The BBC High Definition Natural History Collection [Blu-Ray]

The BBC High Definition Natural History Collection [Blu-Ray]
Since it's now an integral piece in the yuppie bookshelf collection, it's easy to forget just how stunning and ground-breaking BBC's original Planet Earth series was. Perfectly timed to coincide with the explosion of HD televisions hitting the market, its most memorable scenes and narrator Richard Attenborough's calming voice are now synonymous with the new wave of home media. Of course, it was also a pretty stunning nature doc as well, drawing attention to a genre that had sat on the cinematic sidelines for decades. Planet Earth expertly navigates the thin line between science and entertainment, presenting rare footage of animals few knew existed before the series aired. This new Blu-Ray collection augments the original DVD release with four bonus episodes, as well as the usual array of extras, including the very worthwhile making-of featurettes. Recognizing a good thing when it's got one, the BBC has wasted no time spinning it off into a variety of complementary series. It would be easy to accuse the channel of beating a dead horse, but well-funded explorations into the wilds are always a welcome thing. This box-set pairs the original series with three new ones ― Ganges, Galapagos and Wild China ― each shorter and far less sweeping. There's also a shift, particularly with both Ganges and Wild China, away from nature, towards the people of these regions. And while this is valid subject matter, fans of Planet Earth looking for similar fare will be slightly disappointed. The absence of Attenborough guiding us through these worlds is similarly jarring ― no one narrates a kill on the savannah like that guy. Seriously, make sure to get his version over the one Sigourney Weaver narrated for Discovery. Regardless, all three instalments are worth your viewing time and only reinforce the BBC's stunning superiority in the genre. (Warner)