The Dark Ages



The History Channel

Sunday, March 4

9 p.m.

You got some bad days? Think about those folks in the Dark Ages who had 600 years of bad days; you might feel a little better about your prospects watching two hours of a brutal but quite fascinating History Channel documentary, "The Dark Ages."

We're troubled by Britney's bald style and Anna Nicole's burial in the news of our day, but the people of antiquity were tormented by famine, bubonic plague, smelly hordes of Vikings and Visigoths and all manner of bloody plundering and pillaging.

In addition to the professorial talking heads, what enhances these egregious tales is that executive producer Vincent Kralyevich of KPI and producer-director-writer Christopher Cassell seemed to have mounted several armies of re-enactors for slaughtering each other. It's very effective madness. It looks like a horrific war among CapitalOne TV casts and crews.

The time frame is the fall of Rome in 410 A.D. to Pope Urban II invoking the First Crusade in 1095 A.D. to "free" the Holy Land. Because of those time constraints (there wasn't very good news coverage during those 600 years), we don't get a very personal look at the lives of most of the despots.

But if you run across any of them -- like Alaric, King Clovis, Emperor Justinian and Empress Theodora (ooooh, she's a bombshell!), Charles Martel, Alfred the Great, Charlemagne, Ivar the Boneless -- then it's just prudent that you hurry to get out of town.