As a fan of travel, history, and documentaries, I knew a title like America’s Treasures was right up my alley. It’s a 12-part documentary series produced for Mill Creek Entertainment that features 27 different United States National Monuments, National Historic Sites, National Seashores, and National Parks from well-known ones like Dinosaur National Monument and Mount Rushmore to more obscure ones I had never heard of like De Soto National Memorial and Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site. As a person who would eventually like to visit many of these monuments but hasn’t been able to yet, this was a pretty good way to experience them right now from the comfort of my home.
The 12 documentaries and 27 national monuments featured on this release are:
- Fossil Worlds (27:01)-Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument and Dinosaur National Monument
- Ancient Cemeteries (26:48)-Effigy Mounds National Monument and Mound City Group National Monument (aka Hopewell Culture National Historic Park)
- The Anasazi Homeland (26:59)-Bandelier National Monument and Canyon de Chelly National Monument
- The Fur Trade (26:24)-Fort Vancouver National Historic Site and Grand Portage National Monument
- Subtropical Florida (25:37)-Canaveral National Seashore and De Soto National Memorial
- The Great Indian Wars (25:58)-Fort Bowie National Historic Site, Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site, and Fort Laramie National Historic Site
- Symbols of Liberty (25:31)-Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Statue of Liberty National Monument
- Road to Equality (26:30)-Booker T. Washington National Monument and Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site
- The Incredible Pacific Coast (25:49)-California Coastal National Monument, Redwood National and State Parks, and Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve
- Canyon Country (27:01)-Colorado National Monument and Black Canyon of the Gunnison
- The Southern Rockies (25:37)-Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve and Pecos National Historical Park
- Monuments That Became Great Parks (25:58)-Olympic National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, and Grand Teton National Park
All of these documentaries feature two or three different national monuments and are broken into two different segments per monument: a “virtual tour” and either a history and culture or science and nature section. Experts and workers at the monuments/parks are often interviewed to provide some more information on the sites. For example, in “Fossil Worlds” one of the park experts goes into great detail talking about the various dinosaurs on the “Wall of Bones.” Other documentaries deal more with the flora and fauna of the region. Some of the documentaries are split pretty much 50-50 while others mostly focus on one of the two monuments and the second only gets a few minutes of time (usually these are the smaller, more obscure ones that don’t really have a lot to talk about anyway).
Now that I’ve described what America’s Treasures is, the next question to answer is whether or not it is worth purchasing. While I did enjoy the documentary series, it certainly isn’t perfect and of course a release like this is mainly for a pretty small niche (travel documentary fans, especially those interested in history as well). There are a lot of things to like, the series includes some pretty great original music by David Arkenstone, a lot of the footage is gorgeous, and most of the episodes are overall pretty interesting. However, there are a few negatives as well. First of all, while this isn’t a huge shock the narrator (Alphonse Keasley) is kind of boring. The reason this isn’t a surprise is that the narrators for documentaries like this are almost always boring so it really isn’t anything unique to America’s Treasures. The bigger negative is that the documentaries aren’t very consistent. Some of them are super interesting and feature gorgeous locales (for example “Fossil Worlds” and “The Anasazi Homeland”) while others focus on less spectacular monuments that will only be interesting to certain people (“Ancient Cemeteries” and “Subtropical Florida” are good examples). However, even the weaker episodes are still fine, just a bit more on the dull side.
America’s Treasures is the type of documentary series that you will definitely want to watch on Blu-ray if at all possible. Our national monuments and parks are absolutely gorgeous and good video quality is very important to showcase their beauty. I would say the video quality for the Blu-ray set is pretty darn good but not perfect due to one small issue, which certainly isn’t a deal breaker. That issue is that America’s Treasures occasionally uses things like archive videos, photos, paintings, maps, etc. that look a bit blurry on the Blu-ray version. However, these issues are pretty sparse and 99% of the footage looks great. While this release is also available on DVD, because of the subject matter, I would definitely recommend buying the Blu-ray version if you plan on purchasing it (it’s only a few dollars more expensive anyway). No bonus features are included on either release of America’s Treasures.
Obviously a title like America’s Treasures is not for everyone. However, as a fan of travel, history, and documentaries I happen to fit perfectly into its target audience. For people like me who are interested in travel documentaries (especially if you have an interest in national monuments), I would say it is definitely worth a purchase. There are a few things I would change about the release but overall America’s Treasures kept my interest and I enjoyed my time watching it. However, if you aren’t into travel documentaries this really isn’t the title for you. Recommended for fans of travel documentaries only.
America’s Treasures releases on January 16, 2018 on Blu-ray and DVD.
We would like to thank Mill Creek Entertainment for the review copy of America’s Treasures used for this review. Other than receiving the review copy we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation. Receiving the review copy had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.