Prehistoric Planet review: Jaw-dropping TV
Walking with dinosaurs10
Swimming with dinosaurs10
Learning about dinosaurs10
James R | On 22, May 2023
Season 2 premieres on 22nd May 2023, with episodes arriving daily. This review is based on Season 1 and was originally published in May 2022.
Did you know that the Tyrannosaurus rex was a very good swimmer? That’s the kind of surprising revelation you can expect to happen every few seconds in Prehistoric Planet, the new Apple TV+ nature documentary that brings dinosaurs to life in a way that would make Dr John Hammond’s head spin. Perfectly timed to arrive ahead of the Jurassic Park franchise’s return to the big screen, it achieves the same kind of jaw-dropping wizardry – but without the worry of actual dinosaurs escaping from their paddocks and running after your car.
It’s testament to just how effective the show is that you almost half-expect the dinos to chase the documentary crew at any moment. Presented by national treasure David Attenborough, it doesn’t just come with his gravitas, passion and credibility, it also seamlessly puts him inside the world of our prehistoric planet, to the point where you could swear that he’s just stepped out of his back garden, strolled down the lane and gone for a walk alongside the local dinosaur wildlife – it’s one of the most impressive feats of natural history TV since, well, 1999’s Walking with Dinosaurs.
Since that landmark BBC series sparked interest in dinos decades ago, we have more knowledge and understanding of life in the Cretaceous period. That, combined with improved visual effects (and Apple’s apparently massive budget), makes for a documentary that’s more science than speculation, right down to the feathers on display – Apple TV+ is debuting each episode daily across the week, which makes it perfect for family teatime viewing, but is also releasing a 15-minute accompanying documentary that delves more into the science behind each chapter.
Taking us from coasts and deserts to freshwater, ice worlds and forests, the programme makes sure to include insight into the coral, plant and other natural life around at the time. But there’s no getting away from the star attraction, and Prehistoric Planet does a superb job of introducing familiar faces, such as Triceratops and Pterosaurs, but also relatively unknown creatures, such as the duck-billed Deinocheirus. Many of these beasts are fearsome to watch in action, but some of them are also adorable and cute. We get to see them not only hunting but also living on a day-to-day basis, from parenting techniques and nest-building to back rubs on the ocean floor.
And, of course, there are moments of mild peril, as we watch some freshly hatched Alcione attempt to outfly a herd of Barbaridactylus – the kind of time-honoured chase sequences that have made Blue Planet, Planet Earth and more such attention-grabbing hits. With Hans Zimmer producing a dramatic, symphonic score and the Moving Picture Company on visuals, expect this astonishing series to do exactly the same thing for 10-year-olds and inner 10-year-olds alike.
Prehistoric Planet is available on Apple TV+, as part of a £4.99 monthly subscription, with a seven-day free trial. For more information on Apple TV+ and how to get it, click here.