Tonight the TV version of the fantastic NPR radio show “This American Life” premieres on Showtime.

Each episode of the weekly radio show has a theme introduced through a short interview/story by host Ira Glass – then two or three segments of mostly non-fiction reportage based on the same theme fill up the rest of the hour. (Recently aired episodes: Kid Logic, By Proxy & What I Learned from TV)

Enlightening, engaging and always entertaining.

No wonder it’s the most popular podcast on iTunes.

But will the quality and feel of the show translate to television?

I was lucky enough to get a screener copy with the first 4 episodes (seriously I was sooo excited) and I was not disappointed. Again the short documentaries are sometimes funny, sometimes sad – but always take us on a journey to explore something new and real and introduce us to people with strong passions.

This show is not anything like documentary-esque TV shows like “60 Minutes” or “20/20”. It’s a whole different entity – and maybe it’s not “just” a radio show on television either, but more like short theatrical movies. The episodes are not sensationalist but have distinguished style and are very cinematic.

And that’s the real catch to translating a radio show to television: the visuals. The cinematography is outstanding! The main director of photography, Adam Beckman, is also a co-devloper of the show and certainly plays a big part in creating a TV version that can live up to what many consider to be the best show on the radio.

The only drawbacks: the episodes are only 30 minutes long and they air on Showtime… and… I don’t have cable 🙁

P.S.: At Sundance Scott filmed an interview with Ira Glass for iW: VIDEO.

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