|The Men Who Built America|
Region 1 DVD cover
|Directed by||Patrick Reams, Ruán Magan|
|Starring||David Donahoe, Matt Boliek, Adam Jonas Segaller, Cary Donaldson, John C. Bailey, Eric Rolland, Justin Morck|
|Narrated by||Campbell Scott|
|Theme music composer||"Save My Soul" by Blues Saraceno|
|No. of episodes||4|
|Cinematography||Richard V. Lopez|
|Editor(s)||Tim W. Kelly, Jonathan Soule, Beatrice Sisul, Tina Pacheco, John Kilgour, Sheri Bylander|
|Followed by||The Men Who Built America: Frontiersmen|
The Men Who Built America (also known as The Innovators: The Men Who Built America in some international markets) is a six-hour, four-part miniseries docudrama which was originally broadcast on the History Channel in the Fall of 2012, and on the History Channel UK in Spring of 2013. The series focuses on the lives of Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, J. P. Morgan, Thomas Edison, and Henry Ford. It tells how their industrial innovations and business empires revolutionized modern society. The series is directed by Patrick Reams and Ruán Magan and is narrated by Campbell Scott. It averaged 2.6 million total viewers (1.2 million adults 25-54 and 1 million adults 18-49) across 4 nights.
In alphabetical order:
Note: The series consists of eight one-hour episodes; for TV they were combined into four two-hour episodes.
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date|
|1||"A New War Begins"||Ruán Magan||David C. White, Keith Palmer||October 16, 2012|
|Cornelius Vanderbilt grows from a steamboat entrepreneur to the head of a railroad empire, and gets into a heated rivalry with Jim Fisk and Jay Gould; the up and coming John D. Rockefeller founds Standard Oil. Many business owners lay their own rail lines which leads to the Panic of 1873. Later, Rockefeller starts to expand his wealth by diverting his business from the railroads to a new innovation, oil pipelines.|
|2||"Bloody Battles"||Patrick Reams||David C. White, Keith Palmer||October 23, 2012|
|Andrew Carnegie builds an empire around steel, but finds himself struggling to save face after the ruthless tactics of his business partner, Henry Frick, result in both the Johnstown Flood as well as the bloody 1892 strike at the Homestead Steel Works.|
|3||"Changing the Game"||Patrick Reams||David C. White, Patrick Reams, Keith Palmer||October 30, 2012|
|J.P. Morgan proceeds to banish the dark with the direct current electric light of Thomas Edison, but the two soon face serious competition from the alternating current of George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla. As the 19th century comes to a close, the titans of industry must try to work together to stop a new threat in budding politician William Jennings Bryan, who threatens to dissolve monopolies in America.|
|4||"When One Ends, Another Begins"||Patrick Reams||David C. White, Keith Palmer||November 11, 2012|
|Rockefeller, Carnegie and Morgan team up to help elect William McKinley to the U.S. presidency by paying for his 1896 campaign, to avoid a possible attack on monopolies. However, fate intervenes when McKinley is suddenly assassinated, and Vice President Theodore Roosevelt assumes the presidency and promptly begins dissolving monopolies and trusts in America. Meanwhile, Morgan buys out Carnegie Steel to make Carnegie the richest man in the world, and Henry Ford designs an affordable automobile with his Model T and starts his own business, Ford Motor Company, which sets a new business model for companies to follow.|
Linda Holmes writing for NPR ridiculed the series for dull presentation, corny re-enactments and ineffective narration. She slammed the production for feeling "a lot like a tricked-out version of an elementary school filmstrip" and suggested that the series might be popular among those who accepted Donald Trump as one of the experts.
Geoff Berkshire from Variety criticized the series for "overblown recreations backed by bombastic music, combined with tepid performances by the re-enactors and rudimentary writing". Mentioning the series' "ostentatious style [that] begins to grate within the first 30 minutes", he scorned "the talking heads [that] simply feel like filler" and the particular style of padding out the runtime when "the viewers are subjected to the customary recap of the previous segment after every ad break." He concluded that unlike the game-changing icons it intended to celebrate, the series failed to leave its mark.
Verne Gay from Newsday gave the series "C" grade for "self-serving, obvious or of the fortune cookie variety" tips dispensed by the guests and for the lack of subtlety and historic context. On another hand, he praised the well-produced, although often static, recreations.