From PBS - TIME TEAM AMERICA plunges the viewer into the grime and glory of real-life archaeology: epiphany and exhaustion, discovery and disappointment. The team explores the mysteries of the past through what they find buried below the ground.
I usually devour a series like this with great relish, being an American History enthusiast, researcher and a "free-lance" archaeologist, but I found this lacking; especially as a PBS release, from whom I have come to expect the very best. Although this "team" uncovers some interesting tidbits and has some "modern" theories and equipment, the show ultimately fails to enthrall the viewer. The GPR, magnetometer and GPS guided equipment is not exactly new tech and it is fairly good for mapping and locating anomalies, but the results are often as difficult to interpret as finding shapes of animals up in the clouds.
The host is a nice enough guy, but when uncovering a fort, he seemed completely helpless in simple tasks like knowing compass directions, putting stick flags in the ground and has trouble with common words in the field. He asked one of his experts to explain what the gentleman meant by who "sutlers" were and what a fort "bastion" is. The "expert" carefully and pedantically explained to him that the bastion was for the enfilade. Ha! The host should stick to his artwork, which is quite nice in its own right. The antique bitters bottle the team discovered is a pertinent and interesting find, but it is dismissed with little explanation. The bottle is a highly desirable early Western bitters blown in a cabin form, embossed "GOLDEN BITTERS GEO. C. HUBBEL & CO." and is worth several hundred dollars in good condition. Made from high-proof spirits and an amalgam of spices and root and bark extracts, bitters was considered to be "healthy" and was the "hard liquor" of choice in the mid 1800s in America. There were literally hundreds of distillers who made their own version of it. Prohibition put an end to Americans' passion for the beverage and it faded into obscurity.
If you are not a seasoned archaeologist, paleontologist or historian, this series is good to tweak your interest, but don't expect much in the pay-off department, because even with all their so called experts and fancy gadgets, the most you will see in the completely inadequate "three day limit" for each project is not much more than one would expect from a very smart child with a Radio Shack metal detector. This is like watching a murder investigation thriller, where when the first clue turns up, they close the case and walk away. THREE DAYS! What the hell were they thinking?
Series is boring, slogging, inconsequential, repetitive in a not good way.
In S1 the narrator was also a conceptual artist who sketched th sites. Then he was Gone. Wha?
In S2, the narrator is this woman who desn;t seem to actually know anything. Wha?
The other team members baffle me as to what their jobs are.
Oh...they have just three days to solve the archaeological problem, but it’s never enough. What? If they can’t find what they need in the alloted “three days,” Why Not Give Them Four Days?
Very boring. No point to this unless you are maybe a first year archaelogy student.
The only interesting part is waching Rosemary (I think her name is), lose weight, lose the piercings in her face, and gradually cover up her many, many, many tattoos—culminating in the addition of lipstick and cheeks rouge, as they seem to try and humanize her for the camera.
I love this series. I'm sad to say that only one season is available on Prime though. It appears the series jumps from an earlier year (2009?), so the current/just finished 2014 series. I don't know if there are seasons in between those dates, but I encourage Amazon to make them available to us. So much for the logistics...now to the review:
This series fulfills the wanna-be archaeologist in me. Season one is devoted to hunting/discovering historical North American sites. I love seeing how they find small pieces of pottery, arrow-heads, spear tips and so much more. From there, they give visual representations of what the entire item would have looked like. They then explain the importance/non-importance of finding the item in the current dig. If the item is unusual, they explain how it was used back in the day and how it helps date the site. I love history, archaeology, and the hunt for treasure. This series is wonderful. It is not an action adventure, yet I find the quest to see what, if anything, is found at the current site very exciting/interesting to watch. I hope every season of this series becomes available since I haven't had access to it before.
Sadly, this spinoff of the british series just doesn't have the same 'magic' that it's british cousin has. When the right 'chemistry' is present the viewer is involved and entertained; but, this series just falls flat. I painfully watched several episodes hoping it would get better... that the american team would develop something on its own that would keep me coming back. It never happened. There are lots of places in the U.S. that deserve coverage of the archeological world with excitement and expectation. So sad this didn't
It's barely lightweight compared to UK's Time Team. I was immensely disappointed. It feels as though everyone is reading from scripts with little enthusiasm and too much exposition on even the finest points of archeology that are unnecessary for viewers. My apologies if you feel offended or impugned. Watch UK's Time Team on Acorn TV; my America rating will be immediately apparent. I'm proud to be an American born & bred; however, Time Team America is just not my cup of tea. Pun intended.
While the host doesn't do quite as good a job as Tony Robinson does in the original UK version (which I recommend, if it ever becomes available in the US), the archaeology explored in this series is equally interesting - if somewhat more limited in scope. I especially enjoyed the Topper, SC and Fort James, SD episodes. Sadly, because there are no Roman or Iron Age remains in the USA (or at least any such remains that we know about for now), the US-based series is unlikely to hold viewers interest for as long as the British version did (where it ran from 1994 to 2013).