THE SHOW "Citizen U.S.A: A 50 State Road Trip," HBO, tonight at 9
WHAT IT'S ABOUT Alexandra Pelosi ("Journeys With George") was inspired to travel to 50 states to see 50 naturalization ceremonies after her Dutch-born husband, Michiel Vos, decided to get his U.S. citizenship when their son was born. Reasoned he: "I became a citizen because I can't be a foreigner in my own family." Pelosi -- younger daughter of former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi -- hit the road to ask people why they became citizens. State by state, she finds a common theme -- in a word, freedom -- among their reasons for swearing allegiance to a new flag. She also speaks to Madeleine Albright, whose family fled Czechoslovakia in advance of the Nazis, first staying in England, where locals wondered when her family would return. Later resettling in the United States, they were asked, "When will you become citizens?"
MY SAY Patriotic days always seem to sprout patriotic themes on TV, and that's what habitually footloose Pelosi -- who traveled with George W. Bush before the 2000 election, and later through the so-called red states for another election-related doc -- has delivered. Over these 52 minutes, she hits 50 states, so of necessity the pace is brisk and to the point. You don't really get to know anybody, but a sea of faces from the Mideast to the Far East tell her of their hopes and dreams in short, sharp sound bites. As usual, Pelosi has a good eye for local color, but there's almost nothing that says why these individuals ended up in the states they find themselves. Moreover, Pelosi's line of questioning can be reduced to "Why did you come here?" When someone comes from Albania, Mexico, Jordan, Iran or -- especially -- Iraq, it's like asking someone, "Why did you pull your hand out of the fire?"
With this feel-good doc, Pelosi wants the scales to fall from our eyes -- that we take our citizenship "for granted." Not true, Alexandra: We're only trying to pay our bills.