Customer Review

74 of 77 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Out of this world..., 19 Mar 2012
This review is from: Orbit - Earth's Extraordinary Journey [DVD] (DVD)
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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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 30 Mar 2012 19:27:08 BDT
Loraine says:
Oh my God! Who has time to read all that? lol

Posted on 24 Sep 2012 17:43:55 BDT
Last edited by the author on 24 Sep 2012 17:44:30 BDT
Milkshake says:
I nearly lost the will to live after the first paragraph, it just goes on and on and on ........

I think you need to get out a bit more Love, and get a life
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