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on December 9, 2011
This review is based on the UK Blu-Ray release and, so far, based on what I've read, the US release will be identical (as with Human Planet). Unfortunately, once again, Discovery seems to be planning to air their own butchered version, this time replacing David Attenborough with Alec Baldwin. I'm sure I don't have to recommend to most of you to seek out Attenborough's version.

This is the latest flagship release of the BBC's Natural History Unit, the next in line in the epic 'Planet' series after Blue Planet, Planet Earth, Life, and Human Planet. It was produced by Alastair Fothergill, executive producer of Planet Earth, and shares several similarities with that release in terms of structure and approach.

David Attenborough not only narrates this one in superb, warm and energetic form, but even makes a couple of appearances in the harsh Antarctic locations at the age of 85! The writing seems to be a collaborative effort however, and is somewhat chaotic.

This seven-part seven-hour series covers the natural and wild habitat of the Arctic and Antarctic circles, covering indigenous life, their survival tactics, hunts, and mating cycles, as well as the landscape and natural events, most of which involve ice in dozens of surprising forms, and the extensive effects of the seasonal cycle. The first episode is a kind of overview, four more episodes cover these habitats during the four seasons, the sixth episode covers various human explorations, studies and residents of these regions, and the final controversial episode covers melting ice and global climate change.

I recently re-watched Attenborough's Life in the Freezer (also produced by Fothergill) in preparation for this series, figuring that this would cover much of the same ground and would probably be a remake/upgrade (as with Planet Earth). Unfortunately, I guessed correctly, but this series adds the following:

- Arctic footage (Life in the Freezer only covered Antarctica). But even this footage is not always fresh, having seen polar bears, arctic wolves and other Arctic animals in many previous releases such as Planet Earth and Life.

- Breathtaking landscape footage in high definition. You've never seen so much ice and snow take on so many forms and do so many awe-inspiring things.

- Upgraded footage in high definition. A lot of the Antarctica footage covers the same ground as Life in the Freezer, except this time they use the latest technology and go the extra mile (or hundred miles) to create the perfect shot.

That said, I felt that Life in the Freezer, in its mere 3 hours running time, educated me better and more systematically. Although Attenborough gives us a wealth of facts and knowledge on this release, the overall writing and structure is lacking. This is mainly due to the chaotic and whimsical structure similar to Planet Earth that splices together any spectacular footage it could find regardless of its educational value. Categorizing the footage under which season it happened in is simply not enough guys.

Let's illustrate this with a specific example: In Life in the Freezer, Attenborough discussed and showed us lichens to complete the picture of life on Antarctica. But, evidently on this release, lichens were deemed too boring and they were replaced with yet another bloody and action-packed hunt instead.

Other details:
- The quality of the picture and sound is top-notch as expected.
- The first overview episode doesn't repeat the same footage used in later episodes as they did with Life/Planet Earth, but cuts out footage from several scenes in upcoming episodes instead to provide a random selection of upcoming attractions. So it is not as repetitively annoying, but it is still the wrong thing to do in my opinion.
- As on previous releases, each episode ends with 10-minute behind the scenes footage. Except this time, some of the scenes that are covered aren't on the episode we just watched, which is a bit weird.

In summary, at least half of this is a remake, and the structure is very weak, but the footage is breathtaking, there are many moments of dramedy as with the Life series, there is some new and surprising behaviour, and the not-so-new is upgraded. So I'll give it four stars. Personally, I think the best reason for getting this is the breathtaking footage of the ice and landscape.
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on November 23, 2011
It is about the life of animals and the seasons in the Arctic and Antarctic, which cover about a third of the area of the earth. It was filmed in HD using the latest technology, which gives this series the edge over previous series. It was three years in the making.

I have been retired for about a year. So I have been buying quite a few of David Attenborough DVD's, to update my education, as I have been working overseas for 20+ years. I have to confess, that I get bored with the plight of Polar bears, whales, penguins and seals very quickly. It covers many other species than the big four, plus superb landscape filming and I did not get bored. I am now up to episode 7 out of 7 as it aires in the UK. Frankly, the camera work was superb, slow motion and time lapse, under-sea, terrestrial and overhead. David's narration was excellent, it kept up my interest. For my fellow Amazonians, this is a must see/listen, it is stunning.

1. "To the Ends of the Earth" (This includes Scott of the Antarctic)
2. "Spring"
3. "Summer"
4. "Autumn"
5. "Winter"
6. "The Last Frontier" " (humans in the Arctic and Antarctica)
7. "On thin ice" (David Attenborough's view on climate change in the Arctic and Antarctic.)

NB Wiki has a much more detailed synopsis.

