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4.7 out of 5 stars
Orbit - Earth's Extraordinary Journey [DVD]
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
I thought that I would know just about everything in these few episodes, but was pleasantly surprised with some of the information provided.

Pretty educationally based throughout it does have some interesting content.

The production is not quite so hot. I did wonder from the outset why Kate Humble was involved at all and was left thinking the same afterwards.

Dr Helen Czerski is obviously more knowledgeable in this field and presents very well. I do think the entire documentary could have been done with just her.

I would have preferred more CGI to illustrate the points being described, rather than the two presenters travelling the world for a few seconds of a point.

Still, not the worst I have seen and most will probably learn something from it.
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74 of 77 people found the following review helpful
This three-hour TV series is a curiously entertaining mixture of travelogue and meteorology. It demonstrates how different aspects of the earth's relationship with the sun affect climate and weather, and have a big impact on human society too. It's informative and educational - but in a thoroughly modern, jazzed-up way.

In fact, if traditional TV documentaries were too dry and dusty, lacking in action and personality, then perhaps `Orbit' has gone a step too far in the right direction. It romps along at a rapid pace with each segment taking up just a few minutes, whizzing from one corner of the globe to another. Cloud forest one minute: arctic sea ice the next. Blink and you might miss something, although the key info about the earth's elliptical orbit and angle of lean, solar emissions and so on are repeated several times in each episode.
Some of the sequences appear to have been included simply because they make for splashy photo-ops, without being directly relevant. So Kate Humble scrambled up Aonach Mor in Scotland in the snow in January to get an entire kilometre closer to the sun on one significant day. And Dr Helen Czerski went scuba diving with sharks to see submerged stalactites, just to prove that sea levels were a lot lower in the past than they are today. A bit off the point... and a bit pointless. But pretty, which is presumably what the programme producers think we want to see?
However, even with my grumpy hat on, I freely admit that the result is some fabulous photography of the natural world - especially the footage from the International Space Station, showing the `northern lights' as they appear at the edge of space, glittering green along the earth's atmosphere. Where something really is too tricky to visualise or film then some decent graphics are used to good effect; the shot revealing the crater of the `dinosaur killer' asteroid, for instance. I also adored the information about how the length of the day has changed over the millennia - and appreciated the graphic of Thea smashing into an infant Earth to knock our planet off balance and create the moon. That never gets old. (Well. It is *very* old, but...)
The series also explains some basic facts of physics which often get taken for granted. We know that warm air rises - but Dr Czerski explains in depth about the action of air pressure and density which drives this phenomena and so produces clouds, rain, hail, storms and monsoons. The programmes tackle some meaty topics - like why it gets colder in the northern hemisphere even after the days have started getting longer, why the summer in the southern hemisphere is cooler than in the north, why the lakeside states in the USA get such extremely heavy snowfall and investigate the largest tides on the planet. There's some stunning photography of a frozen waterfalls at the moment of thaw, and a detailed explanation about what causes an ice age (it's the overlap of three separate phenomena which rarely occur all at once.) We learn how the earth's magnetic field causes the aurora at the poles and then pause for some impressive filming of tornados in mid-swirl or how hot coffee can freeze in mid-air.

So although some of the presentation was a little bit hectic for my tastes, overall this series delivered an creditable smattering of science in easily absorbed segments. Ideal for any age and easy to understand, even if you have no background in the sciences.
8/10
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 1 February 2013
This DVD of 3 hour-long episodes is a fascinating, informative and entertaining journey explaining how the tilt of the earth and its strange orbit around the sun affect our seasons and weather patterns. The two female presenters travel all over the world to explain everything in a straightforward style, avoiding too much melodrama & hyperbole (not too many proclamations of "amazing", "fantastic", "incredible" etc.). Maybe some subjects are slightly over-simplified (nice regular bands of climate zones around the earth etc.) and not fully explained (how exactly the earth's tilt affects our seasons and ice ages) but it gives anyone watching a much clearer picture of how the earth's behavior affects our climate - AND it doesn't rattle on about Global Warming!

My only gripe with this DVD is that whoever put the CHAPTER BREAKS in couldn't be bothered to put them at the most appropriate points, i.e. at the beginning of the changes in subject. If I want to find out how tornadoes are formed the nearest chapter break is halfway through explaining ice melting at the start of spring - so, fast forward a few minutes to get to tornadoes, then - NOT GOOD! Might seem like too much of a fuss but I would say that for this type of DVD, that would be used in schools etc., being able to jump to relevant subjects is pretty important. Naughty BBC.

Despite this issue I would definitely recommend this DVD to anyone interested in this subject.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 30 December 2012
This was definitely a series of programmes worth watching more than once. It contains so much fascinating information about our planet that it's too much to take in at one sitting.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 8 March 2013
Some super information and stunning locations but the concentration close up to the presenters, usually whilst circling them, is very off putting at times. Judicious use of fast forward needed!!
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on 13 March 2012
I have only seen two episodes so far and can't wait for the DVD. Amazing programme and what an amazing world we live in. It really helps us to understand our planet. A must for everyone.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 2 June 2012
This 3 x 1 hour documentary series is a fascinating explanation of the world we live in. It has everything from the trade winds, tides, etc. to global warming. It is packed with information and is suitable for all but very young children. I would highly recommend this DVD...it is well worth the money.
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Wonderful series with Kate Humble which circumnavigates the world through the year, but from an unusual angle, looking at how the earth's orbit round the sun affects the planet. Making earth science totally accessible, the great presentation, hopping from one part of the world to another at the speed of light (!), and the style of the presenters make this series of programmes thoroughly entertaining at the same time as being informative and educative. I learnt a lot while enjoying myself immensely.

Anyone interested in the vagaries of our varied planet should see this series and if you missed it on TV, now's your chance to appreciate its value. So sit back on a winter's evening with your feet up and see the world from a different - and amazing - perspective.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 2 June 2013
Photographically stunning. But that's about it. Explanations are carelessly put together; because the commentary raised more questions than answered them. I could learn more reading about the Earth's orbit. But the photography is stunning.
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on 14 June 2013
Just when you thought our little planet orbiting the sun was simple and straightforward! This covers a lot of ground with a lot of things I never knew or thought.... why are summers hotter AFTER the longest day? Why isn't the northern hemisphere warmer when it's 2.9M kilometers closer to the sun than average? Why do hurricanes spin in clockwise/anti-clockwise?

This provides a simple and straightforward explanation of complicated processes, and a lot of fundamentals we should all know about our planets orbital journey, and much more fascinating things.
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