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Another Bill Moyers TV-on-DVD set of interviews from the late 80s? Where do we sign....?!
Acorn Media / 518 Minutes / 1988 / Unrated / Street Date: October 16, 2012
Smart people talking about themselves can get boring, but when interviewer Bill Moyers really hammers some interesting issues, A World of Ideas II: Great Thinkers takes off. It doesn't happen as often as many viewers may prefer - there are dull spots on this three-disc set - but Moyers is ultimately dependable: when he picks the right interview subject and gets the pot a-stirrin', the results are fascinating.
And compared to the first installment of A World of Ideas, Moyers throws the net pretty wide here: physicist Chen Ning Yang is here alongside Noam Chomsky, and Jonas Salk and ethicist Sissela Bok each get some screen time, as well. Moyers does an admirably well-researched job of getting into the nitty-gritty of these subjects' processes and strategies, frequently engaging them in strikingly informative conversation.
But one can't shake the fact that a set like A World of Ideas II: Great Thinkers is more a classroom appendix than an entertaining DVD entity. Moyers' knowledge and direction as a journalist is undeniable, but sometimes a great interviewer can't get sturdy material out of a lukewarm subject, and that is the case a number of times on this DVD set. Fans of Moyers will likely find magic within specific interview segments, but unless you have a grand desire for at least one of the subjects featured in this set, you might want to let this second World of Ideas pass you by.