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In which the image of a benevolent and capable Scott becomes tarnished; Antarctica is breached.


Episode Three: "Leading Men"


Character is foremost in this episode, and like the episode's title suggests, much attention is paid to the leaders of the expeditions. The judgement of each person's qualities in this series are wholly Roland Huntford's: Kathleen Scott is melodramatic and annoying; Birdie Bowers is unfailingly obsequious and probably in love with both Mrs. and Captain Scott; Scott indulges his propensity to whine and blame others; the Officers clash with Scott, whose leadership philosophy seems to be a mixture of Navy protocol and bad parenting. Scott is shown making one bad leadership decision after another: He ignores Oates's report on the ill health of the ponies, he woefully underestimates the impact weather can have on the motor sledges and his men, he retains P.O. Evans despite his tendency to get drunk and fall down, he announces that Amundsen must be attempting the Pole from the other side of the continent because

"There is but one spot on this side of Antarctica from which the pole can be reached, and we're in it."
This is countered with scenes from the Norwegian faction, which is shown with good comraderie, better weather, a cautious and humble outlook and a markedly better understanding of their surroundings.

This episode's delightful details:

As Scott calls a meeting of the British expedition, Cherry-Garrard (Hugh Grant) is seen at a typewriter. What's not explained is that Cherry-Garrard was the editor of The South Polar Times, the expeditions newspaper.

When the British eastern party happens upon The Fram, they greet the Norwegians in loud, slow and care-ful-ly e-nun-ci-a-ted English, evidently not able to overcome a human tendency to speak LOUDER to overcome perceived incomprehension.

An excellent illustration of just how far Scott's lack of understanding of the use of dogs goes is during a sledging journey at the start of the depot-laying. Scott and his party are shown trudging through the snow, leading sadsack ponies and not having any fun at all. Meares passes by on his dog sled with a cheery "Afternoon, sir!" and ends up at the depot long before Scott gets there. Rather than use the dogs to their demonstrated potential, Scott orders Meares to "slow down."

When the Norwegian party is shown packing up their sledges for their own depot runs, the tins used by the party are shown to be square, with round openings at the top. This is a precise representation of the types of tins Amundsen had designed especially for this trip. Again, a detail most viewers would not know to look for.




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