Planet Earth, Discovery Channel and More

| Free on iTunes

I had a birthday recently. That wasn’t such a big deal, I have one every year and I seldom feel like the numbers say I should feel. That is to say that I don’t feel as old as I probably should feel, and I often forget that I have more than a few miles behind me. What makes me realize that I’ve turned my share of corners are the memories that seem to bubble up around the anniversary of my birth.

These memories have nothing to do with previous birthdays, I’ve had few parties celebrating the event and few things have happened on those days that were of such magnitude that they are forever etched into my grey matter. (There were three birthdays, however, that I’ll always remember; one where I went hang gliding, another where I flew an airplane, both courtesy of my wife and daughter, and the last one where friends took me out to dinner.)

The memories I’m talking about are random bits, places, people, and doings that might have happened just last week or many (Many) years ago. For instance, I recall watching Mutual of Omaha’s The Wild Kingdom when Marlin Perkins was the host.

I credit Mr. Perkins for instilling in me a love of nature and a desire to become a game warden/explorer/naturalist. That desire was all consuming, that is until I saw photos of shark, lion, and bear attack victims. I then decided that I would pursue endeavors that did not put me on anyone’s or anything’s menu.

It’s worked out pretty good so far.

The problem, however, is that I still enjoy nature. I was absolutely enthralled with Discovery Channel’s Planet Earth series. No wrinkly old dude traipsing around African scrub looking for bugs. That series put us right up close to creatures few ever see in the wild.

If you haven’t seen at least one episode of Planet Earth then you are truly missing out. But, as luck would have it, there is a free episode available in both standard and hi-def, ready for you to download and watch from the iTunes Store.

If you’ve got one of those new fangled iPads then this is just the ticket to show off your new toy (strike) media portal to friends and family.

The free episode is one of the best, titled “From Pole to Pole”, it explores the many environs between the north and south poles and fauna that inhabit them.

They show polar bear cubs! There are few creatures cuter than polar bear cubs, except maybe penguin chicks, and they have those too! You have to get this episode just for the cubs and the chicks.

Planet Earth. A great place to live and a great series to watch.

If, after watching the free Planet Earth episode, you feel like you need to commune with nature some more, virtually of course, then you might want to check out some of Discovery Channel’s Video Podcasts. You’ll find stuff from every Discovery Channel show.

One such show I had missed when it aired was the ‘Walking with Dinosaurs” series. In that series they got up close and very personal with the ancient reptiles and discussed how the big lizards got it on.

When you think about it, whenever T-Rex is casted in a movie it’s usually a male and it’s usually pissed-off. After watching these podcasts I’m starting to wonder if old Rexy was more horny than angry. After all, little T-Rexes have to come from somewhere.

In fact, maybe T-Rex is just misunderstood. Sure, he or she has got to eat, but even dinosaurs can’t live on food alone. It can be tough to make friends when your smile looks like a stiletto factory. That would mean that tyrannosaurs could only befriend other tyrannosaurs, and that could make for a monotonous existence. I can imagine two T-Rexes strolling through a Jurassic jungle:
“Hey Claws, what do you want to do tonight?”

“Umm, how about we run down some plant-eaters? Those Diplos over there look pretty tasty.”

“ Didn’t we do that last night? You still got some of that Bront stuck in your teeth.”

“Yeah, we did do that, didn’t we? Gee. What else can we do? Our forearms are too short for archery or needlepoint and our feet aren’t made for tap dancing.”

“We could find some females.”

“Hey? Not a bad idea. Do female Bronts taste any different?”

“(sigh!) Claws, my friend, we really need to talk.”

Anyway, dino-sex is a subject that just doesn’t come up in everyday conversation so it’s interesting to learn what the experts think went on during a Jurassic booty call. Of course, there are other topics covered so you don’t have to feel like a pervert for watching.

Discovery Channel Video Podcasts. Grab some.

That’s going to do it for this week. I’ll be scoping out more freebies at the iTunes Store so stop back next week. Until then you can check out the freebies below, with direct links.

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Great assortment this week.

For instance, I recall watching Mutual of Omaha?s The Wild Kingdom when Marlin Perkins was the host.

Do you remember the one where he was demonstrating the monkey trap. I saw it on rerun as it was from one of the earliest seasons and was originally aired live. The monkey trap was a coconut with a hole in the side and piece of banana in it. The monkey grabbed the food and could not get his fist out through the small hole. Apparently they aren’t smart enough to let go and can be captured this way. Marlin was demonstrating this with a live monkey that he was holding and apparently never thought about what happens next. Once trapped the monkey panicked and completely freaked out. I remember Marlin trying to keep this absolutely hysterical monkey who was screaming, swinging the coconut around at the end of his arm and trying to escape under control while talking to the camera. It was one of the funniest things I’ve seen. Later episodes were known for Marlin staying in the helicopter, truck, jeep, wherever “While Jim wrestles the” alligator, anaconda, bear, etc. It became a standing joke in our family whenever someone was going to wait in the car.

Walking With Dinosaurs is also a lot of fun. They did a great job on them and I have several, but not all on DVD. I’ll look into this.


Wild Kingdom was a huge win back in the day! We watched it every week, especially since my Dad was a federal game warden, and was an acquaintance of Jim Fowler’s. I addition to Jim Fowler, Dad got to meet other celebrities who were in wilderness films. Dad met Jeffrey Hunter during the filming of “Lure of the Wilderness,” set in Okefenokee Swamp, where my Dad was working. They remained in contact, and met again during the filming of “The Great Locomotive Chase.” (You may also recall that Jeffrey Hunter played Captain Christopher Pike, captain of the USS Enterprise in the first Star Trek pilot. Needless to say, this really helps when playing six degrees of separation!)

Dad certainly shared many great real-life adventure tales with us kids. To this day, when I watch nature documentaries, I get to missing my Dad, who passed in 1997. Thanks for bringing back some fond memories.

Vern Seward

Hi Geo, Woode,

I use to watch Wild Kingdom weekly as well, and I wasn’t kidding about wanting to be a game warden/explorer/outdoorsman. Unfortunately there’s not much wilderness in Baltimore, where I grew up. Still, my friends and I wandered the many wooded parks, following trails, looking for animal tracks, and just having a grand old time. Kids in big cities dare not do the types of things we did back then, which, at the time, seemed so normal.

How can you tell a 10 year old kid he shouldn’t climb a 100 foot crumbling rock face without so much as a prayer for safety? And how do you dissuade boys that age from poking a 4 foot copperhead with a stick?

Nowadays kids have to worry about human predators, so a lazy afternoon deep in the woods without adult supervision is absolutely out of the question. 

But back in the day, Woode, I wanted to be like your Dad, and it was Mr. Perkins, and to a lesser extent, Jim Fowler, that let me dream that I could be.

Vern Seward

Justin B

I laughed at the tyrannosaurus sex screen cap.

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