Category: Planet Earth II

Planet Earth 2: Episode 5 Review – Grassed Up

Planet Earth 2: Episode 5 Review – Grassed Up

Planet Earth 2: Episode Five recap

This week’s Planet Earth 2 review focuses on the habitats as much as the animals and features an incredible ‘Making of’ section.

Like episode three’s Jungles a couple of weeks ago, the penultimate segment of Planet Earth 2 strays away from focusing on one or two animals battling it out.

Instead it seems more interested in the varied grassland areas found in the far reaches of our planet. From the off we are introduced to animals navigating what appears at first to be almost a giant maze of grass in Northern India with an incredibly varied cast of animals from elephants to tigers.

It is soon clear that this isn’t the case all year round as we are treated to an incredible time lapse showing a storm flooding thousands of miles of grassland in the Okavango Delta in Botswana.

In mere seconds of screen time the once jovial and bright vista is transformed into a soggy swampland, where animals plod through in scenes that reminded me of Glastonbury fields. If you listen faintly you can even hear what sounds like Coldplay – no wonder they all looked miserable.

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Image taken from http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b084xk6m/planet-earth-ii-5-grasslands

Throughout the show we are moved around the world – from Brazil to a frozen landscape in North America – we even make a stop in the UK at one point. It really highlights the time and effort that must go into producing the show, but more on that later.

For those more concerned with the critters themselves there is still a lot to enjoy – whether it is a day in the life of a hurrying harvest mouse hopping around Norfolk and evading a barn owl in a manner befitting You’ve Been Framed, or a caribou only weeks old being chased by an arctic wolf, there are plenty of tense moments on show.

The highlight of the animals may just be a ten-tonne buffalo fearlessly facing off against five hungry lionesses in an incredible scene that resembled a rodeo, although a fox diving headfirst into snow half a dozen times will probably amuse people the most.

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Image taken from http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b084xk6m/planet-earth-ii-5-grasslands

Arguably the best is saved for last however. In an ending featurette that may even top the incredible wind-suit flight of the first episode we see the lengths the film crew will go to for the perfect shot – and the lengths the animals will go to keep them out.

One of the photographers, Sandesh Kadur (I really hope I got that right) might just be one of the bravest men I have seen on a nature documentary as he waits days in tiger territory protected by about three vines and a dozen leaves for only a few seconds of footage. He might just be my star of the show and he didn’t even need to face-plant the snow (not on camera at least).

In summary, another success where the execution was, incredibly, even more impressive than the cast of animals that have made the series memorable so far.

All images taken from BBC iPlayer – Planer Earth II – 5. Grasslands available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b084xk6m/planet-earth-ii-5-grasslands
Planet Earth 2: Episode 4 Review – Just Deserts

Planet Earth 2: Episode 4 Review – Just Deserts

Planet Earth 2: Episode 4 Recap

This week’s review of Planet Earth II features stallion warfare, an adorable golden mole and ‘Giraffe vs Lion: The Reckoning.’

This week’s edition of Planet Earth II seemed desperate to raise the stakes when it comes to cinematic openings as a barren landscape was engulfed by a giant killer candy floss.

Wait a minute, it was a sandstorm? Oh deserts, not desserts. There goes my other pitch to Syfy.

Unlike my intro however, Deserts got straight to the point. After last week’s episode failed to deliver the standout moment everyone would use for memes on Facebook, Attenborough and co provided us with the perfect GIF for someone to post ‘Me on Black Friday’ as we witnessed a galloping giraffe trample a lion primed for attack.

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Image taken from http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b084ftll/planet-earth-ii-4-deserts

The reason this segment was so interesting wasn’t just in the pursuit (and the surprising speed giraffes apparently reach when it hits the fan), but in the way it subverted the side the viewer usually cheers on.

Prior to this episode I was fully prepared to cheer on a giraffe as it undertook a lion-slaying spree through the desert, but when it was explained the lions had to cover roughly the area of SWITZERLAND to find a meal and had been starving for three days already, I kind of backed them instead. Especially as the kind of guy who gets annoyed at walking half a mile for a 3am McDonalds.

This seemed to be the theme for much of the episode. I found myself backing the bat taking on a deadly scorpion that could have one-shotted him with his stinger and fawning over a fluffy golden mole committing termite genocide. Attenborough was turning me into a serial-killer sympathiser.

Thankfully – for my own sanity – there were some bits I didn’t get on board with. No chance was I on the side of the murderous bird impaling it’s victims on spikes like something out of Game of Thrones (no matter how much chirpy music they put on to make it sound like The Good Life).

Of course, we did have some usual fanfare villains. The horde of locusts was a little unnerving, and there were so many at one point I was on the phone to Currys complaining about my TV’s picture and nearly missed the next part.

