REVIEW: Deadliest Warrior

June 7, 2009 at 4:34 pm Leave a comment

Title: Deadliest Warrior
Media type: Television
Primary subject: World History
Other subjects: Science (physics)

Deadliest Warrior (http://www.spike.com/show/31082) is a 1-hour show on the Spike TV cable network. It kind of came out of nowhere and has ended up surprisingly popular. Spike is a very much a male-centered network and this show is no different.  It has a very simple premise. Take two warriors from different areas or time periods and using very fancy technology simulate which would win in a battle. It involves a weapon by weapon breakdown of each warrior followed by a violent, re-enacted (or perhaps just “enacted” since it never happened?) battle. They often also have short historical background pieces on the warriors.  Episodes of the first season included Spartan vs. Ninja, Pirate vs. Knight and Samurai vs. Viking among others.

The show has very high production values in just about every way.  The tests are convincing for the most part and the acted sequences would rival any Hollywood production. The show, while mature, is without a doubt educational but with a definite “cool” factor to it.  You won’t find many shows that have lines like “dude, that guy is way dead” and “we use this accelerometer to track full movement in 3d space to compare force and speed” in the same episode but you certainly will here.

Motivational Potential:

4/5

Misses being a 5 only because it is so male-centric. That’s not to say girls won’t enjoy it just that certainly some won’t.  Otherwise, it is very interesting to students.  In fact, it was a student who first introduced me to the show.  Every Wednesday I’d have kids running in to talk about the latest episode. I’ve had them run in and ask if I’ve bought the latest Halo game but this hasn’t ever happened before with a show so heavily built on historical content.

The show focuses on the most interesting aspects of some of the most interesting characters in history, you can’t ask for much more than that. Even the science content is interesting due to the way it is used in context. You may not find many cases where kids are particularly interested in momentum, velocity and motion but this show will certainly help.

Educational Potential:

3/5

This is very hard to rate. In small bursts there is some very good content here.  That said, out of a 12 episode season I showed roughly 15 minutes in class.  In large part I didn’t show much because of the violent content.  In some cases scenes are easily edited but in others there’s simply no way of making it classroom appropriate. The violence is all simulated but even then can tend to be very gory.

Appropriateness aside there is still a weakness in that most of the content of the show is never going to show up on any state tests.  While the knight’s use of a morning star is awfully cool it isn’t necessarily all that important. As I said there are short historical background pieces in each episode that are, however, very useful for the classroom in large part due to their slick production values. This show would easily find home on Discovery or The History Channel and it is not their fault that state tests don’t cover the material. It is an educational documentary series just dressed up really, really well.

Overall:

I’m very glad I found this show. It appeals to both the history AND technology geek in me but in a cool way.  I’m eager to see what a second season will bring. I will get my dream match of a Roman Soldier vs. A Mayan? I’m not sure where else the show can go from here given all the match ups already played out (maybe a tournament of champions?) but it is exciting nonetheless. To see history presented as something for the popular culture to care about is a wonderful thing and thanks to the creators of the show for helping out!

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Entry filed under: Television.

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