History Channel's Washington a Personal Glimpse at American Founding Father

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Washington DVD

Jeff Daniels narrates WASHINGTON, a three-part miniseries for The History Channel that mixes re-enactment with seated interview segments that do a deep-dive into the events in the life of George Washington, the first President of the United States.

Nicholas Rowe (YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES) plays the titular founding father in program that strips away the folk history to reveal the man beneath, complete with flaws and failures. From his first military command -- which resulted in an embarrassing attack on a French diplomatic party with Washington signing a confession branding him as an assassin -- to his tactical decisions as the Commander in Chief of his own army in the American Revolution, WASHINGTON is a story of growth and maturiing, of making mistakes and learning from them. Rowe presents a stoic Washington throughout, even when forced to make hard decisions such as hanging deserters or having mutineers execute their leaders in a firing squad.

The role of Martha Washington is played by Nia Roberts (CASHBACK, DOCTOR WHO), who makes minor appearances though the documentary after the couple first meet, as much of the focus afterward is Washington's years spent commanding a ragtag army through harsh environment with nothing in the way of support from the Congress. So we only see Martha's role in George's life when they meet and when he returns home, with one brief scene where it is mentioned that she would visit him at encampments.

The reenactment scenes are so well done that I sometimes wished for a version that did not include the 'interruptions' by the interviewed experts, which include President Bill Clinton and General Colin Powell. However, the battle maps and the animation of the troop movements on it went a long way to aiding my understanding of how the battles were fought and how each army's strategy was laid out.

WASHINGTON is an excellent presentation of the formative events of the young country that doesn't burnish the less-inspiring bits of history -- making it all the more inspiring for seeing those events dealt with and overcome. You will come away from this with a new understanding of Washington and many other of the founding fathers whose lives crossed his path.

Grade: 
4.0 / 5.0