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Who Do You Think You Are?: Season 1

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Who Do You Think You Are?: Season 1 + WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? SEASON 2 (US version) + Finding Your Roots
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

As seen on NBC

Stars trace their family roots through history
"Fascinating" --The New York Times

"Brings history alive in a way rarely seen on television … satisfying emotional journeys" --The Philadelphia Inquirer

To know who you are, you have to know where you came from. In this fascinating reality series, seven celebrities share their life-altering discoveries. Working with genealogists, historians, and researchers, they travel the world to uncover the secrets and surprises in their family trees.

Sarah Jessica Parker’s (Sex and the City) search leads back to the Salem witch trials. Dallas Cowboys legend Emmitt Smith follows his slave ancestors to Benin. Lisa Kudrow (Friends) learns the truth of her great-grandmother’s fate in the Holocaust. Tony® winner Matthew Broderick (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Glory) traces his family to battlefields in France and America. Brooke Shields (Suddenly Susan) unearths her royal connections. Oscar® winner Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking) explores the racy life of her grandmother. And Emmy® -winning director Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X) meets a relative he didn’t know he had.

Intriguing, moving, and ultimately uplifting, this series proves that genealogy is more than a pastime. It’s a journey through history that changes everything.

Amazon.com

Genealogy ranges from a parlor game to an obsessive pursuit for people yearning to find their roots. In the age of the Internet, interest and availability have increased dramatically for even the most casual investigation into ancestry and answers to that nagging question of the soul, Where did I come from? American television picked up the Who Do You Think You Are? franchise after programs with the same name and format were a hit in Britain, Ireland, and Australia, and this two-disc set represents the first season that appeared on NBC in 2010 (season two premiered in February 2011). The series follows seven celebrities as they trace a family line back three or more generations, ostensibly showing us the commonality of experience and profound sense of connection that comes with understanding the path of life that led you where you are. The stories are undeniably moving, even if the sentimentality sometimes feels forced and the manipulation of emotion a little heavy-handed. Included in the season's stories are actors Lisa Kudrow (one of the show's producers), Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, Brooke Shields, and Susan Sarandon, as well as filmmaker Spike Lee and former NFL star Emmitt Smith.

Each episode unfolds with a stylish flair of mystery and includes moments of drama that are often genuinely moving as these famous faces all but melt when they make their individual discoveries. The journeys take each subject on lengthy field trips. Susan Sarandon makes a jaunt to Italy; Mathew Broderick travels to a World War I cemetery in France and Civil War battlefields in the Deep South; Lisa Kudrow discovers a painful family history in Belarus and Poland; and Spike Lee uncovers roots in the red clay of Georgia. The mini-documentary sagas are juiced with VIP celebrity treatment and ease of access to information that would probably take regular people months to track down. The subjects receive privileged entrée to top experts who have clearly done a lot of legwork in researching old paper records, microfilm, and computer scans. And the drama is often laid on a little thick as key documents are presented with a this-is-your-life flourish at key moments in the middle of historic settings. Invariably there are tears of emotion that the camera grabs onto with a schmaltz that sometimes borders on shameless. Nevertheless, the tears you find welling up at these poignant scenes may well be your own. (As a side note, you'll want to keep your finger ready on the fast-forward: the episodes are heavily padded with "coming up" spoilers and rehashes of what you've already seen on each side of the original commercial breaks.) --Ted Fry


