Watching The North – The Terror

I’m not very good at watching TV. More often than not, it’ll take me a week or more to get through an episode of something, even if it’s a mere forty minutes. My books are like sirens you see, and they’re almost always successful in luring back my attention.

But I thought I’d share some words on The Terror, one of the shows – it’s common for me to have a few on the go at the same time, so I can pick and choose depending on my mood – I’m making my way through. (I actually started it last night…though it was first aired in 2018. I’m late to everything.)

A few years ago, I tried hard, really hard to read Dan Simmon’s novel The Terror – I borrowed it from the library twice – on which the TV show is based, but found it difficult to get into. I don’t think I was in the right headspace at the time.

Nevertheless, I wanted to give the 10 part show a go because the trailer was too enticing and the subject matter too close to my heart. Plus, it’s directed by Ridley Scott, and I have faith in him. (Also, Scott hails from the North of England, so it sort of my duty to watch it.)

The Terror is a fictionalized account of Captain Sir John Franklin’s doomed Arctic expedition in search of the Northwest Passage in the 1840s. In the story, the British Royal Navel ships HMS Erebus and HMS Terror become trapped in ice. With limited resources and ebbing hope, the crew must try and survive the unforgiving Arctic conditions, as well as each other, while being stalked by something horrifying and nameless.

Interesting Note: The wreak of Erubus was discovered in 2014 and Terror was found two years later in 2016. Inuit knowledge played a valuable role in the discoveries.

If you’re too involved now to turn back, there’s much to be found about the lost expedition here. Also, Kat Eschner wrote an excellent article for Smithsonian Mag on the TV show, and the ways in which it ‘succeeds in being inclusive of indigenous culture.’

Update: I’ve just finished watching episode one and it was so good. Harrowing and riveting, with meticulous attention to detail. I’m in two minds as to whether I should give the novel another go. I probably will.

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