The best history lessons are those delivered with enthusiasm, excitement and, hopefully, without textbooks. That’s certainly the case of The Weapon Hunter, T+E’s latest series starring rock promoter/actor/military enthusiast Paul Shull, who traverses the globe on the hunt for the weapons and munitions that shaped the world.
Debuting Tuesday, the six-part series from Cream Productions (Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan) tracks Shull into the hills of B.C., where he meets friend Brook, who is in the final stages of completing a 1940s Achilles Tank Destroyer. After logging thousands of hours on rebuilding the rare piece, Brook needs a brake pad so the beast can roll in a Veteran’s Day parade.
Enter Shull, whose journey takes him to a Vancouver basement to pick through 40 years of collecting by a man named George; his collection of Second World War items includes helmets, uniforms and a rare Liberator gun that was dropped by the Allies into France to arm the Resistance. Then it’s on to Los Angeles to a seven-acre military outpost called Tankland. Still without a brake pad for Brook, Shull jets to Big Sandy, Arizona, for a machine gun shoot where he tries out a Browning machine gun and Pak 40 German anti-tank gun. The latter, a monstrous affair that shakes the hillside when it goes off, nets the following comment from our host:
“It’s like someone inserted a firecracker into my sinus cavity.” And it’s exactly that kind of remark that makes The Weapon Hunter such entertaining TV.
The program is a fascinating and immersive history lesson blending old war footage, choppy animation and Shull’s charm. The man with unique facial hair has a curiosity that comes through the screen; he loves this stuff and asks all the right questions to get interesting stories and tales out of his interview subjects.
Shull finds that elusive tank part for Brook, and discovers a lot of other cool stuff along the way.
The Weapon Hunter airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on T+E.