In their long history of classic documentaries, one of my favorite National Geographic's was the 1982 "Egypt: Quest For Eternity" narrated by the late Richard Basehart. Frequently I have used the VHS edition in my class on Western Civilization as a good way of illustrating some of the points about Egyptian civilization to my students. When I learned that this program had been given a DVD release, which is rare for these classic National Geographic programs, I immediately bought it.
What a waste of money! For reasons totally impossible to fathom, National Geographic and Warner Video have packaged a butchered version of this documentary that runs only 43 minutes (not 60 minutes as the packaging falsely claims; that is the length of the original version), has totally snipped the opening prologue and the wonderful title credits with the best version of Elmer Bernstein's theme music, and hacked out whole sections at random. Only when fast forwarding to the end did I realize what had happened. This DVD version is a 1994 re-edited version done for the National Geographic Channel and other cable channels today where a shorter running time is dictated by the presence of commercials that was not the case on PBS, where this first aired.
Okay, so today this has to air on cable in a butchered format, but what is the excuse for giving the home video viewer this butchered version instead of the original full-length version that has been available on VHS for 15 years? None whatsoever! Shame on National Geographic and Warner Video for this disgraceful packaging of a classic documentary (this is akin to packaging edited versions of classic TV programs on DVD instead of the original uncut versions) and avoid the DVD at all costs! (But by all means get the VHS version which is a four star presentation!)