Frozen Planet (BBC/Discovery Channel, NR)

frozenp sqIt’s clearly meant to attract the younger generation, as the pace is quick, and the animal behavior perhaps a little too cleverly cut into dramatic scenes and accompanied by narration just a bit too hyperbolic.

 

dvd frozen planetIf there’s one thing the Brits know how to do right, it’s nature documentaries, and Frozen Planet is another fine entry in the genre. A co-production of the BBC and the Discovery Channel, this series has it all: spectacular HD cinematography, dramatic music, and Sir David Attenborough describing it all for you. It’s clearly meant to attract the younger generation, as the pace is quick, and the animal behavior perhaps a little too cleverly cut into dramatic scenes and accompanied by narration just a bit too hyperbolic (“The bison begin to panic!” “The seal’s life hangs on a roll of the ice.” “Game over.”).

But that’s a minor quibble, given the potential of this type of series to initiate young and not-so-young people to the wonders of science, and also the wonders of the world beyond their own backyard. If you really want to get your kids interested, tell them they get to see two polar bears doing the nasty in the very first episode, and also a pod of killer whales taking down a seal.  I’m old and cynical, yet watching these episodes, I feel like I’m being let in on secrets known only to initiates—and, yes, I realize these are television programs viewed by perhaps millions of people. The fact is, I’m unlikely to visit either the Arctic or the Antarctic, so I prefer to think that Sir David and Co. recorded all these wonders purely for my benefit.

The general topic of the seven episodes is life in the polar regions of the Arctic and Antarctic. Episode 1, “To the Ends of the Earth,” gives you a general overview of the series. The next four episodes, “Spring,” “Summer,” “Autumn,” and “Winter,” provide just what it says on the tin: a journey through the four seasons and how the different species have learned to adapt to them. The sixth episode, “The Last Frontier,” describes how humans have learned to live in the region, and the seventh, “On Thin Ice,” discusses how climate change is affecting the Polar Regions.

According to publicity materials, the DVD edition of Frozen Planet comes with a generous package of extras. These include a 21-minute documentary about doing science in the Antarctic, short “making-of” documentaries for each episode, and some video shorts about different aspects of the production. I have only seen the documentary about doing science in the Antarctic (I’m writing this review from screener discs), so I can’t testify to the quality of the other extras. What I can say is that the series alone is worth the purchase price, and if anyone in your household is interested in nature or nature photography, this is definitely a series worth checking out. | Sarah Boslaugh

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