Man, Moment, Machine

TV review by
Sierra Filucci, Common Sense Media
Man, Moment, Machine TV Poster Image
Innovative approach to history isn't very diverse.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Promotes an interest in history through its innovative approach. But the show focuses on mainstream history, leaving out women, people of color, and non-European voices.


Lots of battle scenes, including real and dramatized footage. Rare dead bodies, though no obvious blood. Featured "machine" is often a weapon -- gun, catapult, bomber plane, etc.


Occasional "hell" and "damn."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this documentary-style program looks back at history through the lens of important individuals and technology. Many of the episodes focus on wars and battles and feature both real-life footage and dramatizations of warfare -- including dropping bombs on cities and pulling dead bodies from the front lines. Pro-war messages (and others that some might consider propaganda) are embedded in some episodes. Most figures profiled are white males; no special effort seems to be made to expand the series to include more diversity.

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What's the story?

MAN, MOMENT, MACHINE takes an innovative approach to teaching history by looking at the convergence of an innovator and a new technology during an important time in the past. Hosted by former Navy fighter pilot/Survivor contestant Hunter Ellis, this docuseries uses dramatizations, digital imagery, archival footage, and interviews with experts to explore historical moments such as Alexander the Great's use of the catapult during battle or the 1990 stealth bomber attack on Baghdad orchestrated by General Norman Schwarzkopf. Each episode explores the background of the featured person -- showing old family photos, interviewing colleagues or family members, etc. -- while trying to build a complete picture of the person as it leads up to the critical moment of the show's focus. Viewers then watch a complete analysis of the highlighted machine, including real footage (if available) and, often, an in-person visit by Ellis.

Is it any good?

With its unique method of storytelling, Man, Moment, Machine (also known as M3) can bring a new energy to a familiar event. Teens with a particular interest in history -- or the particular event or technology covered in a given episode -- might find the program compelling. But aside from its relatively innovative approach, the show feels a lot like many other documentary-style programs that look back on historical moments. (And its lack of diversity in subject material isn't anything to brag about.)

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about alternative ways of looking at history. Does learning about the past through different angles -- like technology -- make history more interesting? Do you ever think about what's missing from a history lesson? Whose story isn't being told? What do you think this series is trying to accomplish? Is it successful?

TV details

  • Premiere date: August 7, 2005
  • Cast: Hunter Ellis
  • Network: History
  • Genre: Educational
  • TV rating: TV-PG
  • Available on: DVD
  • Last updated: September 19, 2019

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