We Recommend: Frozen Planet
I apologise for the picture-heavy nature of this post. But to be honest, the only way I can try and convey how utterly fantastic this show is is by trying to show you as well as tell you.
It's fairly well established by now that the BBC and David Attenborough are pretty flipping fantastic at documentaries about the planet and the things that live in and on it. Attenborough has been doing this for more than 50 years and has provided us with some of the most amazing footage that will ever be seen on television. So yeah, when you see that there's a new BBC nature documentary series up to be broadcast, you know it's going to be good.
But really, Frozen Planet has reached new levels of good. After just one episode of harrowing, magnificent and completely captivating scenes from the coldest places on Earth, I'm ready to redefine my assessment of what counts as "good TV". No longer will I rate things on a scale of 1-10; instead, I'll say "How good is it on a scale of X Factor to Frozen Planet?".
It is, of course, completely beautiful. Shot entirely in HD, Frozen Planet lets you peep into ice caves in the heart of frozen volcanoes, shows you entire waterfalls freezing and defrosting again and gives you a tour of completely white "forests" of ice. But it's more than just an hour of showing you how pretty these things are. It's also interesting, funny, fraught and completely captivating, and that is because of the animals.
The first episode featured polar bears, wolves, bison, penguins, sea lions, killer whales, owls and seals. I've never been so emotionally invested in whether a polar bear gets laid or not, but after seeing the poor thing walk for days to find a mate and then fight the other polar bears until he was bloodied, I really wanted the little guy to have a happy ending. And I say "little guy" whilst knowing full well that he would rip my face off without a second thought were we to meet.
Then we had surfing penguins, with a sea lion that was trying to eat them. He tried to swim after them, then he tried to paddle after them in the shallows, and finally he tried to chase them on land. Have you ever seen a sea lion running after a penguin? No? You should. It will make your entire life better. Especially with David Attenborough doing a voice over and background music that, without sounding like it at all, reminded me irresistibly of Benny Hill.
We saw wolves herding, chasing and finally eating a member of a herd of bison; owls swooping low over vast frozen landscapes; killer whales working as a group to knock a seal into the water to kill it. This last segment made Twitter explode with cries of "Killer whales are total arseholes". My favourite tweet has to be "Is it wrong to want to go to a zoo and punch a killer whale in the snout for acting like a cock?". And the answer is no. Not after what they just did to that cute seal with the big eyes.
It was just amazing. People complain about the Beeb a lot, but if they keep making things like this then in my eyes they can do whatever hell else they want to. Who else would create an underwater studio in order to film plant life growing, or send crews to spend Christmas Day exploring the inside of a volcano?
There are seven parts to the Frozen Planet series. If it's anything like Blue Planet and Human Planet, which Frozen Planet is a sort-of sequel to, it's just going to get better. If you watch one thing this month, let it be this. It will astound you.
Plus, from previews it seems that future episodes will have Arctic fox babies, polar bear cubs and lots more penguins. Everybody loves penguins, right?
Frozen Planet is on BBC One on Wednesdays at 9:00pm. You can catch the first episode again on the iPlayer here and find out more about Frozen Planet here