Thursday, June 21, 2007

Planet Earth: The Complete Series, a Hit with Teens

I was surprised this spring when I found a bunch of teens gathered around our television watching the Discovery Channel presentations of Planet Earth, a nature documentary series. Bonnie and I have been watching Nature, National Geographic, and other wildlife and natural history programs for years, and Laura and her friends always leave the room. Kids do not normally sit for the sometimes slow moving programs. Planet Earth is not normal. It includes stunning photography and gripping wildlife stories that even impress teens, a tough crowd to please.

Bonnie and I actually became disenchanted with the Discovery Channel presentations. Though we had videotaped the episodes, the commercials were a nuisance. It seemed that bits of the stories were missing, especially after commercials when topics would inexplicably change. Also we were disappointed that the cable network had replaced the narration of David Attenborough with that of Sigourney Weaver. We're Attenborough fans. We decided to wait for the library-owned DVDs.

Now we are watching the DVDs. What a great change! Each episode has about twelve to fifteen minutes longer, restoring what was edited out for commercials by the Discovery Channel. Also, we get to hear the always enthusiastic David Attenborough.

Our daughter Laura says that she preferred the Sigourney Weaver narration because it used American (instead of British) vocabulary. This has not stopped her from watching the DVDs. She watched two episodes late Tuesday night and then showed them again to her boyfriend on Wednesday morning, telling him when the best parts were coming. That proves teen appeal to me.

Libraries that buy Planet Earth should not hide it back in the natural history section. Put it where teens can see it.

Planet Earth: the Complete Series. British Broadcasting Corporation, 2007. ISBN 1419849360. 5 discs, 660 minutes.

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