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4.0 out of 5 stars From the Earth to the Moon: 2005 Signature Series DVD Box set, October 5, 2005
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This review is from: From the Earth to the Moon - The Signature Edition (DVD)
From the Earth to the Moon: Signature Edition (2005)

I don't intend to review the content of this DVD set as it has been covered in great detail by many hundreds already. If you love top-class historical drama and enjoyed Apollo 13, you probably know about the quality of this miniseries already. My rating for the miniseries itself is 9.5 out of 10.

This is a short review to point out the differences between the 2000 4-Disc box set and the 2005 Signature Edition 5-disc box set.

In case you have already got the 2000 DVD set in your collection and are wondering whether to update it to the 2005 edition, here are the differences:

Firstly, there are 5 discs instead of 4, but NO difference in content. No extra scenes, documentaries or commentary. The original DVD-Rom Disc 4 has been re-authored to play on your DVD player in the lounge room. This makes a lot of the content immediately accessible instead of having to search for it on the net, but the interactivity is gone. For me that's small loss as I didn't get much out of the games etc anyway.

Secondly, the entire set has been remastered in DTS and Widescreen (1.85:1). Now this sounds like manna from heaven, but unfortunately only the audio remastering is really worth spending any extra dollars on. The sound is crisp, clear and beautifully mixed and the liftoffs etc come booming out of your home theatre system like you were there at the Cape.

But the widescreen - well, sadly it just doesn't enhance the original viewing experience. It's evident that HBO produced the original series in 1.33:1 for tv and have merely re-jigged and adapted that ratio for the modern proliferation of widescreen plasma television sets. There is no extra data. You will find some scenes are better cut in the frame, but others suffer. For example, in Disc 1, when the Gemini 8/Agena assembly is tumbling around the sky with a stuck thruster, you don't see the thruster in the new widescreen version as it is cut off by the top of the frame. Some captions have also been compromised.

As the series was created for the 1.33:1 ratio, all the crucial information is positioned inside the frame for that ratio anyway. The only advantage of the widescreen ratio is that it now fits your new plasma widescreen without the black bars. Also the video quality is not as crisp as I expected it to be, possibly from the re-sizing process.

Each chapter now gets its own play and audio options menu and there are 3 chapters per disc, which is tidier. However there are still those weird groupings of episodes where some contain the titles and some don't. Nothing has changed here.

The box looks impressive with the silver signature cover and Tom's moniker on it and there is a nice holo of the Earth and the Moon which alternates as you tilt it this way and that.

But, in a major disappointment to this buyer, the original cardboard foldout format is identical to its 2000 counterpart. My box broke apart after about a year due to excessive wear and tear and sadly I fear this box will succumb to the same fate. Two of my discs had already broken free from their moorings in transit and were sliding all round the inside of the box, picking up scratches and marks in the process. Poor packaging.

How I wish they'd used the Battlestar Galactica Season 1 format where all discs sit securely in plastic pages like the leaves of a book. Sturdier, simpler and more durable.

In summary, if you don't have From the Earth to the Moon, then buy this 2005 set. If you have it already and are wondering whether to spend $100 on a better version, think twice. You may think it's worth it to get better sound, but unless you are an audiophile with a top home theater surround system and DTS, you probably won't notice. You may be better off spending your money on other titles.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 6, 2007 12:01:25 PM PST
BrewHaHa says:
Awesome review! Thanks for documenting the differences.

Posted on Nov 22, 2007 4:56:56 PM PST
ramk13 says:
This is exactly what I was looking for in a review. I have the original and was debating whether to update. Nice job.

Posted on Dec 10, 2007 5:56:11 AM PST
N. Doleschal says:
thanks - everything i had to know - cheers

Posted on Nov 14, 2008 2:59:38 AM PST
C. Foster says:
Awesome review. Straight to the point!

Posted on Nov 14, 2008 9:38:48 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 14, 2008 9:40:08 AM PST
N. Doleschal says:
thanks man exactly what i was looking for my decision to buy or not to buy - i ll stick with my 2000 edition - i pity they didn't a commentary or more extras - i am a sucker for audio commentaries :( so cheers thanks

(oh dear just noticed i have replied to your review one year ago already :/)

Posted on Feb 7, 2010 9:17:38 PM PST
I still have to say that the content is as great as the original, even though there is the loss of detail in some areas as noted above.

As far as the cheesy foldout, unless you like scratched disks, and it will wear to the point that the discs will float around inside, I highly suggest Divx Author (www.divx.com) to make disk-based copies of the originals, and keep the originals somewhere where they will not get scratched up, and just so you can prove you own them in case the RIAA nazis raid you. DVDs scratch up so easily that it's worth the expense to get Divx Author or any of ther other divx/xvid encoders, instead of having to buy a new DVD set every time the kids decide to watch something.
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Location: Eltham, Victoria Australia

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