The United States had been in the second world war for mere weeks when Germany launched its U-boat submarine raids against shipping close to the American east coast. Until then, the brutality of the Nazi regime had apparently been taken lightly in Washington; an attitude that seems to have resurfaced in the struggle against terrorist organisations. Unless the fight is happening in your own back-yard, I guess, it's difficult to move beyond symbolic gestures of action.
Of course, winning the second world war was a team effort, not that you'd realise it while watching the National Geographic Channel documentary Nazi Attack on America (above; June 9, 9pm). After all, it was the British, and in particular Alan Turing, who managed to break the code U-boat crews used to communicate, a feat recounted in the 2014 film The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. This documentary offers some of the back story to those events, albeit from a very American point of view.
One gets used to Britain being referred to as England, although the slightest research would have disabused the programme's writers of this fallacy. In the documentary, it is England alone that fights on behalf of the British Isles, presumably while the Scots, Welsh and Irish laze around drinking warm beer and complaining about the lack of light bulbs now there's a war on. This style of documentary also highlights the subjective nature of history. The winner (and eventual maker of documentaries) can rewrite history however it wishes, and this is subtly evident throughout. The British offered a great deal of experience, naval assets and scientific leadership, which contributed to a genuine collaboration. However, in both directions, all help and materials had to be paid for; debts that took Britain six decades to repay. A special relationship indeed.
In Natural Born Monsters (Nat Geo Wild, Wednesdays, 9.35pm), adventurer and explorer Sean Duggan searches for mysterious, dangerous animals that have adapted to extreme weather and environments. He shows how climate has shaped both mythical claims about the creatures' existence and the animals themselves.
The first episode, Snakehead Fish, takes us to Thailand in search of "a monster built for destruction … that has no natural predators", which is not about European backpackers on a night out in Koh Samui, but a giant apex predator with a snake-like body and a reptilian mouth (we could, of course, still be talking about a loved-up tourist in combat shorts and a halter top writhing on the beach during a full moon party).
This show justifies my refusal to dive into water I can't see through. Apparently, the snakehead rips its prey apart; I'm cancelling all travel south of Lamma Island until something is done.
Duggan takes a good look at the weather and environmental conditions that have shaped the evolution of this adaptable creature. Homo sapiens are as adaptable as the snakehead - and far more destructive, of course - but, as mentioned above, the winner gets to define all others around them.
We are the top dogs while, like the dreaded U-boat crews, the snakehead fish is a "monster from the deep".