Special Features

SDH subtitles

Product Details

  • Actors: Lisa Kudrow, Sarah Jessica Parker, Emmitt Smith
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Acorn Media
  • DVD Release Date: March 15, 2011
  • Run Time: 293 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003VYCK1E
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,759 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By David S. Graham on January 11, 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I am an amateur genealogist and I do love the UK series because of the stories that unfold and the tips on genealogy work. A USA version is a great idea, I mean the format is already a proven success in the UK so it must be a similarly good show for a USA version right? WRONG. There are several issues in the USA production that make this version almost unbearable to watch. This DVD has been taken straight (unedited) from the TV screenings, In a really frustrating trend that seems to be the norm in the USA producers feel that the viewers, having sat through a commercial break, have forgotten what they saw before the break and need to re-watch half of what they just saw. Personally I don't think americans have such a short attention span but most americans I know are academically oriented so maybe the general population does forget what they just watched before a commercial break. So there may be a reason for the constant re-visitations when shown on TV, but on a DVD without commercials? It just gets plain frustrating and almost unwatchable. Furthermore, the constant re-hashing of already seen footage means that a 45 minute show in reality only has about 30 minutes of original footage. Not good value for viewing or purchasing! Another annoying habit is to indirectly tell the viewers what is coming after the commercial break but try and make it sound like a mystery. Example.. in one episode the narrator tells the viewers the star will head to the fields of France in search of a missing relative. What will she discover? Well duh, obviously the relative was killed in WW1 so where's the mystery? In fact, why bother watching it when you know what she will discover.
So in summary, it gets 2 stars for the few limited genealogical tips it presents but otherwise this show is poorly presented, low on original content and very frustrating to watch if you have any sort of half-decent memory.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Michael B. Druxman on January 20, 2011
Format: DVD
In this seven-episode one-hour NBC-TV documentary series, seven popular celebrities (Sarah Jessica Parker, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Broderick, Brooke Shields, Susan Sarandon, director Spike Lee and football star Emmitt Smith) look back through time, exploring their ancestral histories and sharing their life-altering discoveries.

WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? plays like a fascinating mystery, as stars travel cross-country and, in some cases, across the globe to learn the stories of their ancestors.

Sarah Jessica Parker, for example, not only discovers that one of her ancestors took part in the California Gold Rush, but that another was accused in, yet survived, the infamous Salem witch trials.

In a later episode, her husband, Matthew Broderick, learns that his grandfather was a WW1 hero and that his great, great grandfather fought at Gettysburg.

Dallas Cowboys' legend Emmitt Smith traces his roots back to the days of slavery, and even journeys to Africa where his family originated.

In what is certainly the most heart-wrenching episode, Lisa Kudrow, who is also one of the series' executive producers, traces her father's family back to Europe where she learns the horrifying facts of how her great grandmother was murdered by the Nazis, but she also meets a distant cousin who managed to escape the Holocaust.

Discoveries made by Brooke Shields, Susan Sarandon and Spike Lee are equally fascinating.

Aside from being entertaining, this documentary series is also a helpful "how to" guide for viewers who might wish to explore their own ancestral roots. The various historians explain how old census records and visits to libraries can serve as an invaluable starting point for a search into one's past.
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Format: DVD
This is the U.S. version of a TV show that originated in England (and is still running there in its 8th season). The 2nd season in the US began airing last February. As you will see by some of the previous reviews, each episode follows a celebrity as they seek out info on their ancestors. A similar show ran on PBS last year and I reviewed that set on Amazon as well. This "commercial TV" version (it aired on NBC) has enough "quirks" for me to give it only four stars, but that shouldn't dissuade you from watching it. There are some fascinating stories to tell.

Of the seven celebrities here, two are husband and wife Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker. Each, however, takes a separate journey to learn about their relatives. Another two (Actor/Director Spike Lee and Dallas Cowboy's player Emmitt Smith) are black and are able to trace their families back to slaves - though there are surprises there.
One of the celebrities is a "Friends" alumnus Lisa Kudrow, who is one of the Executive Producers and may have been instrumental in getting the others to join the project.

There is an obvious "product placement" here with each person eventually using the commercial genealogy site Ancestry.com It's listed as a sponsor at the end as well. There is nothing wrong with this, but viewers should be made aware that the service costs $69.95/year plus extra for images of U.S. census records. It is not a free service. But this is only if the show encourages you to research your family heritage through this method. It has no impact on the stories we see in the series.

My personal favorite episodes were those with Susan Sarandon, Parker and Broderick but you'll find your own.

The reason for my giving this DVD only four stars is due to the editing.
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