History Channel // 2007 // 799 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // June 26th, 2008
You're in the cockpit.
One of the coolest history shows devised launches on its second sortie, and, like the maiden voyage of Season One, Season Two of the History Channel's innovative, interesting and exciting aircraft series is an ace.
Here's how Dogfights rolls. Each 44-minute episode focuses on a handful of true, war-time dogfight stories, usually divided up by chronology or theme. For example, one show will deal with the Kamikaze (the season opener), another with Israeli Air Force's performance in The Six Day War and Nazi Germany's suicidal plane-to-plane attacks on Allied bombers and jet dogfighting over the skies of Korea. And lots more.
Episodes are chopped into individual air encounters, described by experts and historians and the pilots who actually flew the planes. The real meat of the show is the computer-generated reenactments of the dogfights, packed with explosions, a dramatic action score and more CGI fireballs than you can shake a stick at. The kicker -- it looks good.
This is, hands-down, my favorite non-fiction TV series on the air these days. I heard much praise directed at Dogfights during its debut season, and finally got a chance to see what all the hoopla was about when I reviewed the Season One box set last year. Needless to say, I was into it.
On paper, the concept may seem too corny to work -- I mean, computer generated reenactments of airplane battles? And as much as I dig the first season, the low-impact computer visuals flirted with delivering on that corny concept. But great stories, engaging interviews with the pilots who were there, a pounding score and a narrator who is just all about the show propelled it. All of that great stuff is still in play for the second season, but the real treat is the quality of the computer animation is noticeably improved. The details are sharper, the explosions are brighter and the planes just look better. As a result the entry-level effects don't distract from the compelling narratives and, in fact, enhance the storytelling. In short, Dogfights Season Two is even more impressive than the first outing and mandatory viewing for any military history buff.
Lots of great stuff on these five discs, with the Vietnam, Desert Storm, World Wars I and II and the Korea air theaters given respective episodes, as well as potpourri installments looking at the P-51 Mustang and "Secret Weapons" of World War II and the development of the jet. The excellent variety in eras combined with the legitimately thrilling dogfight scenarios to ensure that each episode delivers enough bang for your buck.
My favorites: the season opener about the Kamikaze and the Americans' desperate attempts to limit their damage, "Desert Aces," which features some truly harrowing one-on-one canyon battles, "Death of the Luftwaffe," detailing Hitler's once-imposing air force's last gasp and "The Tuskagee Airmen," an emotional, exciting look at the all-black fighter crew that dominated the skies. The whole season is worth watching though, and there's not a jalopy in the bunch. Spin these discs and I can guarantee you'll come up with a renewed reverence for the bravery and lethal skill that these men unleashed upon their enemies.
The extras lack on this release, with only a handful of deleted scenes dropped on the fifth disc, but the video (1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen) and audio (2.0 stereo) are satisfying.
I love me some Dogfights. If the subject matter is even remotely up your (MiG) alley, make this set a permanent resident of your DVD hangar.
Not guilty. Feel the Gs!
Review content copyright © 2008 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2015 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: History Channel
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 799 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes
* DVD Verdict Review - Season 1