I'm not sure if that was my wife or the ghost of Peggy Lee who wafted through the room and asked, "Is that all there is?" as I was watching Serenity Travel Series. This low-budget knockoff of such series as Sunrise Earth offers the same sort of soothing ambient seascapes and such that purport to calm the shattered nerves of the modern man by presenting him with 65 minutes of nothing happening. Your enjoyment of such efforts is obviously going to be based on your own personal response to this genre of BD. This is a no frills, come as you are outing, but on its own merits offers some nice scenery and at least a couple of unusual moments.
Serenity Travel Series bills itself as the first budget priced Blu-ray, and it shows. You don't get no stinkin' opening menu, the program just fires up. In fact when you get to the end of the 65 minute tour through various locales, the program fires back up again. It's like an endless tape loop of exotic and not so exotic locations that's going to continue to soothe you, come what may.
The 65 minute program offers 16 locations, quite a few of them in Texas, of all places, not exactly the first state that jumps to mind when I think of mind boggling environments. That said, there are actually some very nice scenes in the Lone Star state, notably some lovely footage of butterflies lighting on beautiful wildflowers. But you'll also get moments at such far flung locales as Annapolis Harbor in Maryland, Los Cabos, and some fun footage in downtown Chicago (the only urban environment featured). Two boat rides offered a little movement to the proceedings, notably a neat little gondola ride through the canals of Venice, and a more open-vista trip down the Yangtze River in China. By far the most colorful segment was a lovely underwater trip through coral reefs and some amazingly colored fish in the Philippines.
Serenity follows the Sunrise Earth format of showing locations and times at the base of the image, and moving through an approximately 12 hour time span as it roams the globe from sunrise to sunset. There are certainly some spectacular moments here and there, but this is largely a by the numbers affair, and at 65 minutes, lives up to its bargain basement image admirably.
Serenity Travel Series comes in a 1.78:1 OAR with a VC-1 encode and looks decently sharp most of the time. Unfortunately, the first image is a bunch of tree branches against an orange-red sunrise, and some really ugly edge enhancement is more than prevalent, something that recurs throughout the BD. Colors are strong and vivid, especially in the underwater sequence mentioned above. Certainly a good visual presentation, minus the edge enhancement, but nothing mind blowingly incredible.
Similarly the DD 5.1 mix is adequate, best in the water sounds that fill the surround channels with everything from soft gurgles to crashing waves. Things perk up a bit in the two Chicago sequences, when the urban environment offers a bit more punch to the audio. No subtitles are available, or indeed required.
You are joking, aren't you?
Serenity Travel Series accomplishes what it sets out to do with a minimum of fuss and bother. Largely uninspired, but always picturesque, this would make a fine evening's rental if your blood pressure is nearing hypertension ranges. Rent It.
"G-d made stars galore" & "Hey, what kind of a crappy fortune is this?" ZMK, modern prophet