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on 16 March 2013
what it is that i am reviewing here ... the dvd was perfectly in order .. the delivery was perfect .. i bought this because of Prof B Cox... and how caould i be disappointed ... He is one of the wonders of my universe. He makes me feel good . He is so special and he does all the same things as all of us ... lovely wife and child and he asks all the same questiona as ido . we are not alone ... we have other people who ask questions about the meaning and the wonder of the universe... a small percentage of the human race maybe ... but there are others ...thanks Brian .
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on 1 December 2017
As brilliant as ever.
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on 26 April 2017
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on 8 January 2012
I noticed that Amazon have lumped the reviews of all the editions of this documentary together, so you can't really tell the difference between the standard DVD release, the two disc Blu-ray edition or this. So, as the title states, this is specifically a review of the single disc Blu-ray release.

As the technical details at the top state, the single disc contains all four episodes , so total length is just short of four hours. The audio is English Stereo Dolby Digital and the video format is 1080i/16:9. It is not 24P or anything like that. There are subtitles in English, for the hard of hearing. That's it. So it is pretty much standard BBC Blu-ray format; say, the same as Ancient Worlds (Blu-ray) (although, with six episodes, that came on two discs).

The quality is good. It is very good. Many of the scenes are, even after multiple viewings, stunning. But really, it is no better than watching the series broadcast on one of the BBC's High Definition channels. And, again like Richard Miles' 'Ancient Worlds', there are no extras, no 'making of' mini-docs so often seen at the end of BBC natural history programmes.

I'm still happy to have it. This is a documentary series that I have watched half a dozen times already and I am quite sure I will watch it many, many more times. The photography and photographic effects such as the moody vignetting are, as I have already said, brilliant. Brian Cox's presentation is infectiously enthusiastic, the computer generated images really imaginative and quite stunning and the accompanying music very effective. I remember that there was criticism of the music at the time of broadcast, but I find some of the more 'rock-oriented' backing music highly effective, really adding to the impact of the visuals.

So - it is a wonderful documentary series. This Blu-ray edition, though, is simply a good, straight-forward copy of the broadcast series; no extras, no features, no special sound. Frankly, it doesn't need it.

Talking of the scenery; yes, some do border on visual hyperbole. The opening shots of the good professor perched perilously atop a mountain reminded me very much of an edition of Thus Spoke Zarathustra - our Brian as Superman? I have to say, he doesn't look very comfortable standing there. Using the demolition of a derelict prison in some South American city to demonstrate the creation of the heavier elements in dying suns seemed just a little OTT but, on the other hand, the shots of decaying diamond mining towns in Namibia were both beautiful and apposite.

Still - this series is called 'Wonders...' - that is the crucial word - "wonders'. Professor Cox explicitly states that he was hugely influenced by Carl Sagan and his Cosmos TV series/book. Cox even restates Sagan's famous (and, in my opinion, beautiful) quote "We are the way the universe knows itself". This is the way this programme should be approached. Brian Cox has been criticised for supposedly 'dumbing-down' the science - in one episode, he says "Now, I wouldn't normally show you a graph, but this one..." Why wouldn't you normally show us a graph Professor Cox? Because that is NOT what this series is about. This series is, to restate yet again, about the Wonder of the Universe, about that sense of awe that we all feel just looking up into the night sky.
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on 21 March 2011
This series, and Brian Cox's informal presentation style, always seem to divide opinion, and as I write this there are six other reviews on here, half of them favourable, the other half not.

However, it's telling that the unfavourable reviews are critical of a) the globe-trotting Cox does during the series or b) the level at which the programme's narrative is pitched. Both criticisms are misguided, as it's clear that Cox's intention is not to provide a GCSE curriculum programme, nor to preach to the converted (i.e. astronomers and physicists), but to convey something in particular to the layman.

The clue is in the series' title, and it is wonders - and the sense of wonder at the universe - that Cox is keen to impart. The use of different locations and landscapes as visual metaphors is one part of this approach to the subject matter, and provides the viewer's eye with something to latch on to during what are sometimes reasonably lengthy explanations of nuclear reactions or the life cycle of stars. He could, of course, have increased the amount of CGI on display (and would have got criticised for that too, no doubt), or used more static shots of star fields or diagrams.

