Case Number 19545: Small Claims Court


History Channel // 2007 // 440 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Kent Dixon (Retired) // August 24th, 2010

The Charge

Venture through our solar system in an epic exploration of the universe and its mysteries.

The Case

Produced by Flight 33 Productions and Workaholic Production, the History Channel series The Universe began airing in 2007 and as of 2010, the series is partway into it fifth season, with no sign of slowing down any time soon. As of now, the series boasts 59 episodes covering a broad range of cosmic topics from potential disasters that might affect our planet, to hypotheses about galaxies beyond our own and other phenomena such as black holes, dark matter and all kinds of geektastically cool space-type stuff.

Following a fairly standard History Channel documentary format of talking-head experts, CG representations and other material; The Universe has amassed a wealth of fascinating content throughout its run to date with each episode including scientific facts and hypotheses on one specific aspect of the universe at large. The Universe: Our Solar System includes 10 episodes of the series on two discs:

Disc One
* "Secrets of the Sun"
* "Mars: The Red Planet"
* "The End of the Earth: Deep Space Threats to Our Planet"
* "Jupiter: The Giant Planet"
* "The Moon"

Disc Two
* "Spaceship Earth"
* "The Inner Planets: Mercury & Venus"
* "Saturn: Lord of the Rings"
* "Alien Galaxies"
* "Life and Death of a Star"

History Channel has released full season collections of the series so far, but The Universe: Our Solar System marks something both new and puzzling.

Déjà vu is the experience of feeling sure that one has witnessed or experienced a new situation previously. That's right folks, for some bizarre reason, History Channel and the History Channel have decided to re-release the first 10 episodes of the series' first season again, repackaged as The Universe: Our Solar System. Yes, this run of episodes focuses specifically on our own planet and our closest celestial neighbors, but why release the same content again? If they wanted to release a set that did not include a full season, why not create a "best of" set, pulling together an assortment of some highlights from the entire run of the series to date?

As if the content decision wasn't perplexing enough, The Universe: Our Solar System is woefully inconsistent on Blu-ray. The AVC encoded 1080i 1.78:1 widescreen video presentation ranges from razor-sharp in some sections, as an HD presentation should be, to other segments where the picture is soft and almost blurry at times. Adding insult to injury, viewers are given only one audio option: a front-heavy, 2.0 mix that, while crisp and clear, is completely the wrong choice of audio mix to include on a BD release. As a final slap in the face, The Universe: Our Solar System includes no extra features or supplements of any kind.

The Universe: Our Solar System is a great example of a Blu-ray set that should never have been made. For anyone who has been following The Universe from the beginning, these episodes are nothing new and for anyone new to the series, you're better off watching the entire first season. All my griping aside, The Universe is still an amazing series with content that should not be missed by science buffs of any age.

The Verdict

The relatively low rating I'm giving this release is more a reflection of the rehashed content and not the series overall or the episodes included here. History Channel is clearly guilty of not making any sense on this one.

Review content copyright © 2010 Kent Dixon; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 67

Perp Profile
Studio: History Channel
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080i)

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

* None

Running Time: 440 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* None

* IMDb

* Official Site