History Bites  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

History Bites was a television series on the History Television network that ran from 1998-2003. Created by Rick Green (The Frantics, Prisoners of Gravity, The Red Green Show), 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.

Reruns of History Bites are currently being shown on History Television and The Comedy Network.



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 as Seinfeld and 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 clean 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 for the past 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.



Films, television programs and personalities parodied on History Bites include: Template:Inc-tv





The fifth season of History Bites and most of the specials feature cartoon segments in a wide variety of styles animated by Bryce Hallett aka 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 point.
  • 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) include:

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:

Notable guest stars include:

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "History Bites" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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