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The Prehistoric Collection

Clash Of The Cavemen
2008 // 94 Minutes // Not Rated
Journey To 10,000 B.C.
2008 // 94 Minutes // Not Rated
Jurassic Fight Club
2008 // 564 Minutes // Not Rated
Prehistoric Megastorms
2008 // 282 Minutes // Not Rated
Released by History Channel
Reviewed by Judge Victor Valdivia (Retired) // May 30th, 2009

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All Rise...

Everyone calls Judge Victor Valdivia "Caveman." Jeez, hit someone with your club, and people get all bent out of shape.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Clash Of The Cavemen (published August 7th, 2008), Journey To 10,000 B.C. (published July 17th, 2008), and Prehistoric Megastorms (published December 15th, 2008) are also available.

The Charge

From dinosaurs to the dawn of man.

The Case

Call it a mini-set. History has been repackaging many of its previous releases in big fourteen-disc collections built around various themes, such as astronomy or military history. The Prehistoric Collection compiles some shows devoted to primitive history, including dinosaurs and cavemen. This set, however, only has eight disks, as opposed to the usual fourteen, and is packaged in a slim box with four double-disc slimline cases. That may seem like a bit of a letdown, but actually, eight discs are more than enough. What The Prehistoric Collection proves is that History's attempts at prehistoric shows are generally pedestrian. They range from the plain awful to the promising but not well-executed.

The Prehistoric Collection compiles the contents of Jurassic Fight Club: The Complete Season One as well as the Prehistoric Megastorms set and the discs for Journey to 10,000 B.C. and Clash of the Cavemen. Here are the contents on all eight discs:

Disc One
Jurassic Fight Club:
• "Cannibal Dinosaur"
Majungatholus, a predator located on the island of Madagascar, fights to protect her young from a male of the same species.

• "T-Rex Hunter"
Nanotyrannus, a miniaturized version of Tyrannosaurus Rex, often preys on young T. Rex hatchlings.

• "Gang Killer"
Deinonychus, one of the deadliest of the Raptor dinosaurs, preys in packs on the giant herbivore Tenontosaurus.

Disc Two
Jurassic Fight Club:
• "Bloodiest Battle"
A mass of bones found in Utah leads paleontologists to conclude that a prehistoric watering hole led to a bloody clash between the predators Allosaurus and Ceratosaurus over the right to hunt herbivores like Stegosaurus and Camerasaurus.

• "Deep Sea Killers"
The colossal shark Megalodon was the biggest predator ever to swim in the oceans, but faced stiff competition from the massive Biting Sperm Whale.

• "Hunter Becomes Hunted"
A conflict over territory leads to a bloody battle between Allosaurus and Ceratosaurus.

Disc Three
Jurassic Fight Club:
• "Biggest Killers"
Paleontologists debate which dinosaur was the biggest predator of all time.

• "Raptor's Last Stand"
As the Earth's temperature changed, the predator Utahraptor is forced to hunt the heavily armored herbivore Gastonia.

• "Ice Age Monsters"
The Giant Short-Faced Bear was the biggest predator ever to walk on land, and would sometimes fight for territory with the fearsome Mega Lion.

Disc Four
Jurassic Fight Club:
• "River of Death"
A giant pile of bones is found in Canada, and paleontologists suspect that they're the remains of a herd of plant-eating Pachyrhinosaurs that were forced into a river by the predator Albertasaurus.

• "Raptor vs. T. Rex"
The duck-billed herbivore Edmontosaurus is frequently the target of attacks by both Raptors and T. Rex.

• "Armageddon"
An asteroid the size of Mount Everest hit the Earth 65 million years ago, putting an end to the age of dinosaurs.

Disc Five
Prehistoric Megastorms:
• "Hypercane"
The asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs could theoretically have caused an unusually massive hurricane that could have temporarily killed off life on Earth.

• "Mega Tsunami"
Eight thousand years ago, a rock slide in Sicily may have been responsible for a tsunami that killed off almost all human life around the Mediterranean Sea.

• "Noah's Great Flood"
The great flood described in The Bible may have been a massive deluge that turned a lake into the Red Sea.

Disc Six
Prehistoric Megastorms:
• "Volcanic Winter"
A gigantic volcanic explosion near Sumatra seventy-five thousand years ago may have driven humans to the brink of extinction.

• "Comet Storm"
Thirteen thousand years ago, a comet may have exploded over North America and killed off almost all life, including humans.

• "British Superflood"
Four hundred fifty thousand years ago, an earthquake may have triggered a massive flood that separated the peninsula that became Great Britain from the rest of Europe.

Disc Seven
Clash of the Cavemen
Thirty thousand years ago in Europe, the final battle for the future of humanity occurs as Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons fight for survival during a global ice age.

