Voyage of Mystery

Narrators: Keith Morrison, Niquel Anthony.

Narrators: Keith Morrison, Niquel Anthony.

Interesting NBC News spec follows Dr. Luis Coin and his crew of student sailors in the Kon Tiki-like journey from Cadiz, Spain, to the New World. A watered-down version of PBS’ zillion-hour Columbus special, “Voyage of Mystery” offers an angle of the Christopher Columbus journey that’s worth exploring.

Coin has constructed an exact replica of the Nina, said to be Columbus’ favorite caravel, and with his band of sailors sets out to test his long-researched theory of Columbus’ true navigational course to the New World.

The years of research have led Coin to theorize that Columbus lied in his trip diaries to throw off the Portuguese and make sure he wouldn’t get into hot water with the pope. Using subtle clues that he has unearthed, Coin plots a course to the Caribbean to test his hypothesis.

Crew and vessel are painstakingly authentic, with only a few flashlights and lanterns as a concession to the 20th century. Even the food is kept on board in its natural state, since in 1492 there were no Frigidaires.

Straightforward news angle of trip brings a “you-are-there” immediacy, and such mundane yet extremely critical activities as how the crew goes to the bathroom are graphically illustrated. Viewer sympathy for the sailors, as well as the courageous sailors of the 15th century, is abundant.

Informative, pleasant summer diversion and a nice history lesson to boot.

Voyage of Mystery

(Sun. (7), 7-8 p.m., NBC-TV)

Production: Taped by Barry Fox Prods. and NBC News in Spain, Canary Islands and the Caribbean. Exec producer, Paul W. Greenberg; producer, director, Barry Fox; associate producer, Coleen Baldwin; writer, John Dyson.

Crew: Camera, Roy Page, Peter Fox, Barry Fox; editor, Bob Hill; sound, Peter Fox; music, John Foxx.

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