Archive for Sunday, March 18, 2012

‘Frozen Planet’ shows some cold truths

March 18, 2012


A day after the year’s greenest day, Discovery Channel celebrates basic white with the launch of the seven-part epic documentary series “Frozen Planet” (7 p.m.). Narrated by Alec Baldwin, “Frozen” was created by the team behind “Planet Earth” and offers the same combination of gorgeous scenery, staggering scale and mind-boggling location photography.

While “Earth” often modulated between the vast and the microscopic, “Frozen” is more like a an old-fashioned Western dominated by wide-angle shots to better capture the continental scale of glaciers, Antarctic deserts and valleys carved by some of the fiercest winds on the planet.

Like any nature film, “Frozen” presents an unending succession of procreation and homicide, nurture and slaughter, and the uneasy coexistence of the fearsome and the cute. Penguins emerge as the clowns of the ice caps.

While “Frozen” shows a hands-off impartiality in the critter-eat-critter world of nature filmmaking, it tips its hand just a bit when the soundtrack playfully celebrates a penguin’s escape from the hungry jaws of a voracious sea lion.

If the film has true villains, they are the packs of killer whales who — alone among sea creatures — act as a team, flipping their powerful tails in unison to create giant waves that knock seals off protective ice floes and into the whales’ preferred killing zones of open water.

Folks worried about the viewing commitment of a seven-part series airing weeks on end should note that “Frozen” unfolds at a remarkably entertaining pace, with no critter’s profile lasting more than 10 minutes or so.

Tonight’s other highlights

• Scheduled on “60 Minutes” (6 p.m., CBS): the privatization of space travel; author Oliver Sacks explains “face blindness.”

• Scheduled on “Dateline NBC” (6 p.m., NBC): vitamin supplements.

• Mary Margaret is put behind bars on “Once Upon a Time” (7 p.m., ABC).

• Money woes and job offers on “The Good Wife” (8 p.m., CBS).

• A funeral evokes a flashback on “Desperate Housewives” (8 p.m., ABC).

• Ace parts from three partners on “Luck” (8 p.m., HBO).

• Danger on the farm on “The Walking Dead” (8 p.m., AMC).

• Murder and tennis on “CSI: Miami” (9 p.m., CBS).


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