In 1903, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen set out with a small expedition to traverse the legendary and dangerous Northwest Passage. That is the Arctic waterway that connects the North Atlantic and North Pacific Ocean well above Canada in the country’s Arctic Archipelago. It took Amundsen and company three years to navigate the deadly waterway. But in 1906 they accomplished the task and broke new ground for mariners the world over. While his achievement was a landmark, it wasn’t the first time that anyone had tried to make their way through the cold, icy waters of the Northwest Passage. Nearly six decades earlier British explorer and Captain in the British Royal Navy Sir John Franklin set off with 128 men to try and make their way through the waterway. Needless to say that voyage has since gone on to become known as one of the worst tragedies in naval history. Now thanks to PBS and PBS Distribution audiences get a whole new look at Franklin’s doomed expedition in a new episode of PBS’ hit science-based series NOVA. The special, which is available now on DVD, is yet another example of why PBS is the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television today. The very story at the heart of this episode is the crux of the program’s presentation. It isn’t an unknown story. However, it is not exactly often taught in history classes at any level. So having it presented here makes it an important presentation in its own right. The manner in which the story was presented in this episode is another important part of the episode’s whole. The program’s pacing rounds out its presentation. Being that it comes in at nearly an hour-long the program has a lot of ground to cover. And thankfully it never moves too fast in the attempt to cover not only Franklin’s own doomed mission but also the modern day search to find one of the ships that took part in that journey. All three elements play their own important part in the whole of this episode of NOVA. Collectively they show clearly why NOVA is the single-best science-based series on television today and why PBS remains the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television today.
NOVA: Arctic Ghost Ship is yet another example of why the long-running science-based series is the best of its kind on television today. The main reason for this is the very story presented in this episode. While the story of Sir John Franklin’s doomed voyage through the Northwest Passage is relatively well-known, it is not a story that is widely taught in America’s classrooms at any level. More than likely that is the case because it might be considered a specialized piece of history rather than one of the world’s bigger events. But the reality of the situation is that it is just as important to learn about as Magellan circling the globe or Columbus proving the world isn’t flat. That is because Franklin’s journey was one of the earliest attempts by humans to enter and travel through what was at the time one of the world’s most inhospitable and treacherous regions. If not for the attempt on the part of Franklin and his men, Roald Amundsen might not have made his attempt nearly sixty years later; An attempt that luckily for him and his men proved successful, although it took three years to complete. This is all just one part of the story that makes this episode of NOVA so important. It also presents the search for the Erebus, one of the ships that Franklin took on his voyage and why the search was so important not just for maritime history but for history in whole. Finding it meant finally getting some answers as to the fate of at least part of the mission. With all of this in mind, it should be clear why the story at the heart of NOVA: Arctic Ghost Ship is such an important part of the episode’s whole if not the most important part of the episode.
The story that lies at the center of NOVA: Arctic Ghost Ship is an obviously important part of the episode’s overall presentation if not the most important part of that whole. While it is unquestionably important to the overall presentation, it is not the only important part of the episode’s presentation now that it is available on DVD. The manner in which the episode is presented is just as important as the episode’s story. The manner in which the episode was presented refers mainly to its format. Much like so many other episodes of NOVA before it, this episode mixes actual footage of the search for the Erebus with re-enactments of Franklin’s doomed journey. Speaking of the re-enactments, they are used sparingly throughout the course of the episode. In simpler terms, they are used more as a tool to help illustrate the story and advance it with the actors taking part in the re-enactments handling their parts with the utmost professionalism. Even in the case of the modern day search for the Erebus viewers are given a fly-on-the-wall perspective in many cases alongside interviews with scientists that expertly explain the importance of the search. They handle their interviews with just as much professionalism as the actors involved in the episode’s re-enactments. Believe it or not, there are some professionals on other similar shows that don’t handle their interviews quite as well or as professionally. Of course most of those cases apply to shows on cable networks. So that says plenty. The balance of the re-enactments and the research segments is just enough to keep viewers engaged from beginning to end. And in doing so the program illustrates just as well why the story at the heart of the episode is so important, too. It is one more way in which the manner in which the episode was presented proves its importance to the whole of NOVA: Arctic Ghost Ship.
The story at the center of NOVA: Arctic Ghost Ship and the manner in which the episode was presented (its overall structure) are both key elements in the whole of the episode’s presentation. While both elements are unquestionably important in their own right to that presentation they are not the episode’s only notable elements. The program’s pacing is just as important to its presentation as its structure and the story at its heart. There is a lot of ground to cover over the course of the episode’s near hour-long run time between the actual story of Franklin’s failed journey and the search for the Erebus. Thankfully for those behind the episode, viewers will never feel confused by any of the presented material. That is thanks to pacing that spends just enough time on each as the program jumps back and forth in time, offering solid transitions along the way that help maintain the story’s pacing. It doesn’t just jump from point to point or speed through any given part of the overall story either. The end result is a story that ensures viewers’ engagement and in turn appreciation for its importance in the grand scheme of the world’s history. Realizing and appreciating that importance, audiences will look back on this episode of NOVA and agree that its pacing is just as important to its presentation as the program’s structure and its central story. They will agree that together, all three elements make this episode yet another example of why NOVA remains the best science-based series on television today and why PBS in whole remains the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television today.
NOVA: Arctic Ghost Ship is one of the best of this year’s best new documentaries. It is also another example of why NOVA remains the best science-based series on television today and why PBS remains the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television today. That is thanks in large part to the story at the heart of the episode. It is a story that is sadly overlooked by most history teachers. This includes teachers in both public and higher education. The general structure of the story plays its own important part in the episode’s overall presentation. The pacing combines with the episode’s structure to make it a program that will keep viewers engaged from beginning to end. It spends just enough time on each noted element rather than just speeding through the program. The end result is a program that is just as worth the watch for its story as the story’s presentation. It is available now and can be ordered online direct via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=70936856&cp=&kw=nova+arctic+ghost+ship&origkw=NOVA+Arctic+Ghost+Ship&sr=1. More information on this and other episodes of NOVA is available online now at:
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