Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Fun Animated History Series

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I have just rediscovered a history series I LOVED as a kid.  From the mid-70’s (dating me in the extreme), it’s been bugging me for weeks, nay months, that I can’t remember the title.

I knew it existed – I used to watch it! But Ted couldn’t remember anything about it,and neither could anyone else I asked.  Thank goodness for the Internet – someone figured out right away which series I was talking about:

ONCE UPON A TIME… MAN

(Il etait un fois… homme)

Yes, it has the word MAN in its title; it was created in the waning years of the word’s acceptability as a noun describing, well, mankind.  Now renamed “humanity” and I guess not exactly the same thing.

Anyway, I’m happy I found it, because except for the first 3 episodes (creation, neanderthal and cro-magnon man), and the last episode (the future – or a 40-year-old vision thereof!), it seems like an ideal fun way to reinforce any homeschool history curriculum. 

The remaining 22 episodes (once you’ve eliminated those four) are still too broad for Story of the World, which spends a single year on the ancients – this series only gives it four episodes.  Nevertheless, a quick, animated overview of world history probably wouldn’t HURT, especially near the beginning of a 4-year history cycle.

In any event, my mind can rest:  I have the title… it really has been bugging me for a while!

The basic format of the show is following the adventures of a few archetypical characters (the “ordinary guy”) throughout the course of civilization.  Because it’s the same characters in every episode, albeit in a new setting, there’s a weird continuity that I felt gave the series coherence and watchability – and relieved the dryness of most history shows.

imageThe 26-episode series is still available, now on DVD.  I understand that all international versions have the English soundtrack, but they are not the right format to play on North American DVD players. 

The series is probably also available for download through whatever disreputable channels you use for that sort of thing – not that I’m counselling you one way or another, you understand.

(for some reason, as היו היה אדם, it seems to have been very popular in Israel, and several episodes can be seen on YouTube under that title)

Here’s the series intro – this segment, along with the fish “evolving” appears at the beginning of every episode, so if this disturbs any creation-minded readers, you probably won’t want to expose your kids to the series:

(my kids will probably just assume the morphing is a metaphor – all kinds of crazy stuff can happen in animations! – and we’ll deal with the down-deep of it all of that a little later down the line…)

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