Nature's Ready For Her Close-Up: 'Planet Earth II' Returns In Ultra High-Def The original BBC series was one of the first blockbuster high-definition TV shows. A decade later, drones and light-weight steady cams give viewers a front-row view of nature's majesty and fragility.
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Nature's Ready For Her Close-Up: 'Planet Earth II' Returns In Ultra High-Def

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Nature's Ready For Her Close-Up: 'Planet Earth II' Returns In Ultra High-Def

Nature's Ready For Her Close-Up: 'Planet Earth II' Returns In Ultra High-Def

Nature's Ready For Her Close-Up: 'Planet Earth II' Returns In Ultra High-Def

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/515461598/515728643" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The BBC nature series Planet Earth returns to BBC America on Saturday. Above, a pygmy three-toed sloth swims off the coast of Escudo de Veraguas, Panama. BBC 2016/BBC America hide caption

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BBC 2016/BBC America

The BBC nature series Planet Earth returns to BBC America on Saturday. Above, a pygmy three-toed sloth swims off the coast of Escudo de Veraguas, Panama.

BBC 2016/BBC America

The BBC nature series Planet Earth II doesn't debut on BBC America until Saturday, but one of its scenes has already been viewed online more than 9 million times. The two-minute clip shows a baby iguana running for its life through a pit of hungry snakes. (Does he make it? Watch the clip below to find out ...)

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Planet Earth II uses all the narrative devices of narrative film-making — there's emotional scoring, heavy editing and most crucially, an individual animal's struggle to survive.

Narrated by famed naturalist David Attenborough, Planet Earth was one of the first blockbuster high-definition TV shows a decade ago. Now, it's filmed in ultra-high-def. Drones and light-weight steady cams bring viewers right up next to animals.

A camera drone provides a birds-eye view of the jungle. Paul Thompson/BBC America hide caption

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Paul Thompson/BBC America

A camera drone provides a birds-eye view of the jungle.

Paul Thompson/BBC America

"Once you're with those creatures almost looking at it through their eyes you can tell a slightly more emotional connecting story," explains executive producer Mike Gunton.

A red-eyed tree frog found in the jungle in Costa Rica. Emma Napper/BBC America hide caption

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Emma Napper/BBC America

A red-eyed tree frog found in the jungle in Costa Rica.

Emma Napper/BBC America

The biggest departure from the first series is an entire episode devoted to cities. Throughout most of the episode, animals are shown thriving in human environments ... that is, until we meet a small army of sea turtle hatchlings in Barbados.

They're supposed to be marching toward the moonlight and the sea, but they've gotten disoriented by streetlights and are now heading into oncoming traffic.

Planet Earth II offers these scenes of nature — in all its majesty and fragility — close-up, and in ultra-high-definition, starting Saturday on BBC America.

One episode of the new Planet Earth II series is devoted to the ways humans and animals coexist in cities. Above, a macaque in Jaipur seizes an opportunity. BBC 2016/BBC America hide caption

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BBC 2016/BBC America

One episode of the new Planet Earth II series is devoted to the ways humans and animals coexist in cities. Above, a macaque in Jaipur seizes an opportunity.

BBC 2016/BBC America