Everyone in the diving community, and many people outside of it, know and love the David Attenborough narrated “The Blue Planet”, and the new series, “Descending”. Unfortunately, most other scuba diving shows are relegated to being web series or well made Youtube videos. All is not lost though, as older shows (with their amazing footage) are being turned into DVD box sets. So without any further adieu, here are three must have DVD collections for every diver’s collection!
Mysteries of the Deep (The Best of Undersea Explorer)
This series should need no introduction. Produced by Danny Mauro (Sport Diver, Undersea Adventures and the Blue Realm), and filmed by Jim Kozmik, Neil McDaniel, and Tom Campbell (some of the best underwater cinematographers in the industry), Underwater Explorer continues to enjoy some television air time on public access television. Originally premiering in 1997, the series has lost little of its punch over the years thanks to great footage.
The series strengths are it’s solid cinematography and content. Each episode features surface and subsurface footage, some have short interviews, and the series fairly screams “made by divers for everyone”. It’s only real weakness is in editing, which is a little choppy at times. The box set featured in the picture is available from Amazon, in NTSC format, and has five DVDs for a total of 10 hours of diving and travel fun!
Time for a little Canadian content! The Last Frontier was a Canadian made diving series, for the Foundation for Ocean Research. Running from 1985 to 1989, this series is old school, with everything filmed on VHS (maybe Beta?) and a lot of very brightly coloured diving gear. The expedition leader was John Stoneman, and the series is just plain fun. Sometimes philosophical sounding, sometimes insane (this was the cowboy era of diving), the series is a kind of amalgam of travelogue, diving show and documentary, wrapped in a semi-educational skin.
Definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, I love this series for its historical value. The episodes can be a bit sparse on breathtaking underwater footage, but that’s more to do with the limitations of the technology than the sites they went to. This box set has three DVDs, and about six hours of fun loaded into it! Again, it’s available from Amazon, and is in NTSC format.
Discover Planet Ocean (the world beneath)
This Japanese series is somewhat divisive, as it’s unbothered by showing local peoples engaged in traditional activities during the surface segments (particularly in the South Pacific), and for it’s showing (and positive depiction) of seafood harvesting (like Urchins in California). Following Masakazu Nagata, a marine journalist, the series is dubbed in english and has a fairly epic narrator as well. The series is brilliantly filmed however, and has footage I haven’t seen elsewhere, as well as unusual episodes (such as the submersible one). Following the nutrient rich “Black Current” around the Pacific, the locations are great, and the the information presented is solid.
I liked this series, for several reasons. For starters, it had arguably the most bombastic and upbeat narration I’ve heard in years, it’s like watching original Iron Chef episodes at times. The locations and footage are outstanding, and varied, and finally, the series doesn’t turn a blind eye to what divers are likely to see and/or encounter if they dive some of the more remote areas. The only real failing is bad editing, with sudden and sometimes jarring transitions. As a bonus, this series is available on both DVD and Blue Ray, having been made in 2009. At 780 minutes for the four disc set, it’s worthwhile to check out. As before, check out Amazon for these Region 1 DVDs.
Of course, there are many more DVD sets out there, and I’ll get to them later, but if you’re looking to enhance your diving DVD collection for those awkward no-dive days, these three sets are a great place to start!