"Throughout time, there have been mysteries mankind cannot explain. But advances in technology have led to new theories, and the search is underway for evidence that may unlock the most baffling questions of our time...on MysteryQuest."
In September of 2009 The History Channel began airing a new documentary series along the lines of MonsterQuest. Taking a look at moments in history and many other things that have just never been solved, MysteryQuest aimed to tackle these unknowns and shed light on some of the details. In case you missed the first season when it aired, all ten episodes have been collected and presented on 3 DVDs.
While the premise of this show is fairly simple, I must say the producers tackled quite a diverse spread of topics for its first season. You'll find everything here from Hitler's escape to Jack the Ripper and the Lost City of Atlantis. If you're a documentary TV junky like myself then chances are very good some of the material here will feel old hat. How many times can a TV show try to figure out Stonehenge, aliens, or Atlantis? To be fair MysteryQuest's focus is a little different and its teams of investigators bring a lot to the table, but one can't help feel that some of these topics are old hat in some respects.
Each episode in the first season of MysterQuest begins with a narration by Stan Bernard as he lays out the groundwork for the mystery at hand. Throughout the episodes Stan provides information, introduces notable experts, and sets up what's coming next. From that point the various teams and lead investigators in each episode head to specific sights and utilize scientific equipment to examine their findings. Scattered in between the interviews and investigation segments are also pieces of cheesy computer generated effects and some reenacted scenes. Again, it's nothing we haven't seen before so keep that in mind if you've become weathered on this style of show.
With that in mind, what's actually featured here for episodes? Disc one features: "Hitler's Escape", "The Devil's Triangle", "San Francisco Slaughter", and "The Lost City of Atlantis". Disc two features: "Alien Cover Up", "The Rise of the Fourth Reich", and "Devil's Island". Disc three includes: "Jack the Ripper", "Stonehenge", and "Return of the Amityville Horror".
While most every episode is entertaining in its own right, there were a few that stood out as generally being better than the rest. "The Devil's Triangle" was an interesting episode that looked at the Bermuda Triangle and also included a search for a missing plane. "San Francisco Slaughter" looked at the Zodiac Killer , "The Rise of the Fourth Reich" focused on some Nazi SS officers operating through ODESSA to reinstitute the Nazi party, and "Jack the Ripper" really shouldn't need any explanation. I appreciated these more due to the fact that you just don't see features on these quite as often as you do Atlantis, Hitler, Stonehenge and the like.
As one would expect no matter what the subject in MysterQuest there's never any definitive proof about anything relating to the case at hand. If anything the scientific investigations and information that's uncovered just lead to either more questions, or sends investigators back to square one (if you watched MonsterQuest then you already know what I'm talking about). Despite the flaws with the program, the first season of MysteryQuest a fun show. It's definitely worth checking out if you're looking for a documentary series with a diverse focus or enjoyed other similar endeavors from History Channel.
MysteryQuest is presented on DVD with a letterboxed widescreen aspect ratio that is not enhanced for anamorphic playback. I don't understand why History Channel continues to do this, but I suppose pressing the zoom button on your TV remote isn't the biggest deal in the world. The picture quality is average with some good resolution and bright colors. There are elements of light grain and compression artifacts to be spotted, and interlacing is present in some scenes. Depending on the content (CGI, studio interview, on location, etc.) your mileage will vary with regards to the quality, but the overall experience is "okay".
As is the case with just about every other History Channel release, MysteryQuest comes with a rather flat sounding 2.0 Dolby Digital stereo track. Like the video the quality varies based on where the episode takes you, but overall it will meet the expectations of audience members who have watched shows such as this. Though there is little channel separation the show offers clean dialogue, nice sounding effects, and music that fits the mood.
The only bonus feature available on this collection is some "Additional Footage", which is essentially 33 minutes worth of content for the season as a whole. All ten episodes are represented here and generally speaking what is provided is simply more time with the various investigative team members. It's worth digging through, but why the selections for each episode weren't simply included on each disc the episode was printed on is beyond me. Watching an episode on disc one and switching to disc three to see the extra content just seems silly.
Though it's not for everyone, MysteryQuest is an entertaining documentary-style show. The ten episodes of the first season offer some variety with regards to the content though it feels as though the show plays it safe for the most part. The topics found in many of these episodes is simply too mainstream, and because of that the content feels dry in a way. However, there's enough interesting moments in the investigations here to warrant a recommendation to anyone remotely interested in the content.
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