It's paradoxical that the most heavily invented and imagined parts in this 10-episode Clash of the Gods
series are so much less riveting than the simple storytelling by scholars cast to recap the myths in classroom-lecture style. In these hour-long episodes, myths are dramatized with acting that borders on farce. Men pumping their muscles and grunting or monsters' eyes glowing flaccidly into the camera lens are marked periodically by CG blood splatters and modern primitive tattoo designs blazing across the screen that do nothing for Greek myth except make it feel oafish. Even narrator Stan Bernard's rowdy, punctuated speaking style reminds one of narration for a detective show or a wrestling match instead of an educational documentary highlighting history's greatest mythic heroes. While modernizing ancient myth is a controversial topic, there are many reasons a television show visually explicating the classics to reach new generations is a great idea. But the erratic, hectic visual style of this series does a disservice to already-exciting stories that, according to the show's mission, explain the ancient world's belief that nature was subject to the gods. Clash of the Gods
' other premise, more in keeping with its sensationalistic tone, is to expose hidden truths behind the myths.
The majority of the series devotes episodes to the rise of the Olympian gods, beginning with Zeus's battle with his father, Kronos, and the Titans. Images of Zeus with a ridiculous white lightning bolt painted across his face repeat ad nauseam throughout to supposedly show how Zeus took control of mortal earth until consumed by his "uncontrollable sex drive." Likewise, the episode "Hercules" depicts a well-oiled man in tight underwear roaming the desert to elucidate how he is the world's "ultimate superhero." Only scholars like Tom Stone, who humorously likens Hercules to Babe Ruth, or Michael Fontaine from Cornell University, do any justice to the exploration of metaphorical connections between Hercules's 12-challenge quest and the ordeals humans were experiencing when the myth was popular. "Minotaur" better achieves its aim to link truths to the myth, by linking historical wars between the Cretans and Athenians to the horrific tale of the man-eating Cretan beast, deemed Athenian propaganda by historians like David George at Saint Anselm College. Also meaningful is the narrative thread in this episode about Theseus's dual fathers, one mortal and one god, and the fantastic connection between historical politicians, such as Alexander the Great, who believed that they too were conceived of two men. While "Medusa," the two-episode "Odysseus," and "Beowulf" do zilch to enlighten beyond basic redundant storytelling, the lamest episode of all is "Tolkien's Monsters," a heavy-handed look at how J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth was inspired by his days in the trenches during World War I. While the information in this series is informative and interesting, simulated drama and footage that repeats as if the History Channel ran out of material to edit in makes for possibly the worst series on mythology out there. Save your money and read the books instead. --Trinie Dalton
Reacquaint Yourself With Myths So Powerful That They Remain Woven Into The Fabric Of The Present World, Resonating With Real-Life Relevance. From The Epic Tragedy Of Medusa, Greek Mythology'S Most Infamous Female Fiend, To Hercules, Its Greatest Action Hero, And Hades, Master Of The Land Of The Dead And A God So Feared No One Would Speak His Name, Explore These Myths And The Legendary Figures Who Inspired Them In Clash Of The Gods.