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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Empires-Kingdom of David: The Saga of the Israelites (Roadshow) (2003)

Empires-Kingdom of David: The Saga of the Israelites (Roadshow) (2003)

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Released 15-Sep-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio
Trailer-The Empires Series
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 221:11 (Case: 220)
RSDL / Flipper No/No
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Carl Byker
Mitch Wilson
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI $39.95 Music Erik Friedlander

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.75:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.75:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    The next title in the great Empires documentary series, as has been screening for several months on SBS TV and now being gradually released on DVD, is The Kingdom of David: The Saga of the Israelites.

    By way of background, the Empires documentary series was produced over the years 1999-2003 and created 11 different documentaries in total, with each subject story told using between 2 to 4 one-hour episodes. Each title in the series deals with a different period in man's history, in which a particular supreme dominion or religious belief ruled or prevailed over mankind, or went on to ultimately influence the future of mankind in a profound and permanent way. Each title in the series has been written, produced and directed for the most part largely independent of the others, and so each tackles its subject matter from a slightly different angle. The documentary may deal with a specific aspect or aspects of that particular empire, such as telling the history of how that empire was established or came to pass, how the previous rule or convention was challenged and overthrown, or just more simply what life must have been like (according to the best/most current knowledge of historians) under the rule at that time.

    The episodes of the Empires series have been receiving a slow release on DVD in Region 4 since November last year. Nearly all of the titles released on DVD to date have now been reviewed by this site, as indicated by the links following, where shown (note: the first two titles in this series will be reviewed in due course - please do a review search from the site's home page for the most up-to-date list of reviews for this series). In order of DVD release date, the Empires series consists of titles on: Napoleon, Queen Victoria's Empire, Japan: Memoirs of a Secret Empire, Egypt's Golden Empire, The Greeks: Crucible of Civilisation, The Roman Empire: In the First Century, Martin Luther and Peter and Paul and the Christian Revolution. The final two titles in this series to be released and reviewed very soon are episodes on Islam and The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance. As stated, for an up-to-date listing of all reviews in this series, please do a review search under "Empires" using the site's home page review search engine.

    This Empires documentary series has been, generally speaking, of excellent production quality. As stated, each title in the series has been written, produced and directed independent of the others, and tackles its subject matter in different ways. Of necessity, you can not expect every single title to convey the absolute, definitive story of every aspect of that particular empire. Rather, each episode covers the main timeline of crucial key events for that period in history and at the same time offers a rare insight into specific aspects of the time. All titles are extremely well-researched, featuring interviews with prominent historians and relevant experts. Above all, each episode successfully puts into context the impact and legacy of that period on the future of mankind. Having reviewed a number of titles in the Empires series now, I for one have been very impressed with the overall writing and production quality on offer here and found this series to be, on the whole, an outstanding success as a highly authoritative, well-researched, entertaining and enlightening documentary series.

    The story of The Kingdom of David: The Saga of the Israelites is told over four one-hour episodes and is the very interesting story of the history of the Israelites, who would change human history as much as any other empire that ever existed subsequently. In so doing, this documentary tells the story of several key figures in the Israelites' history, figures both real and (possibly) mythological, including: Abraham, a (possibly mythological) figure featuring prominently in the stories of the ancient Hebrew Bible, and the first man to encounter the one true God Yahweh; Moses, the only human being to see God face-to-face; and King David, a poor young boy anointed by God to be King of the Israelites and proving himself by slaying Goliath, the fearsome warrior of the opposing Philistines. In putting these historical figures into context, this documentary also comprehensively tells the story of the creation of what would prove to become the world's first and most influential monotheistic (that is, belief in a single God) religion - Judaism. It tells the story of how this religious belief started and spread and then, eventually, the story of the split between Judaism and Christianity, following the life and death of Jesus. The period of history spanned by this documentary is the 6th century BC through to the 2nd century AD.

    The four episodes on this double-DVD set are:   


    Lack of chapter markers; a small complaint: as with all other DVDs in this Empires series, there is a complaint in respect of the placement of chapter markers on this disc; i.e. they leave a lot to be desired. There is a lack of adequate chapter markers in the appropriate places to separate the content in these episodes, despite clearly headed section breaks during the programme for such purpose, and so there is no quick access available to relevant key sections within each episode. The placement of what chapter markers have been included appears completely spurious and of no use at all.

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Transfer Quality


    The quality of the video transfer on this disc would have been on par with the vast majority of previous releases in this series - that is, very good indeed - had it not been for the slip-up in production that sees this particular DVD release hindered by a lack of 16x9 enhancement. This is now the third DVD in this series to lack 16x9 enhancement - a frustrating slip-up in mastering, when the majority of DVDs in the Empires series do feature 16x9 enhancement.

