So maybe you’re thinking about a change in lifestyle, possibly something drastic.
Not to worry. In addition two a “Baby Jessica” story (shown here), a brief CNN series – 9-10 p.m. ET on the next two Saturdays – offers opposite choices:
1) Sell the house and get an RV. Go everywhere; do everything. Just remember to write online reviews.
2) Take the opposite approach; go nowhere, do nothing. Get a bunker, suitable for any catastrophe.
3) Or acquire a new skill; underwater archaeology would be fine.
All of those are part of a fresh approach for CNN, offering half-sized bites.
For documentaries, TV tends to be all-or-nothing – either a full hour (or a two-hour movie) or a brief report inside a newscast. But now CNN has linked with Scheme Engine, a minority-owned business that is producing the four films, each a half-hour counting commercials.
With the exception of the opener (a look back at the “Baby Jessica” story), each basically has first-person accounts of people who make unusual life choices. That can work well (as it does in a July 31 film) or can be a bit monotonous (as it sometimes is in both Aug. 7 ones). The films are:
– “58 Hours: The Baby Jessica Story” (July 31). In 1987, 18-month-old Jessica McClure fell into a narrow well in her aunt’s backyard, in Midland, Texas. The rescue attempt would require a parallel shaft, then a connecting tunnel that a slim firefighter could squeeze through. Somehow, it worked.
“58 Hours” tells of the two-and-a-half day ordeal, bringing sudden joy (shown here, as Jessica is rescued) and lingering tragedy. It also tells of the rise of the 24-hour news cycle. CNN, which started in 1980, had been fairly successful. Then this story seize attention, a trend repeated with O.J. Simpson, the Gulf War and more.
– “Super Reviewers: Rate, Review, Repeat” (July 31). Who are the people writing those Internet reviews? This film meets three contrasting ones.
Tony Chen used to race to every new Los Angeles eatery, rushing his review onto Yelp. Antoinette Powell simply has things arrive at her door; she writes reviews (positive ones, one assumes) for Amazon and keeps the things. But the third is the most fascinating.
After having a comfortable corporate income, Denise Barclay ditched it all, bought a big RV and began roaming the country with her boyfriend. She samples life at a blitz pace, writing instant reviews for Google Maps. This seems like an odd choice – until you notice how delighted she is; for her, at least, the mobile life seems like a revelation.
– “The Bunker Boom: Better Safe Than Sorry” (Aug. 7). Now for the exact opposite: Here is an immobile life, burrowed underground.
The people we meet aren’t preparing for any specific disaster, they just feel something bad might happen. So they live in converted military bunkers in South Dakota. The kids say it’s kinds boring, the adults say it’s reassuring. They come across as calm and normal folks, living abnormal lives.
– “Lessons from the Water: Diving With a Purpose” (Aug. 7).
Amid the horrors of the slave trade, there was an additional threat: Almost 500 voyages, we’re told, were shipwrecked. Now Black scuba divers try to fill holes in the historical record.
Like “Bunker Boom,” this depends on a few people talking into the camera. They soon become monotone – and in this one, tend to repeat themselves. Still, they have an interesting story to tell — and a special setting to tell it in.