Friday, July 31, 2009

They're catching up, somewhat.

Now, some of you may remember that about all I watched by way of television before the Move was Top Gear. Since the Move, I've not seen a single episode, and I don't miss it. What I have been missing, though, is Time Team. Time Team has been around for a long time in the UK.

The British readers will undoubtedly be familiar with Time Team. For those readers who aren't, however, here's a summary: Tony Robinson (minor celebrity, best known as Baldrick in Blackadder) and a team of archaeologists (all rather distinctive) arrive at a place. They then have three days to find out as much as they can about it. This starts on day one with geophysics surveys, then there are usually one or two trenches by early afternoon, and the digging continues throughout. Meanwhile, some historical re-enactment ("experimental archaeology") goes on, Baldrick goes around asking silly questions, archivists are looking at historical records, one of the team is looking at the land surface and figuring out how it affected things, and the team's artist is drawing all sorts of things. Time Team often uses Victor Ambrus, whose style I rather like. At the end of day three, there's a wrap-up.

This summer, PBS finally caught up with Channel 4 and began producing an American version of Time Team. The differences are to a large extent cosmetic; their "Mick" lacks the stripey knitwear, but is otherwise articulate and interesting, their geophys team is headed by a woman, their "Mick the Dig" is a heavily tattooed woman, and their illustrator doubles up as Baldrick, but they haven't seemed to have a proper Phil until now, with the fourth episode. They now have one of those leathery types who could be a well-used 35 or could be a well-preserved 65, with a distinctly biker-ish moustache, and a willingness to do all the fun re-enactments. Now, things are looking good.

Apart, that is, from the first season only being five episodes. I do hope PBS can continue with this series, because it's informative and entertaining. My major niggle is that it uses a Coldplay song for the opening credits - I'd far prefer the excellent theme by Paul Greedus!

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