To kick off the summer season, Apple TV+ has dropped a dino-sized documentary miniseries that you don't want to miss; here's how to watch "Prehistoric Planet," plus a complete overview of its contents and the talent behind the massive project.
"Prehistoric Planet" comes to us from "The Mandalorian" honcho Jon Favreau and the producers of the acclaimed documentary series "Planet Earth" and takes viewers back 66 million years into the past, shortly before the extinction of the nonavian dinosaurs. The makers of the live-action-CG odyssey aimed to evade a number of wrong and outdated ideas about dinosaurs that have been introduced by popular culture over the decades, so many of the species included in "Prehistoric Planet" might not look exactly as you'd think.
The series portrays the extinct creatures moving and behaving with an unparalleled level of realism, never before seen in movies or television, and using the cutting-edge tech that Favreau used for his 2019 remake of Disney's "The Lion King" and more. It's all about creating a computer-generated illusion of live-action footage, something that BBC's "Walking with Dinosaurs" already tried back in 1999 (and later with spinoffs).
As it stands, "Prehistoric Planet" runs for five episodes, and that should be it. It's already been a huge success though, and with Apple TV+ looking to expand its library of content, we wouldn't be surprised to see a second season happen in the future.
If that sounds like your kind of show, read on below to find out how to watch "Prehistoric Planet" and learn more about the show's Cretaceous setting.
Where to stream Prehistoric Planet?
"Prehistoric Planet" is exclusively streaming on Apple TV+ and started airing on May 23, 2022. It was marketed as a special five-night event, so the four following episodes debuted on May 24, May 25, May 26 and May 27, respectively.
The entirety of "Prehistoric Planet’s" first (and currently sole) season is available to stream now. Each episode runs for around 40 minutes.
Prehistoric Planet trailers
Aside from TV spots and some clips, Apple TV+ released two full trailers to promote "Prehistoric Planet" ahead of its May 23 debut.
The first trailer dropped on April 20 and gave us a meaty two-minute first look at the series' many environments and lifelike prehistoric creatures. Watch it below:
The second major preview trailer played more like a longer TV spot, clearly outlining the show's structure and its five-day release schedule. It can be seen below:
What is Prehistoric Planet?
As mentioned above, Prehistoric Planet's main aim is to update our general understanding of dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures from the late Cretaceous period. For example, we may think we have a clear image of the coloring that dinosaurs sported (mostly drab gray and brown scales), but more recent investigations and discoveries support the idea that many non-avian dinosaurs were actually quite colorful.
The new documentary miniseries wants to answer major, ongoing questions as well, such as how the legendary T. rex truly behaved as a responsible parent. While it may be important to modernize certain ideas and concepts about these creatures, "Prehistoric Planet" also spends much of its runtime looking at corners of this world which are often overlooked.
Each of Prehistoric Planet's five episodes focuses on a specific type of biome, starting out with the dangerous coasts and open waters of the late Cretaceous. The second episode moves on to the deserts of North Africa and the skies above, harsh environments filled with ferocious creatures and enduring survivors. The third part deals with wetland environments and the animals that stayed close to freshwater.
The most striking installment for general audiences might be the fourth, which visits snow-covered forests where feathered dinosaurs thrived against all expectations. And to cap things off, the fifth and final episode visits the perilous forests of (what is now) North America.
Which dinosaurs are in Prehistoric Planet?
Even though many other creatures are featured in the show, "Prehistoric Planet" chooses to focus on dinosaurs, marine reptiles and pterodactyls — the three groups that dominated the land, water and air 66 million years ago.
Of course, the infamous Tyrannosaurus rex headlines the roster of carnivorous dinosaurs, but other tyrannosaurids, such as the Tarbosaurus and the recently discovered Nanuqsaurus also make stellar appearances. Small hunters like Velociraptor and Mononykus, plus an unnamed troodontid also get their time to shine. Perhaps more impressive are the larger herbivores, such as the huge Dreadnoughtus, the eye-catching Olorotitan, and the classic Triceratops. There are many more species to discover in "Prehistoric Planet," but those will surely catch your attention.
If we go underwater, we can witness the lives of well-known marine reptiles like Mosasaurus, along with mostly unknown species such as Tuarangisaurus and Kaikaifilu. It's reasonable to think these creatures are limited to only the first episode, but a group of Elasmosaurus are featured in the third chapter, too.
Finally, pterodactyls ranging from Barbaridactylus to the enormous Hatzegopteryx are presented throughout the series, with episode three paying special attention to the stunning airplane-size Quetzalcoatlus.
Who created Prehistoric Planet?
The five-part documentary was produced by BBC Studios' Natural History Unit, with Favreau serving as showrunner. The visual effects were handled by MPC ("The Lion King" and "The One and Only Ivan"), and Hans Zimmer headlines a trio of composers which includes Anže Rozman and Kara Talve. Legendary English broadcaster, biologist, natural historian and author David Attenborough narrates all five episodes.
Paleontologist and consultant Steve Brusatte said the series had been in active development for "a decade" prior to its release, though we didn't learn about its existence until May 8, 2019.
Helping with up-to-date paleontological research were paleozoologist Darren Naish, serving as the lead consultant for the depictions of prehistoric life. He was joined by scientists Brusatte, Alexander Farnsworth, Kiersten Formoso, Michael Habib, Scott Hartman, John R. Hutchinson, Luke Muscutt, Peter Skelton, Robert Spicer, Paul Valdes and Mark Witton.
Moreover, David Krentz, director of "Dinosaur Revolution" (a 2011 four-part American documentary) was involved in the creature development and design for "Prehistoric Planet," which was mostly handled by Jellyfish Pictures.
Originally published on Live Science.