'BBC Natural History Collection'
(David Attenborough / 18-Disc DVD / Not Rated / 2012 / BBC Earth)
Overview: This is the ultimate Natural History DVD collection, featuring the truly remarkable Planet Earth Special Edition, now with over 7 hours of extras, plus an additional three landmark series.
DVD Verdict: So that we make sure you know exactly what you are in for here in this just-released 18 disc box set, 'BBC Natural History Collection' features over 33 hours of programming, introducing thousands of species of plants and animals and including hours of special features that take you behind the scenes.
As always with these incredible BBC documentaries, each critically acclaimed series is narrated by renowned naturalist David Attenborough and reveals elements of the Earth and its unique creatures through stunning imagery and insightful commentary.
OK, now that speech is out of the way, let's delve inside, shall we. Including Planet Earth: Special Edition, Blue Planet: Seas of Life: Special Edition, The Life of Mammals and The Life of Birds, we start with Planet Earth, an incredible feature on the world we live in. The imagery is just simply stunning and even if you don’t like watching nature films I bet you will be enthralled from start to finish. I know we've probably all seen this series a few times by now, on the Discovery Channel if not on DVD, but some of my favorite moments included are the pirhanna feeding frenzy, the desperate lion on a hunt, and watching the camels in their natural habitat - and in one truly memorable scene, even eating snow! With nearly seven hours of bonus features to enjoy, my two favorites were: Snow Leopard: Beyond the Myth (where we visit a secret cave to see where generations of snow leopards return each year to raise their young); and Secrets of the Maya Underworld (where we see the labrinthine system of underground rivers that the Mayans believed were portals to the underworld.)
In 'Blue Planet: Seas of Life: Special Edition,' we are given what is described for us as a documentary of the first ever comprehensive series on the natural history of the world’s oceans. And boy, is it! Told in eight parts - The Blue Planet, The Deep, Open Ocean, Frozen Seas, Seasonal Seas, Coral Seas, Tidal Seas, and Coasts - each segment runs @ 50 minutes and focuses on a different aspect of the ocean’s ever-changing and diverse environment. In these incredible featurettes we get to meet such water creatures as Blue whales, Spinner dolphins, Emperor penguins, Leopard seals, Cuttlefish, Sardines, Krill, Polar Bears, Coral, Manta Rays, Tube Worms, and an assortment of "deep sea horrors"! The bonus features include: "Amazon Abyss", "Dive To Shark Volcano", "Between The Tides", and "Antarctica."
In 'The Life of Mammals,' we get to learn cool facts - such as the most diverse of the vertebrates, mammals include the largest animals on earth ie: Blue Whales, animals that fly ie: Bats, and animals that can eat almost any type of food. Inclusive of 10 sub-sections (A winning Design, Insect Hunters, Plant Predetors, Chisellers, Meat Eaters, Opportunists, Return to the Water, Life in the Trees, Social Climbers and Food for Thought, we witness Elephants that navigate through pitch black passages of an ancient cave in order to lick up salt from the rock face; Thermal imaging of bats clearly documents how they can be virtually frozen and then spark up their internal organs and heat up in order to get up once in a while for a snack and a drink; and even the ordinary creatures from all corners of the globe ie: from the armor-plated Pangolin anteater to the plain old Racoon!
In the final segement, 'The Life of Birds,' it starts from the birds aerial accomplishment of flight and ends with their struggle to survive in the modern world. Every birder, conservationist and environmentalist should watch this series as it truly will enlighten you to their (sometimes sorrowful) plight. The subject matter is very skillfully played out in a variety of settings and subjects with the occasional special effect. Indeed, it lovingly covers every aspect of a bird's life, right from the egg, to parenthood, and even death. And to ensure it covers all aspects completely, the show takes a look at flightless birds, meat eaters, water birds, signals and songs, and mating. These are all Widescreen Presentations (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Edition features of:
• On Thin Ice - A unique exploration into how climate change is affecting the animals and people of the polar regions and what that might mean for the rest of us
• Science at the Ends of the Earth – An examination of the remarkable scientific work being performed at the South Pole
• Freeze Frame – A series of 6 10-minute “making of” featurettes, one for each episode
• Production Video Diaries - A set of 47 video shorts made by the Frozen Planet producers, directors, camera crew and more giving personal insights into this remarkable series
• Frozen Planet: The Epic Journey – The best moments from this remarkable series compiled into one 60-minute highlights special