Some of the world's leading research scientists, astrobiologists
and astronomers gathered together to investigate and study
two theoretical planets, Aurelia and The Blue Moon. Using
data from the world's most sophisticated telescopes they begin
the task of producing a physical profile of each planet, employing
supercomputers to model the climates, seasons and even geological
histories of the two new planets. What they find is astounding.
Both planets are able to support life and could be inhabited...
has to be about the most bizarre and, quite frankly, pointless
excuse for a natural (or in this case unnatural) history programme
I've ever sat through.
programme makers brought together the world's (although that's
questionable as they all seemed to come from the UK) leading
experts in various fields, including astrobiology and astronomy,
and asked them to come up with two very different planets
and their indigenous lifeforms. In principle, in sounds like
a fascinating project. Why not ask the experts what sort of
life we can expect to find on Earth-like planets? However,
the end result is not unlike what a group of drunken sci-fi
fanatics would come up with if they were asked to design two
planets to fit into the Star Wars universe.
programme is just an exercise in sci-fi imagination. Did supercomputers
really work out whether these creatures could survive, as
indicated? Given the fact that the aliens are given conditions
to live in not a million miles from life on this planet, why
bother with the computers at all? One planet has stopped revolving
(one half subjected to constant sunlight the other to total
darkness) and the other is home to large flying creatures
that could never get off the ground on Earth. The experts
take conditions slightly different to earth and state, without
a hint of irony, that life could exist in these conditions.
Well done. It's a little like stating that life 'could' live
on Earth when we already know that it does.
'expert' walks us through the design of his creature (which
looks not unlike a large featherless ostrich) and talks about
it like he's totally inventing it from scratch. He states
that it makes sense for it to have eyes at the front so it
can see where it is going, and a brain near it's eyes (i.e.
in a head) and then it will need long thin legs for running.
The problem here is that he could be describing any one of
a thousand creatures right here on Earth, and yet he's harping
on as though he's created a totally new theory that no one
has ever discovered before. Why, for example, does it even
need eyes, or a nose? That's how life on Earth evolved, but
would it really be like that elsewhere?
annoying aspect of these programmes is that they repeat themselves
a little too often. Firstly the format of the show is identical
- in fact, if you strip away the opening and closing remarks
(which are identical for both episodes) and stop the doubling
up of elements (like Dr Armand Leroi's to camera segments
with the aliens and his explanation of how big the universe
is) then you could easily have had the two planets in the
same programme. Also, a lot of the CGI was repeated over and
over again in each episode - no, flipping the image doesn't
hide the fact that they're using the same footage either.
It also doesn't help that the experts repeat the same arguments
for both planets (for example that these creatures could very
well exist somewhere in the universe, and the repeated Darwin
theory of the evolution of life and how this must be the same
across the universe).
that was another problem - the fact that the experts kept
insisting that life in other parts of the universe would adhere
to the same laws that govern life on Earth. How incredibly
arrogant, not to say backwards that theory is. How do we know
that there aren't elements and gases in the universe that
we've no knowledge of? Why is it they insist that our periodic
table will be same across the universe? These could make other
worlds very different places to live. While I appreciate that
these would be a little difficult to create and bring to the
screen, why not have them at least discuss the possibility.
resulting aliens are not a million miles from those dreamt
up for sci-fi movies like Star Wars. In fact Star
Wars is a good point in question. I noticed several creatures
that looked like they had been heavily borrowed from the Star
Wars universe. These included the creatures the Gungan
use for transportation on Naboo in Episode I; the Sarlacc
from Return of the Jedi; and there's even a reference
to the trash compactor monster from A New Hope (eyes
emerging from water and then vanishing again).
couldn't tell whether those participating in this experiment
were taking the money and taking the p*ss, or whether they
really did spend months creating a whale with wings that could
fly. Come on? Couldn't they have come up with something a
little more original. I can hear them thinking now: "I
know... something big and in water... er... a whale! Great...
now what can we have it do that's totally alien? Er... fly?
the end, all they really did was to take creatures that live
on Earth and change them so that they seem a little wacky!
Give an extra pair of legs to a duckbill platypus, and you
have a whole new creature that a group of experts took months
to create. Or how about this?... Give our creature a third
eye! Wow, that's certainly alien!
include a 28 minute 'making of' documentary (which is actually
more interesting than the finished episodes); a trailer and
some DVD Rom content which I really couldn't be bothered to
examine - apparently it features fully interactive planet
and alien profiles with CGI animation.
the end of the day the whole project is very badly flawed,
and the finished product is rather poor - certainly science
fiction at its wackiest. I'd wait ten years to see what aliens
(as predicted by the experts) we do discover.