Time Warp: Season One
Discovery Channel // Unrated // $34.98 // June 9, 2009
Review by John Sinnott | posted June 11, 2009
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Graphical Version
The Program:
Remember those old science movies in school where they'd film something with a high speed camera and then play it back in slow motion?  I always thought that the pattern a drop of water makes when it lands in a bowl of milk was beautiful and those images of panes of glass shattering were amazing.  Now Jeff Lieberman and Matt Kearney, a scientist and a cinematographer, take those simple films of yesteryear one step further with Time Warp, a Discovery Channel show where everything and anything gets slowed down to see just how things happen.

Armed with a high speed camera that can film at up to 5000 frames per second, hosts Jeff Lieberman and Matt Kearney slow down everyday events to see just how a kernel of popcorn pops or what happens when a paintball hits a wall.  The things that separate this show from the rather stodgy classroom films of long ago are the style at which the experiments are performed and the 'thinking outside of the box' attitude that the hosts have. 
Jeff and Matt aren't content to just look at common events; they come up with wacky ideas for things to examine.  Watching a wave of skin travel up a martial artist's arm as he breaks a stack of blocks is interesting, but seeing what happens when you throw disposable butane lighters into a blender and then turn it on is very cool.  So is putting chunks of dry ice into an empty 2 L bottle and watching it explode in slow motion.  What to top that?  Put the bottle underwater and catch the shock wave on film. 

Not all of their experiments are crazy though.  Freezing things in liquid nitrogen was beautiful, and slowing down the world's fastest drummer was very neat.  The same goes for the episode where they filmed a man being Tasered.

The two hosts are jovial and energetic, bantering back and forth while they set up an experiment or finish one up.  They make the show more current and keep it from being stale and boring.  Having said that, I wish there was more science in the program.  The hosts make a big deal that they're doing these experiments "for science" yet there's little explanation of what is actually taking place or what the camera reveals aside from the most general information.  There's actually more science in Mythbusters, but that's a small flaw.  The show is still fun and if it often gets people thinking about the world around them, which is a good thing.   

The Blu-ray Disc:

The 1.78:1 AVC 1080i image was very good for a TV show.  The lines were nice and tight and the picture had a very good level of detail.  In one episode they shoot a Bicycle card with a bullet, and the very fine lines of the card are clear and solid.  The colors are rich and the flesh tones look great.  There are some digital defects that can be noticed during some of the high speed playback footage, though that's not too surprising.  The film is being recorded at up to 5000 frames per second after all.  There's a little aliasing in a few of the slo-mo sequences, that Bicycle card sharpshooting trick is a good example.  While it is not major and doesn't ruin the effect it is present.  Aside from that, the show looks fine.
This program comes with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack that isn't too impressive but it gets the job done.  The audio is mainly centered on the screen, though the rears occasionally get some action.  The dialog and narration is clean and crisp and in even the noisiest parts the audio is clean with no distortion or breakup.  The sub gets a little bit of exercise during some of the explosions that litter the show, but these were never as deep or powerful as I was hoping.  All in all this is an adequate sounding series.

The only extra is the pilot episode where they try to break a glass with sound, look at a face getting hit with a punch, and break a water balloon.
Final Thoughts:
This is a fun show that creates a lot of very interesting, beautiful, thought provoking images.  A lot of the stunts the hosts pull are outrageous too, which adds to the shows appeal.  While I sat enthralled through this season, there's not really a lot of replay value.  Once you've seen a sword cut through a side of meat in one stroke, you really don't need to see it again and again.  Even with that caveat, this set comes Recommended.
Note: The images in this review are not from the Blu-ray disc and do not necessarily represent the image quality on the disc.

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