(Julie Graham, Hugh Bonneville, Adrian Lester, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Maloney, et al / 3-Disc DVD / NR / (2008) 2010 / Acorn Media)
Overview: Past and present meet with explosive results in this British drama series called "a bit of Doctor Who fantasy, hints of a Da Vinci Code riddle, and even elements of CSI" (The Times, U.K.). Led by the fiery Dr. Gillian Magwilde (Julie Graham, At Home with the Braithwaites), an intrepid team of archaeologists finds mud, blood, and death-defying adventure when they start digging.
DVD: Filmed in 2008, and set in the historical city of Bath (UK), this 6-episode series blends modern forensics (ala 'CSI') with historical mysteries (ala what could've been) for some very exciting moments of television viewing.
The Wessex Univ Archaeological Department renegades - led by the fiery Dr. Gillian Magwilde (Julie Graham), and including her faithful longtime pillar, Hugh Bonneville, her ex-lover, Adrian Lester, and the newbie to the pack, Gugu Mbatha-Raw (last seen in the new Doctor Who series) - are calle dupon each episode to unearth the mysteries behind several not-quite-possibly-correct historical revealments.
And so, cutting to the chase, I'll be honest ... I can't and won't give away what each of these six episodes feature as their historical adventures (or, at least what they truly turned into, one and all), as that would spoil the mysteries, one and all! But, let it be known that each one is eyebrow-raisingly interesting, thought-provoking, and yet all end with a magnificent (trust me!) historical find (that would blow all past historical finds out of the water immediately!) ... and yet, sadly, every single find is ... (SEMI-SPOILER) ... destroyed or stolen before our intrepid team can bath in the glory of another hunt well done!
In episode 1, 'Army of God,' we find a once-fought battle including the Knights Templar is unearthed (literally), but were they carrying a (VERY) precious cargo? A Christian relic, should I say? In episode 2, 'Warriors,' bones are discoverede washed up/revealed in the Bristol Channel - bodies with no hands. Shackles are also found suggesting slaves, but the facts lead elsewhere. In episode 3, 'The Eternal Fire,' Celtic 1st Century relics are found under the Baths in the city of the same name (in the Pump Room). Archaeologist science meets imagination here as all roads lead to a true Warrior Queen.
Episode 4, 'The Cradle of Civilisation,' provides us some Babylonian artifacts that are stolen from Iraq by a journalist, but are they cursed? And has that curce now come to kill those that seek these artifacts? In episode 5, 'The Lines of War' a WWI tank is found in France with six body remains within ... and some bullets! And, well, this one leads us (incredibly) to something that they claim could have stopped the war at that time in a heartbeat - The Maid of Orleans herself! In the final episode, we get to wrap up Dr. Magwilde's endless seach for the Gleam. In 'Follow the Gleam,' Gillian not only gets closer in her (personal) quest for Excalibur, but an Arthurian discovery is brought to the fore in the shape (all pun intended!) of the infamous Round Table!
I have to admit that I knew nothing of this series, and I'm from the bloody UK, and so dived in without a care, and yet very excited to do so. What I unearthed was a show that delved a little too deeply into the fantasy world of what-if, and always came out the other end with 100% exactly what they had hoped to (by no small miracle) find ... and then lose! The in-between CSI stuff was good, very interesting and the trur historical bumpf along the way was a trip back to my history lessons in school for sure!
There is very little use of cell phones, even in the most dire of siuations - like home invasions, trapped in coffins, etc. - and as much as they do run into some vicious murderers, nobody seems to tell the police and get them arrested thereafter! And trust me, one of the death scenes in the first episode was, well, both unexpected and right bloody gory!
Some episodes, like episode 3 (based around Valentine's Day) are labored, telling us backstory that we didn't really care about in the first place! Others, such as episode 4 tell a very interesting tale, one that couldn't be, of course, but makes you wonder, for sure! Episode 5 is quite interesing also, set in WWI, and features some nicely done flashbacks. And, my favorite line from the entire series is spoken in the final episode when Hugh Bonneville (Dolly) is fighting a bad guy and screams at him, 'Don't mess with me. I'm an Archaeologist!' Classic. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Behind-The-Scenes segments for each episode.