This fascinating, eight-part series uses the Colosseum as the dramatic setting to tell the thrilling story of the rise and fall of the Roman Empire — through the lens of the men and women who fought and died there. Unfolding chronologically — from the arena’s astonishing design to its eventual decay — each episode pinpoints a key historical figure, combining dramatic live-action sequences and special effects with interviews from leading historians and scholars for a vivid and revealing look at a pivotal period in world history.

What We Thought:

When I first saw commercials for Colosseum I thought it was going to be a series like Vikings. I somehow missed it completely when it aired so when I popped in this 2-DVD set, it turns out it’s more like other History Channel shows that use re-enactments with interviews and experts talking. I thought it was a scripted drama, but it’s more along the lines of a The Toys That Built America, The Food That Built America, etc.

That being said I still found it interesting. Each of the 8 episodes takes a look at something specific about Rome’s Colosseum. Whether it’s about the two gladiators who fought the main event fight in the first day of its opening to the man who designed it, the rulers involved, the women involved and more, it covers all aspect of the ancient building. You’ll learn all you can from these 8 episodes.

As a history fan I enjoyed Colosseum. Some of the effects during the re-enactments were a bit suspect considering The History Channel makes some top-notch TV, but other than that it’s exactly what you expect from the network. You have historians, experts and professors talking about the Colosseum along with actors portraying different gladiators, Romans and rulers. If you watch Ancient Aliens or other History Channel shows you know the mix of documentary style along with re-enactments that the network has mastered. I would have liked a scripted drama series, but at least this was educational.

Robert R. Cargill TV’s “Jerusalem: City of Faith and Fury,” “Ancient Aliens,” “Finding Jesus: Faith. Fact. Forgery”
Alexander Mariotti Hercules, TV’s “Spartacus,” “Rome”
Ian Beattie Alexander, Starred Up, TV’s “Game of Thrones”
Timothy Blore The King’s Man, TV’s “The Machines That Built America”
James Oliver Wheatley TV’s “The Lost Pirate Kingdom,” “Vikings,” “The Liberator”
Josh Taylor TV’s “Days of Our Lives,” “Guiding Light,” “Beverly Hills, 90210”

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