on 19 January 2010
Series 3 of Ray Mears' Extreme Survival sees an increase in running time from 30 minutes to a full 60. At least it did on the original BBC airing. Once again there is a good combination of Ray taking us to various destinations, with demonstarations of various survival skills and tales from people who have been in survival situations associated with the area. The extra running time doesn't come across as redundant, but rather benefits the show by allowing for more in depth history and survival tales from the area. As a series I would highly recommend this, but there are three big down sides, which are specific to the DVD.
Firstly, and most irritatingly of all, the running time of the DVD is reduced from 60 minutes to 50 minutes per episode. This might not seem too much but for anyone who saw the original BBC broadcasts it really detracts from the programme. Some items are much shorter while others are absent altogether. It also isn't an issue of running time, as a standard dual layer disc (which this should be), covers around 4 hours. Also this is a 2 disc set.
Secoundly the digital transfer leaves a great deal to be desired. For starters the sound quality isn't as crisp as I would usually associate with a digital recording. More annoyingly is the picture quality, which while on the whole clear, at times shows very pronounced pixellation commonly associated with a low quality image. The bit rate is lower than I would normally expect too.
Thirdly, and finally, is the music soundtrack. In the original broadcast a number of contemporary instrumental pieces are used. This has the benefit of making the programme sound modern and fresh. On the DVD, due I suspect to music copyright issues, the music has been replaced with more ethnic sounding music that you might associate with the area being talked about. This sounds good in principle but really does not work for me, and it stands out quite badly and somewhat surprisingly detracts quite significantly from the programme.
As an extra there are a list of 'skills sets', but these are only excerpts from the episodes themselves and not new footage. Certainly they should not account for the episodes being 10 minutes shy of their original runtime. It would have been far better if the skills sets had included the material cut from the original programme.
In summary I would say that if you haven't seen the show before it is definately worth having. If you don't have a copy of the show it is also worth having. If, though, in one way or another you have a copy of the original BBC airing, then I'd have to say don't bother. This is sadly disappointing in comparision to what I would call the original version.
on 27 August 2003
This is a DVD of the televsion series which I thoroughly enjoyed. However there has been some editing, as much a five minutes has been trimed of some episodes. In addition although on the menu it lists additional skills features these are in reality just clips already within the episodes, no new material at all. The previous reviewer criticised the series for its lack of skills, which in part is true, but rather this DVD tends to show a particular enviroment and place skills within the region.
on 15 November 2006
I like the fact that this series concentrated more on the stories of survival - there are some very moving and interesting tales.
Ray Mears - Extreme Survival 3 Episode Guide:
Belarus - Ray travels to Belarus to meet with some of the surviving partisans of the Second World War. For the Jewish partisans, the forests of Belarus became a sanctuary and weapon in their fight against oppression.
Roger's Rangers - Journey to New England and follow in the footsteps of Major Robert Rogers and his rangers. Ray tells the epic story of the Rangers' withdrawal during which they fought off both pursuing enemy and starvation as the seasons changed rapidly from autumn to winter.
Alaska - In January 1910, the steamship Farallon ran aground. Ray tells the compelling story of this shipwreck, of the hardships endured by the crew and the courage they showed whilst sheltering from the harsh conditions.
Namibia - This arid coastal area, known as the skeleton coast, is one of the most inhospitable environments in which to survive. Meet with the indigenous Bushmen and encounter tales of shipwreck, rescues and tracking.
Thailand - From the comfort of a jungle base camp. Ray tells the story of survival during the Vietnam War and meets with the first United States Air Force pilot shot down during the conflict.
New Zealand - Ray visits several Maori tribes, encounters tales of survival and hardship, and learns of the many skills which are now being used to encourage the young to develop a more positive attitude to life.
However not sure why this single series (#3) is currently more expensive than series one and two combined? Would also be good to see Ray Mears most recent programmes come out on dvd, as well as the excellent Tribe TV series with Bruce Parry.
on 12 July 2008
This is a truly remarkable piece of television history. There have been few programmes since the invention of television which match the story of the partisans of Belarus who survived the 2nd. World War. Of all the wonderful programmes Ray Mears has made, and they are some of the best in the world, this one programme has everything: the survival skills and intense relationship between man and forest are there, but so much more. The history of the persecution and survival of Jews and their determination and spirit is beautifully documented. The interviews are carried out with care and respect, the reconstructions are unobtrusive, poignant and enlightening. There is nothing sensationalist, which is rare. Leagues above a National Geographic or similar. The story needs no enhancement. The BBC have repeated it recently on BBC Prime and hats off to them. Fantastic.
on 23 January 2013
This in general is very good, it is typical Ray Mears, his enthusiasm is so evident, that it can become infectious. On the negative side some of the survival stories are simply not that fascinating, the strong point is always going to be when Ray Mears is doing his magic. But all-in-all, enjoyable, informative and watchable.