Cities of the Underworld: The Complete Season One

January 28, 2012 4 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

The world is filled with remnants of the past and present, historical sites, significant structures, and even ancient ruins. These sites draw in tourists and other visitors, to see the historical locations in person. But while these landmarks are quite famous, even more history dwells below, in the world beneath the surface. In some cases, the hidden realms underneath prove to be even more interesting that what is above. In Cities of the Underworld, The History Channel takes us into these underground worlds, to places few know of and even fewer have seen for themselves. The show gives us an overview of the historical importance of the location, then takes us below, where even more is revealed. If you think you know these locations, then think again, as Cities of the Underworld uncovers what is hidden below the surface.

The History Channel seems to have the magic touch, with so many great shows that educate and entertain. Cities of the Underworld is another feather in the channel’s cap, as it offers a fun, informative journey under some of the most famous locations in the world. I liked the premise, but I did wonder how the season would unfold and if the producers could find enough varied locales to keep the concept fresh. In this first season, we’re taken all across the globe to interesting places, from Rome to Dracula’s castle to Portland, and all stops in between. The shows prove to be a pleasure to watch and while brisk, with several locations explored in each episode, there is ample insight to be found. I was more entertained by some than others, but that is natural and with such a wide variety of locales, everyone’s tastes should be covered. This is a terrific show that continues The History Channel’s great program tradition, so don’t miss Cities of the Underworld.

Video: How does it look?

The episodes are presented in 1.78:1 non-anamorphic widescreen. The back of the case boasts that the show was filmed in “hi-definition,” but we still get non-enhanced treatments. I know these are documentaries, but the visuals are still important and I do wish The History Channel would choose to release anamorphic transfers. Aside from an image that isn’t as refined as it should be, the shows look fine. The image is clean, but detail suffers a little and some shimmers can be seen. At least the episodes look decent, but let’s hope to see anamorphic transfers soon from The History Channel.

Audio: How does it sound?

The audio here is rather basic, as the series is more about dialogue than music or brash sound effects. So if you’ve seen a documentary style show before, you should know what to expect, a track that is clean and effective, but unmemorable. The focus is on the people and their dialogue, not the surround channels. The dialogue is smooth and always clear here, so no vocals wind up muffled or drowned out by other elements.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This release also includes the pilot episode titled Istanbul, as well as a featurette that explores how the show is produced, complete with exclusive scenes not shown in the normal episodes.

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