People seem to get really excited when I post things about media (writ large): my insight on Tintin and Made in Chelsea have been the biggest traffic generators. Since I watch shameful amounts of TV anyway, I’ve decided I’m going to start talking about it on the internet and see where that goes. I’m still going to tell you about my cooking misadventures (although my food photography is so terrible that usually my posts about food end up dead in the water) and my travel writing (December-Jan = Wisconsin, New York, Boston and Chicago, because life is sweet for me) is mostly for my benefit. Besides, writing about TV is easier than sorting through my 500 photos from Tel Aviv and deciding which to show you.
So anyway. Ian and I started watching Frozen Planet on Sunday, and I am completely totally blown away. Anyone who has ever seen a nature documentary knew it would be awesome because it is a David Attenborough joint (and, as a member of the camera crew said imperiously as he filmed penguins, “we’re the BBC.”) The Discovery Channel and The Open University are collaborators. In the UK, the series is getting plenty of publicity, with 7 million viewers per show – but it has yet to air in the US, and I would urge everyone to start looking forward to it now.
So far we’ve watched two episodes – the pilot, “To the Ends of the Earth,” and “Spring,” an episode that left us in suspense about a polar bear and her two cubs (“if she doesn’t catch a seal soon, the whole family will die”). The show switches back and forth between the Arctic (polar bears) and the Antarctic (penguins), using an incredible range of filming techniques combined with a breathtaking commitment to the subject matter. Two men spent four months filming penguins, for example; and scuba divers dove in the Arctic (I mean seriously) and ultimately collected 137 hours of video footage. The shows combine underwater footage, time-lapse photography (including photos showing annual ice melt in the poles), aerial photography and traditional film-and-tripod camerawork.
There are many great nature documentaries, “Planet Earth” being probably the most famous (but you should also see Life of Birds and Microcosmos and Winged Migration, if you haven’t already). Frozen Planet is as good as Planet Earth, in my mind, and certainly just as much care and effort was taken in its production. And as with Planet Earth, it records a world that is changing so quickly that it may soon be unrecognizable.
In the UK, Frozen Planet is watchable at BBC.co.uk. There are two episodes still to air. In the US, the show will provide a welcome respite from the usual Discovery Channel fare of “American Guns” and “American Chopper” (did you know those shows existed? It makes me a little embarrassed to be American) and will air in early 2012. Everyone should watch it. Everyone.
To summarize, here are some reasons to watch:
1. David Attenborough
2. Its breathtakingly beautiful
3. Penguins are much cooler animals than you realize
5. A mini-“making of” documentary in the last part of every show
I could go on.
As a parting thought, I will echo other reviewers and urge anyone interested in watching to do so, when possible, in HD. It was filmed in HD and it really, really shows – its worth seeing it the way it was intended to be seen.