hidden kingdomsMade by the people behind Planet Earth is what sold me. Ok, also that it is about animals and that fantastic British actor Stephen Fry does the narration. This three-part documentary series has a lot going for it.

I was totally intrigued that the series was mostly about animals that you don’t usually see. We don’t usually see them because of their size – they are tiny. The tiny animals in these three parts are called tiny superheroes because of the epic battles and struggles they have to undergo just to survive. It shows that it is not only large animals that are courageous. Pound for pound these species have more than their larger counterparts.

What really caught my attention was the ingenious ways the filmmakers and cameramen were able to set up their cameras to get the shots needed to tell the tales of the small animals. It gives you an up-close view of the world from the animals’ perspectives. Even those who have seen many animal series will be kept entertained.

Episode 1: Under Open Skies: Two different types of animals that are attempting to grow up quickly. First we travel to the savannah in Kenya and meet up with an orphaned baby elephant. The baby elephant is quickly learning that to be quick, even for the largest of animals, is essential to survival. Next we voyage to the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and learn about a grasshopper mouse. In order to find a space of its own the grasshopper mouse has to face up against some deadly creatures.

Episode 2: Secret Forests: First we travel to a forest in North America. It is going to soon be the first winter in the harsh environment of Quebec for a young chipmunk and it is attempting to gather and store nuts to get it through the long cold months ahead. Doing so is not as straightforward as it sounds as some predators get in its way. Next we move on to a hot and humid rainforest in Borneo. A young tree shrew is learning how to go deep into the forest to find food. In order to get at what it needs it will have to go up against a deadly foe – the reticulated snake. Her intelligence and mobility will be put to the test.

Episode 3: Urban Jungles: Our first stop is the bustling city of Rio in Brazil. After having been separated from its street gang a young marmoset monkey has to learn how to survive the city streets alone and avoid its deadly enemy – cats. Finally we move onto the crammed streets of Tokyo. A rhinoceros beetle escapes from its captors and has to navigate this strange environment in order to get to safe place.

Special Features: Mike Gunton Introduction, Creating the Shot, Creating the Score, Extended Scene, Storyboarding the Beetles