Seven Wonders of the Industrial World

The Industrial Revolution, whether perceived as an actual revolution or a gradually evolving process of change, was a time of agricultural-, manufacturing- and transportation-based change that impacted socioeconomic and cultural conditions throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Increased life span, in addition to lessened mortality rates by issue of disease and an ideological focus on work ethics and entrepreneurship, helped usher in these technological advances. It was a time of big ideas, experimentation and unfamiliar territory, which can be said for latter industrialisation as well, but in a different capacity. While the inventors of today construct smaller computer chips and energy efficient appliances from the safety of controlled lab environments, these pioneers of industry sacrificed life and limb on a much grander and unknown scale. The BBC docudrama series on the Seven Wonders of the Industrial World sheds light on significant visionaries of yesteryear whose ability to look beyond tangible horizons advanced mankind greatly. The series is comprised of seven episodes that feature the SS Great Eastern, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Bell Rock Lighthouse, the U.S. Transcontinental Railway, the London Sewer System, the Panama Canal and the Hoover Dam. Each story is handled impressively, with solid production values and professional actors. This BBC series is a far cry from the hokey re-enactments of Rescue 911. The impeccably written voiceover throughout is often biased in opinion and perspective while refreshingly bitchy, which adds a highly entertaining dynamic to what could have easily been dry material. For G-rated fare there is a surprising amount of gore and suggestive material, as toes are amputated, dead bodies are poked with sticks, blood is readily visible and faeces bubbles and streams through London streets. It is much less uptight than one would assume for a BBC docudrama. The DVD comes with no additional features aside from the program itself and actually requires the buyer to flip the disc for additional episodes. It’s a cheap and unappealing design but the program itself is cheeky and entertaining. (BBC/Warner)