It has been sixteen years since The Blue Planet opened our eyes and took us under the sea to explore and expose worlds that most of us could never dream of. It was a roaring success, regularly drawing in over 12 million people and winning both BAFTAs and Emmys. It is no wonder that when a new series was announced back in February, excitement raged throughout the nation, as everyone waited with baited breath to see just how this new series would fair.
At the time of writing, we’re now two episodes into the new season of Blue Planet and it is safe to say that this season will be in no way disappointing. In just the first couple of episodes we’ve seen fish that eat birds, fish that change sex, fish with transparent heads, dolphins that surf for fun, bone-eating worms, and underwater volcanoes that might be the secret to life on this earth. No biggie.
The problem is that reviewing Blue Planet is like reviewing Beethoven in concert or Picasso’s art exhibition. This show knows exactly what it wants to put across and it puts in the time, effort and money to create an absolute masterpiece. Creators have revealed that approximately 6000 hours were spent filming underwater (that’s the equivalent of 250 days) and a total of 125 diving expeditions took place off 39 different countries, lasting over four years. Is it any wonder that looking for a criticism in this show is harder than finding a seahorse in a coral reef?
The first episode, which aired on the 29th of October, drew a record breaking 14.1 million viewers, demonstrating just how much UK audiences are obsessed with the awesomeness of our world and the charm of Sir David Attenborough. The series started with Attenborough narrating over truly astounding video footage of The Big Blue, whilst music by Hans Zimmer plays in the background. He reminds us of just how much development there has been in the fields of science and technology since the first series: that within the past decade we have accrued so much knowledge, and developed so many new techniques that it necessitates a whole new series. Five minutes into the first episode I was already covered in goosebumps.
The episode continues to inspire and impress. We see a tusk fish using a tool to open up a clam, giant trevallies leaping from the ocean to catch innocent and adorable seabirds, a spectacular gathering of rays at night that can only be captured by a camera that films in total darkness and a hard hitting reminder of the realities of climate change as a mother walrus and her calf desperately seek an iceberg to hop on to.
Episode two continued to stun but with an eerier and darker undertone. After all, this episode was called The Deep. Here we meet the creatures that lurk so far from the surface that they never see the light of day. Cannibal squids, sharks that eat but once a year, a toad that has learned how to walk and a lake of brine (yes, a lake at the bottom of the ocean) that kills any creature that enters it. The scenes in this episode were like something from a horror movie, except this is no horror story; these are creatures from our planet, lurking in the depths every time you step foot in the ocean. However, perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this episode was the focus on submarine landscape. Whilst we don’t yet have the technology to explore it, the team recreated valleys deeper than Mount Everest is tall, explaining that, although not long ago we assumed that this was an environment too harsh to support any kind of life, it is actually home to some extraordinary creatures (such as the adorably named sea pig), and could in fact be the origin to all life on this planet.
With the first two episodes already having blown minds, it is beyond doubt that the following five will deliver as well. With title such as ‘Big Blue’, ‘Green Seas’ and ‘Coasts’ still to come, I can only wait in anticipation to marvel once more at the weird and wonderful world that lies beneath the waves.
Image: Elias Levy @ Wikimedia Commons