CNN – Ken Burns’ PBS documentaries are always classy affairs, linking a single topic to the vast rubric of American history. Still, there are greater and lesser works within that filmography, and “Country Music” — an eight-part, 16-hour epic about a lot more than done-me-wrong songs — distinctly falls into the latter scale.

Over the last 30 years, Burns’ signature war trilogy — “The Civil War,” “The War” (about World War II) and “The Vietnam War” — provides the spine of his work for public television. Yet the collaboration also has devoted admirable time to “The National Parks,” “Baseball” and “Prohibition,” albeit with less operatic heft.
“Country Music” is at its best, not surprisingly, in the early going. Burns goes back to the 1920s, charting the birth of the genre, the way different groups placed their stamp on it, and its impact during the Depression…

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