Tuesday, September 16, 2014


A black TV screen.

ANNOUNCER (VOICE-OVER): Coming soon to PBS, a new series from acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns -- a portrait of a simple man who would go on to become a world icon...

GEORGE WILL: Without a doubt, he is proof, if any is needed, of the flexibility of the American way of life.

BILL AYERS: He's the ultimate symbol of out-of-control capitalism: do as your masters tell you, then get thrown in the trash at the first sign of decay.

STANLEY CROUCH: His skin color, see, means a lot to us as kids -- here's a guy with brown skin who owns a car, a house in the suburbs, and is completely accepted in the white man's world.

Fade up on...

ANNOUNCER (VOICE-OVER): M. Potato Head: the ultimate blank slate. 


ANNOUNCER (VOICE-OVER): From his humble beginnings in 1952...

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY: Kids in the '50s who are teased as "dumb as a sack of potatoes" now have a real potato,who's smart, successful, funny and, most important, proud. Mr. Potato Head isn't shy, you know.

DAVID MCCULLOUGH: A reporter asks him, "Mr. Potato Head, are you the new Mickey Mouse?" And he replies, "Hell, no! I'm the new Mr. Potato Head!" (grandfatherly chuckle)

ANNOUNCER (VOICE OVER): ...to an unlikely anchor of stability in the '60s...

(Fast cuts of counter-culture figures)

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY (VOICE-OVER): Everywhere, kids are growing their hair and taking drugs, and anti-war protests are on TV every night. And parents are saying to their kids, "You should be like Mr. Potato Head, he has a job and a home and a family."

ANNOUNCER (VOICE-OVER): ... to the unknown drama at home...

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN: Can you imagine how distressing it is for his wife, who's just as clever as him, to be dismissed as merely "second potato"?

Cut to:

MERYL STREEP (VOICE-OVER): While I am proud of my husband, I am sometimes tired of seeing the world only from my kitchen window, while his view is from a sporty blue convertible.

Cut to:

EDWARD HERRMAN (VOICE-OVER): October 24, 1961. My dearest Mrs. Potato Head. While I am out here on this seemingly-endless publicity junket, always remember that you are the reason I got to where I am, and that I only have eyes -- several of them, in fact, along with noses, ears and mouths -- for you. Your loving husband, Mr. Potato Head.

DAVID BRINKLEY: Think about it. He goes from organic, to plastic, to digital Disney icon. That's the American dream.

ANNOUNCER: (VOICE-OVER):  Mr. Potato Head: More Than Skin Deep. Another interminable Ken Burns documentary series where the same people you've seen a dozen other times before speak in the present tense about the past, and read someone else's personal correspondence. Coming soon to PBS.


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