History Bites was a television series on the History Television network that ran from 1998-2003. 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 representing a channel-surfing viewer who never watched any one sketch for more than a few minutes at a time. Reruns of History Bites are currently being shown on History Television and The Comedy Network.
Best Episodes of History Bites
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Worst Episodes of History Bites
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History Bites Episode Guide
The Black Death
1st Oct 1998
The greatest medical disaster in Western History is seen through the eyes of television. Featuring news updates on the spread of the plague, as well as How-To shows on avoiding the plague, Martha Stewart's plague tips, a Dating Game to help repopulate the empty countryside, and Letterman's Top Ten Recruiting Slogans of the Flagellants.
Caligula Is Croaked
He's incompetent, insane, incestuous, and in charge. A Roman reign of terror ends with news coverage of the death of Emperor Caligula. As we scan the TV dial we see ancient Romans playing Jeopardy, Martha Stewart's orgy tips, infomercials, The Dating Game, plus commercials for professional concubines, Caligula's newest album, and pet food that's 100% condemned criminals.
Dead Philosopher Walking
The troublemaker who has upset so many apple carts, gets his punishment: death by Hemlock. As Athenian news anchors update us on great man's last hours, government officials and friends of the condemned Socrates argue who's to blame for this tragedy. In between we channel surf through stand-up comedians, movie reviews, a Greek Soap Opera, Don Cherry on the merits of nude athletes, and a medical ad by Hippocrates.
Great Fire Of London
Throughout history great cities all over the world have had one thing in common: burning down now and then. The fire that scorched most of central London in 1666 was particularly well documented by writers and historians of the time. A small fire that the Lord Mayor actually claimed could be ""pissed out by a woman"" turns into a vast inferno that destroyed thousands of homes and businesses as well as scores of churches and public buildings.
The story of one of the great lights of the Dark Ages. Charlemagne, the greatest European king of the his century, ends his century with an unexpected bonus: he is crowned Emperor of Rome by the Pope. Is it pious papacy or power politics?
The Declaration Of Independence
The Declaration of Independence was one of history's greatest documents. It was also a dangerous one to have your name on. Television reporters are there when the final draft is finished, then wait to see who will dare put their John Hancock on this revolutionary treatise.
It's power politics at it's most dangerous, and the beginning of democracy as we know it. The medieval media cover the signing of the Magna Carta, and explain it's significance for both barons and serfs. This episode also includes television parodies of The Antiques Roadshow, stand-up comedians, Seinfeld, and a rather nasty kids show.
The Vandals, barbarians from Northern Europe, had already conquered the Roman Empire to the South and East. In the year 455 AD, they arrived at the gates of Rome, ready to sack the city. They weren't the first barbarian tribe to take Rome, and they wouldn't be the last, but they obviously made quite an impression: ""Vandalism"" is still a nasty word.
The French Revolution
Set in the cruel climax of the French Revolution, this episode explores the death of famed firebrand Robespierre. After running out of fat aristocrats and corrupt church officials to behead, the mobs began to turn on each other. While the news networks report on Robespierre's final hours, other channels offer Martha Stewart, game shows, ads for divorce lawyers, tooth paste made from urine, and the perfect skin care product: arsenic!
The Spanish Inquisition
Nobody expects it. It's the infamous official witchhunt to end all witchhunts, as seen through news reports, stand-up comedians, Seinfeld, Jeopardy, exercise shows for expelling demons, and television ads for witch cures, ethnic cleanser, and ""prayer nuts.""
The Battle Of Waterloo
It's Napoleonic news coverage of Bonaparte's last stand. This breaking story is covered in live updates from the confusion of the battlefield, in-depth analysis from military experts, and exclusive post-battle interviews with the winners. In between the war coverage we go channel surfing past 19th Century soap operas, game shows, Martha Stewart, Seinfeld, and commercials.
The Bloody Aztecs
The story of the fateful meeting between two warrior cultures, that started out peacefully, went from bad to worse, and ended in a running battle across the swamps on central Mexico. The Aztecs win the battle, but are doomed to lose the war. As well as news coverage of the Spaniards arrival we channel hop through Aztec sports, Televangelists, game shows, kid shows, ads for chocolate, and Martha Stewart's hints for Aztec homemakers.