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DVD Review: Echo and Other Elephants

Posted on Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008 4:33 PM by Scott Jentsch

Front Cover ArtworkEcho and Other Elephants
DVD
BBC Video
362 Minutes

List Price: $29.98 (Check Price at Amazon.com)

Available 4/1/2008

Not Rated

 This Disc
Aspect Ratio:1.33:1
1.78:1
Audio:

Dolby Digital
Dolby Digital 2.0

Disc 1 Contents

  • Upfront Ads
    • Planet Earth on DVD, HD DVD, and Blu-ray Disc
    • BBC America cable/satellite channel
  • Echo of the Elephants
  • The Next Generation
  • The Final Chapter?
  • Elephant Nomads of the Namib Desert

Disc 2 Contents

  • Upfront Ads
    • Blue Planet: Seas of Life on DVD and VHS
  • Living with Elephants
  • Namibia's Desert Giants
  • The Search for Virgo
  • Elephants of the Samburu

About the DVD

This collection of documentaries from the BBC centers around a herd of elephants in Kenya's Amboseli National Park, led by the matriarch Echo. Narrated by David Attenborough, we get to see the herd as they migrate, feed, and gather together for mating and socializing. A fourth documentary is narrated by Russell Boulter. Included on the second disc is a series of documentaries narrated by Saba Douglas-Hamilton that presents another scientist's efforts to study the magnificent animals in their natural habitat.

How Does it Look?

Elephants

Given the wide range of years covered by this 2-disc set, the video is understandably variable. The older episodes are not as good-looking as the later episodes, but the quality is still better than what one would see if you were watching these shows on cable or satellite. Kudos to the BBC for keeping the aspect ratios of the 1.33 shows intact, and for presenting the widescreen shows accordingly.

While one could knock these shows for not displaying the awesome beauty of the Planet Earth series (the series by which all HD and nature shows will be judged), such judgement would be unfair for shows that may not have had HD or film sources to work with. For a standard definition DVD release, the picture is quite good.

How Does it Sound?

The sound quality is standard NTSC TV fare. What we get here is Dolby Digital 2.0 that is clear with dialogue that is easy to understand. While there isn't much for the soundtrack to do, and there was not much (Pro-Logic decoded) surround activity, if at all, the low rumbles of the elephants that are part of their communication certainly come through any decently equipped sound system!

Extras

There are no extras included on either disc. It is nice that each episode is selectable on the DVD menu, with multiple chapter stops for each episode. Nicely done.

Conclusion

If you like to watch nature documentaries, this is a no-brainer. The production quality is good, the stories are interesting, and the narration supplements the visuals nicely. These discs certainly have potential for repeat viewing, and since there is so much content to be found, renting them would require a large investment of time during the rental period. My kids are enjoying watching these shows, and they provide a much more intelligent form of entertainment than so much of what passes for children's entertainment. At around $27 at Amazon, there's no reason not to pick this 2-disc set up.


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