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Headsup: Monsters and Machines

Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands Blu-Ray Nazi Mega Weapons Season 3 DVD

Loosely based on the ancient epic poem, Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands follows the battle-weary title character as he reintegrates himself back into his home community of Herot, where he has to fight politics, family tension, and the monster Grendel.  The series was pitched as ITV’s answer to Game of Thrones–it had a budget of £17 million ($23 million US) and was rumored to have offered the actors contracts with options to return for five years.  The show’s creators didn’t shy away from the comparison–Tim Haines (co-creator and executive producer) described the juxtaposition of the two by saying that “Game of Thrones… is a great series but many people, including younger viewers, can’t watch it because of the level of sex and violence.  Beowulf is a show that delivers epic fantasy, danger and excitement but that three generations can enjoy and, we hope, find fascinating for many series.”

Unfortunately, the “less sex and violence” approach (along with subpar special effects) didn’t seem to work out too well with fans, and with an average audience of only 1.5 million viewers, the show was cancelled after only one season.  If you were one of the ones who stuck it out and want to make sure you can re-visit Kieran Bew rocking his long hair (and longsword) for years to come, you can grab the DVD or Blu-ray on Amazon for $34.99 and $42.99 respectively (be aware that–at the time of this writing–Amazon has something funky going on with the search on this particular title where the two formats aren’t grouped together–to find the Blu-ray you have to search for “Beowulf Blu-ray” to find it, where it’s oddly paired with the movie of the same name from 2007.)

In the current political climate with all the divisive feelings going around, it’s good to know there’s still something we can all agree on: the Nazis were complete and utter bastards.  They did, however, have some pretty brilliant ideas and inventions when it came to the technical aspects of warfare.

In Nazi Mega Weapons: Season Three, we see historical experts explore multiple deep dark places throughout Europe to uncover the evidence of those weapons that can still be seen (by the trained eye) today–creepy yet fascinating.  Some of the mega weapons examined in Season Three are the Kehlsteinhaus (which the Allies called the “Eagle’s Nest”)–a crazy mountain-top conference center gifted to Hitler for his 50th birthday, the “megafortress” fortifications built on the Channel Islands after their 1940 invasion, and what are dubbed the “killer subs”–the Type 21 U-boat which was the first true submarine and which several experts agree could have very well won the war had a few things gone differently.

This season also expands beyond the weapons of the Nazis and touches on those of Japan as experts investigate the Battleship Yamato (the then-biggest battleship in the world) and the extensive tunnels, bunkers, etc. built all over the island of Okinawa.

No bonus features on this one, but the rare archive footage and the CGI (along with the enthusiasm of the experts when they find something) make it worth watching.  If you’re a PBS Passport member (basically if you’ve donated $60+ to PBS this year) you can have access to it on their website; if not, you can stream the whole season on Amazon for only $4.99 or $7.99 HD.  If you want to own it (or gift it) you can grab the DVD set on Amazon for $22.99.