MSRP: $79.98
RUNNING TIME: 830 Minutes

  • The 11-part series shot entirely in high-definition: From Pole to Pole, Mountains, Fresh Water, Caves, Deserts, Ice Worlds, Great Plains, Jungles, Shallow Seas, Seasonal Forests, Ocean Deep
  • Original U.K. broadcast version narrated by David Attenborough, including 90 minutes not shown on the Discovery Channel
  • 110 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage (included on standard-definition DVD release only)
  • Planet Earth: The Future: 150-minute companion series (included on standard-definition DVD release only)

The Pitch

The world as we’ve never seen it before. The most elaborate and high-tech nature documentary of all time and you’d better believe it.

The Humans

The voice of David Attenborough.

The Nutshell

The short answer is this: Planet Earth is the most powerful and visually arresting nature documentary ever made. That’s saying something, as there’s no shortage of classics, including the last effort from the Planet Earth team, Blue Planet. 62 countries. 204 location. Years of effort. To say this is a Herculean effort would be an exercise in truth telling. This is a giant like few nature shows have ever attempted to be. Did it pull it off? Duh. The BBC is to nature shows as the sun is to providing heat. No one does it better.

The Lowdown

The series consists of eleven fifty-five minute episodes all covering a particular portion of the world we are all lucky/unfortunate to be denizens of. There’s a bit of crossover, but the magic of the show is how it manages to show the expected and unexpected from each with equal aplomb. Of course you’re going to expect polar bears in the ‘From Pole to Pole’ episode, but did you expect to see one frantically try to make a kill and then ultimately decide to curl up and die? That’s one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve ever seen in a documentary and just one of many astounding moments on the show.

What follows is rich and visually unmatched. Things never before captured on film. Snow leopards hunting, a hunt captured on 400mm lens from a kilometer in the sky, from the first break all the way to escape or capture. Amazing stuff. A cave full of batshit so large that an entire ecosystem revolves around it. One where a fallen bat will not only get trapped in it but be eviscerated by hordes of beetles. Folks smarter than me have said it a thousand times; there’s nothing in fiction that can compete with nature and Planet Earth sets the bar so high I have no idea where they can go from here without enlisting special effects artists.

The high points are the episodes devoted to the ocean, primarily because of the neverending surprises involving our least explored arena on the planet but also because it’s the arena most benefited by technology. As the clarify and flexibility of these images improve, the alien world becomes that much more a reality. Seeing the some of the last blue whales on the planet is something that makes the relatively expensive DVD a must buy, but to see five hundred dolphins teaming up on a feeding frenzy is icing. There are no shortage of moments that drop the jaw, stir the emotions, and possibly excite the IQ to strive higher.

It’s pointless to dwell on details. Just watch.

This isn’t an educational program. It’s a life enriching one. Unmissable.

The Package

There’s an entire feature waiting on the DVD for the show, one which might be of some value to viewers, but the leftist nature of it may cause some of the people who feel the environmental concerns are overblown to feel wary. It’s called Planet Earth: The Future and it’s three hours of speculation, prophecy, and scary fact. It’s the ultimate cautionary tale mixed with a good amount of hard data, and though it somewhat hurts the sheer beauty and spectacle of the parent show, it’s impossible not to pay attention to the signs around us. Scary stuff and very well made.

The best feature, though… is the inclusion of post-episode visits with the cameramen as they deal with the weather, the animals, and the isolation. It’s a rare glimpse behind the curtain and just another showcase of why this is the biggest and best nature documentary ever made.

The amount of tedium, sacrifice, and physical risk is incredible and something about seeing a guy cooped up in a shed dodging pesky polar bears in the freezing cold makes the endeavor that is Planet Earth that much more colossal.

If you have children, put away the Buzz Lightyear of Star Command DVD (which is playing in my house EVERY DAY) and watch this with them. It’s the kind of thing that just might fuel the next generation of naturalists, scientists, and photographers. If you have an adult, do the same. It’s never too late to stop doing tech support for the publisher of the nation’s premier trade magazine devoted to portable shitters.

10 out of 10