‘The Pacific’ Host Sam Neill on Reexamining the Legacy of Explorer Captain Cook

The Pacific: In the wake of Captain Cook with Sam Neill

History is written by the victors, which explains why British explorer Captain James Cook has such an exalted place in the record books.

Now this six-part docuseries, hosted by actor Sam Neill (Jurassic Park), provides an unvarnished view of the voyager — who sailed across the Pacific Ocean in the 18th century, mapping and claiming uncharted territory for the Crown — and his expeditions.

The show chronicles Cook’s achievements as well as the toll his imperialist missions ultimately took on indigenous cultures. (Think: disease, death and subjugation.) “Everything in the Pacific changed, almost overnight, after his arrival — and none of it was pretty,” says Neill. “We wanted to look at Cook from both sides of the beach.”

The premiere reexamines Cook’s so-called discovery of idyllic Tahiti; future installments retrace his steps in Hawaii, Alaska and Neill’s homeland of New Zealand. “There’s this Eurocentric notion that Cook ‘found’ all these places, but they were never lost to begin with,” Neill says, noting that the project prompted some soul-searching.

“As much as this is about Cook’s explorations, it’s also about exploring my own attitudes.”

The Pacific: In the Wake of Captain Cook, Series Premiere, Thursday, February 14, 10/9c, Ovation