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Masters of Science Fiction: The Complete Series


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Product Details

  • Actors: Stephen Hawking, Jason Diablo
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
  • DVD Release Date: August 5, 2008
  • Run Time: 264 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001A7GOCA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,225 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Masters of Science Fiction: The Complete Series" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

A wealth of Hollywood talent brings to life six thought-provoking short stories by legendary authors of science fiction in this criminally underrated anthology series. Produced by the same team who brought Masters of Horror to television, Masters of Science Fiction takes a decidedly literate route with its stories--though production values are top-notch, it's the material, and the message behind them, that drives the episodes. The moral complexities of war are examined in Robert Sheckley's "Warbird" (one of two episodes on the set making their debut on this DVD) and "The Awakening," by Howard Fast, while Robert Heinlein's "Jerry Was a Man" and Harlan Ellison's "The Discarded" challenge the definition of humanity. Elsewhere, Walter Mosley explores justice in a draconian future ("Little Brother"), while Nebula winner John Kessel's "A Clean Escape" delivers a Twilight Zone-style sting with its story of a psychiatrist (Judy Davis) attempting to uncover a truth hidden in the mind of her patient (Sam Waterson). The cast in the latter episode is indicative of the level of talent in front of and behind the camera for Masters of Science Fiction; among the other players are Terry O'Quinn (Lost), James Cromwell, Brian Dennehy, John Hurt, Anne Heche, Malcolm McDowell and Sean Astin, while directors include Mark Rydell, Harold Becker, Michael Tolkin and Jonathan Frakes, and scripts are penned by Ellison, Mosley, and Hugo winner Sam Egan. The emphasis on strong and evocative stories and performances over special effects does much to draw parallels between Masters and such classic genre anthologies as the aforementioned Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits; it's unfortunate that the program wasn't given more of a chance to develop an audience during its brief network run. Equally disappointing are the lack of any supplemental features in the two-disc set. --Paul Gaita

Product Description

From the very beginning, we have struggled to understand time, matter and the infinite universe; who we are, where we are headed, and if we are alone. Great minds — and some of the genre’s most legendary writers and directors — have now imagined the most wonderful and terrifying answers to these questions. Join host Professor Stephen Hawking for these six expeditions into the outer realms of scientific imagination, starring such award-winning actors as Sam Waterston, Judy Davis, Anne Heche, Malcolm McDowell, Clifton Collins Jr., Terry O’Quinn, Elisabeth Röhm, John Hurt, Sean Astin, James Denton, Brian Dennehy, James Cromwell and more.This collection features all six episodes of the acclaimed series, including the two ‘lost’ episodes — Little Brother and Watchbird — never broadcast during its original network run.

Customer Reviews

Popular Discussion Topics

beta: what do you think?
  • "Series" 40
  • "Opinions" 23
  • "Acting" 22
  • "Story" 19
  • "Writing" 19
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

127 of 141 people found the following review helpful By Monty Moonlight VINE VOICE on September 16, 2008
Format: DVD Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I personally abandoned the major networks some time ago, I suspect around when just about every show they put on seemed to be sex obsessed. I have since only gone back to catch new episodes of "Heroes". So, it's no surprise that the short-lived "Masters of Science Fiction" series came and went on ABC without my ever even knowing about it. I was aware of the more popular "Masters of Horror" series from Showtime, even though I don't even have Showtime, but then I'm a bit more into the horror genre and love horror anthologies. One thing that puts me off of Sci-Fi anthologies a bit is that they tend to always be about aliens, bleak futures, and robots. Rarely anything else.

