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Rebels    Review by Pattye Grippo

A series about America's history? Makes you think back to all those history classes you struggled to stay awake through. Give this one a chance, because I doubt you will fall asleep during it!

The series begins in May 1610, 120 years after Columbus, with the first American settlers crossing the Atlantic to find the "new world." The voyage, which can today be made by plane in just six hours, was a two month odyssey back then and only 3 out of every ten people survived the trip. The people are making the trip to come to a land of plenty and riches. When some of the more recent settlers get to Jamestown, where 500 previous people had journeyed to, they do not find what they expected. Instead they find only 60 of the original 500 settlers remaining. The settlers have taken to eating their horses and are beginning to consider cannibalism. The new arrivals have come prepared to mine for gold and other resources, not for survival. And worst of all the native Americans, on whose land they built their colony, are angry and have declared them enemies.

One of them men who made the more recent crossing, John Rolfe, has come not to look for riches but rather to plant tobacco to sell to the British. The Spanish control the entire tobacco trade and it is forbidden to sell or trade the seeds to foreigners, but John Rolfe has somehow gotten his hands on some. His tobacco grows well in the area and there is a great crop. John Rolfe marries Pocahontas and her portrait becomes famous in England. Between the notoriety they get from England and the booming tobacco crops, Jamestown becomes a boom town. More settlers come on a regular basis. This is the beginnings of America, with much more detailed in the episode.

While it seems on the surface this is just another documentary about the United States, it is more than that. The visual images are quite stunning and the re-enactments of the scenes very realistic. But what truly makes this first episode interesting is that it gets modern Americans, such as Donald Trump and Michael Douglas, to comment on the policies and practices of that time as if it were happening today. This is a perspective never seen before and adds to the story about the early settlers we all learned as children.

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