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Case Number 23636: Small Claims Court

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Secret War

Acorn Media // 2011 // 656 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // April 7th, 2012

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson has a secret: He likes to perform Kabuki for his dog.

The Charge

The secret agents who set Europe ablaze.

The Case

You're a fan of World War II DVD releases. You've built yourself an impressive collection of documentaries and series. Your library of black and white war footage has made you the envy of all your military history friends. There's nothing you haven't viewed about World War II, right?


Like a never-ending onion, there are still more layers to peel from WWII and the latest batch of under-the-radar stories arrive in Secret War, a doozy of a set that exposes just how hardcore Churchill and his Special Operations Executive had to be to remain upright in the face of the Wehrmacht. Athena's four-disc set brings thirteen episodes, about 50 minutes a pop, all of which are worth your time, if you have even a fleeting interest in this kind of stuff:

Disc One
• "The Special Interrogation Group"
• "Hardy Aimes: operation Ratweek"
• "The Mafia Connection"
• "Double Agent Tricycle"

Disc Two
• "The Banker, the Norwegian, and the Bomb"
• "The English Scholar and the Fight for Greece"
• "The Dutch Disaster"

Disc Three
• "The SAS Italian Job"
• "The Spymistress and the French Fiasco"
• "The French Triple Agent"

Disc Four
• "The Banker, the Norwegian, and the Bomb"
• "Agent Garbo"
• "The Aristocrat and the Balkan Communist"

I can't get enough World War II knowledge. I'm no authority, but I love yarns from the epic campaigns that comprised the signature military confrontation of the modern era. Secret War is a terrific series, offering a whole new batch of intel I had never encountered. It's Brit-centric, as the focus is on Churchill's crack Special Operations Executive, but fear not Yankees: there is great Allied action to be soaked up as well.

A taste of what you'll learn: The elite Special Interrogation Group made of German-speaking Jews, a fashion designer who was also one of the most effective spies of the war, America's deal with a Mafia member to keep supply lines open to England, two prominent female spies (one awesome, one incompetent ), Churchill's devil's bargain with the Yugoslavian communists, the Norwegian agents tasked with ensuring Hitler never developed an atom bomb, and so much more. It's all terrific.

Programs feature liberal use of archived black and white footage, a smidge on reenactments, interviews with experts and the men and women who lived these times, ultra-dramatic narration, and a sweeping score to get your juices flowing.

Athena's Secret War arrives with a solid 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, Dolby 2.0 stereo, and a 20 page booklet adding even more history.

The Verdict

Not Guilty. Lots of learning to be had here, comrades.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 95

Perp Profile

Studio: Acorn Media
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• English (SDH)
Running Time: 656 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary
• Historical
• Television
• War

Distinguishing Marks

• Booklet


• IMDb

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