What an incredibly episode for Planet Earth II. After the relatively quiet and almost somber 2nd episode "Mountains," "Jungles" picks up by taking us to explore some of the densest areas of the world. A key statistic is thrown out early on - jungles make up only 6% of the world, but over 50% of animals on the planet inhabit them. They are dense ecosystems, and as a result this episode is extremely dense with the number of creatures on display - some for just brief momentary glimpses, while others are on screen and followed with David Attenborough's signature narration and humanization.
From the early moments shared with a family of spider monkeys to later sequences featuring minuscule tree frogs to beetles and fungi that glow in the dark - it is a varied episode filled with twists and turns as has come to define the series.
The emphasis on the difference between large animals of prey - like leopards of the forest and the array of insects and reptilian species is what really helped this episode stand out in my mind. There is a substantial amount of content with never a moment of substantial empty space.
One thing worth really noting is just how beautiful some of the cinematography is. When the narration notes that a certain species of translucent frogs is only the size of a fingernail, yet we see it up close so clearly, in addition to the eggs it is protecting, it is incredible to think of what kind of lens must be used and what process the videographers have to go through for such shots.
As in past episodes, the end of the episode features a behind the scenes look at this process. This time, with regards to capturing a first glimpse at a very recently discovered species of blind river dolphins in Brazil's overgrowth. It is a fascinating look at how the camera operators set the stage for capturing such a rare sight. The use of modern day drones with cameras has really showcased value of these technological devices!
Right now, Planet Earth II is one of the few television shows I look forward to watching on television. I really do not watch much TV as it is, but it is great to have an opportunity to view something so family friendly, educational, and visually interested in every scene. It certainly brings to life the world we all inhabit, and makes some good momentary comments regarding the current state of the world and how we need to do what we can to protect it. It is intense to find this note come as we observe the smallest creatures among us - some of which I never knew existed until seeing it put to screen here.
Planet Earth II is continuing to be a beautiful and notable nature documentary series. It has a heart to it that most documentaries lack - and an airy lightness throughout most of the sequences, though never afraid to show a few serious moments or characterize the creatures on screen in the scope of the larger planetary suffering. It is really adding substantial value to those who view it.
While most of these episodes so far have hit on similar themes, "Jungles" intensely investigated the inhabitants of the world's jungle environments. All began to blur together for the most part as they traveled to jungles around the world, which gave it a different sense than prior episodes like "Islands" before it that really honed in on the specific geographic landmasses, then their inhabitants. This shift in focus was welcomed, especially given how many animals inhabit these places.
If you enjoy nature documentaries, this is definitely an episode you need to check out!
If you enjoy Planet Earth, you can purchase the complete original series on Amazon. You can also pre-order Planet Earth II, which is already beginning to shape up as another great series in and of itself just two episode in!