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April 27, 2007

Planet Earth On The Discovery Channel

I'm late to the party on this, but the Planet Earth series is pretty darn good. If you have Comcast, you can watch the already-aired episodes by going to "TV Entertainment" and then the Discovery Network. Other cable networks might have replays. New episodes air Sundays, but I don't know how many are left.

I don't think it's the be-all end-all of nature programs, but there's a lot of cool stuff here. Sure, the Jungles episode had the obligatory statement that the rainforest is so exquisitely balanced and delicate that a single human being dropping a burrito fart can destroy it all (and I suspect that virtually every other show claims the ecosystem under question is the "most fragile" of all), but that's one sentence of proselytizing in 44 minutes.

Here's a clip. It's about Bluebird of Paradise mating displays, which I thought was going to be lame, but it's really pretty neat. Especially the last one shown. It's downright bizarre.

Here's a clip from the Caves episode. The crystals at the end? They're real, and they're spectacular.

It's hard to get a sense of scale on these caves and formations without a human in the shot. Humans show up in the clip sporadically, but not often enough. One mound looks pretty small, but the narrator tells us it's 5 meters tall. The later crystals are over 20 feet long, growing down from the ceiling like tree roots.

And this underwater cave network, going on, I think they said, for hundreds of miles, is pretty cool. Not sure you get the full effect on either of these on YouTube, alas.

Yes, I watched the "Caves" and "Jungles" episodes. I'm a D&D/Indiana Jones dork. What else would I start out with?

Bonus Warmongering! The Jungles episode ends with a "militia" of chimps going on a raid against neighboring chimps in order to expland/protect their territory. It's kind of funny and strange to see these guys marching through the forest, single-file, as if they were a human platoon.

The attack is brief, but they do manage to kill one of the opponent tribe's children. Which they then proceed to tear apart and eat.

Chimps are cannibals, it turns out. Or at least in this sort of instance -- after a victorious battle against "enemies." Weird that they have a kind of victory ritual of cannibalism as primitive human tribesmen do.

Another Good One: Haven't actually seen this episode yet, but they're constantly running a bit of this in commercials and in the intro. It's a great white shark catching big air, bursting completely out of the water (I didn't know they could do that) as it snatches up a seal.

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posted by Ace at 12:20 PM

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