Corals build themselves homes of limestone in the warm, clear, shallow seas of the tropics. Their reefs occupy less than one tenth of one per cent of the ocean floor, yet they are home to a quarter of all known marine species.
The broad-club cuttlefish has found its place by using a hypnotic display that apparently mesmerizes its prey, causing it to let down its defenses. On the Great Barrier Reef a remarkable grouper uses sign language, dubbed the headstand signal, to reach out to an entirely different creature, a reef octopus, to flush small fish out of their hiding holes and into the groupers waiting mouth.Written by
David Attenborough, as has been said many times, is wholly deserving of being called a national treasure, although it is a term he happens to not like apparently. He has done so many treasures and even his lesser output of a long and consistently impressive career is still good.
Absolutely adore the first 'The Blue Planet', one of my favourites of his, so was psyched to hear that there was a second 'Blue Planet' series. Luckily, 'Blue Planet II' turned out to be every bit as amazing, easily a highlight of 2017 television and one of not many programmes that year to leave me completely transfixed and wanting to see the whole lot and looking forward to it every week. This is saying a lot, seeing as apart from the odd gem 2017 has not seen me watching new television by habit, often find myself seeing re-runs or films more.
OK, so 'Blue Planet II' may not be as ground-breaking as 'The Blue Planet' and not everything is new here. This doesn't matter, because 'Blue Planet II' is just as beautiful to watch, non-stop transfixing, educational, inspirational and emotionally complex. Three episodes in with "Coral Reefs", it's still reigning triumphant.
Visually, "Coral Reefs" is a wonder and a feast of gorgeous images. It has gorgeous scenery and rich colours, while the animals and marine life are captured in all their glory. Standing out even more is the photography, the underwater sequences are just as stunning as 'The Blue Planet' (unequalled when it comes to underwater sequences).
Particularly standing out in a somewhat graphic way is how the bright corals lose their colour as a consequence of bleaching. Like the whale carcass scene in the previous episode, except not quite in the same league, it's not an easy watch to put it lightly.
While not with the involvement of George Fenton, the music here soars, rouses just as much and touches the soul just as much, definitely worthy of cinematic quality. It not only complements the visuals but enhances them to a greater level.
Really can't fault the narrative aspects in "Coral Reefs" either. There are things already known to me, still delivered with a lot of freshness, but there was a lot that was quite an education. Found myself learning a lot about the mystery and beauty of the ocean and the marine life that inhabits it. A prime example is with the pretty scary bobbit.
Attenborough's narration helps quite significantly too, he clearly knows his stuff and knows what to say and how to say it. He delivers it with his usual richness, soft-spoken enthusiasm and sincerity, never talking down to the viewer and keeping them riveted and wanting to know more.
It's not just the bleaching part that was an episode highlight. The cuttlefish and bobbit scenes were standout-worthy too.
Nothing episodic or repetitive here. Instead, it feels like its own individual story with real, complex emotions and conflicts. One roots for the animals, whether prey or predator. The behind the scenes footage "The Deep Blue" brings honesty and humanity, what the crew go through and how they work against sometimes volatile conditions makes the viewer feel admiration for them.
Overall, the incredible quality of the series continues. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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