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How the States Got Their Shapes: Season 2 (DVD Review)

21 Jul, 2013 By: John Latchem

Street 7/23/13
$19.98 three-DVD set
Not rated.
Stars Brian Unger.

While the first season of this History Channel series explored the history of the United States through the quirks of its map, the second season is less concerned with America’s geographical divides as it is with its cultural ones.

This shift in focus comes with a slight adjustment to the formula, with episodes cut in half to a half-hour running time and the addition of a trivia quiz format. Host Brian Unger travels the country in search of political and cultural rivals to answer questions about their heritage and the history of the region, informing the audience along the way.

The pairings of the “contestants” are meant either as microcosms of America’s current political landscape (Democrat vs. Republican, rich vs. poor, city vs. country, West vs. East, union vs. non, etc.) or symbols of its past (a Hatfields vs. McCoys episode includes descendants from the famed feuding families).

The new format is much more casual than the expository nature of the first season, but not so different as to alienate returning fans.

The season-two set includes 19 episodes, with the finale consisting of an hourlong amalgam of the rest of the episodes. Bonus footage consists of short featurettes that seem left over from the first season, explaining in a nutshell the history behind several state borders.

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