Next time someone asks if the licence fee is justified you need only point them at Planet Earth, the BBC’s endlessly inventive trial run for HD production.
Practically every shot in Planet Earth involved incredible hardship, immense patience or the invention of entirely new technology. Camera operators spent months sitting on underground dung heaps and years loitering on frozen hillsides, and the result is a nine-hour documentary that elicits awe in nearly every shot.
Better than Hollywood
From the split-second strike of a shark slowed down to an astonishingly detailed 40-second clip through to the unbelievable scenes of lions successfully hunting elephants, Planet Earth will consistently make you wonder if what you’ve just seen is real. Amazingly, it is.
Hollywood studios spend millions of dollars faking visuals that fail to provoke even the merest flicker of amazement compared to what you can see on this Blu-ray.
The box-set’s Dolby Digital 5.1 audio might not have the uncompressed depth of a lossless soundtrack, but it’s still an impressive presentation of the series’ stirring orchestral music and carefully mixed wildtrack.
The benchmark for HD production
Not only is Planet Earth a benchmark for what can be achieved by combining HD production with Blu-ray presentation, but it also shares the best features of TV drama – it’s utterly compelling, and endlessly demands that you watch ‘just one more episode’ until the entire set is done.