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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Science > Astronomy > TV > Stunts > Magic > Guns > Targets > Marksmanship > Games > Sports > The Universe – 7 Wonders Of The Solar System Blu-ray 3D Edition (2010 w/2D) + The Universe – The Complete Season Five (2010/Blu-ray + DVD Sets) + Criss Angel Mindfreak – Season Six (2010/DVD) + Top Sh

The Universe – 7 Wonders Of The Solar System Blu-ray 3D Edition (2010 w/2D) + The Universe – The Complete Season Five (2010/Blu-ray + DVD Sets) + Criss Angel Mindfreak – Season Six (2010/DVD) + Top Shot – Season One (DVD/2009/History Channel/A&E)



3-D Picture: B     2-D Picture: B-     DVD Picture: C+    Blu-ray Sound: B     DVD Sound: C+     Extras: D/D/C/C     Episodes: B-  (Mindfreak: C+)



The History Channel continues to issue two of their most popular shows and has introduced another hoping it will be the next big hit in this solid new batch of Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D and DVD releases.


We previously looked at The Universe when we were introduced to it as one of the first History/A&E Blu-rays in the Our Solar System release:





The actual series has been on longer than I realized and The Universe – 7 Wonders Of The Solar System Blu-ray 3D Edition (2010 w/2D) is one of the first Blu-ray 3D documentary or TV releases to make it to the format.  I will not ruin the show’s countdown by telling you what they offer as their choices, but I thought some of them might have been a bit much, yet the show (running 47 minutes) does have some decent 3D effects and well made CG animation, yet the live action interview footage and all of the regular 2D Blu-ray of The Universe – The Complete Season Five (2010) look more like 1080i shoots.  Still, it is a well-made series and I thought the image quality on both sets were a little better than Our Solar System, which was softer than I would have liked.


7 Wonders Of The Solar System is included as the first episode of The Complete Season Five as well, but the 2 Blu-ray set also include Mars: The New Evidence, Magnetic Storm, Time Travel, Secrets Of The Space Probes, Asteroid Attack, Total Eclipse and Dark Future Of the Sun.  There are no extras on the Blu-ray or DVD version sets.


Then there is the continuing risks of Criss Angel Mindfreak – Season Six (2010), a show that is still on, that somehow continues as its star still finds ways to do something new and most importantly, he is still alive.  We have covered the first four seasons in sets from the U.S. (in NTSC) and Australia (in PAL) DVD formats, which you can read more about at this link:




That and the links to our coverage of the other releases of the show, but after all this time, how much more can one watch?  This is a good season, but it is as much hit as it is miss and though he is really good, only a superfan is going to want to see all six seasons and counting.  The shows become interchangeable and I give him credit for his talents and knowing his trade, but can he find a new direction soon?  Extras include secrets behind his tricks and this includes ways you can learn how to do what he does… just enough not to replace him, that is.


That leaves the new show Top Shot – Season One (2009) which brings together some of the top firearms users in the world to compete for a big prize, so this is a contest show and with such serious firepower throughout, barely has time to degenerate into “reality TV” so it is more watchable than expected.  Running 11 hour-long episodes over 4 DVDs, 15 very talented men and women go at it to show who has the best eagle eye of them all and the competition even reminded me of Battle Of The Network Stars in all the things they do here.


A solid idea for a show, I was entertained, though the pacing sometimes cuts into learning more about the participants.  Otherwise, this could well be a hit for at least a few seasons and I am surprised a similar show was not produced sooner.  Extras include Additional Footage, Elimination Interviews and Contestant Bios.



The 1080p 1.78 X 1 MVC-encoded 3-D – Full Resolution digital High Definition image and 2D HD image are on par as noted above on Universe, including the whole Fifth Season, but expect some inconsistency.  The 1.33 X 1 in Mindfreak is no better or worse than the PAL and NTSC DVDs we previously covered, showing the sourcing is as consistent as it can be for such a production.  Shot has a letterboxed 1.78 X 1 presentation that can be watered-down looking, but is clean and consistent otherwise.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on the Universe Blu-rays are as good as they could be for what is essentially a documentary science show, so expect some sonic limits in what is not always a spectacular soundfield, though still a good one with warm sound.  The DVD version is not as good and like Mindfreak and Top Shot, is simple Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, which may “get the job done” but are not great.  With lossless DTS-MA from Blu-ray these days, it is more obvious than ever, but all these programs are entertaining and are recommended for those interested.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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