Review: Shipwreck! Captain Kidd, National Geographic Channel Tuesday November 18 9 pm

My name is Captain Kidd as I sailed as I sailed
My name is Captain Kidd as I sailed
My name is Captain Kidd and God’s laws I did forbid
And most wickedly I did as I sailed…

Great Big Sea did a version of the old song not that long ago, and I couldn’t help but sing it – at volume – as I watched ‘Shipwreck!’. The extant of my knowledge of Captain Kidd really wasn’t much deeper than that provided by the song, either, so I came to this documentary ready to be entertained, informed, and not to be such a nit-picker.

What a glorious thing it would be, to be an underwater archaeologist, searching for pirate (or more accurately, privateer) ships! In this documentary, we follow Charles Beeker (Indiana University) and his team as they go about identifying a shipwreck off the coast of the Dominican Republic.  Evidence mounts that the wreck is none other than the ship that led to the downfall of Captain Kidd, who, apparently, was not a particularly effective privateer (in any event, his execution following trumped-up charges of piracy was a nasty example of 17th century realpolitick). We follow Kidd’s story while paralleling the story of the discovery and excavation of the wreck. Dramatic tension in this film is provided by the weather – will the storms prevent the excavation? Are the divers in danger? – and by Kidd’s own disastrous career. All in all, you can’t go wrong with pirates. Arrrrrrrr!

Shipwreck! Captain Kidd airs on the National Geographic Channel Tuesday November 18 9pm.

memo to the Canadian version of National Geographic Channel: less Dog Whisperer, more stuff like this please.