This program is based on the book "Expedition" by Wayne D. Barlowe. (He was also executive producer and he makes comments in this program.) It is narrated by John C. McGinley (of the TV show "Scrubs"). The program was filmed entirely on location in Iceland and Mono Lake, California.
This computer-animated program simulates a voyage or mission to an exoplanet (a planet not of our solar system). Here are the particulars of this mission:
(1) Exoplanet name: Darwin 4, an Earth-like planet.
(2) Location: In a binary solar system. (This is a system where a pair of stars orbit about each other, held together by their mutual gravitational attraction.)
(3) Distance from Earth: 6.5 light years. (A light year is the distance light travels in a year, namely 5,880 billion miles).
(4) Decision: to send a robotic spaceship to Darwin 4.
(5) Reason for Decision: To investigate for possible life, especially microscopic life. If any intelligent life is found, attempt contact.
(6) Ship's name: von Braun.
(7) Speed or velocity of ship: 20% of c. ("c" is the speed of light, namely 186 thousand miles per second.)
(8) Number of probes with artificial intelligence to be deployed once Darwin 4 is reached: 3.
(9) Names of probes: Balboa, Da Vinci ("Leo"), and Newton ("Ike").
Once the probes are on Darwin 4, they encounter much more than just microscopic life. They find themselves in the middle of a developed ecosystem teeming with a diversity of life of all sizes.
Throughout the program are comments made by mainly scientists. Noteworthy scientists include Stephen Hawking and Michio Kaku. A noteworthy non-scientist was George Lucas. All their comments are interesting.
The computer animation in a word is--fantastic. Except for a few spots, I found it difficult to believe the creatures etc. I was seeing were computer generated!
I found that some of the comments made in this program were debatable. As well, I did find one numerical error: we are told that the robotic ship would take about 42 years to reach this exoplanet. But if you plug in the appropriate numbers (see above) into the equation: Distance = (Speed X Time), you get about 32 years! Also the creatures on this planet are blind relying on sonar. But oddly, communication is attempted through visual means! However, since this program is so absorbing, most viewers will probably not notice these problems.
Finally, the DVD itself is perfect in picture and sound quality. It has two extras. The first extra is interviews with four scientists, most notably Stephen Hawking and Michio Kaku. These are interesting but Hawking gives more of an extended commentary than an interview. Strangely, the second extra is a preview of a motorcycle customization show. Why this was included, I do not know.
In conclusion, this program can be summarized in an equation: (Science + Speculation + Imagination) = Unique Show!!!
(2005; 95 min; wide screen; first televised on the Discovery Channel; 12 scenes)