Brave New World with Stephen Hawking/The Code/In Their Own Words/This Is Civilization (Athena DVD Sets/Documentary TV Mini-Series)
C+/C/C/C Sound: C+ Extras: C Main Programs: B+/B-/B/B-
continues to offer some of the smartest, richest DVD releases on the market to
be educational and for the most educated viewer. Here are four more winners…
with Brave New World with Stephen
Hawking in which the world-renown genius hosts a five episode mini-series
on the technological advances that are looking to best help us and our world
out in the long term and why most of them are so vital. Machines,
Health, Technology, Environment
and Biology are the names of each
respective episode, but that does not begin to tell you how great or rich each
hour-long show is.
innovations, ideas and advancements featured are highly underreported, deserve
much more attention, support and I hope this one becomes a success that has
people talking and people watching who normally would not watch such a show.
Sautoy hosts The Code in which he
posits the theory that we are held together by basic mathematics and spends
three hour-long shows trying to prove it.
Created by the producers of The
Story Of Math (reviewed elsewhere on this site), it is a fun, fine
exploration of how things naturally occur around us and I agree with most of
what I see here, but the host might be getting carried away a bit as if math
were an inescapable force simply because so much breaks down into logarithms.
there is so much to like about this series that it is still definitely worth a
look and no doubt du Sautoy is a math expert and fine host. I just see some limits to what he is
audio and sometimes film and video from the BBC archives, In Their Own Words is an amazing collection of interviews and other
thoughts of some of the greatest thinkers and writers of our time from Virginia
Woolf to George Orwell to J.R.R. Tolkien to Sigmund Freud to Anthony Burgess to
Kingsley Amis to Martin Amis and many, many more.
British and world history in its six hour-long episodes, it is a compelling
journey and is split into two sections.
The British Novelists shows include Among
The Ruins: 1919 – 1939, The Age Of
Anxiety: 1945 – 1969 and Nothing
Sacred: 1970 – 1990, while Great Thinkers includes Human, All Too Human, The
Grand Experiment and The Culture Wars. A remarkable collection, I strongly recommend
we have This Is Civilization hosted
by Matthew Collings updating the controversial hit 1969 BBC series Civilization (and not to be confused
with Niall Ferguson’s series of the same name from 2011 reviewed elsewhere on
this site exploring the connection between art, faith, religion, propaganda,
power and inspirations (positive and negative based) throughout the centuries
leading us to where we are today.
He can be
very bold, but also to make his points, takes the long way in the four
hour-long shows here and though that is better than short cuts in thinking and
explaining, can draw this out longer for some viewers and even seem slightly
repetitive. Still, it is a good program
and is definitely worth a look.
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on all four sets are not bad, but save World, tend to be a little softer
throughout than I expected including style choices, older analog video footage
where applicable and some transfer anomalies.
The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on all four sets are more consistent
with fine recordings and the vintage audio on Words tends to be in really good shape.
all four releases include informative, nicely illustrated booklet on the series
that offers additional facts and ideas at 16 pages each (Code and Civilization
are 12 pagers) and all but Code have
text bios on their subjects. Code does
add the four-minutes-long Math Shorts.
- Nicholas Sheffo