Geoff Edgers is a man of many talents. As a national arts reporter for the Washington Post, he covers everything from the forces behind resurgence of the Harvard Art Museums to the reasons why you shouldn’t bother with Bob Dylan’s The Basement Tapes Complete.
Tonight, you can catch him at work on his side gig: as a television military historian.
Secrets of the Arsenal is a new miniseries for the American Heroes Channel (formerly the Military Channel). In the episode airing tonight, he talks to International Spy Museum curator Vince Houghton about a Cold War “nuclear gun” named after Davy Crockett, an unconventional piece of nuclear material that’s 1,000 times less powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki and a hell of a lot easier to deploy. For reasons Edgers discovers, the weapon is merely an artifact today. (It isn’t located in Penn Quarter, sadly; Davy Crockett lives at the West Point Museum.)
Each of the four stories in tonight’s episode ties back to the D.C. area in some way. After Edgers meets up with Kristen Nyitray, head of special collections and archives at Stony Brook University, to talk about a Revolutionary War letter from 1780—one in which George Washington used invisible ink to communicate secretly with spies in the notorious Culper Ring—he chats with the Spy Museum’s Jackie Eyl about what our Founding Father was up to. The heroic story of Sgt. Reckless’ horseshoe was filmed at Quantico; the tragic tale of the bugle recovered from the doomed USS Houston is told at Navy Yard.
A bugle and a horseshoe? That’s right: Edgers isn’t after war porn. Secrets of the Arsenal explores mysteries found in archives and museum collections. As both the show’s host and writer, Edgers keeps the focus on objects and their narratives. And he speaks to some interesting figures to get at those stories, including Kate Morrand, senior conservator for underwater archaeology (!) at the National Museum of the U.S. Navy (which is at Navy Yard).
So far, Edgers hasn’t gobbled down any calf testicles, the way he did for the Travel Channel’s Edge of America. Anything could happen in the show’s three remaining episodes, but it’s doubtful that he’ll go for that kind of gag. This show’s more rigorous than that.
See Secrets of the Arsenal tonight at 9 p.m. on the American Heroes Channel.