By Will Wade,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Action-heavy educational series brings ancient wars to life.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The military historians do a great job of explaining why the ancient armies were so willing to take to the battlefield, including nuanced descriptions of the social, economic, and political factors that led to armed conflict. There are no obvious good guys or bad guys; every side has complex, detailed motivations.
Violence & Scariness
Many of the recreated battle scenes are quite violent, with some intense hand-to-hand fights using swords, spears, and other ancient weapons. Footage includes shots of the losers being impaled and blood splattering across the screen (none of it real, but still).
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this educational series about ancient warfare -- which recreates key battles using live action and computer animation and combines these sequences with insightful explanation from scholars and historians -- plays like an entertaining history lecture. While there's no sex, drugs, or swearing, the battle scenes can be quite intense. Expect scenes of hand-to-hand combat featuring swords and spears and some images of victims being killed, with blood spattering. None of it is real, but it still has an impact.
Where to Watch
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What's the Story?
The History Channel has perfected the art of bringing the past to life through a combination of live-action recreations of important moments, computer graphics, and knowledgeable talking heads. BATTLES BC, which focuses on warfare in the ancient world, is a perfect example of this genre. Each episode highlights an important military leader -- such as Hannibal of Carthage, Julius Caesar, or Alexander the Great -- and explains who the leader was fighting and why. Historians also offer commentary about the leaders' military tactics, the results of each battle, and how smaller clashes fit into each leader's overall campaign.
Is It Any Good?
The result is an entertaining, insightful history lecture. The scholars are good on TV, and the live-action recreations and computer graphics help viewers understand the tactical decisions that carried the day in some of the most important battles of the ancient world.
The show's subjects tend to be names that most people will recognize, but viewers may not know exactly what made them significant in the first place. Battles BC is a fun (albeit sometimes intense) way to fill in these knowledge gaps.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about whether war is ever justified. The series explains the combatants' motivations -- which range from revenge to economics to a desire for glory and power -- in detail. After hearing the scholars' explanations, which side do you think was in the right (if any)? Many movies and TV shows about war paint conflict in stark terms, with one side clearly fighting for the side of right. Do you think that's ever true? Sometimes true? Never true? Families can also discuss the impact of seeing violence in the media, whether real or fantasy.
- Premiere date: March 9, 2009
- Cast: Brad Wilcox, Brian Danner, Cazzey Cereghino
- Network: History
- Genre: Educational
- TV rating: TV-PG
- Last updated: October 13, 2022
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