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DVD Review: Wild Pacific

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Written by Caballero Oscuro

Did you like Planet Earth? Are you looking for some more BBC nature shows? Wild Pacific continues their string of excellence and offers a fascinating in-depth study of the flora, fauna, geology, and people of the South Pacific. The US DVD release has been retitled from the original BBC broadcast appropriately named South Pacific, perhaps to avoid any angry letters from aging US musical fans duped into a purchasing error. Unlike the US broadcast of Planet Earth, the new series retains the original British narration. Unfortunately, the narrator isn’t BBC legend David Attenborough, but the new kid with the preposterous moniker of Benedict Cumberbatch does a serviceable job.

The series has six hour-long episodes that try to assign a different theme to each one (“Castaways”, “Strange Islands”), but the formula is largely unchanged from show to show, basically stringing together an enchanting mix of rare land and sea animals with some information about their specific Pacific homes and humanity’s impact on them. Like Planet Earth and other BBC nature productions, the show has a definite evolutionary stance that may grate on some sensitive creationists out there, but there’s no denying that the footage is absolutely breathtaking and in some cases groundbreaking.

As noted in the first episode, the Pacific is largest ocean on Earth, and the series goes on to explore the isolation of its islands, the perilous journeys wildlife and humans have gone through to reach them, and what happened to both after their arrival. While the distance between its islands can be hundreds or thousands of miles, life made it to most places, although it didn’t always stay that way, as evidenced by the man-made desolation of Easter Island . Where life did flourish, it often adapted in unique ways that are explored in the series, such as giant crabs that crack open coconuts and insect-eating caterpillars. The series doesn’t just travel to Tahiti and Fiji , it digs deep and explores the entire ocean, even landing on a miniscule and remote island with only a few hundred inhabitants.

Also similar to Planet Earth, each episode contains some bonus footage at the end detailing the challenges they faced in filming a particular segment of that episode, for instance some stunning surfing footage in the first episode that required them to build a custom underwater rig for their hi def camera, avoid the jagged reef under the shallow water, and come back a second time weeks after they intended to shoot in order to capture the best waves.

Deserving of special mention: this DVD series arrived on our shores a mere two months after its original UK broadcast, a delightfully speedy turnaround. Wild Pacific is now available on DVD and Blu-ray, but if you have Blu capability you’d be doing yourself a disservice to even consider it on DVD, especially considering the Blu-ray’s relatively modest $5 list price premium over DVD.

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