But television is a visual medium and it deserves the chance to make the most of the advantages it can offer over books or radio, i.e. supplying visual stimuli. To play to a medium's strength in this way is not showy, nor shallow. It is a direct consequence of choosing to use the medium of television in the first place. The programme chooses to take us to interesting locations because it is attempting to invoke a sense of wonder. And that's easier to do in exotic places than it is in an Open University style studio with a white board in the background.

If you are looking for a precise, and technically detailed, account of our current knowledge of the cosmos, then go read a book on the subject - it's the medium that is most apt for communicating that information. Expecting a TV series to do the same thing is unrealistic, and just a little bit lazy. For example, I loved Jacob Bronowski's 70s series on human progress, 'The Ascent of Man', and learnt a lot from it - but never in as much detail as I could from the books it made me want to go and read afterwards.

In short, if you are looking to be indoctrinated with enthusiasm for the subject matter, and be inspired to go and find out more for yourself, then this is as good a starting point as you could wish to have.
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on 10 September 2011
Brian Cox is a good storyteller. He is excellent at communicating a complex subject in simple terms with very nice analogies. I particularly liked the episode named Destiny. The concept of entropy is explained nicely and the episode feels quite dramatic and terrifying, even though the time scale is so vast that at the human scale, it is like it will never happen.
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on 22 March 2011
The minority who did not like "Wonders of the Solar System" will not like "Wonders of the Universe", but the many more who did like it will enjoy this one too. It has been claimed that it has little serious science. This is true. For example, compare what was said about the arrow of time and entropy with the Wikipedia page on the subject, which contains much more information. However, this misses the point. Professor Cox has rightly described the series as a "cinematic experience". It combines state-of-the-art CGI, wonderful astronomical photos, soaring music, exotic locations, fancy camerawork, and the infectious enthusiasm of Cox himself. As for the science, there may not be much depth but the topics covered are very well done and explained with crystal clarity. Everybody watching these DVDs, whether a child or a pensioner, will complete their viewing with some understanding of topics ranging from the life and death of the universe and the formation of the elements, to gravity and light. Just as important it is likely to have inspired enthusiasm and a sense of wonder. For that we must thank Brian Cox. The impact he has made with both "Wonders" series can be gauged by the fact he is being called by many "the David Attenborough of astrophysics". High praise indeed.
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on 15 June 2011
This series, like Wonders Of The Solar System [Blu-ray] is fantastic, Cox puts it so simply that anyone can understand. If you liked Wonders Of The Solar System, note this series is a lot more scientific, but there are still some amazing places mentioned! If you want a down to earth physics series then I strongly recommend Stephen Hawking's Universe [Blu-ray] [1997].
As the title says, bit of a let down as to the Blu-ray. If you watched this on TV, you may have noticed that for the first few episodes the sound pretty much blanked out much of what Cox was saying. They did change this for the TV series, but not for the DVD or Blu-ray (I have NO IDEA why).
Also, because they have fitted it all into 1 disc, the audio is not HD 5.1 at all, and there are no special features.
Despite the problems, I would strongly recommend this series to amateur and advanced physicists alike!
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on 25 October 2011
This is a must see for everyone in my view. This chap lays it all out with remarkable clarity - I particularly enjoyed his explanation of entropy. If you come out of this believing in deities and astrology then you didnt understand it! A great purchase and one I can highly recommend.
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on 19 February 2012
A wonderful series, just as good if not better than the previous series. Whereas the last series explained the workings of the most amazing objects in the solar system, Wonders of the Universe delivers an amazing array of mind boggling facts and a easy to understand insight of the forces that shape our universe.

I recommend this product to anyone who is interested in the beauty of what lies beyond planet earth and also to anyone who is a fan of Brian Cox as he again delivers a clear and inspiring performance. Lastly this is a series that combines with Blu-Ray so well making for a visual feast.
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