The Universe: Seasons 1-3 – Blu-ray Review

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Our gigantic world is but a small speck in the huge universe that comes at us from all sides. For three years, the History Channel produced a program entitled The Universe, which 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. Take the episode entitled “The Moon” for instance. The moon landing is shown and it is quite hard to believe that event was almost forty years ago. It took decades to allow man to set foot on the moon and now a trip can be planned there by experts in a matter of hours.

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The First Season

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. Each planet has its own little secrets that the general public just doesn’t know about. And with each mind numbing fact you learn, there will be another one quickly to follow.

Not only is each planet dissected one by one, but other facts of the vast universe are explored as well such as alien life forms. Without being able to actually yet land on the surfaces of other planets, cameras and robots have had to be our only connection to them. But a robot can’t see everything or compare to the immense intellect of a human being when it comes to checking out every crack and crevice. So hidden among the mountains and in the deep valleys could be plants, lakes, or even living and breathing beings. “Search For ET” really moves forward into what possible types of alien life could be not only in our own universe but those past it. We may not be alone and with technology always advancing; we may soon know for sure.

Episodes

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
Spaceship Earth
The Inner Planets: Mercury & Venus
Saturn: Lord Of The Rings
Alien Galaxies
Life And Death Of A Star
The Outer Planets
The Most Dangerous Place In The Universe
Search For ET
Beyond The Big Bang

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The Second Season

As The Universe came through for a second season, it was time for the series to venture out from the planets and look at what the rest of the solar system had to offer. Fantastic and out of this world phenomena such as “Cosmic Holes” and “Supernovas” were dissected in depth so that viewers could learn more about just how much is going on out of our common view. Season two kept the momentum going very well from the first as each episode continued to impress with beautiful visuals and great computer imagery that gives us novices a general idea of just what things may look like that we’ll never get to actually see. One of the things that made this season even more interesting was that our experts weren’t merely giving the information they knew about particular things, but also laying forth their theories for us all to chew on. Unexplainable mysteries and other happenings in the universe still aren’t understood by anyone, but the scientists surely offer up some intriguing scenarios.

While the entire season is quite enjoyable, there is a small drawback when some information makes a comeback from season one and is thrown into the mix. That is going to prove quite inevitable though because of the fact that the universe may be huge but things are going to coincide with one another from time to time. Those few problems are more then made up for though with great episodes like “Dark Matter/ Dark Energy” and “Unexplained Mysteries.” It’s great to know that The Universe is not staying the common everyday course and willing to venture off into the less talked about subjects as well as the expected.

Episodes

Alien Planets
Cosmic Holes
Mysteries Of The Moon
The Milky Way
Alien Moons
Dark Matter/Dark Energy
Astrobiology
Space Travel
Supernovas
Constellations
Unexplained Mysteries
Cosmic Collisions
Colonizing Space
Nebulas
Wildest Weather In The Cosmos
Biggest Things In Space
Gravity
Cosmic Apocalypse

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The Third Season

Just when you thought it couldn’t get much stranger, The Universe blasts off a bit deeper into the realms of outer space and decides to touch upon even more “out of this world” topics. Now we don’t discuss planets or other spacely ideals, but jump straight into the odd and weird or even sometimes the taboo. No-one really wants to know what kind of disasters or events could end all life on Earth or even threaten the existence of our planet or solar system, but the possibilities are out there. Don’t be discourage though because once things get too serious, the series jumps off the deep end with an episode such as “Sex In Space.” Or maybe “Alien Faces” is more your speed in case you were wondering if the elongated green heads with huge black eyeballs are accurate representations of beings from other planets.

Season three does manage to keep the excitement and knowledge up, but it appears as if the creators of the series are trying to reach out to a much broader audience. The Universe hasn’t alienated anyone by far but it has appeared to be aimed more at an adult crowd looking to learn a little something. As each season comes about though, it is evident that there are hopes of younger viewers coming in with some of the stranger and somewhat funnier topics. It’s all still great stuff though and continues to keep this not only one of the best series on the History Channel, but on all of television.

Episodes

Deep Space Disasters
Parallel Universes
Light Speed
Sex In Space
Alien Faces
Deadly Comets And Meteors
Living In Space
Stopping Armageddon
Another Earth
Strangest Things
Edge Of Space
Cosmic Phenomena

The episodes are shown in 1.33:1 format and they look beautiful, because this is a series that was just made for the magic of Blu-ray. Having reviewed two of the seasons on DVD, it is evident that the quality upgrade and depth that comes from Blu-ray has really taken this series to another level.

Sadly the episodes are heard in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Sound but it 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.

Backyard Astronomers (Season Two) – This is a feature that teaches the amateur astronomer all they would need to know about the universe, constellations, planets, etc… without having to become an expert or genius. It lets them know particular things to look for and even the types of tools they could use to better explore space. Not really the most exciting thing in the world, but it wasn’t all bad. (53:35)

Universe Facts (Season Three)

Photo Gallery

The world of Blu-ray is something that can be seen as both a blessing and a curse for those that are true fans of having huge film/TV DVD collections. But this is one of those times when you should really shell out the dough because it truly feels like The Universe was destined for Blu-ray with gorgeous visuals that cannot be compared to by DVD. It is a wonderful series that will capture your eyes and your mind by providing such interesting and educational information that will keep you glued to the set at all times. Three seasons are in the book and each one continues to impress while getting better all the time. My only hope is that A&E keeps finding more strange, and even normal, topics for more episodes and many seasons to come. Virtually hated hearing about it in high school, but now you couldn’t possibly drag me away from learning more about secrets…of…the universe-universe-iverse-verse.

Tons of credit to anyone who can tell me what film those last few words came from.


A&E Home Video presents The Universe: Seasons 1-3. Created by: Douglas Cohen & Laura Verklan. Starring: Erik Thompson. Running time: 2115 minutes on 10 discs. Rating: Not Rated. Released on DVD: September 29, 2009. Available at Amazon.com

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