Sometimes, I get all fired up and excited about something I’m going to recommend, only to discover that it’s not available on any of the mainstream streaming platforms. When that happens, I’m always crushed. Have to start all over again. (Yes, if I was organized/thinking clearly, I’d check first, before getting my hopes up. No, that almost never happens.)
So, today’s a good day, because I can recommend one of my very favorite things in the whole world. The Blue Planet, the Beeb’s spectacular 2001 series on “the rich tapestry of life in the world’s oceans,” is available on NETFLIX INSTANT. And on YOUTUBE (for a price).
Two-thirds of the planet is covered by the oceans and yet they remain largely unexplored and certainly under-filmed. Advances in underwater photography have opened the doors to unknown territories never before explored. This definitive natural history of the world’s oceans covers everything from popular shores and teeming shallows to the mysterious open depths, challenging and changing our views of the deep.
Why do I love it so? There are a host of reasons, really. The jaw-dropping footage; the way it conveys a tremendous amount of information without feeling oppressively didactic; the flat-out-and-wonderful bizarreness of so many of the creatures and environments one sees; how much my kids love it… I could go on. And on. And on. But perhaps most of all, I love it because it can actually change the way you think. As I wrote once in the past, “watching ‘The Deep’ episode for the first time was a borderline religious experience” for me. I’m not even kidding. I can honestly say I’ve never looked at life the same way again.
I envy those of you who will be watching it for the first time.
BONUS: There are actually two versions of this series available. The American one that aired on The Discovery Channel is solidly narrated by Pierce Brosnan. The BBC one is spectacularly narrated by the irreplaceable Sir David Attenborough. Guess which one is on Netflix? And Hulu Plus? And Amazon Prime? Yep. It’s your lucky day. (There’s also a “bonus” episode on Hulu Plus called “Deep Trouble.” It’s not part of the original series, to the best of my knowledge. Haven’t seen it, myself, though I think I probably know what it’s about.)
WARNING TO COMPLETISTS: Planet Earth and Life, Blue Planet’s sister series, are also wonderful, if not quite as nostalgically awesome. Sadly, they are not available on any of the aforementioned streaming sites. You’ll have to try and find actual DVD’s. (Remember to go the Lord Attenborough route there, as well. Accept no substitutes. Especially not if those substitutes are Sigourney Weaver and Oprah Winfrey.)