Chainmail Combat with OD&D Sept 20, 2009 19:21:59 GMT -6
Post by Matthew on Sept 20, 2009 19:21:59 GMT -6
Well... a few reasons. In general, history made for television in the current climate (even for the History Channel) is made primarily to entertain and its final form depends far more on the money men than the historical advisers. A good rule of thumb is if something is being narrated it means they could not get a historian to say it.
Terry Jones is an entertainer first and foremost, but my observation of his programmes is that he also has something of a sensationalist, and sometimes political, agenda. In particular his crusades series was much reviled for being very inaccurate and out of date, even at the time of production. His Medieval Lives series is entertaining, but it only tells half the story, if that, because it concentrates on the funny or tragic bits. Lacking context, it is basically a form of popular history, and its chief virtue is that it may inspire somebody to actually inquire into the subject more thoroughly.
Now, to be fair, that is the nature of modern history programming and it is not like you have a lot of time to deal with potentially intricate subjects, so perhaps he can be forgiven for dealing only with the highlights. Nonetheless, a series like Weapons That Made Britain is much more credible because the fellow presenting it is actually an expert in his field and also familiar with the ins and outs of television productions. His chief purpose is to convey information, entertainment is secondary.
Terry Jones, on the other hand as I understand it, hires people to do his research for him and when questioned on a subject, such as his Who Murdered Chaucer? A Medieval Mystery turns out to have less knowledge on the subject than one would hope. Indeed, his four co-authors are probably much better people to ask. ;D
So, not to defame the man, as he is clearly intelligent and interested in the subject matter, I would not trust much of what I heard him say on the television because the explaining of history is subordinate to its purpose as entertainment.