Vikings is HISTORY's most ambitious series yet. Costing US$40 million to produce, I see HISTORY trying to separate themselves from the like of BBC Knowledge, National Geographic, and Discovery Channel by telling stories and providing knowledge in a unique way - Enter the realm of scripted drama.
I am an old-school viewer of documentaries, and my interest for the usual documentaries featuring beautiful graphics and video with a well narrated script has not faded. It is thus that I find myself slightly compelled to watch Vikings. From the commercials, I assumed that it would lean too much to the drama and action of a written script, albeit inspired by historical Viking facts and Norse lore.
However, I am willing to try out new things, and HISTORY provided the perfect opportunity by kindly giving me and other members of the media a chance to view the first 2 of the 9 part series before everyone else catches it on 29 September, 10:00pm (SIN/HK).
With light refreshments and a front row seat, if I was to buy into HISTORY's new direction, it would be at this event.
And I must say, it worked. After watching the first episode, I was truly drawn in by the characters as well as the story that develops. A fan of greek mythology, I enjoyed some of the lore being played out, as well as the fine acting by the cast. The setting was fantastic, well worth the US$40 million budget. It truly sets you in the world of the Vikings from the Viking society's perspective rather than an outside view, which was the intention of the series.
However, as with dramatisation, I saw hardly anything within the 2 episodes that satisfied my desire for new knowledge. I enjoyed the show, and will continue to watch it to see what happens next.
However, while entertainment value increased, knowledge value decreased.
If History were to create a standalone program that focuses on the facts about the Vikings, and tied it in with the Viking series, I believe that viewers will be left more satisfied, and it certainly a missed opportunity that HISTORY had not done so.
After all, I still see HISTORY as a documentary/knowledge channel first and foremost. Hopefully while they continue with this new direction aimed at setting themselves apart from the competition, HISTORY will not neglect their educational factor, but rather utilise their new ways to truly bring HISTORY into a new age of education and knowledge for the masses.
Seeing how Vikings had re-ignited the interest in the history of Vikings and Norse mythology, I really hope that HISTORY will leverage on it when Vikings is due for a second season in 2014.
For those who are like me, who want to learn more about the real life counterparts of some of the main characters, check out the links below.
- The Real Ragnar Lothbrok
- The Real Lagertha
- Floki as described in the Landnámabók (Book of Settlements)
Some of you may have tried or will try to find some solid information regarding the main characters as well as other events that transpired in the series, but as it is difficult, thus supporting my previous statement that HISTORY not creating a standalone program that ties in with the Vikings series but delivers on the educational aspect is a missed opportunity indeed.
What do you think about Vikings? Let me know in the comment section below or over at the OKJ Discoveries Facebook page :)
Oh wait, I almost forgot, you can win yourself a Harley Davidson Motorcycle by watching Vikings on HISTORY. Just be sure to look out for the code that appears at each episode and enter it in the Vikings Facebook App to stand a chance to win! The App is also great because it provides a whole of additional details, both about the series as well as other facts, definitely worth a look at!