Narrated by David Attenborough
Produced by Alastair Fothergill
I don’t think there are enough superlatives in the English language to fully convey how mind-blowingly cool the BBC series Planet Earth is. I am only 4 episodes in and already I know that as far as nature docs go, this is the ne plus ultra of the genre. Even when viewing the standard resolution DVDs (as opposed to the HD DVD or Blu-Ray editions, also available) on a 27-inch TV, you are bombarded with such astonishing image and sound (Dolby 5.1 stereo) as to make it very difficult not to watch all 11 50-minute episodes, plus the 150-minute extra series all in one go. Of course, that would mean 700 minutes of continuous viewing. But hell, that’s only just under 12 hours. Why not?
Why not, indeed? Well, visually, this series is groundbreaking. Even those of you who worship at the feet of the various nature shows ain’t seen nothin’. The makers of this epic set spent 5 years and more than 2000 days in the field, using 40 cameramen and 200 locations, according to the DVD box. Technologically, there’s high-speed cameras, high def and even a helicopter-mounted camera that produced perfect images from over a kilometer away and several hundred feet in the air! What they achieved for a “mere” $25 million is astounding.
Even for those of us who consider ourselves nature geeks, this series is pretty much jammed with things we didn’t know. No mundane pronouncements like “African elephants are larger and tend to be more aggressive than their Asian counterparts” or “Tigers are not, in fact, found in Africa.” Duh. No, the bits of information found herein are more on the order of “Lake Malawi, smallest of the three fresh water lakes in the East African Rift Valley, is still larger than Wales.” Say what? Or, how about that in Lake Baikal, Siberia live the only species of freshwater seal? Want more? How about that Iguazu Falls on the Brazil/Argentina border has a maximum peak flow of 13,000,000 litres of water per SECOND. All of this is, of course, imparted in the quintessential nature doc voice of David Attenborough who, IIMHO, is better than the narration done by Sigourney Weaver for the US Discovery Channel broadcast.
Those are just a few facts from only the first three episodes of this astonishing series. Just wait until you get a load of the Birds of Paradise!