History Channel // 2007 // 1316 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Kent Dixon (Retired) // November 17th, 2010
An epic exploration of Earth and the cosmos.
It wasn't all that long ago that to find out even the tiniest tidbit of information about our solar system, Earth's geological processes and wonders, or any kind of research, meant pulling out the trusty encyclopedias or making a trip to the local public library. It's not lost on me that thanks to History, Discovery, the BBC and a host of other broadcasters and production houses, we can know cram our brains with some of the most fascinating content ever available to the public and all from the comfort of our own homes. It's one of the joys of my writing role with Verdict that I have often been the de facto staff member to review many great documentaries and educational programs.
With dozens of other successful documentary productions under their belts, History Channel launched two great series in 2007: How the Earth Was Made and The Universe. The two series offer a fantastic diversity of content, with How the Earth Was Made focusing each episode on one of the specific wonders of the Earth's natural and geological processes. Recently wrapping its second season, the series has now covered 26 specific features, offering scientific expertise, stunning natural footage and a host of other elements wrapped up in tight 45-minute packages. In contrast, The Universe leaves our planet to discover some of the most amazing phenomena and locations in our solar system and beyond that we will likely never experience on our own. Weaving impressive CG imagery, expert opinions and hypotheses, The Universe brings the vastness and wonder of space down to a more attainable level we can all understand.
History has done a great job packaging the first seasons of both How the Earth Was Made and The Universe into a boxed set simply titled Earth and Space. All 13 episodes of both How the Earth Was Made and The Universe are included with this set, with each series spread over three Blu-ray discs that fit into a 3-disc storage case, which then slides into a cardboard sleeve. Both series were previously released on DVD and Blu-ray, but Earth & Space offers viewers the opportunity to buy the first seasons of both series, bundled together in one set.
Blu-ray is without question the best medium for showcasing the stunning natural landscapes and otherworldly CG imaginings of Earth & Science. Vivid colors and sharp contrast make this set a pleasure in 1080p; my only reservation is that the 2.0 audio mixes really hold this set back from being an unquestionable addition to your library. The only extra content is a 90 minute documentary called "Beyond the Big Bang," that offers a bit more content for astronomy buffs and fans of The Universe.
I blame the blight of reality TV for the over-the-top approach the narration and subplots of some of the episodes take in both series. The content, science and wonder of the topics is sufficient enough for engaging most viewers without the "doom and gloom" approach of talking about various phenomena that might send humanity down the same road as the dinosaurs. I prefer my science straight-up thank you very much.
With my reservations on sensationalized science aside, How the Earth Was Made and The Universe are definitely well-above average as science series go. The Blu-ray image quality is solid and while the audio mixes don't really do justice to either series, if you love science documentaries and don't own the first seasons of either series yet, Earth & Science is worth your time and money.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: History Channel
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 2.0 Master Audio (English)
* PCM 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 1316 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* IMDb: How the Earth Was Made
* Official Site: The Universe
* Official Site: How the Earth Was Made