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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Now here’s one of the most impressive and exciting DVD box sets I’ve ever seen. “The BBC Natural History Collection” is an astonishingly thorough assemblage of programming that’s suitable for Earth Day or any other time of the year. Providing more than 33 hours (you read that right – 33 hours!) of entertainment on 17 discs, the set contains four separate, highly-acclaimed BBC programs in their entirety.

The centerpiece of them is “Planet Earth: The Complete Series.” This breathtaking show made a huge splash when it ran on television last year, for good reason. Using special high-definition cameras, the filmmakers take us inside a variety of habitats (such as caves, jungles, and ice worlds) to show us what life is like there for the creatures who call them home. Along the way, they capture images that have never been caught on camera before. From Great White Sharks and polar bears to lions and macaques, “Planet Earth” has it all. From the time of its debut, it was clear that this was one of the seminal shows dealing with nature and wildlife. Viewers of all ages will be enthralled by the spectrum of animals on display, living their daily lives in their natural environments. If there really is a thing called must-see TV, "Planet Earth" is it.

Next in the set is “The Blue Planet: Seas of Life” in which “Planet Earth” producer Alastair Fothergill and his collaborators explore the many mysteries of undersea life, including frozen seas and the coral reef. Again utilizing breathtaking photography, the series gives you an “up close and personal” look at all the things our oceans contain. If, like me, you’re kind of obsessed with what’s under the water, then this will rivet you to your set. One of the 5-discs that comprise “The Blue Planet” contains bonus footage such as behind-the-scenes featurettes, photo galleries, and interviews. The most enticing feature is “Dive to Shark Volcano” which explores an underground volcano where sharks congregate.

“The Life of Mammals” has Emmy award winner David Attenborough hosting an exploration of, you guessed it, mammals – in every way, shape, and form. It’s amazing to think that our planet has so many varied (and disparate) forms of life, from blue whales to pygmy shrews to humans. This series looks at them in detail, in episodes such as "Meat Eaters" and "Opportunists" (which tracks omnivores who "will eat whatever is around at the time").

Perhaps the section of “The BBC Natural History Collection” that I’m most excited about, though, is Attenborough’s “The Life of Birds.” I used to think bird-watching was kind of, well, corny. My opinion changed completely over the last few years as I started to really notice the various types of birds that congregate in my back yard. Since then, I’ve become an avid admirer of our winged friends. “The Life of Birds” closely examines bird behavior. "The Demands of the Egg" investigates how birds use "pottery, carpentry, weaving, camouflage, and deception" to protect their eggs. "The Mastery of Flight," meanwhile, looks into the challenges birds face in taking flight. This 4-disc set serves as a nice companion piece not only to the other programs in this collection, but also to such gripping bird-themed movies such as March of the Penguins and Winged Migration. If you are already a bird lover, “The Life of Birds” is essential viewing. If not, the show is likely to convert you.

”The BBC Natural History Collection” is a very heavy volume (you could break a toe if you dropped it on your foot), which is a testament to how fully stocked it is. The set comes in an attractive package, and all the discs have the requisite Dolby Digital sound. Combining gorgeously photographed footage, amazing creatures of all kinds, a ton of educational information, and some first-rate bonus features, "The BBC Natural History Collection" is well worth owning and devouring in its entirety.

Check out the official website: The BBC Natural History Collection

Or purchase it online here

The BBC Natural History Collection - Own it on DVD April 1

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