The History Channel really delivers in this awesome documentary on the history of The Dark Ages, the period between the Fall of the Roman Empire and the rise of the Middle Ages. It is generally remembered as a bleak period when civilization in the West teetered on the verge of total collapse and barbarian warlords fought with each other when they weren't busy fighting Viking hordes, Muslim invaders, or Byzantine armies.
The Dark Ages uses recent scholarship and high production values to recreate the period just after the fall of Rome in the late 5th century A.D. The Roman Empire in the West had collapsed and a ragtag band of barbarians made up of Goths, Vandals, Franks, and Lombards wage bloody warfare against each other to divide up the pieces of the once-great Empire. In the East, the remnants of the Empire live on under the Emperor Justinian who becomes obsessed with recapturing Rome and reconquering the West. Meanwhile, the Franks, easily the most powerful of the post-Roman tribes, have begun to establish a great kingdom under the Merovingian dynasty, led by King Clovis, whose conversion to Christianity helps secure its place in the history of Europe. The documentary then touches on the Viking raids along the English and Irish coasts, the desperate struggle to crush the invading Muslim armies that threaten to capture all of Spain and France, and ultimately, the consolidation of Western Europe as part of the Holy Roman Empire under Charlemagne.
This is probably one of the best History Channel DVDs out there and shows that a good amount of time and effort went into create this production. While of course it cannot tell every detail of the nearly 500 year period of the Dark Ages, it does a good job of providing an excellent introduction to the subject. It is one which recommends itself to anyone who claims to be a student of history.