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Live Blog Gory stories, we do that: A guide to/review of/history geekout over the CBBC's Horrible Histories
Shoebox2012-05-11 19:32:10

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Yes, I know it’s a kiddy series...

... That’s kind of the point.

Because Horrible Histories, the book series, had already subverted pretty much every post-millennial children’s edutainment trope ever simply by existing. Terry Deary’s boredom with the way history is generally taught to children — besides a generally snarky streak of his own — produced the exact flipside of the exquisitely balanced, benign world postulated by Elmo and Dora: not conscientiously demonstrating what human nature should be, but reveling in the vast black comedy (and that mostly of errors) that it actually, inevitably is.

Somehow, his young readers’ minds declined to be blown by this revelation. Possibly because it also comes naturally packed with just the sort of bodily-fluid-filled gags that warm their tiny hearts. At any rate, one multi-media franchise in thirty languages later, the books had become best-beloved classics.

Thus, when it inevitably came time for the CBBC (roughly, the UK equivalent of PBS Kids) to get involved in a live-action adaptation, it was obvious that there was no way to create the standard juvenile guide to good citizenship out of this material… but neither was there license to go the completely adult route.

So creators LionTV came up with the archetypal plan so crazy it just might work: take the third, entirely demographically-neutral option of sheer creativity, and see where that would lead them. Basically, they would create a kid's show on the assumption that the kid in question was the precocious history nerd offspring of Monty Python and Blackadder.

Short version: it worked. Check HERE for the longer version, involving a multi-award-winning hit, now on its fourth series, the darling of both critics and audiences of all ages.

Enter your humble narrator: not only a bonafide history nerd but a children's media nerd and a comedy nerd. Also, a writer/reviewer looking to entertain herself between projects. So when my brain started, with each episode watched, to put together a closeup examination of the evolution of a genuinely unique experiment in children's TV... well, I mean, it came up with a snappy format and everything.

So here 'tis. I'll try to put up at least a couple episodes a week, possibly more if I have the time.

Note for non-UK/Canadian/Australian readers: Pretty much the entire series is available on YouTube, either as whole episodes or individual sketches; I'll add links when I can find them. The first couple series and parts of the last two are also available for more permanent download elsewhere, if so inclined.

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