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The Universe: The Complete Season Two(TV) (2008)
Travel through the galaxies and explore extraterrestrial phenomenon with this sweeping examination of the universe from The History Channel, which uses state-of-the-art computer technology to take viewers up close to distant planets and stars. Topics include black holes, comets, alien galaxies, star deaths, the moon, the interior of the sun and much more. All 13 episodes from the first season are included, plus the bonus episode "Beyond the Big Bang."
For more about The Universe: The Complete Season Two and the The Universe: The Complete Season Two Blu-ray release, see the The Universe: The Complete Season Two Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on July 5, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Narrator: Erik Thompson
» See full cast & crew
The Universe: The Complete Season Two Blu-ray Review
The second season of this engrossing series earns a decent Blu-ray release...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, July 5, 2009
Has there ever been a more compelling, more confounding quest than the search for the secrets of the universe? How many billions of people have asked themselves whether chance, fate, or a supreme deity holds the reigns of existence? How many intellectuals and laymen have longed to understand the very nature of the cosmos? Young or old, rich or poor, brilliant or simpleminded, curious souls have spent countless millennia searching for answers they may never find; investing their days, faith, money, and effort into uncovering the truth at the heart of reality. Thankfully, we live in a day and age where the latest information is available at the click of button, making our search for answers decidedly easier. Whether perusing the internet or soaking up a sprawling documentary series like The Universe, anyone with the time and willpower can begin to amass as much knowledge as they desire.
For anyone who isn't already intimately familiar with The Universe or its previous first season Blu-ray release, you're in for quite a treat. The ongoing History Channel series has spent the last three years investigating the far reaches of space; everything from neighboring planets to distant solar systems, enduring suns to collapsing stars, and shimmering comets to indescribable phenomena. For its second season, series creator Tony Long ups the cosmic ante, digging into material both casual viewers and amateur astronomers will find absolutely fascinating. While several episodes -- "Mysteries of the Moon," "The Milky Way," "Space Travel," "Colonizing Space," and "Gravity" -- stick close to home, the majority push deep into space and focus on a variety of recent discoveries.
"Alien Planets," "Astrobiology," and "Unexplained Mysteries" plow into the latest theories concerning life on other worlds, as well surprising new evidence that Earth may not be as unique as was once thought. "Alien Moons," "Cosmic Holes," "Constellations," and "Biggest Things in Space" cover the physical properties of the universe, offering viewers an understanding of what they're actually seeing when they look at the stars. "Supernovas," "Cosmic Collisions," "Wildest Weather in the Cosmos," and the fittingly bleak "Cosmic Apocalypse" deal with the volatility of the universe and the startling spontaneity of its ongoing expansion. And "Dark Matter" and "Nebulas" hones in on things we've only just begun to understand; mysterious elements that shape and influence time, energy, and matter.
Through it all, a seemingly endless cavalcade of engaging experts, astronomers, and scientists give a tour of the cosmos that, despite an abundance of lofty concepts and challenging theories, will satisfy laymen and astro-buffs alike. While a fair amount of time is spent introducing facts and establishing the inner-workings of the universe, it sets the stage for everything that follows. I never felt lost, I never felt overwhelmed, and I never felt as if the series had left me behind in favor of its more knowledgeable viewers. At the same time, it was neither condescending nor elementary, delivering its factoids at a comfortable pace yet always pushing me to keep up with its rapidly advancing episodes. As each episode passed, I knew I was absorbing more useful information in a single television season than I had in an entire semester of astrophysics. Yes, some episodes are better than others (the Earth-locked entries were my least favorite) but, on the whole, I was thoroughly pleased with the eighteen-episode experience. High price-point aside, the second season of The Universe is an excellent way to spend fourteen hours of your life.
The Universe: The Complete Season Two Blu-ray, Video Quality
Similar to the Blu-ray release of its first season, The Universe: The Complete Season Two features a commendable 1080i/VC-1 transfer that, more often than not, does a fine job capturing the visual splendor of the heavens. Comets and stars are rendered with vibrant primaries, the depths of space is dark and foreboding, and detail is crisp and revealing. I was continually surprised by the clarity of the series' textures, and impressed by the stability of its CG sequences. Granted, a hodgepodge of sources, from archive footage to interview segments, make for an uneven viewing experience, but anyone who's ever watched a documentary will be completely unfazed by any such inconsistencies. If I have one major complaint, it's that the technical image is weak in the knees. Noticeable artifacting, frequent crush, heavy banding, and minor aliasing pop up from time to time to spoil the otherwise attractive presentation. Still, considering the nature of the production, The Universe looks pretty good.
The Universe: The Complete Season Two Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Unfortunately, like its predecessor, The Universe: The Complete Season Two, is hindered by an underwhelming PCM stereo mix that fails to envelop the listener as readily as the series and its video transfer grabs hold of a viewer. Each episode's narration is clean but hemmed in, effects are passable but pinched, and the series' musical score is boisterous but restricted. Worse still, the front-heavy sonics aren't immersive enough to match the stunning visuals. I would have loved to hear solar flares blaze past my ears, to sit boldly amidst the destruction of an imploding star, or cower at the aural majesty of a massive black hole. Instead, I was abandoned on the outskirts of such phenomenal events, longing to hear them as they were meant to be heard. Ah well, I suppose the PCM mix gets the job done well enough... it just would have been nice to sink into the universe rather than watch it unfold before me.
The Universe: The Complete Season Two Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
While there isn't a lot of supplemental material to go around, this 4-disc set offers fans a bonus 56-minute episode of sorts called Backyard Astronomers. Digging into the world of amateur star-gazing, it documents the passion of everyday men and women who spend their free time exploring the universe from their back porches.
The Universe: The Complete Season Two Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Even at thirty, I still have a lot to learn. Thankfully, I have documentary series like The Universe to help me do just that. While it isn't the sort of family-friendly crowd pleaser I would watch with my four-year-old son, it's an incredibly educational and engrossing jaunt through the universe. Sure, A&E's 4-disc Blu-ray release is a bit uneven -- rising and falling with a solid video transfer, a limited PCM stereo track, and a shallow supplemental package -- but documentary fans will have a hard time working themselves into a tizzy over such a treasure trove of information. Alongside its first season (available now) and the upcoming release of its third season (available September 29th), The Universe: The Complete Season Two is a good set to add to your collection.
The Universe: Other Seasons
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