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This American Life - Season One

372 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The widely popular, award-winning Chicago Public Radio show of the same name is now a Showtime show. Drawing on a different theme each week, viewers hear compelling stories from everyday folks culled from six months on the road. Host Ira Glass and company create a captivating look at the American Life in a series that’s not quite documentary, not much of a news magazine and definitely not a reality show – it’s simply unlike anything else.

Host of Chicago Public Radio's This American Life since 1995, Ira Glass segues successfully to the small screen with this Showtime series. The first season begins with the saga of Chance, a Brahma bull who met President Bush, appeared in a movie with Vince Vaughn, and guested on The Late Show. To prepare for the passing of their elderly pet and "business associate," Chance's owners clone him, but things don't go as planned. Their segment airs in tandem with a piece in which an improv group gives a band their best gig ever--to mixed results. In other episodes, Glass profiles a late-in-life screenwriter, the stepson of a one-hit wonder, and a 14-year-old who's sworn off love. As quirky as these one-act movies sound, Glass and reporters Jorge Just, Nancy Updike, Nazanin Rafsanjani, and Alex Blumberg play up the universality of their subjects rather going for exploitation or easy laughs. They also leave it up to viewers to provide morals and conclusions (We never find out, for instance, whether the short featured in "Lights" makes it into the Sundance Film Festival). In each of the six half-hour programs, prologues or epilogues reinforce the theme, such as Chris Ware's animation about a childhood craze for fake TV cameras. Emmy voters presented This American Life with awards for outstanding non-fiction series and direction, while Showtime renewed the show for a second season. Bonus features include a photo gallery, a Glass biography, and commentary from Glass and director Christopher Wilcha on the pilot. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Ira Glass
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Showtime Ent.
  • DVD Release Date: September 23, 2008
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (372 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,481 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "This American Life - Season One" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Mig Jants on September 20, 2007
Format: DVD
Ira Glass and company have been producing the lovable radio show "This American Life" for years now. Fans of the radio show will undoubtedly be interested in the television show.

The show is masterfully photographed, and very well produced. I thought at first that if the television show was to be as effective as the radio show, it would be nearly impossible to produce, but apparently not so! Content-wise, it's very similar to the radio show. Every story follows a common narrative arc, but each story also features the unique setting that the radio show is known for. There's really little more to be said, especially if you are already a fan of the radio show. This is real American journalism focused on uncommon people who every day pass for common. Ira Glass and his show bring us these people's stories and do so with great artistry.

Often humorous, sometimes sad, but always interesting, "This American Life" is groundbreaking television!
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful By SORE EYES on February 22, 2008
Format: DVD
I'm continually impressed with Ira Glass as an editor, interviewer and now with his new Showtime programme, This American Life, TV host. I honestly can't believe how good this series is. I've watched every episode back to back twice and I'm still reeling.

Quite simply, this is reality television or what reality television should have been before it got commandeered by posers in constructed atmospheres. Have you ever thought about why it's called "Reality TV" when there isn't anything real about it? A bunch of people who would never meet up in real life are thrown together in a completely artificial situation-a house, an island-to compete for something equally artificial-a modeling contract, a million dollars. That's not real. This American Life is a hundred percent human, real, and down to earth all the time. The stories are forthright, touching, amazing.

It's a testament to Ira's skill as an interviewer that he somehow manages to find people and tell their stories without artifice-there isn't an ounce of cheese or a single turn of spin in any one of these stories. You don't hear Ira or his staff ask a lot of questions on camera, but he must be amazing at his job because he brings out the best in people. Also the camera shots in this series are outstanding. In one interview a 13 year old boy rallies against love while his red headed classmate floats dreamily though a field of grass. In another interview the viewers get to see Chance the Bull through the kitchen window of it's owner. It's beautiful. All of it. It's simply amazing. My husband and I were both teary eyed after several of these stories.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By James Hiller VINE VOICE on February 3, 2008
Format: DVD
.... was a question I'm sure many people asked when hearing that the most innovative, wonderful NPR radio program "This American Life" was going on television. It seemed almost impossible to believe that they would be taking their winning format and trying it out in a totally different medium. Would the intimacy that radio provides be possible on TV? Would seeing ruin the visuals the stories build in your heads? Rest assured, the show was in good, good hands and the result is a winning combination.

Host Ira Glass, with his nasally calm voice, introduces each week a theme, and spins stories on that theme from a wide pancea of possibilities, each a complete story within it's own, each adding to the examination of the question without ever directly answering it. The television show picks up the same concept, albeit in a shorter, half-hour version. More about this later.

The opening episode tells about reality, and two disparate stories (and one of the funniest introduction stories I ever heard) that you can possibly imagine. One about a tame bull named Chance and his unlikely offspring, and the other about a radical improv group in New York City. That's the beauty of Glass' radio show: taking these two stories, that literally happen in different worlds in our own country, and putting them together to make beautiful poetry. That's Glass' and the show's genius.

I found the show's visual aspects to not be a detractor, but to enhance the storytelling of the show. One segment in the second episode tells about a group of dastardly senior citizens deciding they were going to make a movie for Sundance. The story was definitely enhanced by seeing the woman who was selected playing the robber, a plastic mask covering her face, her hand shaking.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By DJ Joe Sixpack HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 13, 2008
Format: DVD
Like, oh so many of my geeky, nerdy kith and kin, I love listening to "This American Life" on NPR... Was there ever a better show to wash dishes to, or be stuck in traffic with? But when I heard it was being adapted to television, I confess I had my doubts. So much of the charm of radio is that, well... it's radio! It's a medium that engages your imagination in a way unlike any other... and how much of that ineffable, undefined charm would be taken out in a concretized, on-film version? Turns out -- no worries! The TV "This American Life" is every bit as odd and arresting as the audio version... Indeed, they recycle some of the same stories we've already heard on-air, but they are even weirder and kookier here. The format changes that do effect the content have more to do with length than with style: this is a half-hour show, and the stories are generally shorter and fewer, and the concept of a through-line for each show are a little less well-developed. Still, it's a great show, and Ira Glass and his pals sure know how to grab your attention. I've showed this to friends who have never heard the radio show, and their jaws dropped... they couldn't believe how addictive this was. Definitely worth checking out. (Joe Sixpack, Slipcue film reviews)
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