Series writers might be stretching sometimes to fill an hour on a topic occasionally, but pound-for-pound this is easily my favorite History Channel series. Mock it if you want, but this show always makes me think about the big picture just a little bit differently.
Movie Grade: B
DVD Grade: B
For now I won't speculate why The History Channel has only released season one and (now) season four of this thought-provoking series on Blu-Ray. leaving the two middle seasons dangling in the SD void. Instead I will take pleasure in the fact that this ten episode run from early 2012 is out on Blu and leave it at that. While this might not be consistently the best overall block of material in the show's catalog it does have more than a few standout installments (The Mystery of Puma Punku) that make the lesser ones (Aliens and Bigfoot) seem somehow tolerable.
Each episode runs about 42 minutes, and once again the series calls on its regular group of colorful experts - including Erich von Dšniken, Philip Coppens, David Childress, Giorgio A. Tsoukalos - to appear throughout, offering dot-connecting "what if" notions, along with a large number of theme-specific contributors. These include archeologists, authors, radio hosts, theologians, professors, folklorists, meteorologists, astronauts, museum curators, physicists, etc., all of whom tow the company line of being pro-ancient-alien. The lack of a dissenting viewpoint remains the show's weak link, and just once I would love to see crazy-haired Giorgio A. Tsoukalos debate someone contrary to his ideas.
That would be some good television, my friend.
Plenty of enjoyably speculative material here, and naturally there are a couple of Mayan-centric "doomsday" eps here (Mayan Conspiracies and Doomsday Prophecies), which come 12/21/12 will either prove to be horrific fact or fantastic fiction. Regardless of the doomsday part the explorations of how advanced these "primitive" civilizations were is astounding, to say the least. But the two biggest gems here are The NASA Connection and the aforementioned The Mystery of Puma Punku, both of which represent what I feel are some of the best work done by this series during season four.
In the first conspiracy nuts (yes, I am one) will find much to ponder concerning our space program and its connections to ancient Egyptian beliefs, secret societies and what really happened during shuttle missions STS-48 and STS-80. The second travels to Peru, where on a 12,800 foot plateau lies a mass of enormous stone blocks resembling the letter H. The theorized concepts of who made the intricately carved stones and why - or how they got there - is ideal fodder for Ancient Aliens, and this would be the episode you would want to show to your skeptical friend.
The ten episodes for season four consist of:
DISC 1: The Mayan Conspiracy
Original air date: 02/17/12
The Doomsday Prophecies
Original air date: 02/17/12
Original air date: 02/24/12
Aliens and Mega-Disasters
Original air date: 03/02/12
The NASA Connection
Original air date: 03/09/12
DISC 2: The Mystery of Puma Punku
Original air date: 03/16/12
Aliens and Bigfoot
Original air date: 03/23/12
The Da Vinci Conspiracy
Original air date: 04/06/12
The Time Travellers
Original air date: 04/27/12
Aliens and Dinosaurs
Original air date: 05/04/12
No complaints whatsoever with the 1.78:1 1080i transfer. Colors are quite vivid - man, those are some BLUE skies - and generally the entire presentation looks strong, even when enduring the excessive post-production trickery used to liven up what would be a dull static shot otherwise. Some of the archival material is a bit rough, but that is used sparingly. As expected the interview segments look the strongest - with solid facial details and warm fleshtones.
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.
Once again no extras of any kind for an Ancient Aliens collection. Weird and disappointing.