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New Video presents
MonsterQuest: The Complete Season Two (2008)

"Something strange is killing animals on the ranches of Texas. It's called the chupacabra, and wherever it's reported, it leaves its mark,"
- narrator

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: January 19, 2009

Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 15h:40m:00s
Release Date: January 20, 2009
UPC: 733961146004
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- B-B-B- C+

DVD Review

The History Channel investigative cryptozoology series MonsterQuest seems like it is destined to run out of ideas fairly soon, and a few indicative cracks appear in the structural foundation as the 20-episode second season plays out. Not that I don't still like this series quite a bit—because I do—but it's just that eventually things will no doubt have to start to repeat, or, as we see here, the episode subjects begin to stray off the thematic "monster" mark a little, including the vaguely less threatening snakes, hogs, and rats.

Hardly in the same ballpark as good ol' reliable Bigfoot (as well as his shaggy relatives around the world), who merit five separate episodes in this set.

The premise is fairly straightforwar: the show picks a topic—the blood-sucking chupacabra, for example—and then spends 44 minutes (without commercials) delving into creature legends, eyewitness accounts, reenactments, CG monster renditions, grainy home video, and typically a research team of experts who venture into the beastie's alleged domain, setting up camera traps and hunting for footprints, all in order to hopefully snag a bit of proof. The expeditions rarely land any major evidence, and many of them end up being complete washes, but there's something entertaining about watching it all unfold. I'd be lying if I didn't fancy myself an armchair cryptozoologist, so the idea of actually taking part in tracking something like the legendary Black Beast of Exmoor is something that falls right in my wish-I-could-do-that wheelhouse.

There's a purposely ominous tone in the narration (something is always "stalking," "lurking," or "haunting" an area, even if it's unproven), but there is a semi-serious attempt to use scientific research to disprove a mythical entity. And naturally, even if it is shown to be implausible, there are always the eyewitnesses who say otherwise, and it is their input that generally helps raise a lingering question or two. The CG animation used to render the creatures sometimes works better than others, and of course the reenactments often are unintentionally comic. The good news is that they are used fairly sparingly.

One of the highpoints of the set is ironically one of the episodes that veers rather far off the whole "monster" theme. Ghosts are the subject of episode three, and though I'd classify that more as supernatural, the investigation and alleged evidence is moderately creepy. There's eerie EVP, some odd video, and an overall hinky vibe that is quite enjoyable, even if ghosts are hardly monsters in my book.

While the Ghosts episode is a good time, the thrill isn't quite there for Super Rats (episode six), and whether or not there are some humongous rodents living under big cities just seems more likely than mythical, and not quite in the same league as my as-yet-undiscovered pal Bigfoot. There's certainly a bit more of the oversized on display during Season Two (bears, hogs, spiders, snakes), though I'm certain Season Three—if there is to be one—will no doubt fall back on the Loch Ness Monster and Sasquatch, because let's face it: those are the marquee players in the cryptozoology game.

The episode list includes:
Mega Hog
Vampire Beast
Ghosts
Ohio Grassman
Giant Killer Snakes
Super Rats
Black Beast of Exmoor
Chupacabra
Legend of The Hairy Beast
Vampires In America
Boneless Horror
Bigfoot in New York
Lake Monsters of The North
China's Wildman
Giant Bear Attack
Giant Squid Ambush
Monster Spiders
Jaws in Illinois
Real Dragons
Sasquatch Attack II


Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: All 20 episodes are presented in their original broadcast nonanamorphic letterboxed aspect ratio, something that I hoped would have been rectified from Season One. But apparently anamorphic widescreen is still on the wish list for next year.

With that said, the transfers here are decent enough, with colors generally appearing warm and edge details ranging from sharp to soft. There's an abundance of source material and lighting conditions, so the variance in image clarity can really fluctuate from episode to episode. Some measurable shimmer and ringing is evident periodically, but overall on the good side of bad.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: Audio is delivered in a standard issue 2.0 stereo blend, serviceable on all counts without being remarkable in any measurable way. Narrator Stan Bernard's voice carries a deep, resonant quality that adds to the ominous tone, but the rest of the track comes across just so-so. No major complaints, but there's just nothing all that special.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 120 cues and remote access
9 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Box Set
Picture Disc
5 Discs
5-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: The Season One set came packaged in a nice-looking metal case, but for this five-disc collection it's back to traditional cardboard for the slipcase. Inside are two hinged cases, the first housing discs one through three, the second containing discs four and five. Each episode is split into 6 chapters.

Extras are spread across all five discs, and consist of nine short segments, each looking at a particular legend. A rotating crew of experts, like cryptozoologist Loren Gilmore, biologist Richard Ellis, anthropologist David Gilmore, and folklorist Adrienne Mayor handle the duties, and the featurettes look at Cryptozoology (02m:52s), Cryptozoology Museum (02m:53s), Hybrids (03m:23s), Bigfoot (03m:36s), Mermaids (03m:54s), Lake Monsters (02m:54s), Sea Monsters (03m:16s), Dragons (02m:56s), and Thunderbirds (03m:17s). These are well-produced and interesting little pieces, and I would look forward to perhaps a single special examining all of these crypto-legends at one time. I can dream, can't I?

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

I have to admit I really enjoy this series in a gleefully mindless kind of way, and even with its shortcomings I have to appreciate any program that regularly features stories on one of my favorite subjects: Bigfoot. This second season set of 20 episodes occasionally stretches the thematic "monster" concept a little (giant hogs, ghosts), but rarely fails to entertain.

A little science and a little speculation equals cryptozoological fun for the armchair explorer.

 


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