How the Earth was Made: The Complete Season One – DVD Review

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The History Channel has always been considered a niche channel. Many believe that only hardcore history fans can watch that channel. It hasn’t really branched out to a bigger audience, like The Food Network or The Discover Channel has. The reason for that is that the shows that usually air on The History Channel would only be interesting to people who like the subject they are talking about. They don’t do enough to engage the average viewer who is flipping between channels. Based on a 90-minute documentary that aired in 2008, The History Channel hoped that the How the Earth was Made series would be something that non-history or non-science fans would love to watch anyways. At the same time, they wanted to make sure science and history fans would be entertained by this series as well.

The first season of the series examines a famous place on the planet and then explains how it was formed, whether that be by colliding continents, volcanic eruption or large sheets of ice. These processes have mostly been pushed back into the minds of most Americans, if not all together. Using the clues that were left behind, though, expert geologists draw greater conclusions about how the whole Earth was formed around it. There are thirteen hour-long episodes in total this season covering the San Andreas Fault; the Deepest Place On Earth, Marianas Trench; Krakatoa; Lock Ness; New York City; the driest Place On Earth, Atacama Desert in South America; the Great Lakes; Yellowstone; Tsunami; Asteroids; Iceland; Hawaii; and The Alps.

In every episode, there is a variety of authoritative figures, scientists and scholars who each have an area of expertise in the subject. Most of their comments are shot on location, which makes most of their comments not only educational but also fun to watch for the background. They also use lots of computer graphics and special effects to demonstrate what is being said by these people. So that also keeps things engaging for the viewer. It’s one thing to hear what these scientists have to say, but it’s always good to get a visual picture of what they think happened. This series caters to both the people who can hear something and understand it, and those that need to see something to understand it.

Like every History Channel series, How the Earth was Made has the risk of being too scientific for the average TV viewer. Fortunately, this series is able to balance out the information that is given. Unfortunately, though, the series tends to repeat themselves over and over again. They took out all of the commercial breaks from this series, but left in all “recap what you just saw before the commercial break” stuff. This is likely beneficial to the average viewer, but history fans and viewers that pick up on things quickly will likely be annoyed by this. Worst than that, though, is the fact that this series often gets too dramatic. The majority of the time they make things sound worse than they likely actually are. This could really also offput viewers as well.

How the Earth was Made is certainly an interesting series for geology fans. Like most shows on the History Channel, though, it has a hard time catering to a wider audience. This series gives out enough fascinating facts to reel in science fans. But it also repeats itself too many times for the benefit of the non-science fan. The visuals are always great, but the over dramatic nature of the series could immediately lose viewers of all types. So in the end, “average” is worth a watch in small doses. If you spread out the episodes throughout the year, you could likely get through the entire season, unless you just happen to be a hardcore geology fan who can make good use of the fast-forward button on your DVD remote.

The series is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Quality is good throughout. As is the English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound.

There are no extras for this DVD set.

This series can be interesting at times, so rent it one disc at a time.


A&E Home Entertainment presents How The Earth Was Made: The Series. Narrated by Edward Herrmann. Running time: 450 minutes. NOT RATED. Released on DVD: August 25, 2009. Available at Amazon.com

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