Dusk Til’ Dawn
Planet Earth is a beautiful and wondrous place. It’s a planet full of diversity and awe-inspiring natural wonders which we’ve all had the privilege of seeing from the comfort of our own homes thanks to the excellent natural history documentaries over the past couple of decades. At night though, the world is a very different place. Whether it be the neon-lit wonders of a bustling Asian metropolis or the eerily quiet depths of the sea, Netflix grab their night vision goggles and cameras, setting out on a globe-hopping docu-series to uncover all of this in its natural splendor.
Split across six episodes, Night On Earth delivers a pretty unique concept by showing off the habits and behaviours of our animal brethren under the blanketing darkness of the night. Beginning with the African Savannah, Night On Earth dedicates each 50 minute episode to a different biome and environment. From the choked humidity of the jungle through to the frozen wastelands of the Poles, this natural history documentary does well to show some never-before-seen footage across its episodes – even dedicating a whole episode to animals living in cities alongside us.
Each episode combines the various different camera shots with a simple enough musical score and the narration of Samira Wiley, who many people will recognize from Orange Is The New Black and The Handmaid’s Tale. While undoubtedly failing to emulate the excellent David Attenborough, her take on narration duties is both calming and tinged with a sense of urgency, managing to do enough to stand out and also complement the images on-screen. It’s a tough balancing act but one that many people should acclimatize to; she’s certainly better than Oprah at least.
Inevitably, with a lot of the scenes shot at night there isn’t an awful lot of variety with the colour palette. A lot of the shots are quite long and drawn out, with a lack of dramatic music and urgency at times that make some segments feel a little passive rather than emotionally engaging. It’s something the BBC crew have perfected over the years and this ability to empathise with individual animals and their struggles is something that’s actually pretty hard to pull off. Night On Earth knows this too and instead focuses more on globe-trotting and skipping around different animal groups to keep each episode feeling energized and fresh.
There are some really nice shots here too and one of the stand-outs comes from the aforementioned city episode. Here, there’s a really interesting discussion about the lunar patterns and stars, something also echoed early on. The idea of shutting off lights in our cities to help animals navigate again (with an accompanying dose of CGI to show how this would work) is really typified by the struggles of a maternal turtle trying to find a place to lay her young and forced into leaving the safety of the beach and navigating the tricky roads. There are a fair few scenes like this dotted throughout the series and for that alone, it makes the show well worth watching.
The series is not without its flaws and the constant reminders that this is “never before seen” footage and a rare opportunity does become a little tiresome after a while. These are minor gripes though in an otherwise solid nature documentary series. The episodes are diverse enough to keep you coming back for more and the different animals followed, and the various different terrains of course, are interesting and no two episodes feel the same. While this certainly doesn’t compare to the Attenborough masterclasses, this is a solid entry to the natural history library nonetheless.
|Night On Earth is available to watch on Netflix. Feel free to click here and sign up now to check this show out!|