Season 1 of "The Universe" Butchered on U.K. DVD?

The Universe
Season 1
14 episodes
When Season One of "The Universe" is complete,
as on first broadcast and all North American releases,
it contains 13 episodes at 44 minutes each plus a special 14th episode that lasts for 90 minutes:
  1. Secrets of the Sun
  2. Mars: The Red Planet
  3. End of the Earth
  4. Jupiter: The Giant Planet
  5. The Moon
  6. Spaceship Earth
  7. Mercury & Venus: The Inner Planets
  8. Saturn: Lord of Rings
  9. Alien Galaxies
  10. Life & Death of a Star
  11. The Outer Planets
  12. Most Dangerous Places
  13. Search for E.T.

  14. Beyond the Big Bang (90 minutes)
This totals 662 minutes,
or 11 hours 2 minutes, spread out over 4 discs.

Strangely my Region 1 set says "Approx. 11 hrs., 45 mins. total".
I guess that total really is approximate only.

The regular Blu-ray release in the U.K. is also fine, containing all 14 episodes as normal.

Now, I'd love to be able to point my U.K. readers to a standard DVD box set of the Complete Season 1 on, one that plays on their native Region 2 DVD players and PAL-system television sets, but it looks like such a beast bizarrely just doesn't exist. I found many season 1 sets, many claiming to be complete, none of which could prove that they included the last two episodes "Search for E.T." and the double-length "Beyond the Big Bang". Some of these wildly different sets offered some very bizarre repackaging of the earlier episodes as well.

Findings are as follows:

This is the most normal looking set of the bunch, BUT....
it looks like it only offers the first 12 episodes, and then stops. Not very complete.
Listing indicates 530 minutes total running time, so something's DEFINITELY missing.
This one is listed as a 3-disc set.

a WIDE one. Advertised as a 6-disc set, running for 600 minutes total. Does not say "complete". The History Channel is listed as the studio. It's linked to all the usual reviews, merging Blu-ray and everything together.

another WIDE 6 DVD box set - probably a rogue double listing of the other wide set listed above

8 disc DEEP set - with funky mergers & timings
Total run time listed as 540 minutes.
At least it gives a detailed breakdown:
  • Disc 1: Secrets of the Sun (44 min.)
  • Disc 2: The Inner Planets - Mercury & Venus (44 min.)
  • Disc 3: The Earth & The Moon - (86 min.) [looks like they squeezed 2 episodes together]
  • Disc 4: Mars - The Red Planet (44 min.)
  • Disc 5. Jupiter - The Giant Planet (44 min.)
  • Disc 6. Saturn - Lord of the Rings (88 min.) [Probably an error here related to the next listing]
  • Disc 7. The Outer Planets - Alien Galaxies & Life & Death of a Star (88 min.)
    [This listing has rattled off the titles for 3 episodes, along with a timing for only 2. My guess is that one of these three is actually part of disc 6.]
  • The End of the Earth & The Most Dangerous Places (88 min.)
So, basically we have here the first 12 episodes, in a new improved sequence, while there seems to be some messing about with merging content. "Search for E.T." and "Beyond the Big Bang" are still missing though.

This next one is probably the most honest set of all, since it calls itself "Highlights of Season 1" instead of pretending that it is complete. Still, with so many U.K. fans feeling that the double-length final episode is the biggest highlight, this may still not sit well with them.

This set comes from Go Entertain. Not sure why they spread the contents over 6 discs. The page lists an accurate run time of 420 minutes, while detailing the ten episodes that it contains:

  • The Inner Planets: Mercury and Venus (#7)
  • The Earth (must be #6 - "Spaceship Earth")
  • The Moon (#5)
  • Mars: The Red Planet (#2)
  • Saturn: Lord of the Rings (#8)
  • The Outer Planets (#11)
  • Alien Galaxies (#9)
  • Life & Death of a Star (#10)
  • The End of the Earth (#3)
  • The Most Dangerous Places in the Universe (#12)
So, you're not only missing the usual "Search for E.T." and "Beyond the Big Bang" with this set, but also "Jupiter" (#4) which is one of the best episodes of the season in my opinion, and "Secrets of the Sun" which is the first episode of the season.

So what should U.K. fans do?

  • If you can handle Blu-ray, go for that version - it IS complete.
  • If you can handle Region 1 DVD's and NTSC signals on your TV, consider buying a North American formatted set (U.S., Canada, etc.)
    All Region 1 sets have the complete season one.
  • Consider buying season 2 or 3 for now, and come back to season 1 if and when you get an upgrade to Blu-ray. Unlike fiction shows with continuing stories, you don't need to see the first season in order to enjoy the others.

Good complete season 1 options:
Click on the amazon symbol for your area to open amazon's page in a new window and see additional product information before purchasing.

The Universe
Season 1 Box Set
14 episodes


U.K. Blu-ray U.S.

Blu-ray Canada

Blu-ray U.K.

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Read a data capsule review for a good season two episode: "Alien Planets"

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