Apr 29, 2010

[TV] Clash of the Gods: Season 1

Clash of the Gods: Season 1Like most geeks, I love documentaries. There are just so many things to learn more about and be interested in such that channels like Discovery and History continue to have a reason for being. Yes, our geeky viewership of these pay TV channels keeps them alive and keeps us well-informed.

I also love classical mythology, like most other geeks around. What's not to love about the legendary exploits of these gods and goddesses that once walked the earth in the minds of men so many years ago. It's funny how there are so many books now about mythology plus comic books and movies and TV series and it still never gets old, if you pardon the bad pun of sorts there.

So put the two elements together and you get a show that geeks are bound to at least attempt to follow even just once if only to satisfy their curiosity about what slant they'll take in terms of interpreting the myths.

Clash of the Gods is a production of History, you know - the one that's not part of the Discovery family of educational channels. It came practically out of the blue for a ten-episode season just prior to the international premiere of the movie Clash of the Titans, which was probably a deliberate ploy on the part of the producers.

Achilles killing a Trojan prisonner in front o...Image via Wikipedia

The show initially put a lot of focus on the Greek myths, which is largely to be expected. Each episode is centered around a particular god or mythic hero and the major stories that he or she is known for, which is probably the best approach for television. Not all myths tie together into one coherent super narrative and so it's best to take things piecemeal. Plus it makes for good sustainable television, haha!

Towards the end it took a short detour into Norse mythology and finally ended up with, well, The Lord of the Rings as strange as that may sound. Given this was presented as a first season for the show, I'm sure they selected these initial episodes as the stronger ones to win an audience base so they can explore less popular avenues of myth like the Egyptian gods or even the lesser known gods of Africa and parts of Asia other than Japan and China. The possibilities are limitless.

The production value for the series was a lot better than one would expect for a pay TV documentary series. They went to the effort of trying to present the heroes with a particular style that shows them as best as they can without resorting to elaborate special effects or expensive costumes.

In terms of overall tone and direction, the series tried to take the historian-style approach to things. This mean that beyond just narrating the myths of old and how these characters became so great (or otherwise), they'd also diverge into analyzing what the myths might have been based on or perhaps what messages were crafted into these stories. This means the expected panel of diverse experts who tend to say the same thing in different ways.

And yes, they even had the panelist who is obviously gay but probably denies it when you meet him in person, or something along those lines. You know what I'm talking about, right?

That remains a bone of contention I had with the show. They liked to beat dead horses a lot with constant repetitions of concepts like "cannibalism was the ultimate sin for the Greeks" or "this represented the spread of another powerful religion...Christianity". Seriously, it made it all the way to the Lord of the Rings episode and you will not believe who they felt represented Jesus in the story. Sorry folks, there was more than one messianic figure in the books as far as the writers for this show were concerned.

Overall, it's an interesting attempt and one that I'm willing to experiment with further in the future. Mythology is always a good area to focus on and as long as they commit to branching out beyond the European myths then they'll have a definite viewer over here.

Clash of the Gods: Season 1 gets 3.5 low budget interpretations of Greek monsters out of 5.

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1 comment:

Knoxxy said...

Mytology is awesome!

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