CHARLES KURALT and his ON THE ROAD "lifetime achievement" is, simply put, pure fun. The best way to describe "ON THE ROAD WITH CHARLES KURALT" is repeating the title. For those who remember watching the segments on CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite, this is nostalgia at its peak. For those too young or anyone who somehow missed all of the weekly segments over the 20 years, this is a slice of perhaps the best reporting ever broadcast on TV. It is nostalgic in segments from early days because of the dress of the Americans interviewed. Never, however, out of date. Kuralt, amazingly, shows some sign of aging from one to another story, but not what you'd expect over the 20 year span. He was as timeless as the stories he found along the by-ways of Americana. The common man's poet.
Kuralt and team wore out six motor homes over the years beginning in 1967, when CBS gave Kuralt a 3-month "trial" of his "On the Road" journalism idea. Only the reporter's death would end the famous and enjoyable good-news segment weekly awaited upon by millions of Americans. It helps one forget troubles and simply enjoy moments in America that are centered around ordinary people. Why was it not duplicated? It is so perfect, who would dare try mimicking Kuralt's award winning achievement?
It is funny at times because of the oddity that is being reported or the way Kuralt has of presenting it. It is often quite heart-warming, touching, and home-spun. It is, upon occasion, patriotic, not political--there is a huge difference and Kuralt knew it. Sometimes it shares a life-time achievement of an individual that made a difference only in his/her own neighborhood, never flashy stars. Athletic achievement is in the form of people, like the 104 year old man who out ran almost everybody in town, including Kuralt when he visited. Amazing at time. Historical at others. Surprising. Challenging. Intellectual once in a while and informative always. A reviewer could come up with a superlative for every segment of every episode. Let's just leave it as history has done and simply say this set is "On the Road with Charles Kuralt."
The numbers: 1 set, 3 DVDs, 18 21-min. episodes (all with subtitles), 76 different stories, 378 minutes. We planned on watching an episode a day but couldn't do it. Enjoyment kept us going at the pace of a DVD a day. Extras of updates on some segments, On the Road history, and Charles Kuralt bio.
The cover states "Set 1" so there is hope that Set 2 will one-day be produced.
This DVD content was 20 years in the making thus the box statement of "Due to the age of these programs and the improved resolution that DVD provides, you may notice occasional flaws in the image and audio on this DVD presentation that were beyond our ability to correct from the original materials." It's hardly noticeable and not a problem, the program's too enjoyable.
As C.K. says: "We've heard about a story up the road here, but we kind of hope we never get there. With luck, we'll stumble upon something more interesting along the way. I can see the road is bending--wonder what's around the bend."
Episode 1- Blenheim Ginger Ale, Golden Gate Bridge Workers, Bicycle Man
2 Super Shoe Salesman, Down-Home Remedies, 80-Year-Old Cook, Unique Mailbox Posts
3 American Citizen, Blowing Bubbles, Junk-Mail Heat, Simplify
4 Domino Theory, Old Advertisements, Building Wooden Boats, Roadside Shangri-la
5 Kentucky Croquet-Playing Field, "Black Diamond" Private Railcar, "Twidd", The Circus Bandleader
6 Whistle-Stop Ride, Toothpick Artist, National Weather Survey
7 All-Night Library, Life on the Bayou, Living in a Small Town
8 Lady Mayor, Bullfighter, Wind Symphony, Carousels, Shipbuilders of Maine
9 Interstate 80, Farming and Fishing in Kansas, Greek Sponge-Fisherman, Bishop of Spokane, Volkswagens
10 Piney Woods Thoreau, Coffee Cups, Wheat Harvest, Cadillac Ranch, Nebraska: Bountiful Desert
11 Abraham Lincoln's Hometown, Hummingbirds, Maple Sugar, Woman Driver, Mayor of Duncan
12 Dowser, One-Room Schoolhouse, Brick Maker, Cable Cars, Iowa
13 Mushrooms, Covered Bridges, Turkey Trot, Kite Man, Montana: Little Big Horn
14 104-Year-Old Man, Cymbals Factory, Sleighs, California: The Mission Trail
15 Chicken Man, Idaho, The River of No Return, Man Who Waves at Traffic
16 Pauli Murray, Delta Queen, Street Vendor, Colorado Prospectors
17 Stone Skipping, New Mexico: Atomic Bomb, Pothole Festival, Greenup H.S. Cheerleaders, Crop Artist
18 Bike Messenger, Lace Making, Cicadas, Capitals of the World, South Dakota: Cowboys of Deadwood
Emmy-winning joy from start to finish. For all ages and worthy of school and library shelves.