November 27th, 2010

never there

The Victorians; Ancient Worlds; Natural World

TV night on Wednesday night started off with the last of the programmes about the paintings of the Victorians - which started off with the rising doubt & uncertainty in Victorian culture. Science was beginning to undercut the old religious certainties, and while some reacted positively to this (Paxman visited the Natural History Museum in Oxford to show us some architecture celebrating the new thinking) others reacted negatively (some very hellfire & damnation paintings by John Martin, a painter from near Hexham in the first half of the 19th Century - such as The Great Day of His Wrath) and others still by retreating into fantasy. Hence all the paintings of fairies and of the Lady of Shallot and other faux-medieval stuff. He also looked at the later Victorian (sentimentalised) obsession with death & mourning. And the changing attitudes towards nudity in paintings - including someone's (I forget who) large collection of "classical" style paintings & sculpture of the female form, clearly the chap in question was a breasts man ;)

Then we watched the next episode of Ancient Worlds - "The Greek Thing". This covered Iron Age Greece up until just before the Macedonians took control. This was the age of the Greek city states - who were tied together by some shared culture like religion and language but were also separate from each other. Miles talked about all the different political systems that the Greeks came up with, and looked a bit more in depth at Athens and Sparta - the two most influential and powerful city states. And how the separation between the different city states was eventually their downfall - while they managed to work together to defeat the Persian Empire (which was a hell of an achievement given the relative sizes of the Persian Empire (huuuuuge) and the Greek polities (tiny) at the time), the alliance fell to pieces as Sparta & Athens fought against each other. Definitely got the feeling while watching this episode that the Greeks are Miles's favourite part of the ancient world :)

Last up was an episode of some series called "Natural World" - our series link for that seems to have picked up a random scattering of episodes from more than one version of the series (I think we have two with the same number but different subjects ...). And not all of either or any series. So as we have several of them in HD and are running out of space on the magic box we decided to watch some anyway even tho we don't have the whole series. We picked one out on sea otters in California - coz otters are cool. I was less than convinced about the voice over, and the 10 minute segment at the end interviewing people who live in Monterey Bay I definitely could've done without. But overall it was a fun programme to watch - the otters are cute, and the best bit was watching the mother sea otter breaking open clam shells against the boats she lived amongst :)