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Featured TV on DVD Review: Clash of the Gods: Season One

March 14th, 2010

Clash of the Gods: Season One - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

With the release of Clash of the Titans just around the corner, a lot of shows are being released to take advantage of the resurgence of interest these myths that is sure to follow. On such show is Clash of the Gods, which ran on The History Channel last year. It deals mostly with the Greek myths, but also with the Norse gods, the English myths, and even some much more recent creations. Will this show appeal to a wide audience, or do you have to be a fan of Greek mythology first? Will it be too basic? Will it be too in-depth? Will it be too superficial? Will it be too academic? Will it be too showy? Or will it be able to balance these demands?

As a fan of most mythology, I found a lot of the information interesting. I especially liked how experts explained how certain myths tied into the customs of the day, or were paralleled in other myths. For instance, in the Hercules episode, one expert explained that the labor to defeat the hydra represents the battle versus mankind's lust. I did not know that. Nor did I know some of the details of other myths, or the way the real Greeks would worship specific gods. I also liked how they linked these myths to real world events, although often they would go too far. Too often the myths are treated by the experts like they are real events. Prince Theseus didn't overcome his fear of the Minotaur, because the Minotaur never existed. Myths were used to explain a confusing world before science could. Myths were important tools, but they were not real.

The second major problem with the show was the style, which tended to dominate over the substance. It's a problem when style is more important than the substance, but it is even worse when the style actually interferes with the substance. There are numerous showy clips of the people and events that were the center of these myths. Quick cuts, pans, zoom ins, etc. are all used in what I assume was an attempt to give the show some pizzaz, but really only served to distract. Perhaps these elements were necessary, because if they showed the creatures on screen for too long, the audience would see how unimpressive they were. Some were just men with some paint on their face and strange contacts on, while others were 2D images with very limited animation. Worst of all, the show is also hideously repetitive, with the same short clips repeated endlessly throughout an episode. Some clips are repeated more than a dozen times within a single episode.

Finally, not only were the graphics repeated constantly, but so was a lot of the information. This is the kind of show that has previews before each commercial break. After each commercial break, it recaps what has already been said. Because of this, half of the show is repeating what has already been said.

I do not have the DVD, but since the Blu-ray has no extras, one can assume there's nothing exclusive to the High Definition release. As for its technical presentation, the video is mixed. The imagery in the series tends to be stylistic, gritty, and just plane dirty. Because of this, it doesn't shine in High Definition. Also, the audio is strictly 2.0. It's clear, but your surround sound speakers are unused. The only good news is that the Blu-ray only costs 11% more than the DVD, which is very low for TV on DVD.

The Verdict

Ummm.... Zeus doesn't exist. We are all in agreement on this, right? I ask that, because a lot of the people in this series treat the Greek gods as if they actually existed and seem to get the cause and effect backwards. The Strait of Gibraltar doesn't exist because Hercules split the mountains with his sword. That myth exists because the Strait of Gibraltar exists and the people of ancient Greece needed a way to explain it.

I wish this were the biggest flaw of Clash of the Gods, but throughout Season One, repetitive and overly stylistic visuals distract from the information presented. And what information is presented is also repeated an unacceptable amount of the time. Additionally, with no extras on the DVD or the Blu-ray, it is only worth a rental, at most.

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