“In the beginning there was darkness. And then bang, giving birth to an endless expanding existence of time, space, and matter. Every day new discoveries are unlocking the mysterious, the mind-blowing, the deadly secrets of a place we call The Universe.”
The History series has lasted for six seasons to date. The show uses modern space photography, computer-generated images, and demonstrations along with respected scientists to explore the various aspects of our universe. While more time is spent in our own backyard exploring our solar system, the series does take us to the outer reaches of space, going back about 13 billion years. That’s as far as we’re able to see. The show is narrated by Erik Thompson. Of course, there is plenty of narration by the scientists.
The episodes do provide a wealth of information. I’ve been a big astronomy reader over the years, but the subject is ever-changing, and shows like this offer many new and fascinating facts. Combine that with some truly spectacular images, particularly in 3D, and you get a series that just might be worth watching. There is a lot of repetition. You can tell where the commercial breaks were, and the show recaps after each break. Of course, watching the Blu-ray, it feels like an instant repeat of what you just saw. I know that there is care not to edit out stuff when releasing it, but I think we’d all forgive a quick snip of the regurg stuff. They also tend to be a bit more dramatic than they need to be, particularly on the doomsday scenario stuff. I thought I was watching the trailer of the latest disaster film at times. These guys sure know how to keep you awake at night.
With this set you get three episodes that have been converted to 3D. You also get another one of those holographic covers.
Here’s what you get:
How The Solar System Was Made:
“The Solar System: How did it emerge from the intergalactic chaos?”
It appears that we were all born of violence on a galactic or even universal scale. Of course, there’s a ton of repeat here from the first episode. This piece focuses on the first 700 million years of the solar system’s development. Mix in some big explosions and collisions, let spin for a few hundred million years…and here we are.
Nemesis – The Sun’s Evil Twin:
“Could our sun have an evil companion? An undiscovered death star rotating at the farthest edges of our Solar System?”
Sounds like pure science fiction, but there are those who believe it’s true. Some scientists believe that this star is responsible for extinctions on Earth every 26 million years or so.
Catastrophes That Changed The Planets:
“If you think Earth is a safe haven, think again.”
It’s another top-ten-list-of-disasters episode. This time we get to see and hear about the biggest destructive events that brought about the solar system as we know it today. Highlights include a giant impact on Mars causing a crater to eat up 40% of the surface and a runaway greenhouse effect on Venus. I guess they should have switched to CFL bulbs up there. There’s the Shoemaker-Levy impacts on Jupiter. The extinction impact on Earth doesn’t make the cut.
Each episode is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The 1080p image is brought to you through an MVC dual codec. The bit rate can climb as high as 30 mbps. 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 DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is strictly narration.
When History released the complete season set last year, I was convinced the series might have been wrapping up. Turns out a sixth season has been released, and it looks like more are on the way. It’s a good news/bad news kind of thing here. The good news is that the show is one of the highest-quality documentary shows on television. There’s a wealth of education and entertainment to be found along with solid production values. The bad news is the cost of such production values means the show recycles a lot of the images and scenarios…A LOT. By season six I’ve seen some of this stuff a half dozen times already. It might be time to say goodbye or put a few more bucks into the project and roll out more completely original episodes. Instead they’ve given us three of those 6th season episodes in 3D. As it is not a single episode in this collection is free from repeated material. So as the series continues, I find myself wondering: “Are the darkest hours behind us? Or lurking in the distant future?”