Steve's Herpetological Blog

An insight into the life of Steve, his research and the many books he reads


#SteveReviews: Absurd Planet!

I recently found out about a new wildlife documentary series on Netflix called Absurd Planet! that was released earlier in April this year. The number of nature documentaries coming out at the moment is just what I need to see me through the current global conditions. I’m always looking for new documentaries to watch, in order to pass the time but also to learn something whilst I’m relaxing. The premise of Absurd Planet! is simple, it travels the glove to explore the wonders of the natural world whilst being narrated Mother Nature (Afi Ekulona). After pressing play, I immediately discovered that I was not the intended audience.

From the outset it is very clear that the series isn’t going to be your average nature documentary series. Absurd Planet! is heavily Americanised and seems to be more aimed at children than conservation professionals. This was disappointing but not wholly unexpected given the origin of the series from the WIRED column ‘Absurd Creature of the Week’, which ran between 2013 and 2016. With such a high standard set by presenters such as Sir David Attenborough – it’s hard for nature documentary series to stand out yet Absurd Planet! does this through the use of stock footage but using it in a whole new way.

Whilst preserving the familiar visual format to the other nature documentaries all know and love, Absurd Planet! moves away from his territory by being being more of a comedy sketch show. The runtime of each episode is under 20 minutes, compared to the 40 minutes to an hour of other serialised nature documentaries. This twinned with the fact that the theme of each episode is only loosely connected and each animal featured is only on screen for a couple of minutes points to the intended audience being those with a short attention span. Children. If I was a child, I’d probably enjoy this mix of nature and comedy but unfortunately those days are long behind me. I found the gags and voices quite annoying but that’s just me.

I was impressed by the number of facts and information provided on each species, including the use of correct scientific terminology. It’s quite rapid fire in nature which helps to progress each episode instead of lingering on large panoramics or chase sequences. The other thing of course is that Absurd Planet! perfectly highlights a number of neglected species such as amphibians, reptiles and a whole host of invertebrates. These groups of animals need all the help they can get as they’re usually overshadowed by the more charismatic species as mammals and birds, which has implications for conservation.

To summarise, if you’ve got a young budding conservationist at home they will certainly get more out of the series than I did. Whilst it’s not my cup of tea, I’d certainly recommend this series to those that don’t want to watch a serious drama-like documentary but still want to learn about the natural world. As always the trailer is below so be sure to check it our before you give the series a watch!

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