The book and the calendar are both available now. Frozen Planet: A World Beyond Imagination,Official BBC Earth Frozen Planet Calendar 2012
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on December 29, 2011
I cannot understand why some people are being so analy retentive as to cry, "Wolf!" Just because some of the sequences were filmed in a zoo, or a studio, or a 'controlled environment.'
The series itself is visually stunning, & makes many valid points: not least that life in those harshest of climes is life on the very edge of existence.
What was filmed in the Arctic & Antarctic was television at its best. The fact that not everything of the story could be filmed in those places, but had to be filmed elsewhere in conditions that best ensured the safety & survival of the subjects & the camera crew, only completed the picture.
It took nothing away from the reality, only adding to it by filling in the blanks; & had the programme been halted midway through a sequence, just to say that the next bit was filmed in a zoo - the magic of the moment is lost - the continuity is broken.
Nothing was done to intentionally deceive, not unless you're into extreme cynicism & conspiracy theories that is.
Did those people know that the dinosaurs in otherwise 'factual' TV series, weren't filmed in real life? They were nothing more than the (best guess) imaginings of scientists, palaeontologists & CGI?
Nit pick if you must, but get a life!
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on July 5, 2012
This BBC documentary has been a blast to watch, my young nieces and nephews have been very entertained by the wonderful footage and level of educational material. There is also tons of great learning for adults as well it has a happy medium. It's not too in depth but it is a really fun program to watch. I am also surprised that the global warming card wasn't played stronger in the last episode it goes into the warming and changing environment but i didn't feel it was overboard in pushing an agenda. Great fun and enjoyable to watch over a few weeks of time.
+ great footage
+ great narrating by David Attenborough
+ interesting story-line, kids can follow as well as adults
- some footage was recycled in separate episodes
- they often return to the same subjects instead of finding new and different polar bears, killer whales, grey wolves

My favorite footage has to be from the underwater ice and the caving on Mt Erebus, overall 4 for 5 for making entertainment meet learning.
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on April 13, 2013
This series is stunning and absolutely wonderful. I saw it on TV and bought it for my grandsons to enjoy. There must be a special place in heaven for nature photographers. The visuals in this series are unforgettable. The Emperor penguins live in the most extreme conditions in the South Pole and the photographers were there to film the 70 mile trip from the ocean that the males and females took. Mating took place and when the eggs were hatched, the females transferred the egg to the feet of their mates. Then the "girls" made the challenging and laborious trip back to the ocean to feed for three months while the males hatched the eggs while being beaten by terrible winds and unbelievable sub-zero temperatures. They are near starvation by the time the females come back and relieve them of their duties. By that time the eggs have hatched and again the transfer is made from one parent to the other. Those photographers endured everything the penguins endured without being able to cuddle together for warmth. This is only a part of this wonderful series - I can't recommend it enough.
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on December 22, 2013
I chose a five star rating for this series because it gives viewers a window into the workings of ice-dominated portions of the world that are crucial to human prosperity and survival but under-represented in textbooks and media coverage. BBC filming is so technically advanced, it even allows physical oceanographers to view processes such as the complex and artistic freezing of sea water they previously understood only in terms of words and equations.
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on October 31, 2014
This is my first experience with any of BBC's planet series. Halfway through, and I already know that I look forward for more to come... The simple effects are amazing, the shots are amazing, the locations are crazy! The cameramen are crazy, and nature is crazy!

I'm more of a science / history documentary geek than my wife, and it's held my wife's attention, and it's informed us on some of those animals you or I will never get to see in the wild. From watching whale hunts, to seeing Polar Bears fight, to seeing the ugly elephant seals claim their harem, to watching millions of penguins gather - it's worth it.

It might make even those of us who could care a little less about animals and science even perk our ears up and say, "It's amazing that they fly from the north to the south pole," or "Wow those are smart!" Good stuff
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on March 9, 2016
I've seen this series on Netflix, not the DVD but Im sure it's exactly the same. All David Attenborough nature specials are superb, of the highest quality and this one takes it a step above. The cinematography and music is absolutely breathtaking !! Truly gorgeous shots that must be seeing in a HD/4K TV. This is definitely a must have for your collection.
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on February 12, 2016
This series is just wonderful. Attenborough's voice is what sciency dreams are made of, and this focused series on the cold parts of Earth really engages viewers in the magic of some of the hardest-to-reach places most of us can only dream about. The brinicle is one of my favorite moments in all of Attenborough's narrations over the years.
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on August 8, 2015
As with any BBC production, it is done exceptionally well. David Attenborough is such an exceptionally great narrator, and the videos are always beautifully done. I think that these BBC productions are superior to any others.
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