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The Universe - The Complete Season One DVD Review - -

Feature 8.7
Video 8.5
Audio 8.5
Total 8.7
Distributor: Roadshow
Running Time: TBA
Classification: E
Alex Bourke


The Universe
The Complete Season One

The amazing first season of this inspirational astronomy documentary by the History Channel has arrived on DVD thanks to Roadshow which collects all the episodes of the season into one impressive boxed product. Best of all, the series is quite down to Earth (pun intended) and the explanations are in laymen terms, ensuring that the common user will be able to easily understand this documentary series. Interesting, enlightening and entertaining are probably the best three words that sums up this series.

Episode Listing

Secrets of the Sun
The End of the Earth: Deep Space Threats to Our Planet
The Moon
Spaceship Earth
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

As you can see from the episode listing, the episodes are quite diverse and for those with Foxtel in Australia, The Universe has moved onto Season Two that goes beyond the physical to the almost metaphysical with parallel universes and the like.

At itís heart, The Universe takes the viewer on an informative journey of what lies beyond our little blue planet from our neighboring planets, to our sun and even beyond our galaxy. Through expert interviews and some wonderfully impressive computer generated sequences, The Universe is reminiscent of the classic astronomy series called Cosmos, by the late and great Carl Sagan. 

From actual photos and various re-enactments, the topics in The Universe are very well presented and written and I found all the episodes extremely interesting and not boring at all. Even my partner who loathes documentaries found The Universe a truly riveting and informative experience.

There are even some comical aspect to the series, however at the end of the day, you will be given all the current information about universe from the creation of the universe, the death of our sun and even alien life plus more. 14 episodes are featured in this collection. The high definition video only compliments the series and really draws you into to our amazing universe.

Highlights for me, include the first episode, Secrets of the Sun which explains how our sun produces energy and the impact it has had on our planet from life to the devastating rays that shine down on us. It even moves onto the death of the sun (which is billions of years away) and what will happen to our star system.

The Moon is another interesting episodes which gives the viewer a great history lesson on our closest neighbor and like the sun, it also effects Earth. It gives us a god understanding of how it has effected history from men worshiping it as a god and how travelers used it for navigation.

Finally, Search for ET , another interesting episode that goes into some detail of whether life exists in the universe. This episode features Ray Kurzweil from SETI who helps explain the chances of life in the universe, thanks to SETA, a privately funded project called the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. Of course, life may also be microprobes and other interesting creatures.

In conclusion, The Universe is a highly professional documentary which at times only skimmers the service of knowledge, whereas other times it is even more in-depth. If you are a lover of documentaries or astronomy than this is the DVD for you... or if you are looking for something different, than I highly recommend you investigate season one of The Universe.

Episode Synopsis

01 - Secrets of the Sun
It is a fireball in the sky, a bubbling, boiling, kinetic sphere of white hot plasma, exploding and erupting. Its size is almost unimaginable--one million Earths would fit within its boundaries. In this violence is born almost all the energy that makes existence on Earth possible, yet, its full mysteries are only now beginning to be understood. From Sun spots to solar eclipses, solar flares to solar storms, the birth of the sun to its potential death, discover the science and history behind this celestial object that makes life on Earth exist.

02 - Mars: The Red Planet
It has been fifty years since man first ventured into space, but the greatest secrets are yet to be revealed. Mars is the planet in our solar system most similar to Earth despite otherworldly features such as the largest volcano in the Solar System. Rumors of life on Mars may be substantiated as NASA orbiters and rovers discover new evidence of frozen water just beneath the rusty soil. Did alien life exist there? As Earth reels with the effects of global warming, Mars becomes the most likely candidate for eventual human habitation. Cutting-edge computer graphics are used to show what life would be like on Mars, and to imagine what kind of life forms might evolve in alien atmospheres.

03 - The End of the Earth: Deep Space Threats to our Planet
Asteroids, comets, gamma ray bursts and the sun all combine to make the Earth a dangerous place to live. NASA's top brass and other scientists are arming themselves with the latest technology to pre-empt an apocalyptic attack. Watch and investigate bizarre, and terrifying apocalyptic scenarios and the ways that scientists are racing against the clock to develop technology to defend our planet.

04 - Jupiter: The Giant Planet
Jupiter poses many questions about our solar system. It is a powerful planet of gas whose flowing colors and spots are beautiful, but contain violent storms and jet streams. A mini solar system of over sixty moons rotate around Jupiter--a half billion miles from earth. Could one of these moons contain life under its icy crust?

