Most helpful critical review
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
too shallow for me
on 6 April 2014
I enjoyed the first 1-2 episodes, but now I've grown very tired of this. It feels more like a monotonous monologue now. Many times you just have Simon speaking (in a quite dreary tone, in my opinion) with - I suppose - atmospheric, non-specific blurry images and generic music. So to me it basically feels like an audio podcast a lot of the time. I wish they had spent a lot more effort to show the actual locations in order to give a more rich impression.
I also have issue with the content. It's just too broad and shallow for me. It often seems misleading and not worth my time. I've been watching this in parallel with the Monarchy series by David Starkey since they are very similar in focus. I've just been watching the section on Charles II, James II, and William of Orange. What I gathered from Simon Schama is that Charles and James were basically catholic which the people didn't like, and so they asked William of Orange to come over and be the king. It's like street gossip. So basically I learnt nothing and I'm also confused. David Starkey, on the other hand, spends about 2 hours on these people, actually goes to the locations where battles happened, digs out books from the coronation of James II, for example, and overall, gives a proper beginners' understanding of what this was all about. Simon Schama will fill you full of useless general trivia, leaving you confused and guessing about what actually happened, while David Starkey treats you like a competent adult, while passionately telling you most of the things that mattered. Simon Schama will also occasionally tell you some other very general-knowledge trivia which is outside the scope of what David Starkey's series was trying to do, but I don't think you're missing much and I recommend Starkey's series over this one.
Basically I think this documentary series is cheaply made, shallow, and confusing.