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Evolution Boxed Set

4.3 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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(Nov 20, 2001)
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$149.99 $39.94

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Evolution offers a groundbreaking and definitive view of the extraordinary impact the evolutionary process has had on our understanding of the world around us. Beginning with Darwin s revolutionary theory, this seven-part series explores all facets of evolution the changes that spawned the tree of life, the power of sex, how evolution continues to affect us every day, and the perceived conflict between science and religion. Includes:

Darwin s Dangerous Idea: Interweaving key moments of drama in Darwin's life with current research, Darwin s Dangerous Idea explores why his theory of evolution might matter even more today than it did in his own time.

Great Transformations: From the development of the four-limbed body plan, the journey of animal life from water to land, and the emergence of humans, Great Transformations focuses on the important evolutionary changes that triggered the earth s incredible diversity.

Extinction!: Some 99.9 percent of all species that have ever lived on earth are now extinct. Extinction! explores why, then confronts a frightening notion: Are humans causing the next mass extinction the sixth in the history of life on earth?

The Evolutionary Arms Race: Survival of the fittest: Is it raw competition, a level of cooperation indispensable to life, or both? Explore our own spiraling arms race with microorganisms the only real threat to our existence and trace the alarming spread of resistance among pathogens that cause disease.

Why Sex?: Investigate the endless variety of sexual expression and the powerful hold sex exerts over almost all living things. And discover why, in evolutionary terms, sex is more important than life itself.

The Mind s Big Bang: Between 100,000 and 50,000 years ago, something happened that triggered a creative, technological, and social explosion, allowing humans to dominate the planet. What forces may have contributed to the emergence of the modern human mind?

What About God?: Of all the species on earth, only humans try to explain who they are and how they came to be. Encounter real human stories of people struggling to find a balance between religion and science, realms that play very different roles in assigning order to the universe and a purpose to life.


The long, long story of evolution is told very well in this extensive eight-hour series originally shown on PBS. The production begins with a dramatization of the struggles of Charles Darwin in a two-hour film aptly titled "Darwin's Dangerous Idea." Scenes of actors portraying Darwin and his contemporaries are supplemented by interviews with experts such as Stephen Jay Gould. In further installments, various topics related to evolution, such as major transformations of species, the intellectual development of humans, the phenomenon of animal extinction, and even the organized opposition to evolutionary theory by religious fundamentalists, are discussed with considerable depth. Interview segments with scholars (and their opponents) are accompanied by extraordinary visuals, including some computer-generated sequences (such as one illustrating how whales left land and evolved in the oceans) that are dazzling. This series, which is narrated by actor Liam Neeson, is a remarkably intelligent and entertaining approach to a fascinating topic. --Robert J. McNamara

Special Features

  • Acces to the Evolution Web site, which includes interactive games, activities, and biographies; comprehensive evoltion library, with video and audio segments, interviews, images, source documents, Web links, and additional resources; online teacher course and student lessons; printable teacher's guide; evolution glossary and FAQs

