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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Science > Biology > Health > TV Mini-Series > Evolution (WGBH/Science Mini-Series)

Evolution (WGBH Boston Video Box Set)


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



After an insane attempt to annihilate science at many school levels with the fraud called intelligent design (a pseudo-fancy variant of creationism for those who are more of ignorance than of any faith), better minds in the country decided to put an end to the lies and madness by voting down such gibberish and voting out school board members and other people more interested in politics and agendas than independent thinkers of the future the country needs so badly.  Watching the seven installments from the WGBH mini-series Evolution (2001) reminded me that part of the extremists’ arguments (outside of spiting and disrespecting the intelligence of voters at large in a socialist/fascist move to “put them in their place”) they are totally exclusive and separate.  Only those who want a fight against progress want them to be.


If you have faith in some single entity that is so great, than why not these centuries of development are beyond understanding or not of that entity?  The first part is Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, a feature-length first installment that combines interviews and facts with dramatizations of Darwin slowly putting together his groundbreaking work.  The dramatic parts are sometimes awkward just in the way they keep getting cut into, but it is a very good start overall.


Great Transformations and Extinction! show the ark (no pun intended) of the rise and fall of species and that “survival of the fittest” is not about lifting weights, eating a certain way or clobbering other over the head as some who want you to fear people and life would like you to believe, but about how where life is is as important as how that life finds its way.  People would quickly drown in a place with too much water and too little land to live on, to make a very, very rough example.  The Evolutionary Arms Race is ironically named because it builds on the prior two installments and focuses on microorganisms and whatever dangers they could still pose to humans and other living creatures.  Why Sex? takes the opposite approach by saying if the microorganisms do not kill us, how is it this is the how and why of why we continue to survive.


Getting back to our opening idea, The Mind’s Big Bang explores how man became the dominant species and it is not as pat or stupid as the bigotry of “a divine spark” in the brain, as the show traces where man evolved from other creatures, starting with the ones that rose out of the water.  It is the richest of the seven installments here.  That leaves What About God?  This cleverly reminds us that we happen to be the only species that tries to explain where we actually came from through science or much lazier, simpler and inaccurate explanation, but maybe I digress.  It is the most interesting way to end the series, which I strongly recommend, now more than ever.


The letterboxed 1.78 X 1 image is sometimes is fuzzier than expected, but has enough clear shots throughout the seven installments that it is not always an issue.  Too bad this was not all anamorphically enhanced.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has Pro Logic surrounds in all cases, but they are so weak that you may find yourself playing the shows in regular stereo.  This will depend on home theater system quality and personal preference, but this critic likes stereo-only more.  There are hardly any extras, including no closed captions despite being listed as having them.  There are no DVD captions either, but the weblinks lead to extensive information and there are frame son other titles of interest from WGBH, though you can find them here on the site by entering WGBH, Nova or Science into our search engine.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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