The Living Planet-The Complete Series (David Attenborough) (1984)
Main Menu Audio
|Year Of Production||1984|
|Running Time||652:42 (Case: 654)|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (4)
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||None Given|
Roadshow Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.29:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.29:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||No|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Where do you start to review a series like this? It is very well known, spawned many imitators and gave comedians all over the world endless material to lampoon. The image of David Attenborough, standing on some rocky outcrop or beside a rushing river, looking bedraggled and unkempt, in his white or later in the series dirty brown safari suit is truly iconic. This is an awesome work of great breadth and yet marvellous depth in some areas, which sets out in 12 approximately one hour episodes to cover the natural Earth completely. It covers all the major habitats on earth investigating the plants, animals, birds, insects and reptiles and how they have adapted to their specific environment. It also covers how man is impacting on those natural environments either in a non-harmful or harmful way.
Despite now being over 20 years old, this series is still just as fascinating today as when it first appeared on the BBC in 1984. Nearly all of the information covered has not dated, although the last episode which talks about man made environments and man's effect on the natural world has obviously aged more than the others with focus purely on the natural world. Unlike more modern productions this series is also very very serious - there is no time for jokes or even a smile, which makes the tongue-in-cheek making of featurette all the more welcome. Another wonderful thing about this series is that each episode reveals some fascinating fact which you have not heard before, like that there is a part of the Antarctic not covered in snow and ice or a breed of vultures which only feed on bones or how ants go about digesting grass.
The show was filmed over a three year period in the early 1980s and the crews traveled to every part of the world you can imagine, from the frozen wastes of Antarctica, to remote islands, to the very top of the atmosphere over 5 miles up, to the top of the canopy in the Brazilian rainforest. Considering the age of this show, some of the footage is wonderful including slow motion, extreme close-ups and time lapse.
This four-disc set includes all twelve original episodes, all of which are of equivalent quality with the possible exception of the first one. The episodes are:
All in all, this is the most comprehensive nature documentary series I have ever seen and also one of the very best.
The video quality is acceptable considering the age of the material but it is certainly not without its flaws.
The feature is presented in a 1.29:1 aspect ratio non 16x9 enhanced which is the original aspect ratio.
The picture was reasonably clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise. Having said that, it is quite badly affected by variable grain and some macro-blocking. This makes the picture less than desirably clear, dependent on the scene. This is especially true of underwater filming. The shadow detail was reasonable for the age of the production, but quite murky from time to time by more modern standards. Close-up photography was noticeable fuzzy around the edges of the screen, presumably a reflection of the nature of close-up photography technology at the time.
The colour was again decent for the age of the show, however by modern television standards a bit dull and lifeless, although the occasional brightly coloured creature did really stand out. I did notice some minor colour bleeding here and there.
As you would expect for a television show of this age, artefacts were significant including quite a bit of telecine wobble, most noticeable in the credits but also in other footage. Additionally, there was some quite noticeable edge enhancement, especially around the safari suit; jagged edges; quite a bit of macro-blocking especially in snow, clouds, and underwater; some minor tape tracking artefacts and quite a few white and blacks specks, blobs and hairs. No worse than you would expect but it is obvious that not a lot of restoration has been done to the original footage.
There are subtitles in English for the hearing impaired. The English subtitles were very clear and easy to read and virtually exact to the spoken word.
The layer change occurs at the middle of the second episode on each disc, so for example at 26:18 in episode 2. The first time I played the second disc I found the layer change caused the picture to get stuck on one frame but subsequent times it played normally. Generally the layer changes were not too noticeable.
The audio quality is reasonable but certainly no more than that.
This DVD contains an English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s.
Dialogue was clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync which is obviously the most important part of the soundtrack for a documentary series.
The music by Elizabeth Parker is very dated and by the end of nearly 12 hours very annoying indeed. It is electronic music made mostly with a synthesizer which probably seemed really impressive in 1984 but now just sounds annoying. Additionally, the music sounds distorted from time to time.
The surround speakers and subwoofer were not used.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu included stills, music and the ability to select scenes.
Now this is quite a lot of fun. It is hosted by Miles Kingston and is very droll and tongue-in-cheek. Includes interviews with David Attenborough and various other members of the crew. Covers difficulties in filming nature, anecdotes, transport difficulties, the endless waiting, filming techniques, building models and globes, the music and editing. It also includes some wonderful outtakes, behind-the-scenes footage and deleted scenes. It really only flags when the composer is going on about her synthesizer. Great stuff!
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;
The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;
On this basis, the Region 4 version of the disc is clearly the winner.
The video quality is reasonable for its age.
The audio quality is reasonable for its age.
The disc has a very good 40 minute making-of documentary as its only extra.
|DVD||Pioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output|
|Display||Sony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Bose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)|