Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Planets [BBC]

Oh this was terrific in most part. An 8 episode docu-series on our solar system, it looks at the formation of the principal planets and their characteristics. It also explores the efforts taken to get these facts, including majorly the 'Space Race' between the USA and the erstwhile USSR - the Soviets after their initial triumphs burnt their fingers badly in the missions to sulfurous Venus. The main attraction for a non-space nerd like me is the visual candy. They use a combination of archival footage and computer generated vistas to depict the planets and the space around them. The result is a sense of awesomeness that has perhaps only rarely been touched outside of films like 2001 A Space Odyssey and Solaris. Given the amount of repetition between episodes (Jupiter and its moons are talked about in at least 3, I think. To be fair, J's moons are some the most interesting elements) I feel this could have been done with 5-6 episodes; I think it's a factor of the production cost that they wanted to stretch the number of episodes. But this remains in sum a wonderful watch. It also reiterates a great respect for those visionaries and all the people working under them that have made possible the space projects, given how complex these missions can be.

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