Reviewing this show starts from an acknowledgement of its greatness
With most shows any assessment involves explaining why it is better or worse than others of its kind. With Planet Earth II the fact that it is brilliant is obvious and any criticism should not be seen as reducing that brilliance in any meaningful way. A few seconds of footage is taken from the archive, apparently but who cares? The amount of care expended on the editing of each shot is mindbogglingly impressive and the reality of what has been captured is the best that has ever been seen. Add the music and you have something amazing and deeply moving. Everything in 'Mountains' is so impressive that it ends up being a prime example of something wonderful.
Way back the show had a fairly limited set of engaging characters dealing with massed ranks of walkers and morally ambiguous or nasty people. For the last two seasons viewers have been subjected to far too many characters nobody could give a damn about slowly doing nothing. The walkers, when they show up at all, are used as fake-out plot devices or ridiculous spectacle.
Why the makers think spending 16 episodes to tell what happened over two weeks to character after character everyone wants dead is a mystery. The show has not just outstayed its welcome it has placed itself beyond redemption. Perhaps a new creative team could improve it but the producers seem hell-bent on letting the current team run the show into the ground when it has been obvious for over two years that they have either stopped caring or run out of ideas.
Season 6 was painfully drawn out, boring and had a disgraceful finale only to be followed six months later by this season's premiere which was just stupidly horrible. Ever since this endlessly boring and nasty season has led oh so slowly to this pointless and boring finale.
A character everyone knew was going to die did just that. An incredibly irritating big bad's story is going to drag on for an eternity and letting viewers know how boring next season is going to be was done in such a boring way.
The structure of the storytelling for the last two seasons is wrong for a television series. This show needs new writers and directors who know how to show a story unfold with pace and style.
The settings, performances, production values and dedication of everyone involved are all very impressive but, without giving away any spoilers, all together it doesn't add up to a great deal.
That doesn't mean that this isn't very high quality television; it very much is but it is let down by the ending which ends up going to one of the few places it could go leaving me wishing it hadn't.
Overall, a very good effort with generally excellent writing and execution with very well sold characters that aren't TV clichés. Stories of this type, in film and TV but less so in novels, are often at the mercy of their endings but the journey in this case is very satisfying even if the destination is less than ideal.
A deeply affecting end to a landmark documentary series
When Planet Earth II premiered it struck a chord with many viewers with its astonishing quality but this final episode presents something entirely different to what viewers might expect as it explores the interaction between humans and the natural world in cities. This is television on a grand scale which succeeds in creating something truly magical.
The coda, which I hope survives in the international broadcasts, provides both a message of hope and a call to arms from David Attenborough to us all. This magnificent and profoundly affecting series has been a joy to experience.
Even if only $1000 was spent on each episode as appears to be the case from the appalling amateurishness on display in each horrifyingly awful installment that is still money which could have been better used elsewhere. Throwing an iPhone into a group of pre-schoolers would surely result in a more charming, coherent and polished production than this sorry excuse for a show. People at every level from commissioning, writing, production, directing to appearing on screen took money in return for their involvement in this terrible dross. Every single one should be ashamed of themselves. This is television so bad it should raise questions about whether some sort of criminal deception is apparent on the resumes of anyone involved in this production. If someone with an IQ of 70 who dropped out of school at 12 passed himself off as a doctor, dentist, architect, engineer or social worker they would quite properly end up in prison. Surely some sort of penalty should exist in the TV industry for people who so blatantly mock viewers and advertisers.
The professionalism of everyone involved in this glorious production is evident in every frame of what is seen and every second of what is heard. Most Hollywood blockbusters would struggle to compete with the cinematography on show here. Shot after shot seem almost impossible yet impossibly beautiful.
Few things fill a viewer with simple awe but the first episode about islands does it and then some.
The fact that it is all so enjoyable just adds to the experience. David Attenborough's narration is, as usual, superb.
Whatever the cost it was worth it. The BBC has another hit.