TIME Television

Review: The Roosevelts: An Intimate History

President Theodore Roosevelt with his family, 1903Photo credit: Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace NHS
President Theodore Roosevelt with his family, 1903 Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace NHS/PBS

The PBS saga premieres Sept. 14 and airs every night for seven days

Documentarian Ken Burns issues another sprawling American ­story — 14 hours over seven episodes — this time exploring the legacies of the Roosevelts. Past histories of the family have almost always focused on Presidents (and distant cousins) Theodore and Franklin Delano, treating Eleanor (who was Teddy’s niece) and her activism as a sidelight. But Burns elevates the First Lady’s skillful promotion of social reform, putting it on equal footing as he takes on more than a century of politics and global change, from Teddy’s birth in 1858 to Eleanor’s death in 1962.

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