Wild Castles (Smithsonian Channel)


Wild Castles (Smithsonian Channel) – Premieres 1st September

A nature documentary that looks into the wildlife that is local to a castle ruin in Europe. In the programme it plays out like a regular nature programme where it follows a type of animal and and document how it lives and procreates.

Along with the wildlife aspect, the show also goes through the history of the castle, and the major historical events that occurred there. With some of these events the show ties it in with the native animals, and plots the history of the building up to the point it was finally vacated.

As a hybrid of a nature documentary and a programme about European history, it is a bit of a weird mix but does enough from keeping either aspect from becoming worn out. That said it really is only of interest to a rather specific audience.



The Real Mad Men of Advertising (Smithsonian)


The Real Mad Men of Advertising (Smithsonian) – Premieres 8th January

A programme that looks into the history of the US advertising companies, and shows how advertising campaigns have affected cultural standards and language, along with how the ad people improved the popularity of the brands they worked on.

Along with interviewing historians and people working around the time and showing off the standard stock footage, the show also cuts in clips from Mad Men, who coincidentally recently donated props to the Smithsonian museum. With that they also get interviews from the creator on what advertising people they took inspiration from, and Property Master whose job was to make everything in Mad Men look authentic.

The standard of documentary is on a par with almost anything on AHC, when lots of easily known facts are used to pad out the rest of the programme. It’s all pretty dull.


WWII’s Most Daring Raids (Smithsonian)


WWII’s Most Daring Raids (Smithsonian)  – Starts 18th September

Documenting a World War 2 mission, the programme analyses how the mission was planned out and executed by using experts to explain the tactics and weaponry used, while the mission is played out by using graphical enactments and excerpts of the soldiers involved diary entries.

Unlike most war programmes this going into deeper details into explaining how the mission had to be adapted on the fly, showing how the original plan compared to what played out, and the numerous problems that we encountered were resolved.

If you like military history then this is an interesting watch.



Sacred Sites (Smithsonian)


Sacred Sites (Smithsonian) – Starts 12th September

Using the same formula as The Greeks or First Peoples, Sacred Sites gets a few experts together to talk to camera and explain the history, cultural importance and legacy of a chosen religious site.

Along with that there are the usual reenactments and dramatisations, but it feels like a 20 minute show padded out to last 45 minutes.



Hell Below (Smithsonian Channel)


Hell Below (Smithsonian Channel) – Starts 17th July

Documenting the WW2 u-boat skirmishes, where an abundance of archive footage is used along with showing the military tactics used as German and Allied forces engaged each other.

Along with a fair few experts explaining what happened and how they did it, it’s one of the better historical war programme to come out in recent times.



Sports Detectives (Smithsonian)


Sports Detectives (Smithsonian) – Starts 24th April

In a sports equivalent of Lost And Found, a private detective and a journalist team up to track down the location of a piece of sporting memorabilia where its whereabouts is uncertain.

Starting off where the sporting event happened, the investigator and journalist meet up with people who were in contact with the object at the item and then follow its story through to where they finally discovery its location and talk to the owner about how and when it was acquired along with explaining some of the false stories surrounding it.

With the first episode mystery behind the item they were after was pretty solved after talking to the first person they met leading to about 40 minutes worth of padding before finally “discovering” it.

Barring the backstory and legend of the item they’re looking for, it’s a bit of a slog to get though.



Alaska Aircrash Investigations (Smithsonian)


Alaska Aircrash Investigations (Smithsonian) – Starts 13th March

After a plane crash is reported this documents how the aircrash investigators go about their business in finding the wreckage and assessing how and why the plane went down.

With the investigation going through different stages of analysing how the crash happened in each segment it goes into detail about how each stage works before putting their theory of the crash together at the end.

It’s a slow going show, where after the first ep you get the feeling that if you seen once that would be enough.