History Bites is a television series on the History
that ran from 1998 to 2003. Created by Rick Green, History Bites
explored what would be on television if the medium had been around for
the last 5,000 years of human history. Typically, a significant
historical event was chosen and mock news, sports and entertainment
programming was created around it. Each episode included several
segments of Green offering historical background of the episode's
chosen era and otherwise showed frequent shifts from one comedy sketch
to another (as well as returning to certain sketches repeatedly)
representing a channel-surfing viewer who never watched any one sketch
for more than a few minutes at a time.
History Bites are currently being shown on History
Television and The Comedy Network.
7 External links
Contemporary movies, television shows and personalities (Martha
Stewart, Don Cherry, Tom Brokaw, Dennis Miller,
Larry King and Andy
Rooney, among others) were comically adapted to the chosen era. For
example, the legendary revenge story of the "47 Ronin" of early
18th-century Japan was told in the style of a made-for-TV movie
modelled on the real-life film The Godfather.
Television sitcoms such
All in the Family
All in the Family were also frequently parodied, with
the characters commenting on time-appropriate events, be it Joan of
Arc's virginity or the benefits of joining the elite Persian
Immortals. Game and reality shows were parodied as well, including a
depiction of the
Donner Party as participants in an 1846 version of
Survivor, and almost every episode featured segments that parodied
Jeopardy!, Who Wants to be a Millionaire and/or The Weakest Link, in
which contestants answered trivia questions about the common beliefs
of the featured era. Anachronisms were frequent and deliberate, adding
to the show's distinctive humour. For example, in one episode set in
AD 100 and focusing on gladiatorial combat, the "Zamboni family" was
responsible for tidying the
Colosseum between bouts, in reference to
modern Zamboni machines that repair rink surfaces during intermissions
at hockey games.
By far, the earliest setting for an episode has been 6000 BC, in which
viewers were advised on pre-monotheism ritual as well as the new
technologies of agriculture, the bow and arrow and house-building. It
also included a parody of a hospital show in which the treatment for
every ailment was a trepanation. The most recent setting was 1880, in
an episode largely about "The Shootout At Fly's Photographic Studio",
a historically more accurate description of the event commonly known
as the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
The show's production values improved over its five seasons,
increasing and refining the use of sets, costumes and props. Never
lost was Green's message (stated explicitly in the first episode and
alluded to in the closing of each episode) that fond nostalgia is
misplaced and that the lives of our ancestors were rife with
oppression, ignorance (including casually held antisemitic and/or
racist beliefs), disease and suffering. Ultimately, the title History
Bites has a double meaning, referring to the "soundbites"-like nature
of the short clips from each sketch, as well as the often brutal and
unpleasant nature of the history being satirized.
Main article: List of
History Bites episodes
Films, television programs and personalities parodied on History Bites
This television-related tv list is really incomplete; you can help by
20/20, parodying Barbara Walters
All in the Family
America's Most Wanted, usually changed to "_____'s Most
Wanted" when in a different country
Ebert & Roeper
Ed Sullivan and The
Ed Sullivan Show
Everybody Loves Raymond
Hockey Night in Canada, including a direct parody of Don Cherry
Home Shopping Network
Howard Stern Radio Show
Infomercials for products/services common of the time
It's a Wonderful Life, only the scene where George asks Clarence what
happened to everybody
Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In
Married... with Children
NBC Nightly News
Russell Oliver (a used jewellery salesman in Toronto with famously
The Andy Griffith Show
The Crocodile Hunter
Late Show with David Letterman, usually, but not always, in the form
of a Top 10 list
The Price Is Right
The Tonight Show
The Weakest Link
Washington Week in Review, usually just called Week in Review
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
American Justice, as Medieval Justice to tell the story of the Knights
Annie Hall, adapted to be set during The French Revolution
A Beautiful Mind, adapted to tell the story of Sir Isaac Newton
The Bachelor, adapted to tell the colonization of Utah and the then
Mormons' practice of polygamy.
The Day the Earth Stood Still, adapted to tell the story of
The Godfather, adapted to tell the story of the 47 Ronin
The Olympic Games
Jerry Springer Show, adapted to tell the story of Mary, Queen of
Law & Order, adapted to depict an investigation and prosecution of
the murder of Thomas Becket
The Osbournes, adapted to tell the story of Pope Alexander VI
Pokémon/Sailor Moon, adapted to tell the story of The Borgias as well
as Leonardo da Vinci's inventions.
