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    The Planets

    Roadshow Entertainment/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 390 mins . G . PAL


    How I came across this boxset is a long story. It was a long time ago, I wanted something educational, a non-movie, something that would stroke the inner geek in all of us.

    I was recommended this by some regulars on the #ausdvd channel and promptly purchased it at bargain prices from New Zealand (I shudder to think how NZ people can afford to buy r1 DVD's!).

    I was going to purchase the US r1 box but the price was *much* higher and not only is it NTSC but 1:33 as well!

    I remember seeing bits and pieces of this on Channel 2. It is a eight part BBC documentary running at 50 minutes apiece. The episodes are: (verbatim)

    Different Worlds - A look at space travel and the latest planetary explorations.

    Terra Firma - The story of the pioneering missions to our neighbouring worlds.

    Giants - Uncovers the secrets surrounding the massive planets in our Solar System.

    Moon - The answer to one of the greatest mysteries of the Solar System - why does the Earth have a moon?

    Star - The latest scientific advances bring us a new perspective on the Sun.

    Atmosphere - A fantastic voyage thru the skies of the Solar System.

    Life - A look at the very latest robotic explorations of other planets

    Destiny - how are the planets going to evolve over the next four billion years?

    Most of the docos are intensely interesting. Maybe it was the way the Americans tend to over-produce or "over-emotionalise" things but the trials and tribulations suffered by NASA in their various space programs seemed to me to be the best parts. Thankfully the BBC take an even approach and they do their best to approach the Soviets however they obviously come off second best.

    I found some of the material rather repetitive - esp. similar material in different episodes. Also some of the material is often presented in a highly speculatory manner and IMO often unscientific fashion.

    Of course, consult a book (perhaps by Hawking or Roger Penrose) if you need more detail. Certainly the limits of what can be presented to a massed audience is quite evident here.

    Remember this is TV science and not "real" textbook science. Like 'sport entertainment' vs 'sport'.


    Video quality varies quite a deal however I felt that overall, the picture quality was fine - maybe my views are a bit coloured by watching very spotty space docos on TV or at school.

    In fact, blown up on the ol' projector, I often felt like it was a Year 7 science class!

    High points - computer graphics presentations are extremely clear, in fact easily as good as actual PC graphics presentations as done by a PC thru the VGA port.

    NASA footage is quite good, even the 60's-70's stuff, of course they have the budget for quality controlled production. Obviously different countries, different eras presented varying levels of video quality so expect some jarring video quality changes in individual episodes.

    Low points - general grain and sometimes print damage on modern footage. You must excuse the extremely poor quality of old B&W footage, especially WWII Nazi film of V2 rocket launches; that is of course expected. Also the varying grades of video and film used is quite evident.

    Still, it's miles better than I remember it on FTA Channel 2!


    Audio is Dolby 2.0 - nothing but stereo. Dialogue is clear - you get used to the BBC "Bridish" and the Americans however I doubt you'll get used to the French or other nationalities presented (it has a very international flavour). No sync probs. but then again I don't have them even when others say they exist (Pioneer owners obviously).

    There is an obvious lack of bass or extreme treble since it was mixed for Tee-Vee.

    The music is presented quite well with the appropriate use of orchestral climax however I take exception to the blatant use of what is supposed to be Gustav Holtz's 'The Planets' as a title music piece.

    This is my favourite orchestral piece (I have it on dts CD!) and there are seven individual pieces for every 'Planet' (Pluto and Charon has not been discovered yet). This documentary uses only selected pieces and it uses it all too sparingly.

    It is not a good representation of the Planets Suite as a whole however as I stated above, do some further research if the documentary sparks something in you.

    The fourth suite, "Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity" is the strongest of the lot and not used very much at all. Then again, this is a classical music lover talking so...


    Not really. Except for a Dolby trailer in 2.0 (yawn), various languages (again nothing representative of multicultural Australia) and a terse copyright warning (!)


    There is remarkable value for the galactic-ly inclined. I occasionally pull out a disc and randomly play an episode and kill maybe half and hour and probably end up watching another episode as well!

    Eight episodes is great value and especially since you can get it for much less than the RRP although probably not that cheap at the ABC Store. Mine cost like $4 per episode!

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      And I quote...
    - Tony Lai
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