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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Science > Volcano Under The City (Nova)

Volcano Under The City (Nova)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C-     Episode: B-



Volcanoes are a hot topic.  Ha!  Yes, what a pun, but they are also that way outside of puns because there is still so much to know about them and they keep erupting.  The WGBH/PBS series Nova once again delivers an unforgettable, valuable show with Volcano Under The City.  This time, the nearly-hour-long show takes on a huge volcano in the Central African city of Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  We have seen many programs on such structures, but this one is especially violent and the resulting g crater from its latest explosion twice as tall as New York’s Empire State Building.


The usual smart voice over narration, great shots of the location and graphics to help the audience understand the most specific details are par for the course in this series.  So as I watched, I asked why this show and all the installments of this series stand out when there is plenty of science competition from cable networks.  The answer is density of information and editing.  Furthermore, most of those networks have commercials that actually do break the pace of such shows, so the rival series (when there is an equivalent) have to format their writing to commercial breaks.  Science is too important to some for that, though commercial interruptions do not ruin great TV since they helped build it, but the confidence of going non-stop with the experience of a few decades the makers of the show have over their competitors is really paying off these days.  Especially when it is a volcano that can kill, the mortality is not broken up by a cake mix ad, but Nova is a science of science of science show that is just too good at what it does and Volcano Under The City is another winner.


The letterboxed 1.78 X 1/16 X 9 image is good, but has detail and depth limits, and not because of any stock footage, but because of it not being anamorphic.  This likely was originated in digital HD, but WGBH Boston Video never does anamorphic enhancement.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has no real surrounds, but is pretty good otherwise.  There are no major extras except the usual weblink and printable DVD-ROM educational materials.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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