I am amazed how The History Channel has produced an assortment of documentaries and episodes concerning the two Great Wars, WWI and WWII. The set is endless with titles that include The Color of War, an unrivaled five disc, 13-episode documentary about WWII, and The World Wars, a stellar production that spotlights a few of the more well-known individuals from the two wars.
Altogether, the complete package is over 44 hours and some content overlaps from disc to disc. The whole set could be organized better, and not so annoying while I try to come to terms of the flow from one disc to the next. The mixture of documentaries along with episodes from The History Channel series offer lot of views on both World Wars, but realize the product is a collection of distinct productions and not an epic told as a story from beginning to end. With that, don’t let the time, over 44 hours, allude you to the idea that each distinct disc covers all aspects of these two Great Wars. There was no way I could watch the entire set in order to review the product. I did catch some of the episodes and here are my thoughts.
Foremost, I found the discs had advertisements for other History Channel programs. I wish it was an option instead of the trailers coming on right at the beginning of the disc. Sure, I fast forward, but it bugged me. Here are some of the programs I had an opportunity to view.
The World Wars, a three-part mini-series, is well worth my time and energy to watch. The series has a pretty decent overview of WWI and WWII told just about entirely through analysis of some key figures, including MacArthur, Stalin, Hitler, Churchill and Mussolini. The acting and production is appealing. More vintage footage would make the series even better. The bonus content makes up for the lack of vintage footage. Characters have in depth overview of such notables as FDR, Truman, Hitler, Truman, Churchill, and Eisenhower. The feature is presented as a discussion by the panel of historians and professors who also contributed to the main program. They hold their discussions while clips from the program are shown.
100 Years of WWI is a two-disc set that offers a several episodes worth mentioning. They are Armored Beasts, Clouds of Death, Massive Air Attacks, and Underwater Killers. This documentary concentrates on how the industrialized world modernized to make horrific weapons of war like tanks, mustard gas, flamethrowers and submarines. The blend of vintage footage with modern, re-enactment footage is worth watching.
75 Years of WWII is also a two disc set with disc one containing D-Day material is worth watching, but disc two is nowhere near in comparison.
The Color of War is close to ten hours long and is probably the best program out of the whole package. The program takes a unique turn and offers an honest view of the civilians and home front. There is a lot of vintage footage and color film. There is however lots of battle footage that incorporates violent imagery. If you are faint at heart this set might be difficult to view. Peter Coyote does a fine job narrating the whole series.
WWII In Space is a different approach to the Great Wars with a visual presentation incorporating many maps and CG animations, more than any documentary. The visuals keep the geography in proportion to the size of the planet we live on. I like that because it gives me an idea of how the world is influence by the both wars.