The Blue Planet (2001)

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Released 28-Feb-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Making Of-Making Waves
Featurette-Deep Trouble
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 388:00 (Case: 535)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (97:14)
Multi Disc Set (3)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By None Given

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring David Attenborough
Case Gatefold
RPI $89.95 Music George Fenton

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    The Blue Planet is a natural history series narrated by David Attenborough examining the different habitats found in the seas and oceans of the world.

    This series is divided into the following eight separate episodes: The Blue Planet, The Deep, Open Ocean, Frozen Seas, Seasonal Seas, Coral Seas, Tidal Seas and Coasts. As the titles suggest, each episode looks at a different type of habitat within the oceans and seas. The episodes examine the different animals that each environment supports as well as the plant life and how the different systems are connected to each other. Much of the footage seen in this series has never been shot before and numerous new species and behavioural patterns are presented for the very first time. This series was a co-production between the BBC and the Discovery Channel but after viewing the making of featurette it would appear as if the Discovery Channel's role was primarily funding.

    This comprehensive series tries for the first time to explore the numerous and varied types of habitats found in the seas and oceans of the world. This series is filled with stunning cinematography and contains a range of footage that simply will not be found else where. If you have ever taken an interest in nature documentaries I would definitely suggest that you take a look at The Blue Planet.

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Transfer Quality


    This transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is very sharp for the majority of the time but during some footage, especially that shot at night, it is obviously softer. No low level noise was detected at any time during the transfer. There are obvious problems when trying to light underwater footage but luckily the majority of the transfer is brightly lit and there are no problems with shadow detail.

    The transfer displays a highly varied colour palette with stunning colours displayed by many of the life forms presented. These colours are always vibrant and appear to be accurately reproduced at all times.

    Unfortunately, a number of MPEG artefacts are visible during this transfer and prevent this from being the stunning demonstration disc that the visuals would lend themselves to. These artefacts occur during many of the fast action sequences. Some examples of these artefacts may be seen at 9:14, 12:23, 18:02, 19:20 and 34:28 on disc one and at 65:55, 69:40, 72:27 and 100:38 on the second disc. Luckily, these artefacts all only occur for a very short period of time but they still are mildly distracting to the viewer.

    There are a small number of very minor aliasing artefacts present throughout the transfer. Some examples of these artefacts may be seen at 8:55 and 9:06 on disc one and at 41:32, 43:16, 52:06, 52:20 and 70:58 on disc two. Each of these artefacts are quite minor.

    A very small number of film artefacts were detected during this transfer. An example of these artefacts may be seen at 88:56 during disc two but like all of these artefacts this is very small and never distracting to the viewer.

    A single set of white English subtitles are included on this disc. I extensively sampled these and found them to be consistently accurate.

    The layer change for the first disc occurs at 97:14 at the start of the third episode. The layer change for the second disc occurs at 104:56 at the start of chapter fourteen. This is during a scene change and is only slightly distracting to the viewer. The third disc has the two documentary segments located on separate layers and consequently the layer change for this disc is not detectable by the viewer.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    A single Dolby Digital 192 kbps 2.0 soundtrack is provided on these discs. Unfortunately, a surround mix is not included for the series which is a shame as this could have produced some impressive effects during scenes in the middle of shoals and feeding frenzies.

    The narration is provided by David Attenborough and is always clear and easy to understand.

    No dropouts or problems with audio sync were detected at any stage during the transfer.

    The musical score is by George Fenton and this effectively captures the epic nature of the subject material presented.

    The surround and subwoofer channels are not utilised during this transfer.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    All extras are presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and are 16x9 enhanced. A Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack is also included.


    The animated menus are presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and are 16x9 enhanced.

Making Waves (49:04)

    This featurette looks at the making of the series. During this segment, the various scientists that worked with the production crew are interviewed, some of the problems that the crew faced are discussed and the different locations are examined. This is quite interesting but unfortunately many sections from the main series are reproduced instead of concentrating upon the making of the series and very little technical information is provided. I personally would have liked some information on how some of the close up shots were produced as well as the actual lighting and film and video formats used.

Deep Trouble (48:56)

    This featurette looks at man's impact upon the oceans and the sometimes devastating results that commercial fishing has. This is quite interesting and it also looks at some of the work that people are doing to reduce the negative impact done by commercial fishing and suggests a number of possible solutions..

Blue (5:10)

    This is a short trailer for the series that is narrated by two small children discussing the wonders of the ocean.


    This is a collection of short interviews with researcher Penny Allen (8:03), producer Alastair Fothergill (7:58) and cinematographer Doug Allen (6:06). These interviews are quite interesting and provide some informative insight into the making of the series.

Photo Gallery

    This is a collection of 80 different stills from the series. Unfortunately, the images displayed are very small and no descriptions are provided.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 rental version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    The local release is identical to the UK Region 2 release of this series. The Region 1 version of this series is released on four discs each containing two episodes. The first two discs from the series have been released and the final two discs are to be released later this year. As the second half of the series is still to be released, a fair comparison between versions may not be made at this time. As the Discovery Channel was not involved with the production of the Deep Trouble featurette, it is very unlikely that this will be included on the R1 release. As the local release contains the complete series as well as an interesting collection of extras, this would be my version of choice.


    The Blue Planet is a stunning look at the seas and oceans of the world and will surely be of interest to any fans of nature documentaries.

    The video transfer is very good but is slightly marred by the occurrence of numerous small MPEG artefacts.

    The audio transfer is adequate for the material presented but a surround mix would have been appreciated.

    An interesting collection of extras is provided but I personally would have liked to see more technical information on the series provided.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Anthony Kable (read my bio)
Tuesday, February 19, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using S-Video output
DisplaySony KP-E41SN11. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationFront left/right: ME75b; Center: DA50ES; rear left/right: DA50ES; subwoofer: NAD 2600 (Bridged)
SpeakersFront left/right: VAF DC-X; Center: VAF DC-6; rear left/right: VAF DC-7; subwoofer: Custom NHT-1259

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