MSRP: $24.99
RATED: Unrated
RUNNING TIME: 56 minutes

  • Extra Interviews

The Pitch

It’s like Devil in the White City, but only about the guy building stuff. And mostly about his life as a civil engineer.

The Nutshell

Make No Little Plans is the story of Daniel Burnham. Burnham was one of America’s greatest civil engineers. He helped plan The White City for The Chicago World’s Fair and was  the creator of America’s first skyscrapers. In his later years he helped plan Washington D.C.’s modern Mall and an entire city in the Philippines. His vision of a beautiful, green (their buzzword, not mine) cityscape is still an inspiration to modern city planners for its forward thinking and socially conscious aesthetic.

“That drawing of Zelda Fitzgerald is quite risqué, good sir. I say, bravo.”

The Lowdown

If you’ve read The Devil in the White City, you’ve already learned the interesting stuff about architect Daniel Burnham. Make No Little Plans is more concerned with civil engineering than serial killers and Burnham’s grand vision. Awesome, thrill inducing civil engineering. Edge of your seat stories of city councils and proper placement of parks. PBS is a fantastic service that does exactly what it does really well. Publicly funded educational television is an indispensable service in the United States, and we don’t have nearly as much as we should. Okay, now that I’ve said everything I can to cover my liberal ass; PBS is boring. Talking heads, letters read in painfully slow motion, and a general monotone, scholarly take on history are great for people who are already interested in the subject, but it does nothing to grab the viewer ignorant of the history being explored. The very people that the show would benefit the most. PBS wants to educate the masses, and goddamn, they should. But they need to MTV this shit first.

“Thing is, in order to look like Saul Rubinek you have to look a little like Joel Silver.”

Just hear me out, because they already had a story with a serial killer in it. A crazy, fucked up serial killer that did nasty CSI shit to innocent people. CSI: Miami is smart enough to use fucked up serial killers all the goddamn time, and it has 1993’s sexiest man alive taking off his sunglasses, a lot. Add in underdressed extras and a score from a Van Halen cover band, and you have a hit for America. PBS didn’t even have the decency to have underdressed interview subjects, and most of them had gray hair and used big words. Not to mention the serial killer (who had a tangential relationship to Burnham, at best) is never even brought up. That’s why this civil engineering documentary wasn’t top of the Nielson ratings. They are behind the times, they were the last Television station to feature a Members Only jacket next to a suped up Vette, and only two years ago on a program about Thai farmers.This is not acceptable in a post Beverly Hills 90210 remake world, and I think it’s time for PBS to step up. In Make No Little Plans they include interviews with people who aren’t forced to live in the same small place together, and they aren’t angry, for some reason. And for PBS to really teach our children, they need angry yelling and gossip. It’s PBS though, so it’s all about the learning. Drunken yelling and education are just passing strangers for most networks. That’s a simple fix; five topless civil engineers move into a tiny apartment in Cleveland and are forced to complete Daniel Burnham related minigames, and solve a murder, in order to win plastic surgery. There, I took the same subject and just educated millions on it. Also, tons of money from the Fast Five sponsorship. PBS, your budget problem is solved.

I agree, whether or not Eazy-E enjoyed Yoo-Hoo is the most important question.
But, until PBS comes around to the objectification of women and energy drink product placement, we’re stuck with intelligent programming that feature a complete lack of “bros”. By selling this 56 minute program for 25 dollars in a non-anamorphic transfer, they are calling for sides. They are placing a shitty product in front of us and asking if it is the content that really matters. If we value a somewhat dry scholarly discussion of a subject from experts in the field or if we want to see a girl with a name that sounds like a Muppet have amped up, conceited sex with a human Mountain Dew ad. Do we want to learn about something that may be a little antiqued to us uneducated masses, or do we want to watch former celebrities dance for our amusement? There is a definite divide here, and the educational services that PBS provides are in danger. Imminent danger that not even a Girls Gone Wild marathon can save. It’s not one of those things yet, donate now before Sesame Street is sponsored by the letters AT and T, but it is getting close. Don’t cast your vote by buying Make No Little Plans unless you are interested in the subject (civil engineering, fuck yeah), but pay the twenty five dollars for something PBS funded that interest you. It’s a hefty fee, and the value doesn’t really come from pure entertainment, but it’s a kind of educational program that you won’t find anywhere else on television. And that is worth something. Or not. I really want to see NatGeo hosted by a wild Nick Nolte.
The Package

They decided to grace the disc with more sponsors than a church basement on Wednesday nights and a non-anamorphic transfer. Oh and because they love us, a few extra interviews stretched into multiple bullet points. And it all adds up to a pretty mediocre package with the emphasis on the program itself. Although, they did manage to give us anamorphic menus. Forward thinking, that. But, like the program itself, it’s aimed at an educational group or those already interested in the subject at hand, and it’s hard to for me to imagine that those people would care if the transfer is anamorphic or not.


Out of a Possible 5 Stars