Last week, History launched its first ever scripted series Vikings, but for those that want to learn about the Nordic warriors without the poetic license that comes with a work of fiction, even if based on real events, History has compiled three of its specials on the subjects for The Real Vikings Collection. All three specials were an hour long and fit on a single disk. The first special is Foot Soldiers: The Vikings from 1998 and it hosted by the very nineties Richard Karn of Home Improvement fame. Despite being the oldest (and thus being the only one presented in the old timey 4:3 presentation), it is the most entertaining of the specials where you leaned where the myth of the Viking helmets with horns came from and you even get to see Al on a surfboard. You also learn of the special Viking fighting force, the Berserkers, who would fight on mushrooms. And yes, that is where our term “berserk” came from.
The next special is an episode of Lost Worlds from 2007 which takes CGI models to show us what Vikings societies looked like at the time based on archaeological digs and artifacts from the time (which include a Buddha statue despite the Vikings never ever making it to the Far East). The third special is an episode of Warriors with Terry Schappert (rechristened “Viking Terror” on the DVD) where the former Green Beret looks at the different fighting styles and weapons from the “Hell’s Angels of the Middle Ages”.
Even for those that are watching the scripted Vikings series, it is interesting watching this DVD collection to see what the series got right and what they are taking liberties with. While each special has its own focus on the Viking culture, one event all of them focused on was assault on the English monastery as featured in the second episode which is widely considered the beginning of the Vikings era in Europe. It does look like the set design has gotten the living quarters and the boating design very close to how the Vikings built things in their times. And the special could depict what could be coming up in future episodes or season. I really hope a Vikings battle, as demonstrated by Schappert, gets staged.
Full Disclosure Notice: This DVD was given to me by Lionsgate for review.