Being someone with a somewhat unusual last name, I have often wondered about my family history and where it came from. Due to my natural apathy, I have only got as far as a brief Google search (apparently a corruption of my name is responsible for a road name). It's nice to know that with the help of a documentary production team, researchers and several professionals, you can get a lot further as seen in Who Do You Think You Are?
Who Do You Think You Are? is a series originally made for Britain, remade for the U.S. by Lisa Kudrow (who appears in the third episode). The DVD of the American series first season has come into my critical crosshairs today.
The idea is that celebrities use genealogy and Ancestry.com (featured very prominently in the show as you might expect, complete with awkward handheld camera shots, due to their sponsorship of the show) to find information about their lost ancestors. There is usually a rather (attentive readers, take a shot now) flimsy family-history-based pretext for why they're doing research into this particular time, as detailed below.
The most striking thing about this American series is how different it is for me from the television and DVDs I'm used to as a Brit, although this may be because I mainly watch BBC stuff. Where hour-long BBC programmes are written with no advertising breaks in mind (which makes them rather awkward to edit for the cable channel Dave), U.S. programmes have them by the truckload, if this series is anything to go by.
In the name of research, I sat down with a notepad while watching one of the episodes to track useless content. Under "useless content", I counted the closing credits, the series trailer that opens each episode (this is distinct from the opening credits as it serves as an introduction to the series, thus it is unnecessary on a DVD), the precaps and recaps that open each segment of the show ("coming up" and "before the break" respectively).
For the "Brooke Shields" episode, I got a 40:43 run time, during which there were 10 caps of both varieties and varying in length (the shorter ones occurred when not much happened after the break), a 1 minute and 30 second series trailer and a 1 minute and 15 seconds combination of the episode trailer and the opening credits. All in all, I worked out that there were a staggering seven minutes of filler content, 25 if you include the 18 minutes of adverts that would've been there during the original airing.