Warner and thought this would be far and ahead, the most interesting. It wasn’t. With the history of this organization, I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of material that could have been covered... that wasn’t. They had an opportunity to cover so much including the history of the organization, famous cases (and not so famous cases), not to mention the history of J. Edgar Hoover himself, but instead, they only scratched the surface. Taking into account that this agency must veil itself in secrecy in order to operate effectively, a daily dose of CNN would have provided as much insight to the legendary organization as did this disc. Very disappointing.

    Release Date: August 12th, 2003

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