Last night, the premiere episode of Season 2 of Who Do You Think You Are? aired on NBC here in Chicago at 7:00 PM CST (after which I conducted a two-hour radio show. More about that in a bit!). The episode starred Vanessa Williams and the audience followed along as she traced her ancestors from New York to Tennessee and other parts of the United States.
- PLUS: I was so happy to see that NBC and the producers listened to the genealogical community (at least I hope so) and removed the inane recaps after the show returned from a commercial. My big complaint last season for WDYTYA was that you could come in at the last 20 minutes and understand everything that was going on. Also, it seemed to reduce a one-hour show to less than 30 minutes of actually viewing time.
- MINUS: the "coming ups" are still there but they seemed less annoying and less noticeable. Perhaps I watch too much PBS and other television with little or no commercials and thus I am spoiled.
- PLUS: I greatly appreciated the overall "tone" of the episode in terms of being serious about genealogy and family history research. Perhaps it was Williams using a notebook and taking notes. But there was less of that "poof" here are your records and here is your family tree. It appeared more realistic and you could actually sense the excitement when discoveries were made. Let's hope this seriousness carries through to all the episodes.
- MINUS: Williams sat down to do a search on Ancestry.com and BAM!
she found what she wanted. I wished they had prefaced that with some realistic information - this doesn't have to detract from the Ancestry.com databases but more serious genealogists know that it takes time, effort and good search skills to find what is needed.
- PLUS: The stories of Williams' ancestors were engaging and I appreciate the fact that they selected an African-American woman to start off the series during Black History Month. I also greatly appreciate the Civil War tie-ins since the American Civil War will be at the forefront of US genealogy for the next five years due to the 150th anniversary of that conflict.
- MINUS: During the media call about the episode (I participated in the call on January 24, 2011), Williams did say that some of what they discovered during the research was not depicted in the show due to time constraints. If there is such footage, it would be nice if NBC could post snippets at the WDYTYA website or perhaps incorporate it as a special feature in the DVD set of Season 2.
© 2011, copyright Thomas MacEntee