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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Nature > Science > Oceans > Geography > Ecosystems > Mini-Series > British > Blue Planet – Sea Of Life (expanded reissue) + BBC Atlas Of The Natural World: Africa & Europe + Attenborough In Paradise (BBC Home Video/DVD Sets)

Blue Planet – Sea Of Life (expanded reissue) + BBC Atlas Of The Natural World: Africa & Europe + Attenborough In Paradise (BBC Home Video/DVD Sets)


Picture: B-/B-/C+     Sound: C+     Extras: B-/C/D     Episodes: B+/B+/B



After the across the board success of Planet Earth in all three home video disc formats, BBC Home Video is issuing more content in al three formats, but especially on DVD-Video.  Three such titles include an expanded version of their previous hit Blue Planet – Sea Of Life, BBC Atlas Of The Natural World: Africa & Europe and Attenborough In Paradise combining the original 1971 show with the recently shot updated program studying birds of the world.  Not announced for HD-DVD or Blu-ray yet, it is only a mater of time because they are all so good.


Blue Planet (2001) was just a huge high-profile hit for the BBC, with its stunning underwater footage of creatures rarely seen from Alastair Fothergill, who did such an amazing job on Planet Earth.  The team take their cameras far and deep, showing us al this precious, priceless, vital life in ways we have never seen before.  It does for the oceans what Planet Earth does for the lands, giving us a deep, full portrait of our world now more important than ever.  After watching any fact-filled, expansive single episode, you wonder how anyone could politicize something so important and care less about it.  The shows include:


1)     Ocean World

2)     Frozen Seas

3)     Open Ocean

4)     The Deep

5)     Seasonal Seas

6)     Coral Seas

7)     Tidal Seas

8)     Coasts



It is amazing and no wonder the BBC is reissuing it with bonus material, adding up to 392 minutes of programming.


Though consisting of material over going back to 1987, BBC Atlas Of The Natural World: Africa & Europe has at least as much scope and implication about (a huge 1055 with extras!) in how incredible the two continents covered really are.  It is ironic to combine one so natural (the former) with one so often technologized (the latter), but that there arte far more common denominators than we may typically think of the two as having.


The four programs across six DVDs are Wild Africa, Congo, The First Eden (covering The Mediterranean) and Europe: A Natural History.  Despite the different times they were made, the only thing that varies is the approach, but the richness in facts and the fine choice of footage is inarguable and anyone wanting to learn about any of the locales covered should turn to this book-like box set first.


Last, but not least, is Attenborough In Paradise.  This series began back in 1971 with Sir David Attenborough’s groundbreaking look at the species and evolution of birds.  When the first show aired, it was big news for years that he had captured birds rarely seen and never captured in motion footage before.  It was the kind of magic moment in science that made PBS and the BBC king of smart, groundbreaking TV.  To see a new video format like color PAL capture a bird that no one had any clue of the behavior of, the function or all the form of was not just exciting, it was practically magic.  The later programs are just as solid and he only gets better at doing these shows.  Other programs include a tribute to the host and one on the subject of bird song.  There is more to these two DVDs than you might expect.



The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image from the box sets originate in 1080i and possible 1080p in spots, with older Atlas footage and DVD One of Paradise shot in 1.33 X 1 analog PAL video and 16mm film.  The First Eden disc in the Atlas looks like an older video master of a 16mm shoot, which needs upgraded if this hits the HD formats.  The widescreen on Planet looks the best of all, though Atlas has images as impressive, the footage/transfer has more flaws throughout.  Paradise is lucky it looks as good as it does.  All also have Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, stereo in all cases except the earlier, obviously monophonic recordings.


Extras on Planet include eight 10-miuntes behind-the-scenes featurettes for each of the episodes, stills, fact files, interviews and Deep Trouble featurette about global warming.  The new 5th bonus DVD adds four more featurettes: Amazon Abyss, Dive To Shark Volcano, Between The Tides & Antarctica.  Atlas has five hours of bonus in-depth looks at the various locales, plus factual pop-ups in Enhanced Content Mode.  Paradise has no extras if you include the 50 years look at the man with the BBC, Life On Air, a pun for the birds like those of “paradise” that don’t touch the ground.  We should, but will decline since it fits so well in the set.


No matter which set you choose, you cannot go wrong.



For more great BBC nature series, try these links:





Planet Earth




-   Nicholas Sheffo


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