planet death

Danny and I have been watching the BBC’s Planet Earth.  For the most part, it’s amazing.  We’ve seen a gang of otters chase off a crocodile.  We’ve seen the six-plumed bird of paradise sweep it’s “stage” with a small twig broom so that it can begin an intricate mating dance.  And we’ve seen monkeys swim.  Monkeys.  SWIMMING.  I didn’t know monkeys liked to swim.

Mostly, however, we have watched things die.  This series should be called Planet Death.

I know it is the order of the universe that the vulnerable and old are, often, left to die.  And I know that all species must somehow sustain themselves, protecting and feeding their young.  But I’m not sure if I can take another slow motion death scene.  Great whites launching themselves out of the water to swallow seals whole.  Desert foxes carrying away entire broods of baby birds, their scrawny necks still flailing, their parents watching helplessly from the nest.  A lonely elephant, separated from its herd during a dust storm and, unknowingly, traveling away from the life-saving waters of the oasis instead of toward them.  This elephant — it will die!  It will die alone, thirsty and alone!

When death approaches, nature documentaries become very much like bad horror movies.  The music grows ominous, and the light dims.  The creatures on the screen grow wide-eyed and anxious, aware something very bad is about to happen but refusing to run when you yell at the screen look behind you dear god you stupid hoofed thing angry lioness approaching! And then I get up and get a cup of coffee or fold the laundry, because I want to miss the bloodstained fur and bone crunching.

Tonight, we finished the third disc of five.  The chapter titles suggest that the final disc will examine how we’re destroying the planet, which will be even more devastating than the million creature deaths from discs one through four.  I anticipate sea birds drowning in oil slicks, polar bears drowning of exhaustion because the fish they rely upon have fled as we ruin their habitat.

I look forward to the series of chick flicks I’ve added to our queue post-Planet Earth.


8 thoughts on “planet death

  1. Time to visit the zoo! We have Allen’s swamp monkeys. They swim, but not in our exhibit. And the patas monkeys wade. But nobody dies, and that’s the important thing.

    • Indeed I have never been to the Houston Zoo. Although Danny won’t go to zoos, and hence I have not been to any zoo in some time. But the prospect of wading monkeys is tempting!

  2. Dude, I read your blog. I am moving mine too, but it’s not ready yet. By the way, I’ve been dying (harhar) to see Planet Earth, but now I think I better hold off until summer break.

    • I know you read, Laurie! And I appreciate it. I’m so glad you started your blog so we could get in touch again. In fact, I decided to move my blog when I noticed you were moving yours. I was a little annoyed with LJ. I’m not paying for a URL yet, though, because I’m building a website right now.

      Planet Earth is pretty good, but as a five-disc series it’s a commitment. And actually, parts of it are redundant. But worth it, I would say.

      BTW — I’m going to be in Columbus at the end of May (Memorial Day weekend) for my friend Sandy’s wedding. I may be teaching a course at Rice at the time, so I’m not sure how long I can stay in Ohio, but if I have some time we should grab lunch or something.

  3. I saw they were showing this on Discovery again the other night–and of course I had to walk in on the part where the polar bear is stumbling through the half melted ice. The scene with the polar bear and the walruses is so sad. I don’t know who to root for. It’s all incredibly vexing and upsetting.

    • Oh, the polar bear with the walruses did me in. I can’t handle it. CAN’T HANDLE IT.

      Are you gearing up for Dickens Universe? I think you will be a wonderful cruise director.

  4. oh man, i’ve been watching PE on discovery too and it is so awesome but so sad. and omg, the polar bears. i can’t deal.

    • We’re currently on a Planet Earth hiatus. Discs four and five have been sitting on our tv stand for a few weeks now.

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