A Turkish docuseries that manages to be both exciting and informative by combining analysis with action-packed dramatic reenactments.
Combining expert analysis and narration with live-action dramatic reenactments in much the same fashion as last year’s The Last Czars, Turkish historical fiction series Rise of Empires: Ottoman (Netflix) gets the formula right. Across six episodes, the series is aided by its focus on military conquest, as it documents Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II’s campaign to take the Byzantine capital of Constantinople.
This focus on large-scale strategizing, planning and warfare is tailor-made for frequent injections of excitement in what is otherwise a comprehensive documentarian approach. Context is provided by cutaways to enthusiastic narrators who build the appropriate amount of tension and translate into layman’s terms the particulars of military expansionism. A range of multimedia is deployed to aid this process, ensuring the series remains informative even when it occasionally leans a little heavily into overt drama.
The colossal victory and its reverberations throughout history are not left unaddressed by Rise of Empires: Ottoman, to the series’ credit. At a digestible length and with enough variety to sustain even the most casual binge-watcher with only a cursory interest in the subject matter, this is an undeniable win for Netflix in a field where little competition currently exists. Expect more shows along these lines in the future, but for now, make sure to enjoy this one.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.