Billed as being four years in the making and spanning several continents, "Winged Planet" is the latest in a string of dazzling nature fare from Discovery Channel and the BBC, in this case assembled as a
two-hour special premiering Oct. 6.
The primary come-on is kind of a brazen gimmick — rigging tiny cameras to birds, providing an actual aerial view as they soar across the sky or, in one stretch, toward the Statue of Liberty. As Discovery describes it, filmmaker John Downer "developed a new team of
Spycams to offer viewers a jaw-dropping view of the world from an
entirely different perspective."
It's interesting, but a bit wasted, if only because the producers can't leave viewers stuck with that herky-jerky imagery for very long, lest the bouncy footage cause them to regurgitate dinner.
Fortunately, there are a number of the expected breathtaking shots in here, including vultures tiptoe-ing toward lions in mid-feast, hoping for a taste of the spoils; birds swooping in to gobble up pieces of seal
after Great White Sharks have had their way with them; and eagles swooping through the air majestically before zeroing in on prey.
Frankly, as specials go this isn't even the bigggest event Discovery has planned for the weekend — "Plane Crash," which I'll review later this week, airs Sunday, and could be a real draw — but in terms quality it's of a piece with "Life," "Planet Earth" and the other nature documentaries commissioned to cash in on the blessings of high-definition technology.
And unlike "Plane Crash," these birds take off and land without a hitch.