BBC Video / 392 Minutes/ 2002 / Unrated / Street Date: April 9, 2013
Looking to intrigue the shockingly large audience that turned in to the BBC’s absolutely essential Planet Earth, BBC and Warner have reissued The Blue Planet: Seas of Life, an eight-part documentary that looks at the magical water life forms that exist on our little orb.
Planet Earth may be more of a finessed, epic beast – I have no doubt it will stand tall as our decade’s greatest wildlife documentary. And Blue Planet is just as astute and revealing in its presentation of life in the corners of the world to which many of us never have access. It lacks PE’s production finesse – some of the CGI demonstration material here is often clunky and distraction. But it’s nevertheless effortlessly easy to get hooked on the show.
We start off with Ocean World, which has parallel aims to both introduce us to the tides, currents and existence of Earth’s seas as well as follow the migrations of the blue whale (the biggest damned mammal living on the planet right now). As with the first episode of Planet Earth, it’s more of a survey and preview of things to come than a razor-sharp study, but it sets the bar quite high, nonetheless. Then we head off to Frozen Seas, in which we look at not only the Orca populations and their hunting/feeding habits, but also the penguin and whale groups that, by nature’s decree, interact with the monsters in sometimes heartbreaking ways in the food chain.
Open Ocean is more a view of fish and dolphins – we leave the glorious whales behind for a moment. And The Deep is one of those scary-ass installments that proves without a shadow of a doubt that the darker areas of our miles-down oceans contain some of the weirdest and most terrifyingly alien species any of us could possibly comprehend. Seasonal Seas is a look at the changing elements of seas everywhere and how different animals move and migrate to keep up with its ever-changing constitution, and Coral Seas takes aim at the majestic reefs that provide homes and food to an almost incalculable variety of all kinds of marine animals.
Tidal Seas takes a specific look at what exactly is entailed with the changing of the tides and how much the moon’s push-pull with our seas influences the world at large. And Coasts, a straight-forward exploration of animals that don’t necessary live in the ocean, but depend on its bounties for their very existence.
Even though The Blue Planet pales in comparison to its monstrous younger brother, Planet Earth (Blue Planet was originally released in 2002), it still is an extraordinary success. Empathetic, informational and endlessly awe-inspiring, what it lacks in streamlined narrative prowess it makes up for with sensational cinematography and a wondrous sense of discovery.