Studio:New Video Year: 2012 Cast: Erich von Däniken, Philip Coppens, David Wilcox, Giorgio A. Tsoukalos, Adrian Gilbert, John Whalen, Michael Dennin, Uwe Apel, Gerardo Aldana, Robert Clothworthy Director: various Release Date: September 18, 2012 Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable) Run Time: 03h:46m:00s Genre(s): television
"Someone told them: use the word 'star' for your village for eternity. Don't change it." - Erich von Däniken
Being a completist I'm not much of a fan of 'best of' collections, especially for a series I enjoy like Ancient Aliens. Give me the season sets on Blu-Ray or give me nothing.
Movie Grade: B
DVD Grade: B-
As I mentioned in my review of the season two SD set of Ancient Aliens I read Erich von Däniken's Chariots of the Gods - which posits that technologies and religions of many ancient civilizations were given to them by ancient astronauts who were welcomed as gods - when I was 13 years old. To call it an eye-opening and life changing moment in my young life would be really selling it short, because it was as if von Däniken had reached into my teenaged noggin and stomped around my brainpan in hobnail boots.
Everything about the way I thought and looked at the world and human history changed forever at that point, and whether von Däniken's theories (and he is not alone, my friend) are fact or fiction matters actually little to me. The book screamed at me to think about things differently and to be open to new ways of imagining our past based on archeological and historical "evidence". In fact, I have no doubt that von Däniken's book is partly responsible for me becoming a proud, flag-waving atheist. Thanks for that, Erich!
The History Channel series Ancient Aliens carries much of that very same vibe for me, and the fact that von Däniken appears in it only cements the appeal.
Yet even with that biased series love the thing is I'm not entirely sure of is the marketing logic behind this 4-episode collection. Consisting of the first episode of each of the first four seasons, on one hand this 'best of' is the only opportunity to get any of the season two or three content on Blu-Ray, because for unknown reasons only the first and fourth seasons have been issued in the format. That seems weird to me, because those two blocks of episodes from the middle seasons are just as completely enjoyable as any of the others and certainly merit a full run on Blu.
But that's an argument for another time, my friend, because what we have here is a budget-priced primer of what Ancient Aliens is all about.
Plain and simple: this History Channel series caters to the mindset of the alien believer ("Hello, my name is Rich") and each one-hour episode carefully examines a thematic link connecting the influence deep-space travelers with some element of Earth history. Ancient Aliens may not be the fairest bit of investigative reporting, choosing instead to fill time with sometimes fantastic new uses for the phrase "what if...". Slanted completely to the side of the ancient alien doctrine - even I would have welcomed an opposite viewpoint just to keep it balanced - the religious faithful will likely opt out of this for obvious reasons. Yet even for the sometimes eyebrow-raising leaps that are taken the central content is curiously fascinating, and the material is presented intelligently (albeit tilted largely in one direction).
Though I thoroughly enjoy the series and the representative sampling on this release I can't fully endorse this 4-ep collection as a purchase. Give me ALL season sets on Blu-Ray, History Channel!
The material for this 'best of' features the following episodes:
Season 1/Episode 1
Original Air Date: 03/20/10
Season 2/Episode 1
Original Air Date: 10/28/10
Aliens and the Old West
Season 3/Episode 1
Original Air Date: 07/28/11
The Mayan Conspiracy
Season 4/Episode1 1
Original Air Date: 02/17/12
Much of the time the 1.78:1 1080i transfer is exceptionally bright and vivid, filled with a bold color palette almost to the point of oversaturation. Other times the source material is peppered with assorted video noise, making the overall image quality a variety pack. The interview segments look the strongest - with solid facial details and warm fleshtones - whereas some of the stock footage shows some wear and tear related to conversion from its original format.
Audio is presented in a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix and the presentation delivers loud music cues/stingers and clean, rich voice quality during the interview segments. Naturally narrator Robert "I sound like Peter Coyote" Clotworthy comes across the best, with his trademark voice booming ominously.
No extras of any kind. What's the deal with that?