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Second season of PBS reality show - using DNA as a genealogy tool.
on July 23, 2012
This is the second season of the PBS "genealogy" series "executive produced" by actress Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.. I reviewed the first season here on Amazon when it was released. This second season is similar to the first (which was titled "Faces of America")- but with a different array of celebrities searching for their ancestry.
Like all reality TV shows, once one becomes a hit there are copycat shows. I'm not sure which came first (and it really doesn't matter) but there is a similar show that aired on NBC titled "Who Do You Think You Are?". I've been watching both second season DVDs and enjoying both. I thought I'd point out the differences in both of my reviews.
Since "Who Do You Think You Are?" (WDYTYA) is on a commercial network, it obviously had commercials. With those deleted for the DVD, each episode runs only 42 minutes. And, because the producers want you to remember what happened before each commercial break (short-term memory loss? <g>), they rehash what came earlier after each of the six commercial breaks. As you will see by other reviews of both seasons, this is the biggest gripe both others and myself have with this series. The PBS series have no commercials so each episode is 58 minutes long with no breaks.
While the NBC show used it's funder, the commercial website Ancestry.com, to start the research and the celebrity not only does the research - with some guidance - but travels the country, and the globe, to visit the sites where their ancestors lived, Gates uses outside researchers to do the leg work and compiles the results into an "album: which he reviews with the celebrity subject. And Gates uses DNA, as well as documentary files and census records to search the heredity trail.
The NBC series focuses on one individual for each episode. Gates takes a different tactic and groups two or three celebrities in each episode. I actually like that idea best. My favorite episode the one where two young New Orleans musicians (Branford Maraslis and Harry Connick Jr - who grew up as friends together in the multi-ethnic neighborhoods of NOLa) discover how their "roots" crossed. The other was the episode on husband-wife actors Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgewick. Having known Bacon's family in Philadelphia where he was raised, I found this one of particular interest. You, of course, will find your own.
Other reviewers have listed the celebrities covered in this season and so there is no reason to repeat those here.
Because these are exactly as shown on PBS, you will be subject to the "supporter commercials" at the beginning and the end of each episode, but that's a minor inconvenience.
Both series are interesting and take different approaches. And, while the concept of researching your family history may be sparked by watching theses series, a lot has to do with the "celebrity-ness" of the stories.
I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.