Tag: David Attenborough

Planet Earth 2: Episode 6 ‘Cities’ Review – Catfished

Planet Earth 2: Episode 6 ‘Cities’ Review – Catfished

Planet Earth 2: Episode Six recap

The final episode of Planet Earth 2, ‘Cities’, featured incredible starling displays, a bird who didn’t know what he was letting himself in for and kleptomaniac monkeys.

As we zoomed out from the huge globe before the screen was emblazoned by the familiar opening credits for the final time, I felt a pang of sadness.

Not just because it meant I’d likely be stuck recapping something like the Mrs Brown’s Boys Christmas special, but also because it signalled the end of one of the best series on television this year.

We have already been treated to the sublime (iguana chases and eagle flights) to the hilarious (dancing bears and flying lizards), but the last episode had a few more tricks up its sleeve.

The visual highlight is undoubtedly the dazzling formations of the starling birds, which gracefully moved across the sky like an aerial lava lamp. The spectacle was breathtaking as millions of flying creatures cascaded around each other over Rome in a sight that must rival the Northern Lights in person.

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Image taken from http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0861m8b/planet-earth-ii-6-cities

The crew’s determination to get the best shots continued with a night-time scene of a leopard hunting pigs. The audience was treated to a night-vision view as the big cat stalked the porky families and made off with their babies in a scene sure to emotionally scar some viewers.

There was even a little excitement as the pigs incredibly gave chase – if a leopard came at me late at night you can be sure I’d flee the scene and use loved ones nearby as a human shield to aid my escape.

As mentioned above, no episode of this series would be complete without a little comic relief, and we certainly got that with the bowerbird. Animals attracting mates has been a staple of the series so far, and it looked as though Jack Bower had finally cracked it as he decorated his ‘lad-pad’ with shiny objects and attracted what he thought was a mate – until he realised it was another chap who hadn’t yet developed his plumage. Catfished.

We move from figurative to literal catfish as we saw pigeons being dragged under by the water-dwelling beasts (any of those around the Midlands and our ‘chicken’ places may go out go business). There was plenty more entertainment on show, from a raccoon playing crystal maze to get some dinner to crafty Rhesus Macaque monkeys terrorising a local market.

There was another tense struggle of baby animals facing a deadly world for the first time. I watched from between my hands as a turtle hatchling navigated a horror-journey into a city after mistaking the lights for the city. It tugged the heartstrings to see it travel to what it thought was the sea, and the show came full-circle as we saw crabs – the creatures I felt most sorry for in episode one – ruthlessly hunt the baby turtles before they had even arrived at a road full of deadly obstacles.

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The final word from David Attenborough himself was sobering. We’d seen incredible clips of animals and humans living side-by-side, with the latter even feeding monkeys and coyotes in scenes that would seem alien in a number of UK cities. We were shown the way forward in cooperating with out furry, winged or insect friends in some natural-urban cities in Singapore. His message was clear – we need to follow suit and furnish our planet carefully so as not to destroy their homes so we can continue to live together.

It was a sombre but important message to end a superb series on for which the crew deserve full credit. If things carry on as they are however, we will end up losing the stars of the show who have really made Planet Earth 2 so great – the animals themselves.

Feature image taken from Planet Earth II –  Cities available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0861m8b/planet-earth-ii-6-cities.

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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

Planet Earth 2: Episode 2 – Dancing Bears for John Lewis Advert 2k17

Planet Earth 2: Episode 2 – Dancing Bears for John Lewis Advert 2k17

Planet Earth 2: Episode Two recap

Bears. Big, dancing, bloody bears.

After Planet Earth  returned with a bang after a decade with Iguanas vs Racer Snakes (if you just added ‘Giant’ to the front of that you’d have a decent film. Are you listening, Syfy?), I didn’t think they’d be able to top the astonishing social media reaction forMountains>but I was wrong. Very wrong.

We’re introduced to the grizzly bears of North America after they awake from hibernation under what must be a few feet of snow. We see an avalanche engulf their mountain and cut a path through the trees and find out this is one of thousands that occur in the Rockies each year. That’s a lot of snow.

The bears emerge looking like someone who has had one too many sambuca shots at Walkabout on a Saturday night, except for instead of looking for that half-eaten subway, they’re leading three cubs to a place where they can find food. Three cubs? Must have been one hell of a night.

The bears carefully traverse the powdery snow on the slops to find the valleys, where all the other bears will also go to find food and warmth. Spring hits these areas first and the change is incredible as the pallette shifts from white and gray to vibrant greens, yellows and browns within the space of a few days.

As beautiful as all of this scenery is however, it is only a backdrop to what appears to be the bears’ true purpose – strutting their stuff as they grind upon tree trunks with some funky dance moves.

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Image taken from http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08397lq/planet-earth-ii-2-mountains

Sure, David Attenborough tells us it’s to shed their thick winter coats in warmer climates, but you can bet one or two of those bears knew the eyes of the nation were on them and possibly spotted the chance to audition for the 2017 John Lewis Christmas advert (it would beat Buster the Dog).

What starts as one or two bears rubbing themselves against the trunks becomes 30 or so bears letting loose with surprising flexibility – I’m fairly sure I saw a ‘slut-drop’, as the youth now refer to it – and it’s only a matter of time before it’s remixed to a Drake song (the BBC have already cut it with the Pussycat Dolls).

As with the first episode however, there is a lot more to >Mountainsthan its main star. There’s an incredible section with Snow Leopards as a mother defends her cubs from male attackers, and Attenborough even pulls a Walking Dead-style fakeout on us. Cheeky, David.

The visual highlight is definitely the first-person view of a golden eagle as it glides above the slopes searching food before dive-bombing at 200mph. It’s incredible to watch and the ten minutes at the end where they show the making of the scene is well worth watching.

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Image taken from www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08397lq/planet-earth-ii-2-mountains

So to summarize, another great episode. My only gripe is that there seems to be less of Attenborough (I don’t think he appeared on screen) in favour of the cinematic style. While I am a fan of the latter, it seems a shame to phase out such an iconic face from the show and I hope he gets some screentime later in the series.

Still, we got dancing bears. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to put the finishing touches to my John Lewis pitch and find out how hard it is to train a grizzly to moonwalk.

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