Civilizations is a history documentary produced by PBS Network in association with the BBC. The series is inspired by and is a follow up to the original ‘Civilisation’ by Kenneth Clark. He was a British art historian and museum director. Clark’s ‘Civilisation’ premiered in 1969, and mainly focused on the history of the western-European art while PBS’s Civilizations explores the global history of art and culture.
PBS Network has been known for years for its rich content, mostly presented as documentaries. Along with that, PBS also has a strong association with British producers, especially the BBC. In 2015, BBC officially announced Civilisations. Though the show is produced in an association of both BBC and PBS, the American version of the show is quite different from the British version.
The BBC version of the series is presented by Simon Schama, David Olusoga, and Mary Beard. The series follows these individual presenters and each of them presents the entire show. The American version by PBS is slightly different. The show has a narrator and different experts, who are featured along with the 3 presenters quite frequently.
The PBS version even faced some controversy due to this. As it so happens, in the BBC version, each episode explored different historical sites and the presenters gave their opinions and arguments on the subject. PBS’ Civilizations, instead of using the expertise of the presenters only, adds more researchers and experts in the show. They also allegedly reduced the scenes of Mary Beard.
This did not go well with many viewers and Ms. Beard herself took it to Twitter to mention this explicitly. In defense, PBS explained that the individual programs were being developed side by side by the producers and even the shoots were done separately, though by the same directors. PBS decided to include multiple voices, perspective and different stories in the show, as that would be more relevant to the US audience. Both the networks had access to the individual works of each other.
The first season of the show premiered on March 1, 2018 and was enthusiastically received by history buffs. Now, the question arises: will there be a ‘Civilizations’ season 2? We will delve into that question, but first let’s quickly look into the details of the series.
Who Are the Hosts of Civilizations?
The show is hosted by Simon Schama, David Olusoga, renowned British historian, and Mary Beard, a Cambridge historian, classist and a feminist. Liev Schreiber is the narrator of the show.
What is Civilizations About?
The show follows the three art enthusiasts as they travel around the globe to explore the making of civilization through the help of art. The first episode analyses the role that art plays in forging humanity itself. It estimates the role of creative imagination in the formation of different civilizations. The audience is taken to Petra in Jordan, where they witness the 9000 old carvings and to China, to learn more about the mystery of the Sanxingdui mask.
The following episodes indulge into the controversial topic of art and religion. We are taken through historical mosques, temples and churches, and symbolic sites through different and age-old religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. The episode addresses the impact of the Roman Empire’s decline on Christianity and how it rose from antiquity to where it is in the present day. We also hear opinions and arguments on the skepticism developing in today’s time for the older gods.
If a show is about the history of art, it is impossible that there is no mention of Renaissance. In one of the episodes, we see a beautiful amalgamation of eastern and western history. During the phase when Italy was going through its own transformation, Islam experienced its own amazing cultural transformation. The show explores the eastern history in depth by understanding the Papal Rome, Mughal India, and Ottoman Istanbul.
There are also episodes in the show that do not go as back as renaissance and 9000 years. While one episode sheds some light on how the use of light and colors came into existence in European art, the other talks about the landscape paintings and the motivations behind them.
Civilizations Season 2 Release Date: When will it premiere?
Civilizations season 1 premiered on March 1, 2018, on PBS Network and came to an end on July 3, 2018 after 9 episodes.
As far as the next season goes, we don’t have an official announcement yet. Though considering the unique nature of the show, we would be surprised if it doesn’t get another season. If renewed, Civilizations season 2 can release sometime in late 2020. We will update this section as soon as we hear more.
As there is no official announcement for the show, there is no official trailer yet. Though, here is the trailer of Civilizations season 1:
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