I collect American railway models, so I found especially interesting, as the director usually makes sure that something is going on in the background when the presenter is standing around speaking to camera, and I could see many of my models in their natural habitat.
The presenter, Matt Brown, is an American railway conductor by trade, whose hobby is railways, and therefore is enthusiastic about what he is presenting, and therefore may come across as annoying to some un-American viewers. Most of the amateur railway DVDs I have seen, if not all of them, are appallingly amateur compared to this series, in terms of quality and especially presenter. This chap is certainly not Michael Portillo (which is not necessarily a bad thing), but these programmes concentrate on the trains and not just the places they take you to. He and his cameraman are quite happy to crawl around underneath the locomotives to follow the inspection crews, and even get inside the firebox of a steam loco to clean it, and even to rivet one under construction. And I doubt you'd get Mr Portillo cleaning the crew toilet on one of the big diesels, or mucking out the elephant car on a circus train.
The 45-minute programmes included in the 6-DVD set are - Steam Train - a preserved 4-8-4 on a steam special from Denver to Cheyenne High Speed Train - the Acela 150mph high-speed train on a run from Washington to Boston Transcontinental - a freight service on the Union Pacific's Omaha to Sacramento line Ice Cold Express - the UP's Produce Express, a purpose-built refrigerated train running fruit & veg from Seattle to Schenectady, NY Circus Train - on the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey's very own train, moving the circus from Baltimore to Washington DC overnight. Coal Train - hauling a daily 14,000 ton coal train over the Allegheny Mountains from the coal mine to a power station There are two 10-minute sections of extra footage included as well.
There are stop-offs en route in each episode, looking at railway-related places and things of interest; it is not just a cab-ride. Once you get used to the presenter, it really is a very interesting series, and I would like to see more.
The only thing extreme about these DVD's was their hopelessness! I could not have imagined the absolutely mind bogglingly patronising commentary and the production was worse than an intelligent three year old's commentary on its birthday party! The one thing I can say with certaintity is that I shan't be watching them again. Look out charity shop, here they come.