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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent series
I recently did a short Open University course on the Planets and was looking for a TV documentary to complement my learning. I was nearly put off purchasing this series by the Amazon reviewer's comments about the poor quality effects, but after reading some of the customer reviews I decided to buy it - and I'm extremely glad I did.
This is an excellent series that is...
Published on 16 July 2007 by J. Fitzgerald

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gustav Holst would have loved it!
Superb series when first made, but now showing its' age! While it may not have the graphics of later series Wonders of the Solar System [DVD]; the documentary format is well thought out and much of the information contained is current. The interviews with mission scientists (Soviet, European and American) etc. are invaluable, containing many snipits that would otherwise...
Published on 14 May 2012 by J. G. Futers


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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent series, 16 July 2007
By 
J. Fitzgerald "electricwater" (Lechlade) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Planets [DVD] (DVD)
I recently did a short Open University course on the Planets and was looking for a TV documentary to complement my learning. I was nearly put off purchasing this series by the Amazon reviewer's comments about the poor quality effects, but after reading some of the customer reviews I decided to buy it - and I'm extremely glad I did.
This is an excellent series that is still contemporary enough to be valid (our knowledge of the planets can change quite rapidly as probes are launched and new observations are made). It not only covers current knowledge of the solar system, but also gives some of the history of space exploration and astronomy - the episode about the race to the Moon is a showcase example. The tone is "grown-up" and serious (rather than patronisingly "fun" or "funky" like some modern documentaries can be), but at the same time one gets a fantastic sense of wonder, a sense that you, too, are discovering new things as you watch (for example) the first colour image arriving from the surface of Mars, or see the orb of Jupiter grow slowly larger as the first Voyager probe approaches it.
One thing to note is that this series doesn't cover one planet per episode. Rather it takes a topic for each programme, such as "Atmosphere" or "Life", but in this way most of the major sights of the solar system are visited in one way or another.
For the record, I think the CGI/special-effects are absolutely fine. Not Hollywood standard, but more than adequate. Jupiter in particular looks pretty cool!
I would recommend this series to pretty much anyone who has an interest in space exploration - you don't need any prior knowledge to find the programmes fascinating and informative.

A note regarding the reviewer who said the music drowned out the narration at times: I had the same minor problem initially, until I turned off the spatial (3-D) sound setting on my TV. That eliminated the problem.
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56 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First Step into Astronomy, 5 May 2004
By 
Jim Shreim (Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro Brazil) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Planets [DVD] (DVD)
This is an excellently made series of documentaries, that GRIPPED my attention, imagination AND interest from the moment i saw it. I have watched the series over and over again and now read whatever i can about astronomy. It has launched me on a personal voyage to understand the universe and it's planets.
What's beautiful, is that the space age and recent trips to space which are presently out there are history in the making... this series will set you up with the knowledge to accompany what is happening right now, and when the latest probes will be landing on their targets.
Who knows what we will discover beyond Titans atmosphere?
Apart from the information included, the esthetics of the film making is worth noting. Samuel Wests voice narrates each episode perfectly, and all scientists interviewed transmit genuine excitement and awe towards what they have decided to dedicate their lives to - the universe and it's mysteries.
If you have the slightest interest in our universe, and like to ask yourself important questions, then i recommend these films for you.
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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic journey, 23 Aug 2003
This review is from: The Planets [DVD] (DVD)
Having diligently sat through the series, I placed my order for the DVD as soon as it was available.
This has been the best documentary series of its type ever produced for national television and it makes the licence fee worth it.
Any disparaging comments refer to it being a little bit technical and historical but that is the beauty of it. It wont be enjoyed by young kids (please see SPACE - also from the BBC) but it is fantastic for adults. I have watched this DVD over twenty times and each time I cannot resist being transfixed. The graphics are fantastic, the music is superb and the facts are correct.
This is a must buy for anyone who thinks TV should be about informing us and stimulating our minds. I highly recommend it.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To boldly go!, 6 Dec 2006
By 
G. Wylie "george11171" (Scottish Highlands) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
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This review is from: The Planets [DVD] (DVD)
And boldly did they go!

'The Planets' is a delightful journey through our Solar System which leaves the viewer quite breathless at the mind-boggling scale of the forces which brought it into being. Not only does this mini-series inform about our neighbours in the system, it entertains at the same time. It stimulates the senses and tweaks at the imagination.

It differs from many other of the BBC presentations in that it provides no presenter to divert attention. The narration from Samuel West is excellent and the stunning soundtrack adds to the visual treat.

The introduction of many of the great personalities who furthered our knowledge is a major bonus and the original film coverage of many of the relevant episodes historically stunning.

Anyone who is in the slightest interested in seeking an explanation as to how the Solar System came about should acquire the mini-series with its clear and lucid descriptions.

