“Earth: a unique planet. Restless and dynamic. Continents shift and clash. Volcanoes erupt. Glaciers grow and recede. Titanic forces that are constantly at work, leaving a trail of geological mysteries behind.”
I saw a bumper sticker recently that read; “Geologists dig classic rock”. I should have taken it as an omen that I would be spending some quality time with a few geologists over these last couple of weeks. It started with the excellent BBC mini-series How The Earth Changed History and culminated with the 13 episodes of the first season of How The Earth Was Made. It might be easy to confuse these titles in your video store. But, make no mistake about it. They are very different shows down to their core, pun intended.
Each episode of this History series focuses on a unique place or aspect of the Earth’s geology. Many of the shows deal with specific places, most of these American. Here you’ll find episodes on such American wonders as San Andreas Fault, New York, The Great Lakes, Yellowstone and Hawaii. The typical formula here is we are introduced to the area of interest as it looks today. Soon we’re introduced to scientists, most of them employees of the United States Geological Society. They guide us to specific places in the target zone where they point out some of the more interesting rocks that have been discovered there. Through some CG animation we’re given some demonstrations that illuminate the popular theories on how the place got to be what it is today. There are some Mr. Wizard style experiments from time to time in an effort to demonstrate certain principles.
Other episodes explore such famous places as Loch Ness, The Alps, and Iceland. The shows aren’t limited to the surfaces of The Earth. There is an episode on asteroids and their impact on the planet. Natural phenomena are explored in episodes like Tsunami.
Each episode is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The 1080p image is brought to you through anAVC/MPEG-4 codec. It’s this brilliant picture quality that will drive you to want to own this collection. You would expect the CG stuff to be rather clean and high in detail. Even the vintage footage looks about as clean as I’ve ever seen it. Colors are bright and dazzling. Black levels are solid and provide incredible levels of shadow definition.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 is strictly narration.
I’ll take Geology for 800, please Alex. If you’re thinking about making a run on Jeopardy, this is the kind of stuff you need to know. A lot of it is as dry as The Atacama Desert, the driest place on Earth. In spite of the show’s attempt to appear as though it’s nailing these things down definitively, there is some stretching going on here. Still, even with the dry moments, I’ll admit that there is a tremendous educational value here. They do go deep into the heart of the matter, to the Mariana Trench, in a manor of speaking. There’s a lot to take in. While I don’t buy any of these theories 100%, there is enough here to say categorically that we live on an “ever-changing planet”.