The premise is pretty simple. Green Beret and veteran Terry Schappert "travels the globe to discover exactly what it takes to be a warrior." Each week they study a particular warrior culture: Vikings, Samurai, Zulu, examining everything from the weapons to the tactics to the role of the warrior in this particular culture. There's usually a story structure, following a particular military leader and/or battle.
From an academic standpoint, it doesn't feel like the most rigorous of scholarly research. And sometimes it seems like Shappert is a little too proud of his own prowess, making sure we all know that he's just like these warriors, and they're all part of the elite warrior culture together. I wouldn't quite call it machismo, but something along that vein.
I find myself watching while thinking about Talia's character, trying to get into her mindset and to understand more of her character as well as the ones who trained her. After all, fairy blessings or no, she still had to study and learn how to kick ass.
If you come at fantasy from the generic pseudo-medieval standpoint, you get fairly generic pseudo-medieval warriors. One of the nice things about the show is that you see the difference in various cultures. You see how the weapons and tactics evolve, how the mindset of the Viking warrior compares to the English knight. Even if it doesn't always feel as deep as a more scholarly text, it works well as a jumping-off point to figure out more of Talia's character and backstory. I've pretty much figured out the Arathean warrior class, coming up with some fascinating rituals and backstory that otherwise wouldn't have been there.
For me, it also helps to see this stuff on the screen as opposed to (or in addition to) reading it on the page. Watching how the Viking spear can be used, or seeing exactly how a pole arm pierces the weak spots in a knight's armor, or even just watching how steel is folded to make a katana. It sticks better in my admittedly leaky brain.
Not a flawless show by any means, and I can't speak to the level of accuracy. (I'd be curious to hear what the more historically educated folks think of it.) But it works for what I need. It provides some inspiration and ideas to build the story and the character.
Closing on a totally different and far cuter note, a while ago my friend Seanan (seanan_mcguire) passed a few of my books along to her mother. Apparently Mom liked them, given that she named her new puppy after a certain fire-spider :-) I borrowed a picture from Seanan so I could present Smudge's latest namesake: