As we were entering the last decade of the millennium, viewers were hooked on another kind of survivor: the Americans who fought for the Union and the Confederacy, as recalled in the groundbreaking Public Broadcasting Service documentary The Civil War.
The $3.5 million, 12-hour documentary series aired during the third week of September in 1990 and made a hero out of its filmmaker, the boyish, fifth-Beatle-like Ken Burns (l), who put together the film using the voices of famous actors and authors, old photos, and the recollections of Civil War diarists.
The Civil War scored record ratings for PBS. About 14 million Americans watched each night, and, in Nielsen overnights from the top 24 markets, it scored a 9 rating and a 13 share over five nights. Broadcasting & Cable noted that The Civil War made "PBS a force to be reckoned with."