While I was not able to attend the Buffalo, NY pre-screening of Sarah Palin's Alaska tonight, my friend Lori Brenneman, one of Governor Palin's most ardent supporters, did attend and was gracious enough to write this review for me to share:
Having just come from a pre-screening of Sarah Palin's Alaska, I must start by saying that this is a true feel-good series. It was fun. And that, I believe, is the intent here.
Those who watch the series hoping to get inside Sarah Palin's head and find out what makes her Sarah Palin will, instead, discover that it is a travelogue. It is precisely what Sarah Palin maintained all along that it would be.
Not that there aren't glimpses into the family life of the Palins. There are a number of them, all pleasing in their authenticity. Sarah Palin seemed completely at ease allowing viewers to see family moments that were less than perfect. I sensed an audible enthusiasm from audience members around me, an appreciation that Gov. Palin kept those snapshots of her family life real.
For the most part, viewers were treated to a breathtaking adventure. From a segment with the Palin family fishing near grizzly bears, to Gov. Palin negotiating a climb up a steep glacier (despite a readily admitted fear of heights), it was an engaging episode that really got the audience involved. There was a sense of being taken along on the fishing trip, in the motorhome, in the float plane. The Alaskan scenery was stunning. Watching the Governor, her husband Todd, and their children share experiences in the great outdoors was thoroughly enjoyable.
In the midst of all of the outdoor activities, Gov. Palin, with Todd's help, filmed a segment for Bill O'Reilly in a studio a mere twenty feet from their home. This elicited laughs from the audience as Gov. Palin obviously struggled for one uninterrupted sentence, not an easy feat if you are familiar with Bill O'Reilly.
Although Gov. Palin has lived in Alaska her entire life, she approached each adventure with an undimmed first-time enthusiasm that was wonderfully refreshing. It was truly contagious. The atmosphere in the theatre gave me the sense that the audience wished they could be there, sharing the excitement of the fishing, the climbing, the flying. Alaska's native daughter drew us all in, and we were happy to be there with her.
It left me, and my companions, looking forward to the next episode with great anticipation. Sarah Palin's Alaska is good. Incredibly good. This is a show that families can watch together and honestly enjoy, from the youngest children to the older adults. It seems like a minor stroke of genius that Discovery Channel has come up with something that will appeal to most everyone.
This evening's screening played to a house that, while not packed, certainly had more persons in attendance than some "blockbuster" films I have seen. And tonight's audience clearly liked what they saw.
Seven more episodes? Bring 'em on. Two thumbs up to Discovery Channel for a job well done. And we owe the Palins a debt of gratitude for this endearing and genuine look into their Alaska.
Afterword: Leaving the theatre was not the end of the evening. As we stepped back into the lobby, we were presented with a black plush grizzly bear and a packet of color postcards depicting scenes from the episode we had been shown.
In conclusion, I believe that each person who attended had the good fortune to take away something rare and unique from Sarah Palin's Alaska.
Lori provides a great review of this early screening. She also shared with me other little delights and surprises of the evening, but I won't give them away! Be sure to tune in for the premiere Sunday.