Scooby-Doo, adapted to tell the story of Mountain Meadows Massacre
Thelma and Louise, adapted to tell the story of Boudica
The fifth season of
History Bites and most of the specials feature
cartoon segments in a wide variety of styles animated by Bryce Hallett
of Frog Feet Productions. These include parodies of Batman: the
Animated Series (aka Captain Puritan), Pokémon/anime cartoons,
Scooby-Doo and 1950s educational films as well as original material
and styles in the specials. The cartoons are short but ambitious
considering the modest budget of the show.
History Bites "The End Of The World" was a one-hour special on how
people reacted to the first new millennium on December 31, 999.
After the end of the 5th season,
History Bites continued with a series
of one-hour specials. These episodes did not feature the
channel-surfing theme that earlier episodes did.
History Bites "Mother Britain", airing on Canada Day, July 1, 2005,
covering the history of the relationship between Canada and Britain
from the first explorers to the patriation of the Constitution. It
featured actors portraying all 21 Canadian Prime Ministers up to that
History Bites "Uncle Sam", about the history of U.S./Canada relations.
History Bites "The Separatists", a special that aired June 24, 2007 on
the history of separatists movements in Canada from the Upper and
Lower Canada Rebellions to the Clarity Act.
History Bites "Celine Dion", aired on Feb. 10, 2008, examined the
history of Canadians moving to the United States for fame and money.
History Bites "Sex & Power", aired in 2008, about the intertwining
of sex and politics throughout history.
Regulars on the show (along with the characters they played/parodied)
Ron Pardo: David Letterman, Ed Sullivan, Howard Stern, Dennis Miller,
Don Cherry, Tom Brokaw, Ted Koppel, Ivan the Terrible, Larry King,
Regis Philbin, Julius Caesar, Justinian I, William Shakespeare, Henry
Hudson, Bill Maher,
Dating Game contestant, Jerry Seinfeld, Jerry
Springer, interviewed merchant, Woody Allen, Archie Bunker, Paul
'Pegleg' Begala, Neil Diamond, Gene Siskel, Bill Clinton, Sir Isaac
Rick Green: Ron MacLean, Hugh Downs, Timmy the
Dating Game contestant, interviewed monk.
Bob Bainborough: period newscaster, game show host, infomercial
lawyer, Andy Rooney, Tamerlane, Galileo Galilei, Nostradamus, John
Calvin, Oliver Cromwell, Pythagoras,
Neolithic doctor, Shakespearean
actor, Samurai, Vlad the Impaler, Alexander the Great's general.
Janet van de Graaf: Martha Stewart, Bev Downer, Barbara Walters, Greta
Van Susteren, Anne Robinson, Empress Theodora, period on-location
newscaster, interviewed noblewoman.
Teresa Pavlinek: period newscaster, Cleopatra,
Valley girl peasant, interviewed
Peter Oldring: Children's show host, Cheng Ho, Alexander the Great,
George Costanza (Seinfeld),
Dating Game contestant, dating
infomercial host, interviewed rebellious teenager.
Sarah Lafleur: video show host,
Elaine Benes (Seinfeld), dating game
contestant, Joan of Arc.
Sam Kalilieh: Throk (
Neolithic farmer), Sostratos of Sycion (Olympic
Pankration champion), Thutmoses III, Sargon of Akkad, Tom Green,
Pistachio the gladiator, interviewed common man.
As well, members of the show's writing staff were frequently used as
extras or in bit roles, and as the series progressed, the writers
(especially Danny DiTata) began to be featured in larger roles:
Danny DiTata (writer): Steve Irwin, Wyatt Earp, Jesus, Richard
George Costanza (Seinfeld), leper.
Jeremy Winkels (writer): Paul Shaffer, common man.
Eric Lunsky (writer): Charles the Simple, Native American, Egyptian
architect, interviewed merchant, interviewed peasant.
Amy McKenzie (writer): Judge Judy, Shakespearean actor (not actress),
Duncan McKenzie (writer): Abraham Lincoln, William Farel, Leonard the
Notable guest stars include:
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