    The presented aspect ratio is the original 1.75:1, as screened on TV, but as stated this time around the transfer is NOT 16x9 enhanced. Consequently sharpness, grain and the like is marginally worse off this time around, as we have to zoom in to the image.

    Sharpness is generally good (and would have been higher with 16x9 enhancement), as we would come to expect of a very recently-produced, decent budget series. Most scenes offer satisfactory to quite pleasing levels of detail in foreground and background images, with little grain (although more noticeable this time without the 16x9 enhancement), sufficient shadow detail and minimal low level noise. As has been the case for all others in this series, there is again noticeably more grain in scenes shot in lower light levels, and this is quite evidently now a function of the type of film stock used throughout the filming of this series. Softer resolution and occasional low level noise is much more apparent in these low-light scenes, where they are much less an issue in the daytime/well-lit scenes. As it turns out though, the vast majority of the visual action in these documentaries takes place either in daylight or in sufficiently lit interiors. Certainly all of the historian interview footage is fine, as is the majority of the re-enactment footage; it is only the night-time and some indoor re-enactment footage that detracts. Overall, the vast majority of this DVD transfer boasts very good image quality.

    Colour is consistent and very well rendered, showcasing a varied colour palette that accentuates oranges and browns effectively. Skin tones are perfectly fine and black levels are quite solid, dropping off a bit only in the occasional low-light scene.

    As with previous releases in the Empires series, again there are virtually no artefacts to note at all. This is a modern, very clean and very well-handled transfer. MPEG artefacts are restricted to some minor pixelization noted in some scenes (a problem only highlighted by the lack of 16x9 enhancement). Film-to-video artefacts are restricted to only the most minor instances of near-aliasing, and there are no film artefacts at all, other than the aforementioned visible grain in the low-light scenes.

    The English for the Hearing Impaired subtitle language stream is very clear, well timed and accurate. However it is not well placed and, due to the lack of 16x9 enhancement, the bottom half of the bottom line of subtitles is lost off the bottom of the screen when zooming into the image. This means if you want to read the subtitles you will have to watch the transfer in 1.33:1 mode.

    Both discs in this set are single-layered.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     As with previous releases in the series, the quality of the audio transfer is again very high, featuring a perfectly sufficient English Dolby Digital 2.0 track (recorded at 224 Kb/s).

    Dialogue quality cannot be faulted at all; the narrator (Keith David) enunciates very clearly throughout. I had no issues with the audio sync.

    The music score is appropriate, lending well to the context and is not overused. The DVD's audio transfer handles the music score clearly across the range.

    This is not a surround-sound audio track.

    Subwoofer use is minimal.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The only extra is an advertisement for the Empire series, presented using 5 text screens, in which each 2 titles are featured (note: there are actually 11 titles in total in the Empires series, not 10, but the last one is missing here). Each screen has a further selectable single text screen giving a very brief blurb of the chosen title. This is more an exercise in advertising than a real extra.

    After a short main menu introduction sequence, being animated with audio in 1.78:1 (but not 16x9 enhanced), the main menu for this DVD itself is static, presented in 1.33:1 and with (somewhat repetitious) audio underscore. The menu design is sufficient for the basic job at hand.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Empires series has not been released in Region 2 yet, but has been released in Region 1, with this title released in identical format to our Region 4 product. Therefore opt for the local release for the superior PAL transfer and price.


    Yet another authoritative, well-researched and highly enlightening documentary in the Empires series makes it way to DVD. This one is a two-disc set, spanning four one-hour episodes that comprehensively covers the history of the Israelites, from their 6th century BC exile to Babylon to their 2nd century AD exile at the hands of the Romans, including the split between Judaism and Christianity. Another very well produced and highly recommended documentary.

    The video quality is good, although annoyingly hindered this time (again) by a lack of 16x9 enhancement (this is now the third DVD out of seven reviewed so far to suffer this annoying slip-up in the DVD transfer process).

    Audio quality is very good.

    As with all the DVDs in this series, there are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Sean Abberton (read my bio)
Sunday, July 18, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using Component output
DisplayToshiba 117cm widescreen rear projection TV. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderYamaha RXV-1000. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationElektra Theatre 150 Watts x 6 channel Power Amplifier
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora III mains, Orpheus Centaurus 1.0 centre, Velodyne CT150 sub and B&W DM303 rears

Other Reviews NONE