Legends and Lies, Fox News’ historical series, is kicking off its third season by focusing on the Civil War.
Just like the first two seasons, which centered on western bad guys and then the revolutionary war, this season includes historical reenactments, interviews with historians, some historical photographs and quotes, all interspersed with each other.
This can be effective, especially for young people who have not been schooled in the civil war. The elementary approach may not appeal to experienced Civil War buffs, but the biggest problem with Legends and Lies remains its corniness. The Civil War was dramatic enough, it doesn’t need to be embellished. Yet this is what Legends and Lies seeks to do: showing us images of bullets flying through the air, blood spurting out of bodies, trick photography to show faces through a bowl of bloody water, and other devices which only serve to make the conflict melodramatic.
Most of it is unnecessary. The story is still interesting, despite these faults, and some of the character actors they found to portray famous people are good, although the actor portraying Robert E. Lee doesn’t look too much like him.
I also notice that the series is almost devoid of women. In tonight’s episode, I expected Lee’s wife to appear at his home, but instead it’s two other generals. Surely women played some role in the Civil War, but Legends and Lies paints with a very broad brush.
Each season has a companion book on the market. I’ve the read the books for the first two seasons, which were only okay, but returned the third book, as it cost $16 on Kindle and wasn’t to my liking.
Whether or not you like this show depends on your tolerance: the hosts and historians are good, providing a fair number of perspectives. But the package as a whole leaves something to be desired.