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The Planets 1 Season

Season 1
4.4 out of 5 stars (161) IMDb 8.5/10

The Planets is an educational series that explores the universe through previously unreleased NASA footage. It features consultations with renowned scientific experts, including astronomers and astronauts, and combines an artful mix of real telescope and satellite images with computer-generated graphics and effects. Explore the solar system as you've never seen it before!

Starring:
Mark Halliley, Donald Black

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Season 1

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1. Different Worlds

This first episode takes us back to the origin of our solar system, tracing the creation of the sun, the planets, and the surfaces of each.

TV-G CC Runtime: 49 minutes Release date: April 29, 1999
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2. Terra Firma

The second installment features the intriguing geological surfaces of Earth's neighbors: Jupiter, Jupiter's moon Europa, Mars, and Venus.

TV-G CC Runtime: 49 minutes Release date: May 6, 1999
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3. Giants

Giants delves into the history of space exploration. This episode investigates the discovery of techniques used to study distant planets and examines NASA's study of Saturn and Neptune.

TV-G CC Runtime: 49 minutes Release date: May 13, 1999
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4. Moon

Moon chronicles the Cold War era space race, from sputnik and Apollo to the historical moon landing. It also explores the dark side of the moon and compares Earth's moons to those of other planets in the solar system.

TV-G CC Runtime: 49 minutes Release date: May 20, 1999
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5. Star

In Star, the series shifts focus to the center of our solar system to take a close look at the sun and its relation to the other stars in the galaxy. Besides providing light for our planet, the sun is responsible for some incredible phenomenon. We see eclipses and northern lights, and study the effects of the sun alongside theories about the historical worship of the sun by ancient cultures.

TV-G CC Runtime: 49 minutes Release date: May 27, 1999
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6. Atmosphere

Earth's atmosphere is responsible for supporting life on our planet, and in this installment we compare Earth's atmosphere with that of other planets in the solar system. We take a look at the weather patterns of other planets, and by comparison discover Earth's secrets of life support. Learn about the Greenhouse effect and "red" planets, as well.

TV-G CC Runtime: 49 minutes Release date: June 3, 1999
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7. Life Beyond the Sun

Need a space vacation? Life Beyond the Sun reveals the hypothetical locations in space where man could survive if we ever needed to leave Earth.

TV-G CC Runtime: 48 minutes Release date: June 10, 1999
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8. Destiny

What will happen to the solar system be like in several billion years? Destiny explores the distant future of the solar system with specific predictions of how the sun will determine the fate of the planets.

TV-G CC Runtime: 48 minutes Release date: June 17, 1999
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Absolutely first rate! I have been waiting for someone to take all the latest theories and images from space and put them together with the latest computer graphics and interviews with scientists and that is exactly what has been done here. Have you wondered what the formation of planets in the solar system looked like? It is shown here in all the spectacle of a Hollywood Sci-Fi movie. Same for other astronomical events (worlds colliding, stars exploding). The computerized movies of Jupiter's storms are stunning! I would watch a documentary on ANY subject that was put together this successfully.
I fear some people may confuse this title with another space video narrated by Patrick Stewart called "The Planets." That is little more than a music video for Holst's work and is disappointing to anyone hoping for a space documentary.
I was greatly saddened to learn of Carl Sagan's passing in late '96. I had always wished that he would do another series like Cosmos. This series is not Cosmos but it comes closer than anything I have seen since 1980.
I only have two complaints. One is that there is very little bonus material on the DVDs. But given how stunning these documentaries look on my 15-year-old TV, this is not much of an issue for me. Secondly, the narrater could have been a bit more enthusiastic about the material. (Perhaps I am spoiled by Carl Sagan's enthusiastic Cosmos.) I see that this was a BBC production and that the US version uses a different narrator. I have to believe the BBC narrator is better and if I were buying these discs again, I'd buy the region 2 discs from Amazon.co.uk.
Space documentaries this good only come once in a generation. What are you waiting for? Go ahead and purchase it!
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Format: DVD
I just want to point out to possible purchasers of this DVD some of the differences between the region 1 and 2 versions - it seems most people already know what a great tv series it was anyway.
Having seen an episode or two of the series when it was on tv in the UK I bought this DVD - however I was disappointed by several aspects and sent it back, replacing it with the UK version. The episodes seem to be different from the UK version - much of the segments describing early space exploration involving russian scientists is cut. This leads to an imbalance (in my opinion!) as it seems from the region 1 DVD that the US did all the exploring - are subtitles un-American? The narration is also much less patronising on the UK edition. The region 2 set is dual layer, so 2 discs and not 4 and hence much cheaper too....
The series itself is still worth the 5 stars though, but do get the region 2 set from the UK Amazon.co.uk
7 Comments 114 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: VHS Tape
Welcome to the best documentary series ever. Yes, BETTER than Dinosaurs (which depended largely on sensational computer visuals)! Whether you have only a passing interest in astronomy or have read a hundred books about it, this series will steal your heart. Every single aspect is flawless. The musical grandeur of Gustav Holst's symphony and the warm, captivating voice of the British narrator make up the aurals. No artificial excitement, no badly chosen music, PERFECT. The visuals include stylish computer animations and footage that makes you wonder how deep they actually had to dig... The first footage of a human being outside the atmosphere (jumping out of a balloon), the first on-board rocket footage, the earth as a blue dot captured by an ageing Voyager looking back at its birthplace. The content isn't exactly dumbed down, either. Even for an amateur like me, there were plenty of new things to discover. It contains many interviews with astronauts, Russian and American space-project leaders, the finest available planetary geologists, exo-biologists and trendsetting astronomers. Providing not only information, but also a true sense of passion and childlike wonder. Hear how an American airforce officer tries to describe his silent jump through the outher layers of our atmosphere, falling back into "known territory". How Gene Cernan had the almost transcendental experience of covering all of human history (earth) with his thumb. How a NASA scientist was the first to see the other side of Saturn via a Voyager picture... If this series doesn't get you excited, you must be dead.
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Format: DVD
I enjoyed this series admittedly, and will watch it many times in the future, as I am a junkie for all things related to the science of astronomy. I would have given it 3 1/2 stars if it was possible.

It is however not the most informative, nor the most comprehensive such attempt on the subject. The Narrator used for the American addition (Karen Stone) is wholly innapropriate and to my ear, a distraction to the show's content. She seems to be reading everything for the first time and with no true concept of what it is she is saying. I get the feeling the British version would carry a far more intellectual tone and this I regret being shorted.

There is nowhere near the scientific information relayed as compared to a show the caliber of Cosmos for instance, or even in any given Nova installment. There are definately holes in the story. Also, there is a pattern of content repetition between the episodes to the point that my wife on several occassions didn't believe that we had not already seen the epidode currently being watched, despite my insistence that we had not.

So, what is good about this series? It is, notwithstanding what I have said thus far, both beautiful to look at and enchanting to sit through. I consider this series (which I own on DVD) a fine edition to my collection. It simply fills the niche of mental candy as opposed to the niche of a full meal. This is amplified by the fact that there is no sequence required, rather you just pop in any episode and it stands on its own as a visual snack.

It is certainly light years ahead of the garbage most Americans are able to call entertainment, it is however done with an eye to the modern taste for flash and sound bite sized doses of information. This is a bowl of easy to eat mental candy for the thinking person not wanting to think TOO deeply. I recommend it (Though you might wish to check for the British edition).
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