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Chasing down slave ships

The History Channel rolls the dice this week with USS Constellation: Battling for Freedom -- a look back at one of the proudest chapters in the storied past of the ship that sits in Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

The two-hour program takes a huge gamble in its all-out commitment to re-enactments of fully crewed ships at war off the coast of 19th-century Africa, as well as slave traders ravaging inland villages to fill their coastal dungeons with new captives. Get even a few details or camera angles wrong in a sprawling period piece like this, and the illusion can be hopelessly lost.

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On TV "USS Constellation: Battling for Freedom" premieres at 8 tonight on the History Channel.


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