VideoVista logo
MONTHLY WEB-ZINE OF  
DVD & BLU-RAY REVIEWS
 
action | adventure | art | cartoon | comedy | cult | disaster | docu | drama | fantasy | horror | kung fu | monster | musical | parody | romance | satire | sequel | SF | sport | spy | surreal | 3D | thriller | TV | war | western
VideoVista covers rental and retail titles in all genres and movie or TV categories, with filmmaker interviews, auteur profiles, top 10 lists, plus regular prize draws.

HOME PAGE
INDEX OF ALL REVIEWS
SEARCH THIS SITE
COMPETITIONS
FORTHCOMING REVIEWS
TOP 10 LISTS
INTERVIEWS & PROFILES
RETRO REVIEWS SECTION
ABOUT OUR CONTRIBUTORS
READERS' COMMENTS
SUBSCRIBE TO NEWSLETTER
SITE MAP
LINKS


SUPPORT THIS SITE -
SHOP USING THESE LINKS

In Association with Amazon.com


visit other Pigasus Press sites...
The ZONE - genre nonfiction
Soundchecks - music reviews
Rotary Action - helicopter movies

December 2009

How The Earth Was Made

narrators: Corey Johnson and Edward Herrmann

writer and director: Peter Chinn

585 minutes (E) 2007
widescreen ratio 1.78:1
Go Entertain / History Channel DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 6/10
review by Jim Steel

How The Earth Was Made

There are 13 episodes in this TV series, each one concentrating on a particular feature. We have the San Andreas Fault, the Marinas Trench, New York, Krakatoa, Loch Ness, Yellowstone, tsunamis, and asteroids, Atacama, the Great Lakes, Death Valley, Iceland, Hawaii, and the Alps. Most concentrate on a particular location, frequently with a splurge of narrative hyperbole (Corey Johnson) that has a slightly bombastic tone. Every location feels as if it were the biggest, driest or deepest. And, of course somewhere on Earth has to be. However, once any given episode gets underway, it soon manages to reel in the viewer's interest. The photography is superb and the on-location experts are articulate and lucid. There are facts and theories concerning geology and meteorology that will be new to all but the most expert of viewers, and it is put across in such a way as to make the series a practical teaching aid.

At regular intervals the episodes will recap what it has already covered in brief bulletin points. Once the initial sensationalism has passed (the first episode featuring the San Andreas Fault certainly doesn't help this impression), the episodes are a delight and many are quite beautiful to watch. The episode on Iceland and the mid-Atlantic ridge is a favourite in this respect, although they all bear repeated viewings. I paid particular attention to the Loch Ness episode (well, it's local!), and didn't feel cheated. True, at the start, and at occasional points throughout, there is a shot of a computer-generated plesiosaur and the promise of solving the mystery but this, somewhat patronisingly, was merely to hook the viewer; the episode turns out to be a lovely essay on tectonics. And, yes, they do solve the mystery by the end. Why are there no plesiosaurs in Loch Ness? They became extinct 65 million years ago, and the loch is only 10,000 years old. No surprise there.

It should also be pointed out that American measurements are used throughout. Places are compared in size to American states, which will make a change for British viewers who are used to everywhere being compared with multiples of Wales. Loch Ness, you might be interested to know, is the same size as Manhattan. Computer-generated dinosaurs also turn up during the episode on asteroids (which mainly focuses on Meteor Crater). The geology and physics is (or seems) spot-on throughout, but there is one howler during the episode on the Alps when it is stated that most of the people during Leonardo da Vinci's time believed the world to be flat. A careless comment such as that will cause many people to doubt the veracity of much of the other information presented here.

Most of the individual episodes in this 13-part series rates more than 6/10, so why is the rating for the boxset as a whole so low? The series has no overall narrative arch; each of the episodes is designed to be dipped into without losing of the viewer's interest (this is an understandable concern for anyone who's ever lost half-an-hour just flicking through cable or satellite channels looking for something to watch). The whole set, with the 45 minutes of content per episode and the fades that allow for the insertion of advertising to make up an hour's worth of airtime, feels as if it is merely a vehicle to transport people to the commercials (a doubly-pointless exercise with the boxset, of course). And, with the partial exception of the asteroids episode, none of the episodes comes near to explaining how, exactly, the Earth was, in fact made. It does, in fact, make one realise exactly how good those BBC series are.



Premonitions in paperback - click to order

VideoVista copyright © 2001 - is published by PIGASUS Press