There's no way to boil down the entire history of mankind into 12 hours over six nights. But History makes an impressive attempt with "Mankind: The Story of All of Us" (8 p.m. CT Nov. 13; 3 stars out of 4) by focusing on how pivotal moments--the taming of fire, the idea of farming, the creation of weapons and tools, the first traders--shaped mankind's destiny.
Josh Brolin narrates, starting with the Big Bang and hitting, sometimes too quickly, on major events all the way up to the present. Reenactments and CGI footage bring to vivid life many of those events. In the first episode, we see the Battle of Megiddo in 1479 BC, the first use of the crossbow in China, the building of the pyramids and many others.
Watching the first iron smelting done in slow-mo and set to electronic dance music might make you chuckle, but overall the reenactments should entertain anyone who was bored studying history. They might actually learn a bit of what they missed.
The series augments the facts it does present with the perspectives of various "experts," such as this comment about early cave drawings: "They're saying 'I lived' or 'I had a sense of my own identity. I am somebody,'" says Jame Meigs, editor-in-chief of "Popular Mechanics."
Whether you consider them qualified or not, NBC news correspondent Brian Williams, Dr. Mehmet Oz, writer Henry Louis Gates Jr., chef Anthony Bourdain and many others chime in.
This is history lite, to be sure, but it's probably a lot livelier than your sixth-grade history class was.
LINK: History has created a bunch of tie-ins for "Mankind." Learn more at history.com.
Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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