Cornwall with Caroline Quentin (2012/Acorn/Athena DVD Set)/Culinary Masterpieces (First Run Features DVD Set)/Disasters Deconstructed
(A&E/History Channel DVD set)/History
In 3D (A&E/History Channel Blu-ray set)/Narrow Escapes Of World War II (2011/Acorn/Athena DVD Set)/Predator Collection (Smithsonian
Channel/Inception DVD)/The Universe In 3D (A&E/History Channel Blu-ray
Picture: C+/C/C+/B-/C+/C+/B Sound: DVDs: C+/Blu-rays: B- Extras: C/C-/D/D/C/D/D Episodes: B-/B-/B+/B-/B/B/B-
holiday season upon us, some nice sets are arriving on home video you will want
to check into, including bundling of past releases.
new one is Cornwall with Caroline
Quentin (2012) in which the host takes 8 one-hour episodes exploring one of
the famed and favorite sections of Southern England. A little can go a long way and there seems to
be some overlap, but the idea is to deliver the depth and experience of really
going there and with added history and other interesting items, this is very
thorough. It may not be for everyone,
but it far exceed being a mere travelogue, typical of the great releases from
Athena, so if you are interested, you will not be disappointed.
include photo galleries and a 12-page illustrated viewer’s guide.
Culinary Masterpieces collects four very impressive
single DVD releases from First Run Features on food and cooking. You can read about each of them at the
Guy Martin – Portrait Of A Grand
King Of Pastry (2009)
Le Cirque: A Table In Heaven (2009)
A Matter Of Taste: Serving Up Paul
really good memories of all of them and combined far surpass what you might get
on a cable channel on food, as they are more thorough, honest and even
raw. It also gives us a quieter (and
therefore more realistic) look at the business today and if you are a food fan
looking for more, this is a great set for you and/or someone you know. Extras are the same as the previous releases.
Disasters Deconstructed: A History
Of Architectural Disasters comes from A&E and The History Channel and is loaded with so many
programs, that it is my personal favorite of so many great sets here. The first two DVDs offer six extraordinary
episodes of Inspector America with
Timothy Galarnyk exploring the serious infrastructure issues to be found in
bridges, roads, gas lines, water lines, sewage lines and much more in cities
like the Twin Cities in Minnesota, Las Vegas, Seattle, Los Angeles, Detroit
and many others. This should be the #1
reality TV show in the world and for some odd reason, is not. The show deserves its own set and if it is not
being produced, should be renewed immediately.
offers Titanic’s Achilles Heel, DVD 4
has three programs on The Hindenburg and the final two DVDs offer eight episodes
of Engineering Disasters, which
features several unbelievable disasters per episode (we get episodes 4 – 11
here) and that also calls for its own DVD set.
Despite having no extras, this one is so insanely loaded that you cannot
History In 3D is the first of two A&E/History
Channel Blu-ray 3D sets (which is still rare for the format) that includes two
Blu-ray 3D titles we covered before at these links:
History Of The World In Two Hours
Titanic: 100 Years In 3D
leaves WWII In 3D, which has no
extras, runs only 46 minutes, but is yet another fascinating chapter in
Hitler’s madness as he gets photographers to literally shoot still images in
stereophonic 3D (plus Hitler had some 3D motion picture film shot), the Allies
and personal photographers also used some 3D and the time and all that is
presented here as yet another new, dark angle of the war and the evil empire
that was Nazi Fascism. Also available as
a single, it is pretty good, but I wanted to know more about it and other still
3D systems of the time for instance, so the lack of extras is my only
disappointment with this and the other titles.
Besides that, this is a pretty good set.
Narrow Escapes Of World War II (2011) is a recent British TV
series focusing on near-miss incidents on both sides during WWII from
Acorn/Athena. The 13 hour-long shows
include stories you have likely not heard of including The Amiens Raid, Wingate
& The Chindits, The Black Battalion, Lucky Laycock’s Escape From Crete,
Manstein Holds The Line, The Siege Of Kohima, Roy Urquhart’s Escape From
Arnheim, Morshead Holds Tobruk, Evacuation Of The Baltic, Moore’s March,
Operation Pedestal, Breakthrough Through Hell’s Gate (The Germans vs. The
Soviets) and the famed Doolittle Raid.
It is a fine set and though the style might be a little slap-dash at
times, it is pretty thorough and worth your time. Extras include text profiles of some of the
escapees from the episodes and a 12-page illustrated viewer’s guide.
The Predator Collection has nothing to do with action
films, but is a Smithsonian Channel DVD single with some solid programs on
Lions, Cheetahs, Crocodiles, Big Cats Of Savannah and holds its won against
similar special interest work on home video.
There are no extras, but it is a quality single worth your time and a
place on any shelf with such releases.
we have The Universe In 3D from A&E and The History
Channel that is similar to but does NOT include the 7 Wonders Of the Solar System Blu-ray
3D we reviewed at this link:
we get three other programs: Catastrophes
That Changed The Planet, How The
Solar System Was Made and Nemesis:
The Sun’s Evil Twin (the most speculative of the three, suggesting a second
invisible sun is circling us) typical of the previous shows in the series. Having them in 3D can be more fun to watch,
plus more tolerable when they do not work.
There are no extras.
X 1, 1080p full HD MVC-encoded 3-D – Full Resolution digital High Definition
image on the Universe and History
sets are good, but the History set
is working with rough materials at times and comes up short. Still, they both look as good as they are
going to and that goes for their 2D presentations which are fine but have some
detail and depth limits. The 1.33 X 1 on
the Pastry DVD on the Culinary set is soft along with most of
the others in the set, but so are some of the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1
image on the rest of the DVDs here, though not as soft as those.
A Matter Of Taste is the best of the four from that
set, but still has softness issues and detail limits like Cornwall,
Escapes, Disasters and Predator. With that said, most of the DVD titles could
use Blu-ray releases.
(Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes are on
WWII In 3D and History Of The World
In Two Hours with limited soundfields while all the Universe Blu-rays are PCM 2.0 Stereo and manage to have healthy Pro
Logic surrounds, Titanic 3D only has
lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 and the DVDs all have lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. That leaves the Blu-rays sounding fine and
DVDs not bad, but not as good as the Blu-rays.
- Nicholas Sheffo