We all live on the planet Earth and surely take way too much for granted. Each year we get together with loved ones and discuss some of the places we haven’t yet been and could go visit on vacation. The Hawaiian islands? Paris? Perhaps a trip to South Africa for a traditional safari is in order? But what about those places that no one has ever been to and that more then likely, you’ll never even get close to visiting? That’s right: our gigantic world is only a small speck in the huge universe that comes at us from all sides. It really isn’t totally known all that lies beyond the outer reaches of our planet, our solar system, our galaxy, and especially our universe. People like me will never get to experience what it’s like up in the furthest reaches of space, but a series like this can get me as close as possible to the beautiful imagery and mysteries that are all around us.
The History Channel has done it again as The Universe takes viewers deep into the farthest regions of space where the members of the Starship Enterprise could only dream of going. Jumping from planet to planet, and even going beyond where the stretches where even any knowledge is yet known. Each episode goes into the past and takes footage from old news reels and gradually brings us up to date on where research has gotten us as technology has grown more advanced. In past seasons we have seen the planets analyzed while the many moons and parts of deep space were dissected. Season three takes a look at some of the stranger and more uncommon parts of the numerous solar systems swirling above our heads keeping the interest at an all-time high.
In this series, you’ll begin to think that there is nothing you don’t already know that isn’t scientific mumbo-jumbo, but you’re wrong. You’ll also find yourself not only being concerned with the CGI presentations either. The information spewed forth by researchers and scientists is so incredibly mind stimulating that you’ll be more focused on each episode then any suspense-filled thriller ever. One of the History Channel’s most enjoyable series, The Universe does a great job of never letting the experts being interviewed to jabber on for too long because it just isn’t what people want to see. Many series giving factual information let the camera sit on these people as they speak, but this series introduces them and then lets them talk over the great footage and computer generated imagery.
I’m actually kind of amazed by this series and especially this season as the entire programming has taken a complete turn and almost gone down a path completely unexpected when everything began. We used to be studying and learning about the planets and all which surrounded them, but now we’re touching on some aspects of the universe that are almost science fiction in nature. All you have to do is look at a few of the episode titles from season four to see that we’re headed in a new direction with The Universe. “Space Wars” and “Death Stars” do nothing but make me think that Darth Vader isn’t far behind and ready to get rid of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Perhaps my favorite episode this season though is one that others may not find very appealing and that’s “10 Ways To Destroy The Earth.” Experts come up with all kind of odd, and possibly legitimate, ways that our planet could be destroy forcing all life to come to an end. Kind of cool when you really think about it. Sure it’s a tad morbid, but it is still interesting.
Many people will probably be upset at the direction the series has gone in, but there is only so much that the History Channel could do with the format of straight-up learning about the planets and solar system. A little shake-up needed to be done in order to continue into one more season and then even one more season. Kudos to the creators for not being afraid to take the chance here and go a little off the deep end and keep things fun, educational, and a bit far-fetched at times.
The Day The Moon Was Gone
It Fell From Space
The Hunt For Ringed Planets
10 Ways To Destroy The Earth
The Search For Cosmic Clusters
Pulsars & Quasars
Science Fiction / Science Fact
The episodes are shown in 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen format and look fantastic. Some of the most breathtaking images are shown in this set and you simply must sit back and take it all in for they are most likely things you’ll never see any better then this.
The episodes are heard in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Sound and does the job here. There is not much to be heard except for the narrator who comes through perfectly clear and at the forefront at all times. Every now and then you’ll hear an occasional sunburst or something else, but nothing that will ever overpower the narration.
Meteors: Fire In The Sky – Kind of odd to me that this wasn’t included in the episode entitled “It Fell From Space.” Still, it’s an interesting little featurette although far too short because once it gets going on some of the more important meteors to land on Earth in the past couple decades it’s over. (9:33)
Comets: Prophets Of Doom – Anything and everything you wanted to know about comets in less than three and a half minutes. Seriously, that’s what this is. (3:17)
Personally I’m going to keep on loving this series until they either run out of subjects to talk about or decide to conform back to what is considered “normal.” Judging by the topics at hand here for the season four episodes; I don’t see either one of those things happening any time soon. Sort of disappointed in the special features, but it’s really not that big a deal since these episodes of The Universe may truly be the best ones yet. One of the great things about this show is that you don’t have to follow along in any order either. Just pick up any season and start at any episode and you’ll follow right away to everything going on. Great stuff by the History Channel here and my hopes are that they continue down the path of random.
A&E Home Video presents The Universe: The Complete Season Four. Created by: Tony Long. Starring: Erik Thompson (Narrator). Running time: 564 minutes on 4 discs. Rating: PG. Released on DVD: February 23, 2010. Available at Amazon.com