"Masters of Science Fiction", in all of its six episodes, doesn't deviate from that, and it also is high on making political and social statements. That's pretty common in sci-fi, but it does get a bit old, especially in a world where the political statements on television are getting as monotonous as the sex. Still, over all, this very "Outer Limits" TV series is about as good as can be expected. Some episodes are better than others. Oddly, the two episodes I found to be the most enjoyable are the two that never aired on American television, "Little Brother" and "Watchbird". Here is a breakdown of the 6, 44-minute episodes you get in this complete series, 2-disc DVD set (with zero extras):

"A Clean Escape" (Story Author: John Kessel, Director: Mark Rydell): A dying doctor's patient cannot remember the past 25 years of his life; 25 years in which the world has been changed greatly as a result of his actions. This one is a little slow and a bit too "in your face" with its political statement.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Sanpete on September 5, 2008
Format: DVD Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Masters of Science Fiction was a series produced for ABC that sought to capture some of the magic of The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. Of the six one-hour episodes made (under 45 minutes without the ads), all included here, only four were shown. The series was arguably not given a chance, as it was aired on Saturday nights in August, not a great time slot.

Some of the concepts are interesting and promising, and there are some top-notch actors, but I still didn't enjoy these much. On the whole the writing is superficial, the logic weak, and the atmospherics that might make up for that are only so-so. I only enjoyed one of the six episodes enough to say I liked it.

The first episode has a nice basic idea to work with, revealed bit by bit in a way that makes much description of the plot too much of a spoiler. Judy Davis plays a psychotherapist who has a patient (Sam Waterston) with a condition she is very anxious to cure, for reasons that are only made clear later. Sadly, some of it doesn't quite add up or is only tenuously credible, and the exposition is clumsy. I thought Waterston seemed oddly hammy and fake, though maybe he thought that suited the character. Davis has a compelling screen presence.

The second episode takes place in the very near future. Alien creatures appear on earth and (without giving too much away) do stuff that it seems they should have done long before. The way this happens is fairly arbitrary. I liked Terry O'Quinn in this episode, in a measured performance that brought some subtlety of character at least.

Both the first two episodes, and most of the others too, fail to be very subtle about the rather simplistic principles we're supposed to draw from them.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Daniel A. Hart on January 7, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Masters of Science Fiction: The Complete Series

This was surprisingly a pretty good short-lived series that came out last summer (summer of '2007) on ABC...and amazingly good talent such as Sam Waterson, Brian Dennehy, John Hurt, Terry O'Quinn, Anne Heche, Malcolm McDowell and Sean Astin. Just a bit frustrating that ABC like many networks just don't give science fiction much of a chance to really succeed and build an audience, of course it's not going to do well during summer evenings, because that when most of your potential audience is out of the house and not watching TV. Anyway, to science-fiction fans, this is a must-see. But I also encourage casual fans who love good acting and writing to check this out.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By M. Johnson on June 14, 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Running Time: about 50 min an episode
Perceived Running Time: 80

Replay-ability: zero...this is one of the rare times I'll actually be reselling a DVD.

Estimated Durability: none. It's one for the trash heaps.

Audience: pretentious sci-fi fan wannabes? Is there such a thing? Someone more desperate for sci-fi than me. Again, could there be such a thing? Maybe you're thinking, "hey, my friend, lover, significant other...is a real geek! They'd LOVE this." No. They won't. Don't embarrass yourself.

Why
I dunno. You think it might look good on your shelf? Maybe you have collected every other thing Malcolm McDowell had done and this completes your collection? Nothing positive springs to mind.

Why not
Each episode is pretentious, dull, poorly acted, very poorly produced, and at times even dim-witted. Preachy and sanctimonious, it sacrificed story and art on alters of socio-political ideology like the worst episodes of Star Trek: Next Generation (without the pizzazz). I bought this sight-unseen on the merit of Dr. Hawking's name, several of the writers, and the "Masters of" title, following the outstanding Masters of Horror. The Amazon review calls it "thought provoking." It was, I suppose, but only barely. One would do better to just read the thought-provoking short stories on which these eps were ineptly based and spare themselves the annoyance of these poorly executed shows. Those short stories, by the way, were some of the authors' weaker works; ABC probably got them cheap. And does Amazon ever give negative reviews? The first story, Clean Escape wasn't too bad, save the shoddy craftsmanship. Nothing too spectacular after that.
Production was hurried and almost amateurish. Actors uncommitted to their parts.
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