History Channel series have found a reasonably successful home on DVD. With each new show or season, a DVD collection is made available shortly after it aired, and considering there's such a wide array of genres to pick from their target audience is fairly vast. Take Nostradamus Effect for example.
Nostradamus Effect aired in 2009, and so far it's had one season and twelve episodes. A DVD collection was recently released which houses the show in its entirety (at least to date), and presents it on 3-discs. Who does it appeal to? Well, folks who are interested in Nostradamus's prophecies for starters. Whether you're a skeptic or believer you may be interested since this show tackles an interesting breadth of content that runs the gamut from the Anti-Christ to 2012. The theme of the series is relatively dark, focusing on the more sinister portents Nostradamus jotted down.
Like many other History Channel shows, Nostradamus Effect is presented documentary style, which means each episode is chockfull of dignitary interviews, reenactments, and a narrative (handled here by Phil Crowley). The basic structure of each episode introduces viewers to the primary quatrain written by Nostradamus, and goes on to decipher that prophecy in a manner that stays in line with the episode's subject matter. The topic typically branches off as those involved dig deeper into the meaning of the writings and they surmise how certain prophecies came to be. It's all purely speculative, but there's some interesting information doled out here.
Starting with the first disc the show presents "The Third Antichrist", "Da Vinci's Armageddon", "2012 Extinction", and "Hitler's Blood Oath". The second disc features "The Apocalypse Code", "Son of Nostradamus", "Secrets of the Seven Seals", and "Fatima's Secret Prophecy". And finally the third disc has "Satan's Army", "Doomsday Hieroglyphs", "Armageddon Battle Plan", and "The Rapture".
As you can tell by the titles alone, Nostradamus Effect doesn't exactly focus on quatrains pertaining to sunshine and kittens. If you don't mind the foreboding atmosphere then you'll undoubtedly eat this show right up (despite the overblown, sensationalized tone). Episodes such as "Doomsday Hieroglyphs", "Hitler's Blood Oath", and "Da Vinci's Armageddon" stand out as the most interesting with some rather unique content. I particularly enjoyed the focus on the ancient hieroglyphs and felt that was the best episode of the bunch.
The rest of the episodes in this series are good, but not great. You have to really be in the mood to sit through some of this content and even then the manner with which it's handled isn't necessarily the best way to do justice to the subject. As far as History Channel documentary series go, this one just wasn't as sharply refined as the others. The speculative nature, dark tones, and overall material just didn't mesh as completely as one might hope. Ultimately I'd call this one a rental.
Nostradamus Effect is presented on DVD with a cropped widescreen aspect ratio and fullscreen menus. This really isn't a surprise to anyone familiar with History Channel DVDs, but it still serves as a source of disappointment in the presentational front. The quality of the image here just isn't quite as sharp as one might hope for either. The picture is a tad on the soft side overall though some moments, like interviews, retain a nice sharpness. That's kind of the theme with documentary series, and one can almost always expect variation in terms of what looks good and what doesn't. For instance, some of the reenactments are glazed over with tacky CGI that just didn't transfer well while others are fairly rich in detail. It's really a mixed bag of quality here.
Like many other documentary series Nostradamus Effect was presented on DVD in English 2.0 stereo. The track does what it intends to do and little else. What I mean by that is music and sound effects are generally muted and dialogue is firmly rooted to the front channels. There's nothing dynamic going on with these DVDs, though to be fair there didn't really have to be. What's here is serviceable and clean sounding, so that's really all that counts.
The only thing resembling a bonus "feature" on this set is the textual "Strange Facts About Nostradamus". This is accessed via the menu on the third disc and is basically just a few factoids about Nostradamus.
Nostradamus Effect is a thought-provoking piece that will definitely appeal to those interested in Nostradamus's prophecies and quatrains, though really nobody else need apply. The content here is rather self-servicing and exaggerated, and it really stretches the realm of believability at times. Even so there are some solid episodes here and in the end it's worth checking if you're intrigued by the material. At that point I would just recommend this title as a rental.
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