Ancient Aliens: Season Three
A&E Video // PG // $29.95 // January 24, 2012
Review by Rich Rosell | posted February 13, 2012
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It must be tough to have a popular show that seems predestined to run out of ideas, but that never seems to have stopped The History Channel before. They packaged and repackaged World War II so many times that referring to the network as "The Hitler Channel" was very accurate, pretty much the same way one used to joke that HBO stood for "Hey, Beastmaster's On" back in the early days of the premium channel. With the series Ancient Aliens - represented here by the 4-disc set of season three - it is just another example of a concept that is beginning to show its limitations as well as bordering on subject matter desperation.

But that's not to say this isn't fun stuff, because it most certainly is. Or perhaps more accurately it is if you're mindset is already in that ancient alien ballpark. The sixteen episodes for this run is the most the series has ever done consecutively (there were only six for season one and ten for season two) and it seems the stress of finding suitable content is, at best, becoming limited. Is it coincidence that the opening episode of season three is Aliens and The Old West broadcast the same summer when Cowboys and Aliens was released theatrically? I think not. Yet the one thing I've learned in life is that UFO/ancient alien nuts (hello, my name is Rich) don't really care all that much, because we gobble this stuff up like it was so much free pizza.

There is - conceptual repetition or not - engaging material here that is presented with as much intelligence as the open-for-interpretation subject matter allows. Each 47-minute episode follows a theme and globe hops to various locales, intercut with talking head interviews, archival footage, and a plethora of ancient artifact images. For those concerned about such things there's a respectable lineup of subject matter experts, including such luminaries as Chariots of the Gods author Erich von Däniken and the charismatic and colorful Giorgio A. Tsoukalos, the wild-haired publisher of Legendary Times and consulting producer to this series. In fact Tsoukalos is sort of the rock star of Ancient Aliens, the eccentric hipster who manages to interweave some of the more far-reaching notions into pliable "what if's?" - which are always presented with the same level of geeky contagious exuberance.

While I do like this show even I found episodes like Aliens and The Undead - with its ever present zombie references - a little too far-reaching into the realm of bringing in pop culture cool. But I get there's time to fill - sixteen episodes is a whole lot of theorizing and postulating - and everything can't be a winner. Overall, however, the series works for me more often than not, delivering interesting theoretical notions and odd/bizarre ancient history that sometimes dovetail together nicely to create that "yeah, this could be true" sensation.

The sixteen episodes of season three consist of:

Aliens and The Old West
Aliens and Monsters
Aliens and Sacred Places
Aliens and The Temples of Gold
Aliens and Mysterious Rituals
Aliens and Ancient Engineers
Aliens, Plagues and Epidemics
Aliens and Lost Worlds
Aliens and Deadly Weapons
Aliens and Evil Places
Aliens and The Founding Fathers
Aliens and Deadly Cults
Aliens and The Secret Code
Aliens and The Undead
Aliens, Gods and Heroes
Aliens and The Creation of Man


Video
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfers aren't perfect, fluctuating noticeably between bouts of excessive banding, grainy location footage right back to nicely rendered colors and details for the talking head interview segments. The inconsistencies here appear significantly more evident on a larger display, rendering this set generally uneven in quality.

Audio
The 2.0 stereo audio presentation is fine and dandy, with a solidly ordinary mix that paints narrator Robert "I sound like Peter Coyote" Clotworthy with deep, ominous tones throughout. Music cues/stingers and interview segments are also clean, clear and hiss-free.

Extras
There are four discs and not only single supplement, which is rather disappointing. Shame on you, History Channel. Shame on you.

Final Thoughts
It's unlikely any of the content found here will convert non-believers, but for those with a bent towards extraterrestrial life and alien visitors to Earth should find the material here - at a minimum - entertaining and occasionally thought-provoking.

Look to the skies, my friend.


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