Martian Chronicles, The (Ray Bradbury's)-Original TV Mini-Series (1980)

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Released 8-Jun-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1980
Running Time 281:25
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Michael Anderson
Studio
Distributor
NBC Productions
Icon Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case ?
RPI ? Music Stanley Myers


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Loosely based on Ray Bradbury’s series of short stories charting the (obviously fictional) first decade of man's efforts to colonise Mars, The Martian Chronicles is a three part miniseries that originally aired in 1980.

     The first episode tells the story of the first three manned missions to Mars, each of which lead to one sort of calamity or another as they unexpectedly encounter a race of Martians who sparsely populate the planet. The Martians are, physically, relatively weak compared to their human counterparts but possess psychic powers that lead to all manner of accidental conflict.

     The second episode charts man's rocky attempts to colonize Mars following what seems to be the death of the planet’s original inhabitants due to human disease. Metaphysical encounters with ancient Martians eventually turn the planet, which is starting to resemble a futuristic version of the wild west, squarely on its head.

     The third episode follows the exploits of a handful of humans who remain on Mars after the planet was largely evacuated due to the outbreak of World War III on earth. As their home planet crumbles the remaining colonists struggle to form their own identity. This episode explores the isolation aspect of colonization as well as the formation of a firm identity.

     Despite its infamous history (actually, likely in part due to it), The Martian Chronicles has maintained a cult following since its release. Author Ray Bradbury described the mini-series, adapted by I Am Legend author Richard Matheson and directed by Michael Anderson (who was still on a career high following Logan's Run), as "Just Boring", resulting in it being held back from release for a full year until the bad press had died down. Alas, Bradbury’s assertion is pretty spot-on. The general ideas and plot of The Martian Chronicles are great, but it is drawn out to painful lengths. The acting is hammy and the effects look a decade out of date. The series certainly has a charm to it, but it is one that will only appeal to sci-fi die hards.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The show is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The video looks as good as the series is ever likely to on DVD, although that is certainly not flawless. The image is generally reasonably sharp, although some scenes are noticeable less sharp than others (particularly a few where effects are involved - which is almost certainly down to the layering process for constructing the effects). The colours look a little pale and dated, although they are consistent throughout. There is a decent level of shadow depth in the image.

     Mild to moderate macro blocking is present in the backgrounds, particularly those that feature substantial colour gradients. The image is reasonably clear for the most part. Occasional flecks of dust are noticeable, though none too large, although heavy levels of film artefacts are present in a handful of scenes (mostly effects sequences).

     English subtitles are available. Based on the portion sampled they appear to be reasonably accurate and well timed.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The show features an English Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track that sounds distinctly mono (which would be accurate for the time).

     The audio sounds decent for a TV series that is now 30 years old. A faint low level hiss is noticeable throughout and the audio is of noticeably limited fidelity, though this serves more to illustrate the age of the material than to make it unpleasant to listen to. The dialogue is reasonably clear and well timed for the most part, although a couple of the characters look to have been dubbed.

     The series features a decent orchestral score by Stanley Myers, which itself has somewhat of a cult following

     There is no noticeable surround or subwoofer usage.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are no extras on this disc, only an infuriating unskippable anti-piracy clip at the start of each disc.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 DVD is similarly bare-bones.

Summary

     A hit-and-miss epic science fiction mini-series that charts the human colonization of Mars. The video and audio are decent given the age of the material, though not great. There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3, using HDMI output
DisplayOptoma HD20 Projector. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX2016AVS. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX2016AVS
Speakers150W DTX front speakers, 100W centre and 4 surround/rear speakers, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub

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