The Terrestrial Planets – | Review Score – 4.5/5
The Two Sisters – | Review Score – 4.5/5
The Godfather: Jupiter – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Beyond The Sun: Saturn – | Review Score – 5/5
The Outer Solar System – | Review Score – 5/5
Taking us on a vast journey across our solar system, The Planets is a comprehensive, well written and educational exploration of our planets. Across 5 well-paced episodes, we see the origin of these planets through the use of CGI and well-placed archival footage of the space missions that helped shape our understanding of our solar system today.
While each episode explores a different celestial body in our solar system and breaks it down comprehensively, the episodes themselves follow a similar format throughout. After introducing us to the planet(s), we’re shown its origins billions of years ago and how it came to be. From here, Professor Brian Cox talks us through various different theories and scientific discoveries. Helping us to understand the data, Brian breaks this down with diagrams, a tablet with stock photos or even an extravagent trip across Iceland or other beautiful locales around the world. All of this combines with the archival footage of space missions to different planets in order to help paint a comprehensive portrait of everything we know about our solar system.
The result is one of the best documentaries of the year, and one that should spark plenty of debate again about whether Pluto is really a planet. Learning that Pluto has a heat source under its surface and could harbour liquid water is certainly surprising and The Planets does a fantastic job explaining everything in layman’s terms without ever sounding patronising or overly simplified. There’s enough scientific terminology to please those enthused with space yet an accessibility to those who don’t to fully understand exactly what’s being proposed or showcased. It’s a tricky thing to get right but something Brian Cox achieves perfectly here.
If there’s one thing the BBC consistently manage to nail, it’s their documentaries. With Netflix snatching up David Attenborough for the fantastic Our Planet, BBC bite back with a breathtaking voyage across our solar system. The episodes are well paced, consistent and packed with facts and figures. I’m fascinated by all things space-related and The Planets really scratches that itch, making it something I’d highly recommend checking out.
As a personal preference I would have liked one more episode to help round the series out, including theories about what’s beyond the kuiper belt in the Andromeda galaxy and beyond. To me, the final episode did round things out nicely but the closing notes from Brian Cox could have been elaborated a little more and include some theories around where he sees the future of space exploration going.
This is a minor gripe though in what’s otherwise a thoroughly enjoyable and well written documentary series. The Planets is a fascinating voyage into space and a reminder that we’ve only scratched the surface in our understanding of what lies beyond our watery paradise. Whilst it doesn’t quite match up to the prowess of Cosmos, The Planets is a well written, gorgeously shot documentary series nonetheless and one of the crowning jewels of 2019.