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Featured TV on DVD Review: How the Earth was Made: Season Two

June 25th, 2010

How the Earth was Made: Season Two - Buy from Amazon

How the Earth was Made airs on the History Channel, which is a little bit weird, as it has little to do with history, but instead focuses on the science of geology. At least it's science, and not part of the ghost hunter crap that seems to dominate their lineup.

Season two presents 13 episodes starting with...

  1. Grand Canyon
    A look at the most famous canyon in the world and the puzzle it presents to geologists. How could something that deep and that wide be created in what is a very short time in geological terms?
  2. Vesuvius
    The volcano that buried Pompeii. Nothing like that could happen again, right? And if it did, it wouldn't be a threat to the people of Naples, right?
  3. Birth of the Earth
    How did the Earth form from the debris cloud of the early solar system? And how did the early Earth get the features it has now: it's iron core, molten center, crust, oceans, and even life?
  4. Sahara
    The Sahara Desert is the driest and hottest place on Earth, but it was once an ocean. So how did this huge change happen and when? And are there equally dramatic changes ahead for the region?
  5. Yosemite
    How was the Yosemite box valley created? Back in the mid 1800s there were two competing theories about that question. With modern science, we might be able to finally answer it.
  6. The Rockies
    The dramatic symbol of the West. But how were they created and what caused them to have the appearance they have today?
  7. Ring of Fire
    Around the Pacific ocean is a geological formation that has massive tectonic activity. The majority of all volcanic eruptions and earthquakes happen in this strip, but why?
  8. Everest
    Mount Everest is the largest mountain in the world, and arguably the most famous as well. But how did it form? Also, now that it is here, what effects does it have on the global climate? And what will this do to its future?
  9. Death Valley
    Death Valley is the lowest point in North America. It is also the warmest and the driest. And one of the weirdest. There are rocks that race up hill, but no one has seen them move. What could cause this, and the other characteristics of the area?
  10. Mt. St. Helens
    Before Mt. St. Helens erupted in 1982, it had signs of major activity for a long enough time that many, many scientists came to observer it. At the time, the science of volcanoes and predicting how and when they would erupt was in its infancy, so this was a very important event. It was also a tragic eruption, as it proved unpredictable in many ways.
  11. Earth's Deadliest Eruption
    250 million years ago, there was a geological event that took place in Siberia, one that lasted a million years and whose impact can still be measured today.
  12. America's Ice Age
    The last Ice Age changed North America in ways that we are still learning about today. Explore some of these effects, and look toward the future of the dwindling glaciers.
  13. America's Gold
    How is gold created? How did it get to Earth? And what geological events helped bring gold to the surface?
First, a couple of general impressions of the show. This is a very interesting show and if you are a science nerd like me, then this is a great DVD to get. They use plenty of simulations to illustrate the scientific principals and along with the amazing amount of interviews this works well with the narration to create an impressive educational tool. It's not perfect and it is a little repetitive, but this is true of most similar TV shows. Another negative is the lack of subtitles. They really need subtitles, because sometimes the music / effects are too loud compared to the narration.

Also, their comparisons can get pretty funny. "That's four times the size of Washington, D.C." Really? That doesn't help me visualize it any better. "It could bury New York 100 feet deep." Huh? Who is coming up with these? In the end I started guessing what geographic location they would use in a comparison next.

Of the 13 episodes on this DVD, all of them are worth checking out and almost all of them have reply value. I do have minor complaints about Vesuvius, which treated its subject like Animal Planet treats sharks. It felt exploitative instead of educational. Likewise, when they try to hype the scientific debate in Yosemite, it felt like an unnecessary way to build tension. Those are really the only two episodes I had significant complaints with.

On the downside, not only are there no subtitles, there are no extras.

The Verdict

If you are a science junkie in general and a geology nerd in specific, then How the Earth was Made: Season Two is a must have. Even if you are just a casual fan of scientific shows, then this four-disc set is worth picking up. Sadly, there are no extras, but the price per minute is still exceptional.

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