I was really excited by the first few shows of BBC/Disovery’s “Planet Earth“. But the show just never seems to actually shift into gear. From the get-go, it feels like a preview, like an advert.
Part of it is the behind-the-scenes insets. Hey, if I frickin’ care how hard it was to film a waterfall, I’ll watch the extras disk on the DVD.
Another part has to be the narrator. In many of the episodes, her voice is flat, emotionless, unenthusiastic, remote, detatched, dull. They seem to have noticed this, in the latter episodes she’s sounded a little less androgynous, a little more interested. But she still lacks that rich sense of passion we’ve become accustomed to by the hands-on narrators: Bellamy, Attenboro even Irwin.
Its an incredibly beautiful show, spectactular shots. But everything is fleeting. A giraffe, a camel, a dolphin, a satellite photo, an ad break.
The lack of real meat makes it remind me of some of the thick, glossy nature books my relatives would get me as a kid. “The picture above is a picture of an ant. This kind of ant is found in Africa. The picture is of one of these ants, in Africa, on a plain. To the right is the picture of the plain, the plain in Africa which the ant in the picture above lives in. The ant is famous in Africa, where it lives on the plain, for living on the plain, in Africa, where it lives and is famous for doing so”.
Turn page, don’t bother with the text this time. Planet Earth, the show, is just one long series of montages of a genre which is usually best served by focus.
10s of a “spectacled caiman”, 8 seconds of a fish with a fish in its mouth, some more fishes and the narrator tells me, in the deadpan voice of the Wells-fargo automated phone system, “it took 3 weeks of searching in the vast Pantanar, to find them . A sight seldom filmed in the wild. A piranah feeding frenzy”. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, “In minutes piranah can strip a fish to the bone”. Next sequence.
Well, I guess it was a Piranah feeding frenzy. For all they showed us it could have been a handful of siamese battlefish in a tank that someone stirred up.
The best thing I can say for the show, honestly, is that it puts me asleep faster than DNS & Bind ever did, and I’ve been having trouble sleeping.