June 22, 2014
BBC America Skips Original World War I Drama For Reruns This Summer
As a lifelong Anglophile, I am often forced to buy DVDs from Amazon in the U.K. and I will publicly go on record to say that I do, in fact, have a region-free DVD player. I find it necessary because so many great series from the U.K. rarely air in America, and even when they do, the shows aren’t released on DVD.
While we can expect PBS to carry Downton Abby and BBC America to show Doctor Who, other series and specials don’t air here. I’ve come to expect not seeing the latest season of the brilliant My Family or having to resort to DVD to catch up on Friday Night Dinner and No Heroics — for the record, comic book fans (and those who liked the Kick-Ass movies), No Heroics is as good as it gets.
What is disappointing is that BBC America doesn’t show more British TV series and TV movies and instead has time to air repeats of Star Trek: The Next Generation. At this point, any fan of that series probably has the DVDs and/or Blu-rays, so is it really necessary that BBC America should air a program that didn’t originally even air on the BBC?
Meanwhile, one truly fascinating three-part serial likely won’t be seen widely in America. That is the docudrama 37 Days, which chronicles the events in the summer of 1914 from June 28 to August 4, beginning with the assassination of Austrian Arch-Duke Franz Ferdinand and ending with Great Britain’s declaration of war on Germany and the start of the First World War.
This mini-series originally aired on BBC 2 in March and was released on DVD this month. I have just finished watching it and have to say — as a lifelong history buff even more than a TV connoisseur — I found the story fascinating. There wasn’t much in this that I hadn’t read about and some of the details seemed rushed even in the course of three hours, but it provided some fresh insight as to how the politicians of the era could have avoided a war that would soon cost tens of millions of lives and set the stage for decades of future conflict.
The First World War remains a fascinating subject to me, especially because it conjures images of trench warfare, muddy battlefields and gasmasks to most people. The truth is that in the summer of 1914, the nations of Europe were still caught very much in another time of well-polished boots, tailored uniforms and oh so much pomp and circumstance. All anyone expected was a short, glorious war. No one expected the horrors that were to come.
Moreover, the subject of who is to blame and how the war started exactly is one that continues to be debated by scholars and historians. It is easy to see the path to war for, say, the American Civil War or even the Second World War. The First World War is something different, and sadly, even as its 100th anniversary approaches, it is one that will likely be left to the scholars and historians — certainly on BBC America where reruns of old shows will air rather than this mini-series, which could actually shed light on one of the 20th century’s greatest tragedies.
Image Credit: BBC