1 May 2006 | bob the moo
A visually impressive and memorable look at the world that we live in
As the influence of man expands across the globe, fewer and fewer truly untouched wilderness exists. This series aims to use technology never used for nature programmes before to take us into these wildernesses and see the environment within them and the creatures that live there. Starting with a journey from one pole to the other, this series explores the extreme conditions of mountains (from the birth of one to the coldest of those existing), deserts, caves, oceans, fresh waters and others to present some of the most impressive footage ever seen in a nature documentary.
With a budget of about £40 million, the BBC were going to have to deliver something pretty special to avoid the usual accusations of waste tax payer's money, catering to a small audience etc etc. However with Planet Earth they have easily silenced the critics to present a nature programme that is interesting and education. The biggest selling point is the footage which, at its worst is impressive but at its best is simply breath-taking and actually had me saying "wow" at some points. I am not naturally a nature programme viewer but this show had me hooked from episode 1 where a quick glance at the opening minutes had me staying with it for the following eleven weeks. The footage is impressive and, although it is the weakest part of each hour, I did enjoy some of the "Planet Earth Diary" sections where we actually saw the technology, techniques and sheer trial of getting the views that we get. My words can't really do it justice but the series gives footage that you won't have seen anywhere else before with episode 1 claiming that the footage of a pack of dogs hunting told experts things they hadn't previously known.
However I have seen some a couple of nature documentary feature films recently that have also had impressive footage but Planet Earth backs it up with a typically informative and engaging narration from David Attenborough. For me he added enough educational value to prevent the series just being televisual wallpaper which of course is what it also does in terms of providing some beautiful material that would work even if the sound broke on your television. Like many others though, I would have liked there to be more connection made to the impact that man's actions are having on the ecosystems and animals that we are shown for example are they getting rarer or having their habitats shrinking? Occasionally it does this but nowhere near enough which is partly why some critics have labelled it "environmental porn", which I can understand but do not totally agree with.
Overall this is a great series that does a great job of presenting the beauty of the natural world but just about having enough educational value to it to avoid it just being the television equivalent of wallpaper for your computer. The shots are impressive and the range of creatures and habitats that are presented makes this well worth seeing. I'm sure that wildlife fans will long for more detail but as a casual viewer this was just what I was looking for. An impressive and memorable look at the world that we live in.