Product Details

  • Actors: Liam Neeson (narrator)
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: November 20, 2001
  • Run Time: 480 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005RG6J
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,466 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Everybody knows that when it comes down to the final question in a game of Trivial Pursuit that they should make me try and answer a science question because I know pretty much nothing about science and nature. This is because the one thing I knew about high school biology was that you dissected animals and being sick in front of the smartest girls in school did not appeal to me at all. So I took Life Through the Microscope (it involved drawing) and Ecology (it was the only class that fit my schedule) and missed out on Biology, Chemistry and Physics. However, since I did my dissertation on the infamous Scopes "Monkey" Trial I do have something of an interest in the controversy over evolution if not the concept itself. This seven-part series exploring various facets of evolution was perfect so someone like me who insists on having theory of any sort mixed with a heavy dose of practice.
"Evolution" is as much about the profound impact the evolutionary process has had on our understanding of the world around us as it is on the various versions of the theory that have been expounded in scientific textbooks for the past century. The series basically focuses on five key concepts regarding evolution, sandwiched between episodes that constitute a dramatic introduction and a controversial coda:
"Darwin's Dangerous Idea" offers dramatizations of key moments in Darwin's life along with contemporary talking heads explaining the profound implications of the evolutionary theory and the place it holds in the scientific community today as a pivotal concept.
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Format: DVD
Wow!!! This series is as amazing as any laypersons textbook I've ever read on evolution. Each episode is not only a discourse (in the most envigorating way possible) about a different aspect of evolution, and not only does each explain the theories within that aspect but each does a great job of making them relevant to life today. What does 'cultural evolution' of transportation have to do with the cycle of extinctions. How can is the success of the AIDS virus to be attributed to what can only be called a flaw in its copying apparatus? How can we use that knowledge to our advantage in the struggle against its effects?
Honestly, there are only slight criticisms I have about each. The first - and how relatively trivial it is - is that for every episode, I was able to think of 4 more episodes that I would have liked to see, or at least 4 more topics that each could've covered. Evolutionary psychology was, to a large degree, left unexplored but for a 10 minute passage. The punctuated equilibrium vs. Dawkinian incremental evolution debate - for as specialized as it seems it is still a HUGE debate within biology - was ignored and most of all, sociobiology was not touched on. So many facets so little DVD space! Still, I couldn't take away a star just for these trifles.
Here's a brief overview of each episode and its highlights.
Darwins Dangerous Idea - Probably the dullest episode of all. Alternates between Darwins relevance today and BBC style reenactment of his life
Great Transformations - The origin (or suspected origin) of life and from it, the quadropods - that is, four leggeed spined creatures. Interesting discussion of our similarities to other quadropods in past and present.
Extinctions - If 99% of animals are extinct, will we be and why are we not yet?
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Format: DVD
This is a DVD Boxed set that belongs on every shelf, period. While highly informative and very well presented, it is also entertaining to watch. Before I knew it, I had watched through the entire series and was wanting even more! I wish that more had been done in the series, particularly an episode dedicated to the budding science of Evolutionary Psychology for example.
It provides an exacting overview of Evolutionary Theory in our current understanding. At the same time, it provides well explained and detailed analysis of the evidence that has been building behind the theory over the last century or more. Of interest to some was the time spent on the debate between Evolution and Creation *Science*, with a full hour dedicated to the issues of faith and science in and out of the classroom.
All in all, entertaining and informative to the open minded, likely an affront to the closed minded, this boxed set comes HIGHLY recommended for anyone regardless. Easily worth more than it costs.
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Format: DVD
I read through the reviews of this set and I am disappointed to see that several of the reviewers...took this opportunity to preach their hatred (or fear?) of evolution rather than just reviewing the DVD. Here is what I think of the DVD: It is beautifully filmed at times. It covers the subject of evolution better than any TV series I have ever seen, though it doesn't go into the depth that you might find in a college course or even a lot of popular books on evolution--like Daniel Dennet's "Darwin's Dangerous Idea". But the DVD doesn't put me to sleep like the books do. It is entertaining enough to keep you awake through a subject most of us slept through in school. I would have liked to see at least a passing mention of differing scientific opinions, such as the Aquatic Ape Theory or perhaps something about Punctuated Equilibrium, but I suppose that is too much for a PBS series. Nevertheless, I rate this series a step below "Cosmos" and "Life Beyond Earth" but higher than almost anything else that I have seen on PBS. This is a very good series, well worth owning.
I must respond to a few misleading assertions of the reviewers I mentioned at the beginning of this review:EVOLUTION IS NOT A THEORY. Evolution is a fact. That the mechanism of evolution is a process known as Natural Selection--that is the theory. Evolution is observed in the fossil record; fact. Natural Selection explains the observation; theory. As for the "fossil record lacking transitional forms", you obviously didn't watch the part about transitional whales--whales with four legs, whales with only two legs, modern whales. There are hundreds of known transitional forms, and more being found all the time.
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