[Reruns currently air on the BBC America cable network as part of the "History Explorer" program block, Wednesday nights at 11pm with rebroadcasts of the same episode at 3am Thursday and 2pm & 7pm on Sunday]
Archaeology isn't something that most people ever get much exposure to. It's a subject more often found in fictional movies and boring history lectures than a living, breathing experience. "Time Team" has done an excellent job of showing that digging into the past can actually be exciting and fun, not to mention educational. It's not something we can all run out and do, and given how time consuming and often fruitless actual archaeology can be, it's enjoyable to see the highlights of a three-day dig reduced into a one-hour program.
The premise is simple... a team of scientists from several academic backgrounds and specialties, along with the show's host, go to a different site each episode. Most episodes were filmed at various British sites, but a few have been filmed in France, the US and other countries as well. Many episodes are setup at the request of local towns or land owners who want the team to confirm or debunk legend and rumor about to the history of the area... "Was there a cathedral here 800 years ago?", "Were there Stone Age settlements in this area?", that kind of thing.
The crew does an excellent job of explaining what they come across. They put it into simple terms and give you the appropriate background information without having to dumb it down. Some of the finds are quite remarkable. Most episodes also include a project of some type, usually building something related to the era or subject matter of the current dig and done only with period-appropriate technology and materials.
I have only two complaints about "Time Team". First, its no longer in production =) Second, there are times where what the team finds is inconclusive or open to many interpretations. On several of these occasions, they'll take a possible explanation and run with it to the point where half the episode is built on supposition. Field archaeology isn't always an exact science, particularly given that each dig takes place over only three days, so some degree of speculation is unavoidable. My complaint is that they will sometime ignore other likely explanations solely to concentrate on a less-likely but more glamorous account of a site's history. So much of what the crew does is authentic and accurate that it detracts from the experience when it's clear they are using imagination or wishful thinking to spice up the show. This is not typical of the show though, I don’t want to imply that this happens every week.
All-in-all, it's a well made documentary that I'd recommend for anyone who enjoys history and reality television.
Time Team is an informative and fascinating show that follows a team of archaeologists as they try to discover what historical secrets lie just below the ground, and in true Time Team style, they have just 3 days to do it!
I think this is a great series - Tony Robinson (Baldrick from Black Adder) as the host is wonderfull to watch - he asks the questions that the averidge viewer is thinking, for example, "how do you know that's a stone age spearhead, It just looks like a broken stone to me!", but he does it in a way that's not patronising to the rest of the team.
The archaeologists that appear on the show know so much about there specialist field that they always give an insightfull view on that particular area of history. Phil Harding is my personal favorite, he always has so much enthusiasm for the project it really adds to the enjoyment of watching.
In all, a great show that's informative, historicaly interesting and above all, great entertainment. A fantastic concept, well worth watching.
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