You know those story narrations we heard as a kid on shows like Reading Rainbow, that were so good they glued our ears to the television? Voices like Earle Hyman and Morgan Freeman are probably two of the best. Nicholas Day, the host of Netlfix’s Myths & Monsters is another one you can add to that list. If you have any interest in myth or where they came from or how they began, and love an excellent narrator, then you need to watch Myths & Monsters.
Myths & Monsters is excellent in that it discusses many of the most well known mythological events and figures, but also some that are a little more obscure. Even the most casual mythology enthusiasts have heard of Achilles, The Odyssey, The Iliad, krakens, King Arthur, Aeneas, Jason and the golden fleece, and Robin Hood. But what is more interesting is learning about the lesser known myths like Ivan and Koschei the Deathless, Actaeon, Fergus Redside, and Iphigenia. In order to be more than just another show about legends, it’s essential for a show like Myths & Monsters to include topics that will grab the attention of the average fan, possibly making them even more interested, while keeping the more dedicated fans intrigued. Myths & Monsters does this very well indeed.
It efficiently uses animation and historical artwork to support the points as they are discussed by Day or any number of the highly knowledgeable mythology professors. Day, a renown Shakespearean actor, is no stranger to monologues. His voice has a quality that keeps us entranced and relaxed all at the same time. He speaks with a confident knowledge that makes us believe all of this information is at his disposal. The dimly lit wall covered in old texts behind Day is a little cliché in educational-type programming, but I’m willing to look past that. There is a delicate balance between the narration and scholarly input that allows us to listen to the story of myth while learning about what it means simultaneously. Kudos to the director, Daniel Kontur, and writer, William Simpson who along with Day also worked on Murder Maps (2015-2017) which is also streaming on Netflix.
Each episode covers a different aspect of mythology, the titles of which are: Heroes and Villains, The Wild Unknown, War, Love and Betrayal, Change and Revolution, and The End of All Things. Each episode follows a similar outline, which can get a bit monotonous after constant watching I’m not going to lie, but the episodes are short enough where that isn’t a huge issue. Each episode also seems very European-centric, with a slight nod to North Africa but little or to mention of the Americas or Asia. Although Kontur couldn't confirm a second season, it seems likely, which will bring more exploration of myths in other parts of the world as well.
Myth & Monsters has 6-45 minute episodes which are streaming now on Netflix.