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In which the main characters of the drama are introduced including Amundsen, Nansen, Scott, Sir Clements Markham, Kathleen (Bruce) Scott and Ernest Shackleton; the race is begun.

Episode One: "Poles Apart"

As the title suggests, the dichotomy between the two explorers is set early on, with Amundsen (Sverre Anker Ousdal) being shown learning from native Netsilik in the Arctic, while Scott (Martin Shaw) is shown getting a dressing down from the British Admiralty for crashing his ship during maneuvers. The director does an excellent job throughout LPOE juxtaposing the two men in alternate scenes. "Poles Apart" shows the leaders choosing their men, negotiating their project plans and generally preparing for a large and dangerous journey. It is established early on that Amundsen is a careful and experienced planner, while Scott relies on more on luck and misplaced Naval protocol.

This episode's delightful details:

It is during the scene of Scott's dressing down where the Admiral says "You should stick to writing." This is actually Roland Huntford's opinion, though an Admiral may have said it at one time. He probably should have. The final entries in Scott's journal directly before his death prove that, if he was good at anything, it was writing with his audience in mind.

Our second wink from the writer is a scene depicting Scott meeting with his benefactor to discuss funding for the motor sledges. The script does a fine job depicting the animosity between fellow explorer Ernest Shackleton and Scott, and shows Scott obsessing over Shackleton's accomplishments throughout the series. In this scene, the benefactor points out a news article about Shackleton having landed at the base at McMurdo Sound, despite Scott's unmitigated gall in insisting that Shackleton swear not to use it. Scott is, as expected, shocked to hear that Shackleton has landed there. The benefactor, a London land tycoon, smoothly suggests "With nerve like that, the man should be in business." Shackleton was, in fact, a very poor businessman. He was easily duped in financial matters and tended to become involved in shady business dealings, mostly through his brother. Although his financial straits did not come to light until after Scott's expedition, we believe this was thrown in to make us Polargeeks smirk knowingly.

This episode's goofs:

In the first Amundsen scene, in an igloo in the Arctic, begins with a scene inside an igloo lit by a roaring fire. The closing shot shows the same igloo from about 25 feet away, glowing with a steady, unnatural, and wholly modern light.

When Amundsen and Cook meet in Copenhagen, a bearded and corpulent Cook (Brian Dennehy) apologises for his scruffy appearance, but says that the papers wanted him to remain "native" until his return to the U.S. In reality, Cook arrived at Copenhagen clean-shaven and relatively trim.

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