"The Normans" is a truly excellent starting point. For the layperson, who probably only recognises the date and William's name, it's a chance to be introduced to the full story and some of the factors that affected events and motivations that drove the leading players. For me, it provided a loose overview of the background involved, explaining why the Normans were distinct from the rest of France, and it refreshed my memory of the events of the Norman conquest.
The visuals are shot just right. Bartlett presents key scenes to us, and stands present at the key locations and surviving artefacts, placing such items and locations in context today, but at the same time we are equally treated to languorously lingering close ups of the artefacts, sweeping shots of the buildings, and a few abstract shots of extras in period clothing but thankfully no low budget third rate acting. Bartlett is an excellent choice of presenter. He clearly knows what he's talking about, and can add interesting detail to proceedings whilst at the same time engaging the viewer. I found the supporting music cast just right; the tone of it suited the subject matter, and furthermore it did not overwhelm the dialogue - there are increasing complaints of programmes whose music drowns out the dialogue of the presenter or otherwise overwhelms and spoils certain elements of the programme. The programme was both informative and entertaining, and the one addition I would have liked to have seen would have been a genealogical graphic explaining Rollo's connection to William the Conqueror.
Some history documentaries have a tendency to feel slow, dry, or drag in places even though they are informative. This series does not, and engages throughout. It should also be commended for presenting a new side to the Normans that has not often been in the public consciousness - the fact that the Normans also had an effect on states and cultures outside of England, even dramatically so across Europe.