Ultimately your attitude to the BBC's 2011 documentary Understanding Art: Impressionism will depend upon your reaction to its omnipresent writer, director, and narrative host, Sunday Times art critic, Waldemar Januszcak. The four-episode documentary (now available in the U.S. for the first time from Athena) about the major art movement of the 19th century is dominated by Januszcak. If you cut out all the footage of him trudging breathlessly up hills and rocks and steps, gallivanting around to the current sites featured in Impressionist painting, eating baguettes, and striking poses, you could probably eliminate at least one of those episodes.
It's not that he doesn't speak with authority, nor even that he lacks all charm, it is simply that he completely dominates the series. With few exceptions he avoids gathering the usual talking heads that provide commentary in the typical documentary, and does it all himself. For all intents and purposes, his voice is the only voice you hear, and after four episodes (not to mention the bonus material) his voice and its breathless tics get a bit old—at least as far as this viewer is concerned. One more shot of him lumbering through the countryside tracing the steps of Monet or posing on the river bank in imitation of a Seurat idler in the afternoon, and I'm ready to shout: "Enough Waldemar." At the very least I find him distracting, at worst self absorbed.
On the other hand when he does focus on the artists and their work, he can be both informative, illuminating, even entertaining in small doses. The first episode, "The Gang of Four," looks at the work of Pissarro, Bazille, Monet and Renoir. It emphasizes the radical change their paintings signaled from the conventional academic style dominating the art establishment. Episode 2 takes the painters to "The Great Outdoors," explaining how new developments in artistic equipment like paint squeezed into tubes, portable paint kits and folding easels enabled the painters to get out of the studio and into the city and the countryside.