Death Of A Dream (01h:35m:47s) was directed by Melissa Jo Peltier, and this 1994 production is narrated by David McCallum. The story begins with the building of the great ship, and concludes with the eventual sinking in the North Atlantic. Along the way we learn unnecessary facts about marginal characters and passengers, and the whole thing seems to take forever to get to the maiden voyage. The Legend Lives On (01h:35m:52s) is another Peltier-directed/McCallum-narrated piece, also from 1994, and essentially is a bookend to Death Of A Dream, opening with events immediately after the ship sank, on through the Senate hearings to find someone to blame. The second half concludes with some rather exciting coverage of Robert Ballard's celebrated search and discovery of the wreckage.
Offering far too much information that is only marginally important, the content here is textbook stiff. Of mild, passing interest are the comments from actual survivors, but their input is ultimately quite minimal. The Ballard material is interesting, in a nerdy explorer kind of way, but it takes way too long to get there.
The History Channel ditched the previously released Beyond Titanic from the 2002 Complete Story in favor of a newer production entitled Titanic's Achilles Heel (01h:29m:54s). I'm not going to wrestle with semantics on which release is really "complete", so I'll leave that to you. Directed by Kirk Wolfinger and narrated by Edward Herrmann, this time the thesis is what went may have gone wrong, with experts analyzing a possible design flaw. Of the three docs here this is certainly the most engaging and concise, offering a mixture of CGI-theorizing and wreckage expeditions amidst the usual batch of now familiar archival material. Bear in mind the word "concise" still means a bit too much padding for my tastes, but apparently that's to be expected, I guess.
If you're a Titanic-geek with the ability to remain awake during excessively long and dull recountings of historical minutiae then this might be your bag. Yes, Titanic's Achilles Heel is fairly informative but then - if you're a real Titanic-geek - you probably already own the 2002 Complete Story, making this release only 1/3 new to you. Those with just a casual interest in the history would do best to find something a little more bite-sized and not so laborious.
Disc one's Death Of A Dream and The Legend Lives On are presented in their original 1.33:1 fullframe, and are fair but hardly remarkable in any way. Most of the content is closeups of black & white photos, but the occasional color interview segments look fairly bright. Disc two's Titanic's Achilles Heel is presented in nonanamorphic widescreen and certainly looks more vivid - with more natural colors and hues - but then it was made in 2007 and consists mostly of interviews and modern day explorations of the wreckage.
No complaints on the 2.0 digital stereo tracks, which are clean, with surprisingly rich, deep bass. Narration is equally clear, and mixed well above the score. Nothing terribly fancy here, but more than workable for the material.
The only extra is a timeline feature on disc one that allows you to click on key dates for a sentence or two of information.
There's a lot of repetition in the content here, and I'll wager that if you have even a passing interest in the story of the Titanic then you're already familiar with much of it.