Reviews

When Oceans Attack!: 'Underwater Universe: The Complete First Season'

Rogue waves and killer whales only scratch the surface. The History Channel explores the evils that wait beneath the waves in an Underwater Universe!


Underwater Universe

Distributor: A&E Entertainment
Cast: Various
Network: History Channel
DVD Underwater Universe: The Complete First Season
Release date: 2011-06-28
Amazon

Underwater Universe: The Complete First Season is the follow-up to the Underwater Universe special. It's The History Channel's take on an oceanic nature series, which means that, like the network's popular series The Universe, it's filled with sensationalist scare tactics. Not the kind of scary stuff you might find in an ecologically minded production attempting to expose global warming trends or to encourage conservation, this is more like a monster movie with the sea in a starring role.

The two-disc set contains the five episodes of the series. Each episode is increasingly more frightening, as the series seems to be trying to convince viewers that Earth's oceans are out to get us. The show uses a mixture of excellent CGI graphics, scientific data, expert interviews and real footage of natural disasters and catastrophic oceanic events to help make this case.

Disc One contains the first four episodes, beginning with Killer Shockwaves, which presents the three kinds of "abnormal waves": Rogue wave, Monster wave and Tsunami. Examples of the devastation that each can cause, as well as details on how and why these waves occur, stir up apprehension, but what 's really scary is that these waves are not yet fully understood. The fear of the unknown is perhaps the scariest fear of all.

Predators of the Deep gives us even more to fear, however, as it ranks the five deadliest underwater predators, organized how often they attack and kill human beings. Orcas, Great White Sharks, Giant Squid, Salt Water Crocodiles and Box Head Jellyfish are profiled like serial killers. The photographic evidence of injuries sustained after encounters with these creatures is enough to keep anyone from daring to swim in the ocean again!

The third episode is Tides and Currents of Death, which just about says it all, don't you think? It's all about how the Earth's gravitational forces will one day wash us—and everything else on the planet—away in a massive, world-wide tidal wave. This episode also discusses the four deadliest tides and introduces "The Great Ocean Conveyor" a current that destroyed 80 percent of life on Earth approximately 250 million years ago.

Feeling thalassophobic (that's an irrational fear of the sea) yet? Episode four, Fatal Pressure, will ensure that you develop a whole host of new phobias and hypochondriac symptoms on your next seaside visit. The bends and nitrogen narcosis are just the beginning. Human technological advances can only go so far in exploring the vast depths and, as this episode keeps telling us, the pressure at the bottom of the ocean can crush us oh so easily.

Viewers will now be thinking the ocean is actually consciously contemplating this on a daily basis, as it rolls around in its watery undersea lair, laughing evilly like a Bond villain. One can't help wondering if that may have been the intention of the show's creators all along.

Disc two contains only one episode, the feature-length special, which is essentially the series pilot, Underwater Universe. It provides an overview of all the terrifying things the ocean has in store for unsuspecting humans: surges, hurricanes, cyclones, whirlpools, ice floes, underwater volcanoes, drowning and many more horrors that, according to the scientists and experts questioned, will eventually kill us all.

The DVDs have no extra features, unless you count the pilot episode, and the menus and navigation are fairly standard. Underwater Universe: The Complete First Season is fascinating to watch, but it isn't for everyone (this is not a kid-friendly, Discovery-style show). It's definitely educational in a sense, but that's only secondary to the sensational thrill of a good scare.

5

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.

Music

The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.

Music

Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.

Film

'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.

Music

'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"

Music

Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.

Music

The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Music

GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".

Music

Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".

Music

Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.

Music

Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.

Music

The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".

Music

Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.

Books

Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.