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Blue Planet: Seas of Life, Parts 1 & 2 (2001) - DVD Review

By Widge - posted 02.06.02 @ 1:51 am

Blue Planet: Ocean World and Frozen Seas DVD cover art Blue Planet: Open Ocean and The Deep DVD cover art

Film:
DVD:

Series Produced by Alastair Fothergill
Narrated by David Attenborough
Features:

  • Four episodes of the series
  • Four behind-the-scenes featurettes, one for each episode
  • Interviews with cameraman Doug Allan and researcher Penny Allen
  • "Blue Planet music video", a.k.a. the series' "trailer"
  • Photo galleries
  • Fact files

Released by: BBC Home Video
Region: 1
Rating: NR; safe for all audiences
Anamorphic: Yes.

My Advice: Own It.

Everyone knows that this planet is mostly covered with water. Land is the exception to the rule. But--as everyone keeps pointing out and no one gets bored of noodling over--the extent of our knowledge about the oceans is pretty much infinitesimal. In an effort to make those of us laypeople feel like total nincompoops when it comes to our knowledge of the water-filled canyons of the world, the BBC spent $10 million and five years to produce this series.

Not three minutes go by before your brain gets turned upside down. Sometimes it's from the sheer weirdness of the creatures portrayed. In "The Deep" there are critters that would make H.R. Giger shoot milk out his nose, like a deep sea polychaete--it looks like half an earthworm fused to a frilly tutu gone mad. Other times you lose your mind by considering what kind of loonbag would actually go out and into the middle of a baitball (think a giant swirling maelstrom of little fish) to shoot footage when there's a marlin (think of a large fish with a javelin for a schnozz) zipping around at a top speed of 70mph. Luckily, there's an interview with one of the loonbags as an extra on the first disc. So that's explained.

Dumbo Octopus from Blue Planet

One of the things that the BBC set out to do with this series was expose a mass audience to things about the oceans that we had never seen before. Hell, a couple of the creatures and a couple of the ecosystems caught on camera had never been filmed before--period. Suffice to say, they succeeded with their goals and did so with great gusto. I would heartily recommend to you to plonk down the coin for these things even if they were bare in the way of features.

Ah...but the news gets even better. Each episode has a corresponding "making of" which gives some insight into how the aforementioned loonbag camerapeople went about their jobs. And you thought you had an interesting occupation. Regardless, the behind-the-scenes stuff gets even better when you consider the two interviews made available. One is with Doug Allan, who has the third testicle necessary to film underwater under an ice sheet. The other is with Penny Allen, the researcher who had what must be one of the top five coolest jobs in the world: basically sit around and talk to professional oceanic researchers, watch a whole bunch of nature documentaries, and come up with some ideas for what we should see in the series. Both are fascinating bits. Also nice are the fact files, taken from the corresponding Blue Planet book, along with a gallery of stills that features some of the freakish things that we've seen in the series.

These two discs are incredible, both in general content and in features. Anyone with a fascination with the ocean or even a passing interest should snap these discs up. Those who don't should at least rent them in order to gain a fascination. Two more discs are coming out in May, and personally, we can't wait. Highly, highly recommended.

Read More About:

Widgett Walls is Need Coffee's Chief Cook and Bottle Washer. He is the author of the novel Mystics on the Road to Vanishing Point, and two collections of short stories, Magnificent Desolation and Something Else: The Complete First Season. He is also co-author of the children's book There's a Zombie in My Treehouse! All of those books are available in paperback or for the Kindle from Amazon. He is also the narrator and publisher of the first unabridged recording of Seneca's letters, available here. He is active on both Twitter and Facebook. (If you befriend him on Facebook, do say you came via Need Coffee.) He lives and works in Atlanta, Georgia. He hardly ever sleeps.

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