It seems as the years past the output from "History" seems to get worse and worse. I won't, yet again, go into my general disdain for their current programming (*cough*"Ancient Aliens"*cough*), nor will I espouse on my nostalgia for the days of their more "dry" educationally themed offerings. Instead, I'm going to keep this review incredibly brief, for one reason: deceptive marketing. I recently had issue with their "best-of" releases of "Ancient Aliens" and "The Universe" being nothing more than random discs from various seasons being slapped with new cover art; it was a questionable, but at least buyers knew what series they were getting and that the episodes would be nothing new. "History's" latest release, "Greek Gods, Heroes and Monsters" takes this production choice to a whole new low, promising consumers "Eight tales of Hercules, Zeus, Hades, Medusa, Odysseys and more." What it doesn't make abundantly clear anywhere on the cover art (save for a brief reference in the copyright section) is that two of the discs are merely the first two discs of the series "Clash of the Gods" and the third is a considerably older one-off special titled "Gods and Goddesses." In short, they are reselling what the most likely target audience already owns.
For this reason alone, this DVD release gets my eternal disdain, but to make matters worse, the actual programming contained within is of equally shoddy quality. "Clash of the Gods" is a relic of "History's" late 2000's initial descent into style of substance. Leave it to "History" to take some of the most iconic myths of any culture's history and make them dull exercises in repetition. Running painfully at approximately 42-minutes each, "Clash of the Gods" takes the formulaic approach of telling a basic story of key Greek mythological figures with added commentary from the "experts." Most likely produced to cash in on 2010's "Clash of the Titans" remake, "Clash of the Gods" is devoid of even the most shoddy TV CGI, instead opting to cast actors in forgettable makeup for what amounts to five minutes of fierce posturing repeated ad-nauseum; in some cases, viewers are treated to mediocre animation where the figures depart from humanoid form. I won't argue there isn't some value to be gleaned from the information present, but there's so little of it and what exists is presented in the drollest, pandering fashion possible. It represents a complete insult for the intelligence level of the viewer and does a huge disservice to the subject.
The hour-and-a-half special from 2001 "Gods and Goddesses" housed on disc three is equally guilty of the educational sin of being un-engaging, but at the very least it covers the same ground as "Clash of the Gods" (in some cases more) in a more concise manner. It's typical of what one would expect from a weekly special on "History" almost two decades ago and there's a twinge of nostalgia for actual substance, but it's tough to digest such an exciting topic blandly executed. I'm sad to end on a note, I feel I've ended on countless times when reviewing "History" releases, but "Geek Gods, Heroes and Monsters" is a complete and utter waste of time repackaging of a series that wasn't any good to begin with. As noted below, the technical presentation is equally insulting, leading me with only one piece of advice: skip this and seek out a book or even a Harryhausen movie, it might not be "historically" accurate, but it's infinitely more entertaining and respectful to the source material than this hokum.
The release features two distinct aspect ratios, first up is the "Clash of the Gods" portion of the release, featuring a bland 1.78:1 non-anamorphic transfer featuring middling detail, minor compression artifacts, and edge enhancement. Colors are overly saturated and contrast leaves the image overly darkened. It was a poor transfer in 2009 and is even worse four years later. "Gods and Goddesses" features a 1.33:1 original aspect ration transfer that features flat, lifeless colors, equally average detail, and minor compression issues. It's most definitely a product of early 2000's "History" output.
The Dolby Digital English stereo audio track for the release is wholly average for both programs; sound reproduction is generally flat with a tad more life from "Clash of the Gods" but overall, a center-focused presentation with dominant narration.
One-third mediocre overview program and two-thirds empty calorie television, "Greek Gods, Heroes and Monsters" is a sad, pathetic rehash of previously existing "History" programming not so cleverly disguised as a new offering. Nothing else needs to be said. Skip It.