Disc Eight
Journey to 10,000 B.C.
In 10,000 B.C., prehistoric humans struggled to survive in a world of ice ages, giant predators, and global cataclysms.

To be sure, the set offers no shortage of shows about prehistoric life. The problem is that none of them would rank with any of History's best shows. Jurassic Fight Club is the best of the bunch, and even it's not as good as it could have been. The idea of using forensic techniques on dinosaur bones to recreate how they were killed is an interesting one, but the show tends to rely too much on fancy effects and the same three or four predators to really be effective. It tries to be educational and sometimes succeeds, but too often it settles for dumbing down the science in favor of flashy TV tricks.

Clash of the Cavemen and Journey to 10,000 B.C. are even worse in this respect. The former is especially painful to watch. In an attempt to add some drama to the story of how Cro-Magnons eventually replaced Neanderthals, the show adds reenactments in which actors in caveman makeup and costumes wander around in the snow, interspersed with animation done in cave-style drawings. This would be bad enough, but what makes it worse is that this fictional story is meandering and pointless, with no resolution. It's such a misguided choice that it winds up making the show's actual historical and scientific content rather hard to follow. Journey to 10,000 B.C. isn't quite that bad. In this show, the scientific content is well-presented and the "storyline" relates clearly to what the scientists are saying. The reenactments, however, are shot in a strange stylized manner apparently patterned after the film 10,000 B.C.. Though they look better than the ones in Clash of the Cavemen, they still come off as somewhat silly. Maybe it's just an occupational hazard that there's no way to make cavemen look realistic in any reenactment; even the BBC series Walking With Cavemen didn't look so great either. Still, there must be a better way to present this information than what was done here.

As for Prehistoric Megastorms, it's much easier to watch, at least initially, but it has probably the least to do with anthropology and paleontology of the shows collected here. This show is purely about geology, meteorology, and astronomy. Consequently, though the events depicted here did indeed take place thousands or even millions of years ago, the show's curiously antiseptic computer animations don't place these disasters in any sort of historical context. You won't see so much as a single person or animal, and only a handful of recycled stock shots of dinosaurs, so for all the destruction seen here, it doesn't look like anyone so much as got their hair mussed. Also, the episodes follow an irritating repetitive structure: a mega-disaster happened in the past, and what would happen if it happened today? This becomes increasingly tiresome after a few episodes. How many times can History scare the crap out of its viewers? How many times must we see the same damn CG shot of buildings being blown-up/washed away/disintegrated? If you were actually hoping to learn about how these disasters affected prehistoric life, you'll be sadly disappointed.

Because all of the shows collected here originally aired in 2008, they all look and sound the same. The same decent Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo mix, the same crisp and clean non-anamorphic 1.78:1 transfer. Seriously, History, what's with that non-anamorphic deal? That just seems like some sort of half-assed compromise that pleases no one. Either go all the way with the widescreen, or go back to full screen. Only Jurassic Fight Club and Prehistoric Megastorms come with any extras, and they're not all that great. Prehistoric Megastorms includes a bonus episode titled "Asteroid Apocalypse" about the asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs, although why it's considered a "bonus" episode is baffling, since it's just like the other ones. Jurassic Fight Club comes with 20 minutes of additional footage that doesn't really help make it any better.

Ultimately, it's hard to recommend this set. True, at a list price of $59.95, The Prehistoric Collection is definitely a bargain. You're getting all of these discs for about half the cost if you got them all individually. The catch, though, is that you probably wouldn't get these DVDs individually; they're mostly not that good. If you're looking for a more detailed look at this time period, BBC's Prehistoric Earth box set is a far superior deal and makes this one look rather feeble. Even hardcore science buffs would do better to preview the programs collected here individually rather than spring for this set.

The Verdict

Guilty of compiling mediocre programs into a mediocre collection.

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• Documentary
• Historical
• Television

Scales of Justice, Clash Of The Cavemen

Judgment: 65

Perp Profile, Clash Of The Cavemen

Studio: History Channel
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Clash Of The Cavemen

• None

Scales of Justice, Journey To 10,000 B.C.

Judgment: 70

Perp Profile, Journey To 10,000 B.C.

Studio: History Channel
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Journey To 10,000 B.C.

• None

Scales of Justice, Jurassic Fight Club

Judgment: 75

Perp Profile, Jurassic Fight Club

Studio: History Channel
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 564 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Jurassic Fight Club

• Bonus Footage

Scales of Justice, Prehistoric Megastorms

Judgment: 70

Perp Profile, Prehistoric Megastorms

Studio: History Channel
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 282 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Prehistoric Megastorms

• Bonus Episode

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