Secrets of the Dead: Ultimate Tut (DVD)

Come along as we explore the myths and truths surrounding Egypt’s most famous ruler.

A special double episode of the PBS show Secrets of the Dead, Ultimate Tut deals with some of the questions which still linger nearly a century after the discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922. Who was Pharaoh Tutankhamun? How did he die? Why was his tomb left virtually intact when so many others have been pillaged?

Chris Naunton, Director at The Egypt Exploration Society, leads us on a global hunt for answers about Egypt’s most famous Pharaoh. In 1922 Howard Carter ended a years-long excavation of The Valley of the Kings, an area long thought to have been fully plundered of all its wealth, with the greatest archaeological discovery of the time. He found the final resting place of Tutankhamun, Pharaoh of Egypt, and the world was swept up in the story. To this day, Tutankhamun remains the most well-known of any of Egypt’s centuries of rulers.

But after Howard’s death his copious notes on the excavation were simply boxed up and it’s not until now, decades later, that they’re being perused. Naunton has a clear fascination with King Tut and it’s this passion which drives the piece and hooks the viewer. I really appreciate how each of the main questions of the story has their own journey to follow. PBS has done a good job fleshing out the quests with CGI, re-enactments and interview segments. Nothing is dry and boring; instead we are being shown history, as opposed to merely hearing a recitation.

Ultimate Tut is very well paced. Though it approaches two hours in length, time flies due to the intricacy of the answers sought. By the time the show ends, we have learned new facts about The Boy King and his rule. It’s an extremely good example of utilizing entertainment in educational programming.

The 1.33:1 full frame transfer lends itself well to the educational nature of Ultimate Tut, as every corner of the screen becomes a focal point instead of merely a frame. The quality only betrays slight variances as care was taken to homogenize the interview segments with the re-enactments and the CGI. The CGI is the crispest with well-saturated blacks and intense colors while the interviews are a bit light at times but never to the point of distraction. The audio has more than one option to choose from, always a plus. In this case we have Dolby 2.0 which is serviceable and without errors, and we also have a Descriptive Audio channel which is intended for the visually impaired. The latter is actually interesting to listen to in order to compare what you hear with what you see. There are no bonus features.

The Ultimate Tut disc is an easy recommend. PBS continues to excel in the area of educational programming blended with entertainment. This is especially worth seeking out, if you’re a fan of Pharaoh Tutankhamun and haven’t re-visited his story recently.

THE VERDICT

Not guilty.

90
Here are the top ten things we know: 1) She lives in Ohio 2) She is MWOC unless you count her two dogs 3) Believes Avatar was NOT the greatest movie ever made 4) Operates on a primarily nocturnal basis 5) Wants to write the screenplay for the movie adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia: The Last Battle 6) Watches a variety of shows on television including, but not limited to: Castle, @midnight, Face Off, Sherlock and Whose Line is it Anyway? 7) Does not believe anyone will actually read this besides the editor (hello, Editor!) 8) Has attended more than one N*SYNC concert in her lifetime but only one NKOTB concert 9) Was in a car crash that would have killed her had she not been wearing her seat belt 10) Is in the process of catching up on Supernatural (incidentally would possibly leave her husband for either of the Winchester Brothers depending on the episode in question) and the bonus! 11) Enjoys reading, writing, laying on the beach (long walks tire her out) and assorted snack foods like frozen M&M's.
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