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Masterpiece: Atlantic Crossing
(Kyle MacLachlan, Sofia Helin, Tobias Santelmann, et al / 3-Disc DVD / PG-13 / 2021 / PBS)

Overview: Inspired by true events, this is the untold story of the Norwegian Crown Princess becoming an influential figure in world politics during World War II, depicting the tragic events of the war from a unique and unseen perspective.

DVD Verdict: I have read that Shakespeares Hamlet and Macbeth have little to do with the actual historical characters and events on which they are based. Still, I have never met anyone who cared about that in deciding whether they liked those plays.

The same approach should probably be taken to this series, which plays fast and loose with World War II history. But that is hard to do, because we are so much closer to the real events that this series rewrites than Shakespeares audience was to minor figures in Medieval Scottish and Danish history (did they know anything about those fields at all?)

It was very hard for me to sit through the depiction of the female lead, the Crown Princess of Norway, inspiring Lend-Lease, for example. I can imagine that Swedes do not particularly enjoy seeing their former king portrayed as a Nazi sympathizer.

But if you do not know anything about World War II history, then I guess that would not bother you. Just as I am not bothered, in reading Hamlet, by the discrepancies between the play and Medieval Danish history.

What we are left with is imitation Downton Abbey - lots of nice-looking aristocracy and their homes, not too much concern with unglamorous commoners.

Also a story to inspire timid women: a timid young princess - think Princess Diana - comes into her own and eventually grows a backbone. She even helps to save Western civilization. A story lots of timid women could relate to.

If you are a World War II history buff, or a guy, or a woman who does not need fantasy history to feel inspired to develop her potential, this will probably seem like a long-winded costume drama, which is what it actually is.

But if you are part of the intended audience, you might enjoy it. And so long as you do not mistake what happens for history, I do not know that there is any harm in that.

George Washington did not chop down that cherry tree, after all, yet Parson Weams tale of how he did, but then did not lie about it provided moral courage to countless young Americans of a previous era.

Therefore, and in closing, it contains a great story told with huge action and lot of emotional screens with war and love themes and wherein some things seem impossible, we watch thus we believe, that the good will rise to the top at the end.

Oh, and if this series helps timid women develop moral strength, that would not be a bad thing indeed. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

Episode 1: The Attack
Crown Princess Martha and Crown Prince Olav fear a German invasion of Norway, but the Cabinet does not believe how real the danger is before it is too late. The Royal Family and Cabinet are forced to flee as the Nazis close in on them. Martha and Olav must make a heartbreaking decision to save their family.

Episode 2: The Throne
Martha is placed under enormous pressure from her Nazi-sympathizing uncle, King Gustav. He appeals to Hitler in an attempt to save the Norwegian dynasty by declaring little Harald king. When Olav flees to London, she must decide how to bring her children to safety, even though it means they may never be reunited with Olav again.

Episode 3: Crossing the Atlantic
The perilous journey across the Atlantic is dramatic. When she arrives to the USA, President Roosevelt invites Martha to stay at The White House as his guest and showers her and her children with attention. The mood changes when German bombs begin to fall over London. Martha fears for Olavs life and gets bad news.

Episode 4: Fires Spread
Olav asks Martha to influence President Roosevelt to support the allies against the Nazis. But the President has promised his people to keep the country out of the war. When Martha criticizes him, it takes a toll on their friendship. But then she finds a way for him to keep his election promises, while also helping Norway and the allies.

Episode 5: Empty Promises
When the military aid the USA had promised Norway has not materialized, Martha steps out into the public limelight to appeal to the American people for help. Just as she starts to see results, an unexpected source interferes. It is obvious that the Presidents feelings for her are deeper than friendship.

Episode 6: The Giant Awakens
The Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, and the downcast President turns to Martha for comfort. Olav confronts Martha about the rumors of an affair between her and the President, but when an unexpected threat arises, she and the children need the Presidents protection.

Episode 7: The Gift
Olav accuses Martha of placing the children in grave danger, without her achieving anything for Norway. He gives her a clear ultimatum. Martha is put on the spot when President Roosevelt announces that he will present her - and Norway - a substantial gift and asks that she tells him what she feels for him.

Episode 8: A Queen Returns
Martha suffers a great loss and must decide if she will remain in the USA or return home to Norway with the children after the war. But before she can start a new life, there is one final battle Martha must face - maybe the greatest battle of her life.