05 - The Moon
The moon has comforted man for thousands of years. It's been everything from a god to a compass, and the only cosmic body human beings have ever visited. NASA is planning to build a permanent outpost there. Discover how the moon came to be--if you don't already know, you will be astounded.

06 - Spaceship Earth
Take a high performance ride through the formation of the third planet from the Sun, Earth. A survivor of one of the most violent "neighborhoods" in the universe, learn how earth was created and discover what creatures hold clues to how life began. What evil forces threaten the demise of Earth? Complex and controversial, this is the scientific detective story of all time. Cutting-edge graphics are used along with the stories of scientists and explorers who dare to venture into the uncharted territory of the cosmos.

07 - Mercury and Venus: The Inner Planets
Scorched by their proximity to the sun, Mercury and Venus are hostile worlds; one gouged with craters from cosmic collisions and the other a vortex of sulfur, carbon dioxide and acid rain. Prime examples of planets gone awry, do they serve as a warning for ominous scenarios that might someday threaten Earth? Cutting-edge computer graphics are used to show what life would be on other planets and to imagine what kind of life forms might evolve in alien atmospheres.

08 - Saturn: Lord of the Rings
Are the rings of Saturn a real celestial phenomenon or merely a cosmic Illusion? Technology allows the experts to get closer to the furthest planet visible to the naked eye. Old questions are answered and new ones arise. Does Saturn hold the key to Earth's weather and will one of its moons supply us with all the oil we'll ever need? Cutting-edge computer graphics are used to show what life would be like on other planets and to imagine what kinds of life forms might evolve in alien atmospheres.

09 - Alien Galaxies
To know our place in the universe take a look far, far away to the realm of Alien Galaxies. Our galaxy is one of hundreds of billions in the universe. The Milky Way consists of more than a billion stars, our sun being only one of them. Take a view of the universe through the Hubble Space telescope and go back almost all the way to the Big Bang. Cutting-edge computer graphics are used to bring the universe down to earth to show what life would be like on other planets, and to imagine what life forms might evolve in alien atmospheres.

10 - Life and Death of a Star
Ignited by the power of the atom, burning with light, heat and wrath, stars are anything but peaceful. They collide, devour each other, and explode in enormous supernovas--the biggest explosions in the Universe. Using cutting-edge computer graphics, never-before-seen satellite images, and interviews with the world's leading astronomers, take a front row seat to the most amazing light show in the cosmos.

11 - The Outer Planets
New discoveries regarding the Outer Planets are creating a fundamental rethinking of our solar system. Uranus is a toxic combination of hydrogen, helium and methane. Scientists speculate that the planet was knocked on its side after colliding with another body. Neptune's largest moon, Triton, is cold and barren, but some scientists speculate that liquid water might exist under Triton's icy surface. If this is proven true, Triton could be the home to one of the biggest discoveries of all time. Cold and inhospitable, Pluto completes one orbit around the solar system every 248 years. Cutting-edge computer graphics are used to bring the universe down to earth to show what life would be like on other planets, and to imagine what kind of life forms might evolve in alien atmospheres.

12 - The Most Dangerous Place in the Universe
Take a tour of the cosmic hot zones--black holes, galaxy mergers, gamma ray bursts and magnetars. Super massive black holes can figuratively "lasso" the Earth out of the solar system. A clash between two galaxies can result in a barbaric ritual called "galactic cannibalism" in which the dominant galaxy's super massive black hole eats the weaker one. Magnetars are a cosmic magnetic force so strong it could wipe out data on every credit card on the planet.

13 - Search for ET
In a galaxy filled with a billion stars, in a universe filled with a hundred billion galaxies--are we alone? SETI--the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence--is a privately funded project using radio telescopes and optical telescopes to scan the stars for signals. NASA is planning missions to Mars, Jupiter's sixth moon, Europa, and Saturn's largest moon, Titan, to look for primitive, microbial life in ice concentrations. Whether we discover primitive or intelligent life, how will that knowledge impact humankind's view of itself? Cutting-edge computer graphics are used to bring the universe down to earth to show what life would be like on other planets, and to imagine what kind of life forms might evolve in alien atmospheres.

14 - Beyond the Big Bang"
The universe began with a massive expansion, billions and billions of years ago, and it continues to expand with every passing second. The idea that the universe, and man's very existence, began with a "Big Bang" is no longer a topic of debate among most scientists--it is essentially taken as fact. How has man come to this conclusion, and how has our knowledge evolved so that we can recreate the very first seconds of our universe and all that has developed since? Interviews with the world's leading physicists and historians are woven together with animated recreations and first-person accounts to explain concepts such as the formation of galaxies, the creation of elements and the formation of Earth itself.


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