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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Science > Origins (Nova)

Origins (Nova/WGBH/PBS Set)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C     Episodes: B+



One of the most damaging and distracting debates in recent science, highly politicized, is the argument for some UFO of an idea called “intelligent selection” versus evolution.  Only in The United States thanks to The Religious Right, making us loose face with the world, it is yet another attempt to dumb down the public and the country at large for an extremist political agenda, to the point that IMAX Theaters and PBS affiliates are being intimidated with threats and protests.  That’s why the DVD boom is so great.


Thomas Levenson wrote, produced and directed the ambitious four-part science program Origins, which debuted on the great PBS series Nova in 2004.  Hosted by author Neil DeGrasse Tyson, has been issued in a double DVD set by WGBH and is a terrific show, the kind that put PBS on the map and continues to keep up their highest standards.  The four parts are:


1)     Earth Is Born

2)     How Life Began

3)     Where Are The Aliens?

4)     Back To The Beginning



The show is very detailed in new digital graphics, stock footage and well-researched history.  There are breakthroughs and innovations here you may not have heard of since your last science class in school and it is constantly interesting.  Tyson obviously loves the subject and that alone makes watching more involving.  Though there is not a ton of science DVDs out there, we have looked at a few and Origins offers more than enough information to show that major science theories are not the oversimplified myth some people would have you believe.  It also shows why research is so necessary for the next science breakthroughs, and not just dogmas that roll back learning and progress.  What a well-timed release.


The letterboxed 16 X 9/1.78 X 1 image is not anamorphically enhanced, but has plenty of interesting imagery throughout.  This was likely shown in digital High Definition on PBS stations, with some fine detail lost here, but the editing and visuals make up for that.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has no Pro Logic surrounds, but is clean and clear.  Extras include PDF teaching material, Nova website link, video descriptive services and text page on some other DVDs in the series repeated on both DVDs.  Since the show is so new, a lack of extras is not as much of a problem, though even those not in school could check out the PDFs.  Origins is impressive and if you have not seen it, catch it.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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