Streaming Suggestion: “The Blue Planet”

Sometimes, I get all fired up and excited about something I’m going to recommend, only to discover that it’s not available on any of the mainstream streaming platforms. When that happens, I’m always crushed. Have to start all over again. (Yes, if I was organized/thinking clearly, I’d check first, before getting my hopes up. No, that almost never happens.)

So, today’s a good day, because I can recommend one of my very favorite things in the whole world. The Blue Planet, the Beeb’s spectacular 2001 series on “the rich tapestry of life in the world’s oceans,” is available on NETFLIX INSTANT. And HULU PLUS. And AMAZON PRIME. And even YOUTUBE (for a price).

Two-thirds of the planet is covered by the oceans and yet they remain largely unexplored and certainly under-filmed. Advances in underwater photography have opened the doors to unknown territories never before explored. This definitive natural history of the world’s oceans covers everything from popular shores and teeming shallows to the mysterious open depths, challenging and changing our views of the deep.

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Why do I love it so? There are a host of reasons, really. The jaw-dropping footage; the way it conveys a tremendous amount of information without feeling oppressively didactic; the flat-out-and-wonderful bizarreness of so many of the creatures and environments one sees; how much my kids love it… I could go on. And on. And on. But perhaps most of all, I love it because it can actually change the way you think. As I wrote once in the past, “watching ‘The Deep’ episode for the first time was a borderline religious experience” for me. I’m not even kidding. I can honestly say I’ve never looked at life the same way again.

I envy those of you who will be watching it for the first time.

BONUS: There are actually two versions of this series available. The American one that aired on The Discovery Channel is solidly narrated by Pierce Brosnan. The BBC one is spectacularly narrated by the irreplaceable Sir David Attenborough. Guess which one is on Netflix? And Hulu Plus? And Amazon Prime? Yep. It’s your lucky day. (There’s also a “bonus” episode on Hulu Plus called “Deep Trouble.” It’s not part of the original series, to the best of my knowledge. Haven’t seen it, myself, though I think I probably know what it’s about.)

WARNING TO COMPLETISTS: Planet Earth and Life, Blue Planet’s sister series, are also wonderful, if not quite as nostalgically awesome. Sadly, they are not available on any of the aforementioned streaming sites. You’ll have to try and find actual DVD’s. (Remember to go the Lord Attenborough route there, as well. Accept no substitutes. Especially not if those substitutes are Sigourney Weaver and Oprah Winfrey.)

About Joseph Susanka

Joseph has been doing development work for institutions of Catholic higher education since graduating from Thomas Aquinas College in 1999. A grateful resident of Wyoming, he spends his free time exploring the beautiful Wind River Mountains, keeping track of his (currently) seven sons, and thanking his lucky stars for Netflix.

  • Rebecca Fuentes

    There was a film on Netflix streaming called, I think, Microcosmos, or something similar. It was excellent footage of various bugs. There was little or no narration, just bugs and classical music. My kids love it, though we haven’t pull it up recently.

    • Joseph Susanka

      It’s still there, Rebecca. Watched it just recently with a couple of my sons. It’s really fun. (And French. The “music and images” approach is very appealing to the youngsters, I think.)

    • Joseph Susanka

      To further facilitate, Rebecca, here’s the Netflix link:

      You and your kids should circle back to it when you get a chance. Great stuff there.

      • Rebecca Fuentes

        So nice to find it again! It’s a very relaxing film.
        You might appreciate this link:

        • Joseph Susanka

          Thanks, Rebecca! Great minds think alike, see?

          • Rebecca Fuentes

            Hah! Proof that I ought to pop in and read you more often.