Just in time for Earth Day (April 22), four BBC-TV collections of documentaries on birds and bears are leading this week’s television on DVD and Blu-ray.
“Earthflight: The Complete Series” (BBC, 2011-12, two discs, $34.98, six episodes). This BBC series offers a literal birds-eye view of six continents from tiny cameras strapped to the backs of birds, as well as by helicopter drones, remote-control microflight planes and paragliders.
The draw here is mostly visual with spectacular aerial views of North and South America, Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia, following snow geese, bald eagles, grey cranes, condors, macaws, etc. The final episode is a sort of making-of featurette, showing how all this was done. Narrated by David Tennant. (Also on Blu-ray, $39.98.)
“Winged Planet” (BBC, 2012, $19.98). Tennant also narrates this 90-minute “Earthflight” special that includes some footage from the series but also a lot more that was not shown. Of interest to local audiences will be the travels of snow geese through Monument Valley.
“The Bear Family & Me” (BBC, 2011, $19.98. three episodes). Scottish wildlife filmmaker Gordon Buchanan and biologist Dr. Lynn Rogers observe over the course of one year a wild bear family in the Minnesota Northwoods, the bears’ natural habitat, with some remarkable footage chronicling a black bear and her cubs. Buchanan hosts the three-part series.
“Extreme Bears” (BBC, 2004-13, two discs, $34.98, three episodes). Three documentaries look at grizzlies, brown bears, pandas and polar bears as they struggle to survive in the wilds of Alaska. “Great Bear Stakeout” is narrated by Billy Connolly, “Polar Bear Battlefield” by Sanjeev Bhaskar and “Bears — Spy in the Woods” by David Attenborough.
“Don’t Ask Me Questions” (Virgil, 2013, $19.99). Influential rock star Graham Parker is the subject of this documentary that chronicles his life and career as a musician who has refused to compromise during his 35-year career, though it has cost him. Now, however, at age 59, he’s exploring ways to earn some commerciality without sacrificing his independence or selling out.
“Sofia the First: The Floating Palace” (Disney Junior, 2013, $19.99, four episodes). Animated show about a commoner who becomes a princess when her mother marries a king. The title story is a double episode featuring a cameo by Ariel, “The Little Mermaid"; the others are “Tri-Kingdom Picnic,” “Finding Clover” and “Make Way For Miss Nettle.”
“Saban’s Power Rangers Megaforce: The Great Dragon Spirit” (Lionsgate, 2013, $14.98, four episodes). Episodes are “Prince Takes Knight,” “Man and Machine,” “Ultra Power” and “Last Laugh.”
“Pound Puppies: A Perfect Match” (Shout! Kids/Hasbro, 2014, $9.99, five episodes). More cartoons with the title characters in Shelter 17, along with their friends, in this animated series for preschool children.
“Thomas & Friends: Trouble On the Tracks” (Hit/Lionsgate, 2014, $14.98, five episodes, interactive quizzes). Thomas and his cohorts Paxton, Salty, Henry and Toad have more adventures on the Island of Sodor in this animated series for preschoolers (exclusive to Walmart).
Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings." Website: www.hicksflicks.com