Mention Vikings and archaeology in the same breath and I’m paying attention. Point to a TV show with archaeology about Vikings and I’ll most likely check it out So I’m a little late, so what, but “America’s Lost Vikings” on the (hah!) Science Channel (don’t get me started) for a couple of episodes has not distinguished itself from much of the dreck that passes for “serious” TV on its home channel or The History Channel (another “hah!” and another “don’t get me started”).
So these guys who mostly resemble the sidekick character on Home Improvement figure “Vinland” means “Wine Land” so they go to a winery in Maine and sip some local wine. Then they figure Vikings must have needed wood so they go to some forestry operation and the guy there points them to a tamarack tree, which they cut down with little iron axes like the V’s must have had. Whew, that was hard. And they gawk at The Maine Penny, and were headed to Noman’s Island off the Cape when I gave up and went to bed.
To be fair, I guess the show’s a cut above Ancient Aliens and some of the “Secrets of …” shows around, but really, it ain’t archeology. And it’s only tangentially about “Vikings” since the Norse folk who settled in North America weren’t raiding they were looking for places to settle and farm. “Viking” is, most properly, a verb for raiding and adventuring, which only applies when the applicable Norse folk were actually, well, raiding and adventuring. “Viking,” is not an ethnicity, it’s an occupation. And a part-time occupation at that, mostly.
I had hopes when the “Discovery Channel” morphed into the “Science Channel,” and I do enjoy shows like “How the Universe Works” (nevermind the pretentiousness of the title), and “Mysteries of the Abandoned” and “What on Earth,” but after a while the same dozen or so talking head “experts” making “WTF???” comments (which are pretty much interchangeable from topic to topic) gets tiresome and one begins to yearn for Danny Bonaduce on “World’s Dumbest Criminals.” At least he knew he was at the bottom of the barrel, and could sort of wink through it.