I'm so glad I decided to 'go' with them!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars starwatcher, 24 Feb 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: The Planets [DVD] (DVD)
Although not purchased through Amazon..this is another excellent example of what the BBC do best...
Its informative, educational and entertaining..and the kids like it too..The only criticism I would put forward, and it's noted on other titles..the music can sometimes suppress the narrative..but that may just simply be my audio set up..not 3:1 or 5:1 Dolby Virtual Thunderbirds stuff. Other than that..clearly highly recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Informative without needless flash, 25 Nov 2006
By 
brainleek007 (Bracknell) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: The Planets [DVD] (DVD)
I got this DVD set for christmas one year and thoroughly enjoyed it.

I found the programs very informative and interesting to watch - up to the usual high standards we've come to expect form BBC documentaries.

There are all eight episodes of the series on the two discs in this set. The way the programs have been arranged give a chronological account of space exploration for the most part with the early episodes dealing with the advances of Von Braun in the second world war German rocket factories through to the later episodes covering the advances made in observing the sun and undertanding solar activity. Every episode is excellent.

The presentation is a little more dry than the whizz-bang kind of stuff you might be used to and each epsiodes attempts to tell a story of one aspect of achievment with regards to space exploration/science. This is to be commended however as it lends an air of authority to an already informatively written series.

Some of the computer graphics will seem dated but lets be honest, computer graphics are advancing so fast something that came out a year ago can look dated but these computer generated effects were state of the art at the time and they do stand up today and add a lot to the presentation.

Where this series scored highly for me is that it weaved into the narrative interviews with the actual people form the Russian space agency and NASA who were involved with everything from Sputnik to the observation of the Shoemaker-Levy comet impact on Jupiter. It really put the 'human' element back into the exploration of space. A few scenes stick in my mind but one in particular was that of a female Russian scientists who was interviewed peeling potatoes in what appeared to be her small apartment while she told the story of how some dodgy calculations led to a Rusian probe crashing on the surface of Mars I think it was! I did come away with an admiration for the Russian achievements throught this series because they seemed to achieve the impossible on far tighter budgetary requirements than the Americans ever did!

If you have an interest in modern space science and exploration this DVD set would be a good investment. The programs are informative and each gives a good account of its chosen subject. The interviews with the folks who actually work on this stuff day-in day-out so I can casually gawp at their achievements and say 'wow' are great and make a refreshing change from a lot of progams about space that focus purely on the technology involved.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must watch for everyone interested in Astronomy, 26 Feb 2009
By 
Rasih Bensan (Istanbul, Turkey) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Planets [DVD] (DVD)
I have watched many DVDs about space and the planets. This is the best one about the planets of our Solar System among the ones I watched so far. Although this DVD is dated 1999, i.e. 10 years old as I write these lines in February 2009 and therefore it doesn't have the latest three important developments about the exploration of the planets in recent years ; the information transmitted to Earth in 2008 by Phoenix that landed on the polar region of Mars, the images sent by the unmanned spacecraft called Orbiter in orbit around Mars and the thrilling images and information sent by Cassini orbiting Saturn from Saturn and its moons, it still contains very interesting and comprehensive information about our Solar System. I would like to see it be updated with the knowledge gathered in the last ten years.

The DVD pack contains 4 discs running 397 minutes, the first two discs explain mankind's development of knowledge about our Solar System in a historical perspective including the unmanned space exploration flights to the planets. Important people who took part in these missions are interviewed along with breathtaking clear images of the planets. Important questions are raised throughout the program to make the viewer think, how the answers were found throughout history to date ( until 1999 ) are explained, alternative answer posibilities are explored for the questions that have not been answered yet. The flow from questions to exploration of the answers is given in a very clear, informative and entertaining way. Especially, the Voyager joint mission to the outer planets is explained and shown in a very intersting way. Opinions of the narrators are not imposed onto the viewer of the DVD. Instead thought provoking questions are raised. Also the initial and latest theories about the formation of the solar system are given in a detail that I had not seen before in other similar programs. The level of detail is simplified, so the viewer does not have to be an expert. Detail is not boring either provided that you are interested in astronomy.

The third disc is devoted to the sun. I had watched interesting DVDs about the sun before, but this one is very interesting and detailed, including also the aurora, the solar wind and all in a historical perspective ; how certain theories about the solar wind, aurora ( the Northern lights ), magnetic field etc. were developed by scientists and how they were debated until finally being proved. I already had a lot of knowledge about the sun as an amateur astronomer, but this disc showed me that I still had things to learn about the sun. We are not given mere boring statistics, but also brilliant images and nicely flowing information.