There was also the usual incredible scenery and impressive shots we’ve now come to expect from Planet Earth II. My personal highlight was when thousands of different animals filed considerately to drink from a water hole (unlike if it was a London tube), before chaos descended as a hawk attacked dozens of sandgrouse, while the other animals looked on nonchalantly (THAT’S more like a London tube).

In summary, another strong episode with more than one anecdote to talk about at the at work over the week. I haven’t even mentioned the stallion fight, which was the icing on the cake. Oh wait, Deserts. DAMN!

Planet Earth 2: Episode 3 – Swiss Army Lizard

Planet Earth 2: Episode 3 – Swiss Army Lizard

Planet Earth 2: Episode Three Recap

In the first two episodes of Planet Earth there has been a runaway winner for ‘Highlight of the show.’

In Islands it was the baby iguana dashing past snakes like someone dodging charity workers on the high street that captured the nation’s hearts.

Last week, in Mountains, it was the dancing bears grinding on tree trunks doing the rounds on social media, with I myself claiming they would be a solid option for a future John Lewis advert.

The third episode, Jungles is a little different in the way there is no clear star, but instead a theme.

It’s difficult to pinpoint the highlight of the episode – something which was easy in the first two – as we were treated to some incredible moments throughout which all fell into a similar category – animals doing amazing things we simply didn’t know they were capable of.

One of these was between a Caiman alligator and a jaguar. The segment started with a monsoon flooding the jungle in around 30 feet of water and we saw giant otters and capybaras playing about in the water like it was Butlins.

Attenborough then introduced the ten-foot alligators in that ominous tone that tells us ‘something furry is going to die’, before the jaguar also came on the scene. In other words: ‘something furry is definitely going to die.’

The capybara doesn’t look as agile as our baby iguanas, and you start to really fear for one as a female jaguar stalks it silently. The female pounces but finds nothing but river water as her prey escapes. No furry deaths? Attenborough’s thrown a curve-ball.

The male has better luck however in an astonishing scene where, instead of stalking a capybara, he leaps upon one of the alligators instead. Unlike other duels in the show – which are tense arduous battles for both parties – this one is over fast. The jaguar quickly sinks it’s jaws into the reptile’s vulnerable area behind the skull and claims victory with a sickening crunch. It’s brutal and leaves you (and the capybara on the opposite shore) with your mouth gaping.

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What’s the capybara equivalent of WTF? (Image taken from http;//www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b083wt7z/planet-earth-ii-jungles)

I personally did not know a jaguar could take down an alligator – particularly on home turf in the water – and was left amazed at what I’d seen. However for me there was another star.

That award went to the Draco lizard. Not to be confused with Harry Potter’s greasy enemy, these lizards can climb trees like other reptiles but have a few tricks up their sleeve.

We’re introduced to one scaling a tree-trunk and helping himself to one or few ants on the way. This immediately endeared me to dear Draco, as if anyone saw what those bastard ants did to the friendly looking crabs in Islands you’ll agree that some lizard-tongue karma was way overdue (Disclaimer: I realise they are almost definitely a different species of ant, before someone on Tumblr accuses me of ant racism.)

We quickly realise however that Draco is in another lizard’s territory and things are about to get stabby. The defending lizard sends a warning in a surprising manner, by opening a bright yellow flag-like appendage on his neck.

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Alas, there was no neck-knife fighting – Taken from www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b083wt7z/planet-earth-ii-3-jungles

While this is apparently used as a warning, it looks more like a knife and I am unashamed to say I shouted ‘NECK-KNIFE FIGHT’ at the television in the hope of someone reptile-jousting. What actually happened was even more incredible however.

Fleeing the fight, Draco leaps from his branch and seems like he will plummet to his death before he unfurling a pair of wings and gliding hundreds of feet to another tree. It’s as unexpected and majestic as it is resourceful – a sort of Swiss-army lizard. I was half expecting it to whip out a John Lewis cheese grater when it landed on the trunk.

As mentioned earlier, animals doing things we didn’t know they were capable of seems to be the theme this week. There were frogs fighting of legions of wasps, creepy-crawlies lit up like the Coca-Cola truck and even what appeared to be bugs with LED-like lights that lit up near the opposite gender. Sort of like beetle Tinder, but with less bots.

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Holidays are coming – Taken from http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b083wt7z/planet-earth-ii-3-jungles

It’s not just the animals that are at it either. At night the rainforest is lit up with glowing fungi while I’m fairly sure at one point there was a forest vaping. Who knew?

So all-in-all, another solid episode that was perhaps more of a sum of its parts than others. If you’re looking for a highlight however, you don’t need to worry. The series trailer shows a giraffe kicking seven shades out of a lion next week.

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If you enjoyed this you can read my recap of episodes one and two, like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter @SpeltWithAV