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A new appreciation for the wonder that surrounds us! Show it to your children...
on April 21, 2007
Never have I been so moved by a series to exclaim in wonder and actually shed tears of joy at the beauty that surrounds us on this wonderful planet.
I have been watching it on Discovery HD Theater when it premiered in March. The first episode "Pole to Pole" set the tone by showing the range of life and species that exist on this planet. The subsequent episodes delve into the habitats one by one. Mountains, Fresh Water, Caves, Deserts, Ice Worlds, Great Plains, Jungles, Shallow Seas, Seasonal Forests and Deep Ocean are the subsequent episodes. This is one series that has to be seen to be believed of what the intrepid cameramen of BBC/Discovery Channel have been able to capture through their sheer perseverance in remote locations. The HD technology has captured some scenes and images never seen before and some seen before but never with this clarity and beauty. 5 years, 62 countries and 204 locations is what it took to make this series, and the result is a lifetime TV series.
This is one series that fascinated my kid as much as it amazed me. She wanted to watch her cartoons but the moment the episode began she was captivated. Both of us shared together the wonder that is our Planet and it was she who brought up the subject of what we might be doing to it by our actions. We cried when we saw how polar bears have begun to drown as ice melts faster every year. The image of one lone bear trying to walk on ice but falling into the slushy waters, and having to swim longer distances to capture food and finally dying with exhaustion was heart breaking. The series makes no references to the present conditions, just in passing as with the polar bear. I think the directors and producers of the series just wanted to show us the beauty of the natural world, the fight for survival of several animals even when there is no climactic change. And as we keep watching and are filled with awe and wonderment that we're lucky enough to live on this planet, we begin to appreciate quietly in our hearts how we need to change today to ensure that we save our planet.
That is what my daughter felt on her own, she asked me why we were not doing more to save our natural world and I did not have any good answers. The last 3 episodes, Planet Earth: The Future delve deeper into these issues, which I haven't had a chance to see yet.
I watched a clip of David Attenborough's version video on the web before I started watching the series with Sigourney Weaver's narration, and I was disappointed by her blandness and lack of depth. I bought this set like many others to listen to Sir David's narration. I was torn between the regular DVD set and the HD DVD though. This series is good enough to make me buy an HD DVD player just to be able to watch it in its true form! However, the regular set has the Future series and the Planet Earth diaries which the HD set does not have. I loved the Planet Earth Diaries (or behind the scenes) with cameramen, it made a fascinating documentary on it's own, and wished some were longer. If they had the extra material in the HD DVD set, it would have been my first choice.
I had saved the Discovery HD Theatre epidodes on my HD Cable box and I was able to compare their image quality with this Standard DVD version playing on an upconverting DVD player. The Discovery Theater images were crystal clear, and you could literally see each grain of sand on the sea bed or each crevice on a rock face. The Standard DVD looked pretty good when upconverted to 720p and if I had not seen the HD version I would have been quite amazed with the image quality. Right now I've been spoilt by the Discovery Theater version. If you're considering the HD version it's a great choice if you have an HD DVD/BluRay player. You'll probably not see a better HD disc. This series was shot completely in HD format. From my experience in the media industry I can tell you that this is a very, very expensive format to shoot in especially given the 5 years that it took to make this series. Most television is shot in a regular digital format and then upconverted to the HD format later. That gives great images but they cannot compare to something shot totally in HD. That is the reason the image quality of this series is spectacular. In HD they were able to capture the action which when replayed in slow-motion also stays crystal clear. Therefore you have breathtaking images of a shark capturing its prey (and many others) in slo-mo.
This really is the set to buy. It's like a living documentation of the beauty of our earth, some of which was starting to disappear right as the cameras were rolling. Perhaps, that is why BBC and Discovery spared no cost to produce this series and it is a masterpiece.