New to Blu: TV > August 7-13

The BBC natural history series Madagascar may be a Blu-ray disappointment after Planet Earth and Africa but it will still look better in 1080i than it ever did in sub-standard definition on Prime.

Madagascar’s 1080i/VC-1 encode is, sad to say, less than spectacular. It’s quite underwhelming actually.

“Colours are certainly vibrant: greens are lush and lively, earthtones are warm, black levels are satisfying on the whole (albeit altogether imperfect) and contrast is consistent from episode to episode, even though it tends to be murky.

“Unfortunately, detail is spotty from the outset.”

“For those of you that were hoping for another stellar video presentation from BBC Earth, I’m sorry to say, but you’re not going to get it.

Madagascar pales in comparison to Planet Earth or Life, as this 1080i/VC-1 encoded picture is plagued with unsightly problems and blemishes throughout.”

“Granted, it has more narration than anything else, but you expect a bit of sonic scope from a presentation hoping to capture the natural wonder of a world like Madagascar.

“Sadly, the choice of mix – 448kbps Dolby Digital stereo – does nobody any favours. [David] Attenborough is certainly loud and clear, but the ambient elements and hit or miss soundtrack have no spatial or directional presence.”

Fortunately, Hatfields & McCoys, which has aired here in HD, on Sky’s SoHo, fares better.

“The Hatfields & McCoys take their feud to Blu-ray with a fantastic and highly-detailed 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode (1.78:1) …

“An exceptional, near-reference quality audio and video presentation, but supplements are sadly in short supply.”

“The image is highly detailed and frequently is absolutely gorgeous.

“The colour palette is deliberately and appropriately muted for some scenes, but at other times it positively shines as it shows off the spectacular landscapes.”

“The audio is equally stunning. Whether it’s the Civil War battlefield or mountain folk popping each other off, bullets zing and zip with believable realism, the sub rumbles with violent thunder, and the rear effects speakers are awash with the sounds of a place.”

Meanwhile, fans of the original Star Trek at last can stop enduring the dreadful SD repeats on Jones!, with Universal belatedly releasing all three seasons on Blu-ray.

“The quality is outstanding. Colours are incredibly vibrant as you’d expect, and contrast is superb. What’s truly impressive is the detail.

“These HD episodes were mastered from the original film elements, so you’re going to see light grain and select shots will occasionally look softer than others.

“But if classic Trek is never going to look quite perfect, there’s no doubt whatsoever that this is as close as these episodes will ever get.”

“These shining jewels have never looked crisper or better defined than they do here- nor have the mismatched stunt men been more obvious.

“Additionally, the new special effects look tremendous and give the outer space shots a level of credibility that the original 1960’s TV budget effects lacked.”

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4 Responses to “New to Blu: TV > August 7-13”

  1. You mean that Star Trek TOS is finally available retail in NZ some years after being available from Amazon US? I bought series one last year. The video and audio certainly are very good but for the purist there is a version with then old special effects and two-channel stereo sound on each disc.

  2. This is a re-release? I bought S01 back in 2010! I prefer the un-enhanced version so have kept my DVD sets.

  3. Season one is a re-issue but I think few copies were distributed originally. For reasons I can’t fathom, Paramount held back the second and third seasons for the NZ market — they’ve been out in Oz since November last year (S2) and May this year (S3). I can only assume someone was asleep on the bridge …

  4. That tallies with my experience, I saw S01 and never saw the others locally.

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