When BBCA’s Planet Earth comes to TCA, it can expect to take a slew of traditional “Given the way the planet is being mistreated, do you fear this will be a monument to what once was” questions.
But in 2018 TCA, most of the questions for the Planet Earth: Blue Planet II Q&A sprang from a clip in which a big badass male Kobudai gets the the brush-off from a little female Kobudai because, turns out, this particular female had reached an age where she was to begin becoming a male – a transformation documented in the series:
Have we always known about this behavior?” producers got asked by one intrigued reporter speaking for many in the room.
“Transgender things are very topical these days,” series producer Mark Brownlow said by way of explaining the decision to film this fish and this time, and to include the clip at TCA.
“I was thinking more #MeToo” the reporter shot back.
“Changing sex is common in the ocean. It’s quite a common phenomenon,” Brownlow added. EP James Honeyborne jumped in to explain that while the Kobudai female becomes a male, other fish see males become female, and some very “gender fluid fish” change back and forth. In all there are about 400 species of fish that do it,” he said.
Warming to his theme, Brownlow noted this series used infrared to film a “horrific monstrous” Bobbitt Worm that grabs fish in the middle of the night, which he promised will be horrifying to the audience. “In a good way,” Honeyborne hastened to add.
Brownlow, undaunted, declined to explain why the worm was given that name, suggesting reporters in the room google “Bobbitt” and “look for a story from the U.S. for particulars.
“Given the way the planet is being treated or mistreated, do you fear this will be monument to what once was?” a reporter asked narrater Sir David Attenborough, because old habits die hard.
“I think we have an obligation” to show the “current perils facing it, which are considerable” Attenborough responded. The last episode of this series in particular hone in on the threats “which are considerable, and man-made,” he added.
AMC Networks will air the first episode of the seven-part nature documentary sequel series Planet Earth: Blue Planet II on five of its channels, starting Saturday, January 20. Blue Planet II will bow day-and-date in Canada on BBC Earth. The sequel, nearly half a decade in production, already has aired in other parts of the world and was the top-rated series of 2017 and the most-watched natural history title in more than 15 years.