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Published on November 27th, 2006 | by Erich Becker


Desperate Crossing: The Untold Story of the Mayflower

The History Channel once again upholds its tradition of creating rewarding, interesting specials that both entertain and enlighten with Desperate Crossing: The Untold Story of the Mayflower which explores the separatists movement away from the Church of England and subsequent settling of Plymouth Colony in North America.

Through the common use of narration, voice over from first party sources and interviews with historians Desperate Crossing begins with the movement away from the recently founded Church of England which saw the King denounce the Pope and place himself as the figurehead and leader of the church. Of course this wouldn’t sit well with everyone and a separatist movement was founded which ultimately lead to a group of different-thinking individuals boarding the Mayflower and setting sail for “the New World” where religious persecution couldn’t find them.

Anyone who progressed through elementary school is familiar with the story of the Pilgrims, their trek across the Atlantic Ocean and peace accord with the native peoples which ultimately led to the first Thanksgiving (or harvest festival as it was known back then). What they don’t necessarily teach you is the deep circumstances which lead the Pilgrims to leave England and the Netherlands to settle the virgin New England coast. What Desperate Crossing does in its three hour runtime is bring in several high profile, and historically accurate, characters for the viewer to follow through the trials and tribulations of the new colony.

What is equally impressive is the program’s runtime of 180 minutes never really feels that long as the pace in which the specials is produced serves up very little downtime and moves along briskly focusing on events and years of significance that helped to shape one of the fledgling colonies of what would become the United States.

The acting is generally good throughout sans some dramatic overacting by the actor portraying King James I, but as a period piece all of the pieces fit together into a believable setting that almost makes you forget you are watching a reenactment.

Two interesting points worth mentioning here are the insight from descendants of the Native Americans who meet and were entertained by the Englishmen at the first Thanksgiving and the fact that that event plays a very small roll in the special’s story. The focus of the program is on setting up the voyage, the reasons that lead up to such a voyage being attempted, and the first, deathly, year here in America which is quite refreshing for those who have seen and heard the story of Thanksgiving dozens of times.

Desperate Crossing: The Untold Story of the Mayflower premieres Sunday, November 19 at 8PM/7C on The History Channel. 


About the Author

Thirty-something with a love of everything we cover here, and a few things we don't. Erich has run Entertainmentopia since the site's inception in 1999, countless redesigns, a few crashes, and a lot of media later, here you have it!

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