Judge David Johnson hears the lamentations of the women.
The History Channel continues to bring history alive with this sophomore barbarian outing, telling the tales of four fierce tribes that helped shape modern Europe. Grab your loincloth and saddle up and hear of the days of high adventure!
Facts of the Case
Barbarians II tells the stories of four dominant barbarian tribes that ran rough-shod over the depleted Roman Empire. The Saxons, Vandals, Lombards and Franks each took their turn pummeling the weakened Romans and gobbling up European real estate. But, as I learned from this great documentary set, these barbarians were skillful political players as well as sword-wielders and womanizers. Episodes track the tribes through multiple generations as they build their power and leave their legacy on a continent.
The History Channel is pretty cool. First there was Dogfights, probably the greatest military-themed non-fiction show I've seen. Now this, 45 minutes of wall-to-wall barbarian combat, flanked by the occasional college professor who just can't get enough of history and is dying to impart his knowledge to you. Barbarians II is good stuff, though, like any history-flavored production, your enjoyment may vary based on you interest in the subject matter. Me, I can't get enough to the violent beginnings of Europe and the bad-asses that ran wild over the countryside unleashing pure hell on the civilized.
The four barbarian hordes that receive the basic cable treatment:
• "The Vandals"
• "The Saxons"
• "The Franks"
• "The Lombards"
The bread and butter of Barbarians II are the reenactments. Here, a pile of actors and extras gear up in period-appropriate costuming and basically run at each other, yell real loud and swing swords that dangerously breach each other's personal space. Sure, the abbreviated TV budget prevents legions of characters on screen and at some points the reenactments perilously flirt with the weekend adventures of your neighborhood Rohirrim wanna-bes, but the havoc is fast-moving and well-choreographed. Heck, there was even a decapitation. How often do you see that in a History Channel show? Balancing out the faux bloodshed is the professorial commentary, and these guys get into their history, delivering the stories with gusto. Overall, this special is a fun bit of chock full o' learning that I would recommend to anyone interested in the grisly birth of modern-day Europe.
The episodes look very good, sparkling in details and bursting with color. The downside? It's all in fake widescreen. The 2.0 stereo mix is standard. Two full-length bonus programs give the set a bit more mileage: "Modern Marvels: Axes, Swords and Knives" and "Conquest: Weapons of the Barbarians."
Highly recommended for Dark Ages buffs, Barbarians II packs a lot of history and staged sword violence in 45 minutes.
Not guilty (insert axe into head now).
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Scales of Justice
Studio: History Channel
• Bonus Program "Conquest: Weapons of the Barbarians"
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