The final and fourth disc explores the possible origins of life on Earth and the likelihood of life elsewhere in the universe. Possibility of life existing or once having existed on Mars and how it came about on Earth are explored with particular emphasis. Of course, there are no conclusions yet about life on Mars, but questions and possible answers. Particularly interesting is the discovery of life forms under very unfavorable conditions on Earth during the last decade, eg: at great depthsof the oceans, below the surface of deserts and inside rocks in the Earth's poles. These recent discoveries strengthened the belief that water is essential to life even if all other conditions such as heat etc. are very unfavorable. This takes us to Europa, a satellite of Jupiter as mankind's next priority target in the search for extraterrestrial life. Because Europa's surface is covered with water ice and scientists believe that there could be oceans below the ice crust possibly teeming with life forms. One of Nasa's near future unmanned space flight missions is to send a probe to Europa which will land on it, melt through the ice into the presumed ocean, light it, send pictures and chemical analyses from there in search of life. According to this program the launch from Earth of that spacecraft to Europa was planned for 2003, i.e. 4 years after that DVD's date and 6 years before the writing of this review.

Even more thrilling to possibility of life under extreme conditions is the story of bacteria that went from Earth to the moon, stayed there for two years and survived. According to the program, Apollo 12 astronauts retrieved a camera from an unmanned probe named Surveyor that had landed on the moon in 1967 and brought it back to Earth. Upon analysis on Earth it was found that the camera which remained in space on the surface of the moon for two years still had bacteria on it transported from Earth. Moreover, they were still alive ! They had survived for two years on the surface of the moon in space without air, subjected to intense radiation from the sun, extreme fluctuations in heat, no water, no nothing.

This DVD is also a rich source for High School students studying astronomy and preparing a project about the planets of our Solar System and / or about our sun.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The "Blue Planet" among the Space Documentaries - Terrific!, 7 Jan 2005
This review is from: The Planets [DVD] (DVD)
Most important things about this BBC space documentary have been said already by the other reviewers. Therefore, I just want to second the common notion here that this is an extraordinary well done DVD documentary that is literally worth its price bit by bit. For just 28 Euro (incl. shipping and taxes in Europe) you get approx. 390 minutes of finest documentation (eight 50-minute episodes) on 2 DVDs in a nice, silver DVD-case with an 8-page booklet. Picture and sound quality are great, as are the narrative voice (Samuel West) and the beautiful background music (composed by Jim Meacock). Of course, the series can image-wise not be on par with the #1 BBC documentary "Blue Planet", but then this is not the ocean on earth but SPACE, where observation is limited by the actual technology. Comparing the two documentaries in this regard would be like comparing apples with oranges. Nevertheless, the nice mix of archive materials, original space photography and computer generated imagery is well done and similarly jaw-dropping as "Blue Planet". My wish for the future would be that BBC continues this series with the latest facts, inlcuding anything beyond our planetary system like "black holes" and theoretical information like Einstein's "relativity theory", "string theories" etc. I didn't like the "Hollywood-style" space series with Sam Neill very much, which deals with these actual themes. A new series in the fashion of this "The Planets" documentary would be highly preferred.
I also have another wish: I'm from Germany, and while I have no problems at all to follow the series in its original English version, German subtitles are missing in this edition. Dutch, Portuguese, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian and English subtitles are there, but not German nor French. I know that BBC licenses their series to German publishers, and a completely German version of this DVD series is - after 4(!) years - finally available from Komplett-Media, but it costs about 150(!) Euro SRP. This huge price difference is hardly justified, and it would therefore by nice if the BBC includes at least German subtitles in their next European editions. Otherwise, this is one of the best 30 Euro I have ever spent - 5 stars!
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67 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, 12 Mar 2000
By 
Mr. S. Carlin "arca20" (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Planets [DVD] (DVD)
This was one DVD that I eagerly awaited. The BBC series was stunning and I just knew that I had to have my own copy. Although it was released on video first I waited to see if it would be issued on DVD - and it was. The picture quality is excellent and the computer simulations of flights around and to planets are amazing. The best series about the solar system for years. In fact that would be only complaint - why was the series called the planets when it was really about the solar system?
Experience again the wonder of the Voyager missions, the probes sent to Venus and Mars. This series reveals how much of our knowledge has been gleaned this past few decades, of how worlds thought to be potentially habitable are now seen as dead or inhospitable. Of how the outer satellites such as those of Jupiter and Saturn were once thought to be dead and rocky like our moon, but how Voyager revealed active worlds.
This is the only documentary/natural history style series I have ever bought and it was well worth it.
There are no extras but if you liked the series and want the best quality copy then go for the DVD.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding showcase of the Universe, 18 Dec 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Planets [DVD] (DVD)
This DVD is superlative. The scale of things and our perspective in it is brought into focus over the series of programmes presented on this disc in a planet per programme structure.
The quality of material and presentation walks the tightrope of education and entertainment perfectly. You learn while you gasp.
The BBC focus on making quality programmes and as such work towards being part of the definitive library of information we currently build in the form of digital discs, media and information.
Rare footage (NASA/BBC etc) and interviews of all space mission participants allows a 'human' handle on the sometimes complex subject matter presented in the documentary.
This is an epic documentary and easily worth your money.
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