Prehistoric Planet is the best dinosaur nature documentary since BBC’s Walking with Dinosaurs back in 1999. Which is just as well, since it’s one of the few things worth watching on Apple TV+.

Prehistoric Planet: Details

"Prehistoric Planet" key art.
Any nature documentary is automatically 100% better with David Attenborough in it.

Prehistoric Planet is a 5-episode nature documentary all about dinosaurs, making use of a combination of really good CGI and real-life footage to depict the world as it was 66 million years ago. Jon Favreau (Iron Man, The Avengers, Spider-Man: Homecoming) and Mike Gunton (The Trials of Life, Life, Planet Earth II) directed this documentary. The wonderful David Attenborough narrated the entire documentary. Hans Zimmer, Anže Rozman, and Kara Talve composed the music. BBC Studios Natural History Unit and Moving Picture Company produced it. Finally, Apple Inc. is handling distribution.

Prehistoric Planet premiered on May 23, 2022. You can watch it only on Apple TV+. Fortunately, Apple TV+ does offer a 7-day free trial and there’s not much else to watch on it, so you can easily sign up for that free trial to watch this documentary. Trust me, if you have any interest in dinosaurs, this is well worth the free trial.

Warning: spoilers for Prehistoric Planet below. If you want to see the ultra-HD dinosaurs for yourself, then stop here, and come back once you’ve returned from your journey 66 million years into the past.

Prehistoric Planet: Plot Summary

Just enough plot without giving the whole thing away…not that there’s much of it in the first place.

Due to being a nature documentary, Prehistoric Planet doesn’t really have much in the way of story. However, the show does manage to create some very adorable yet riveting character drama with their dinosaurs. If you’ve watched Walking with Dinosaurs, then this formula should be familiar to you. I’ll go over said drama by episode:

Episode 1: “Coasts:

"Prehistoric Planet" key art focusing on the swimming Tyrannosaurus.
A T-rex doesn’t exactly scream “aquatic life”, but you’d be surprised.

Prehistoric Planet Ep. 1 “Coasts” starts us off by showing a T-rex and his 4, sorry, 3 kids going on a fishing trip to an island. While daddy T-rex is snacking on a giant sea turtle and making his kids try to hunt, some Alcione pterosaur chicks hatch on a high promontory. They fly towards a nearby forest, but other hungry pterosaurs make sure that only a few of them make it. While some Tuarangisaurus plesiosaurs munch on some rocks for gastroliths, a Mosasaurus gets his cleaning interrupted by a rival, but he manages to fight him off to resume his oceanic spa treatment.

After some bioluminescent ammonites mate and die in droves, one of the female Tuarangisaurus starts to go into labor just as a Kaikaifilu tylosaur thinks she looks yummy. Fortunately, the Tuarangisaurus‘s son annoys the Kaikaifilu long enough for the rest of the pod to show up and fight the predator off. Thus, the Tuarangisaurus safely gives birth to her son’s younger sibling, and the pod rejoices.

Episode 2: “Deserts”

"Prehistoric Planet" screenshot showing a herd of Dreadnoughtus on a desert plain.
Sauropods marching across a desert will always remind me of that one Dinosaur movie from Disney.

Prehistoric Planet Ep. 2 “Deserts” starts us off with 2 gender-segregated herds of Dreadnoughtus titanosaurs meeting on a dry plain to mate, resulting in a vicious fight between the males. At least 1 of the male sauropods dies as a result, but that just results in a whole bunch of food for a pack of Tarbosaurus. The half-eaten carcass attracts insects, which in turn attracts lizards, which in turn attracts some fluffy Velociraptors looking for a meal. Elsewhere, a barn owl-like Mononykus manages to look adorable hunting for insects, especially after a rare rainstorm.

While a bunch of dinosaurs drinks a watering hole dry, a flock of Barbaridactylus pterosaurs mate on top of a desert plateau with varying levels of success. Elsewhere, a herd of Secernosaurus hadrosaurs wander across a gypsum desert before finally finding food and water. It only lasts a short while, but it’s enough to allow them to go on.

Ep. 3 “Freshwater”

"Prehistoric Planet" screenshot showing a Deinocheirus happily munching on water plants.
Meet the prehistoric world’s biggest duck/ox thing.

Prehistoric Planet Ep. 3 “Freshwater” starts us off with a pack of Velociraptors doing their best impression of assassins by scaling a cliffside to hunt pterosaurs. In the swamp below, a battle-scarred male Tyrannosaurus gets it on with a lovely female Tyrannosaurus. Elsewhere, a duck-like Deinocheirus does its best impression of a multi-ton borb, and succeeds beyond our wildest dreams. On an island somewhere else, a female Quetzalcoatlus lays her eggs in a nest, only to promptly lose most of them to a rival Quetzalcoatlus who wants her nest for herself. Fortunately, our Quetzalcoatlus manages to save the rest, and they hatch into fluffy chicks.

A Masiakasaurus and her chicks hunt for crabs, but promptly flee when she loses one of them to the giant frog Beelzebufo. Fortunately, the episode ends on a high note with some Elasmosauruses happily playing in the flooded river. All while our Quetzalcoatlus and her new family watch on to boot.

Ep. 4 “Ice Worlds”

Is it just me, or do both of these dinosaur species have the guts to fight it out in the middle of a raging blizzard?

Prehistoric Planet Ep. 4 “Ice Worlds” starts us off with a pack of dromaeosaurs interrupting an orderly river crossing by a herd of hadrosaurs. Most of the herd makes it, including a mother and her calf, but the dromaeosaurs find a drowned calf and rejoice as they feed on it. Elsewhere, some Ornithomimus have fun stealing from each other’s nests during courtship. In a much warmer area entirely, some Olorotitan lambeosaurs raise their chicks in volcanic dirt. The fertile land makes them stay awhile, but the mosquitoes convince them to leave.

In a random forest, some troodontids figure out how to use fire from a forest fire to hunt small mammals. They might’ve been able to make something of that intelligence. You know, had that asteroid not happened. A young Antarctopelta ankylosaur gets kicked out of their den by his brothers. Fortunately, he finds a much nicer den to stay in later. Lastly, in the middle of a blizzard, a pack of Nanuqsaurus hunts a herd of Pachyrhinosaurus. After an intense standoff, the Nanuqsaurus succeed and get their winter dinner.

Ep. 5 “Forests”

The best part of this episode.

The 5th and last episode of Prehistoric Planet starts us off with massive Austroposeidon sauropods knocking down whole trees just to get the tasty bits. Meanwhile, a herd of Triceratops journey into a cave for medicinal clay. They nearly lose a baby, but it’s okay. Elsewhere, a male Carnotaurus frantically waves his cute little arms to attract a prospective female. Unfortunately, it wasn’t cute enough for the female, and she leaves. In a colder forest, a female Qianzhousaurus stalks a Corythoraptor herd, and succeeds in getting one under the cover of a storm. Meanwhile, a forest fire breaks out in another forest. This forces an Edmontosaurus family to flee, but gives wonderful opportunities for a hunting Atrociraptor. Oh, and some random herbivorous dinosaurs who really like the taste of charcoal.

In yet another forest at night, a group of young Therizinosaurus try to climb a tree to get at a beehive. They only succeed in making the audience squeal at their cuteness. Fortunately, an adult Therizinosaurus knocks down the beehive for them. The adult is even nice enough to leave some crumbs for them after they’ve eaten their fill. Lastly, a Hatzegopteryx pterosaur takes a Zalmoxes as a snack before setting off for the coast. Other dinosaurs go there for the salt, but the pterosaur just wants open space to take off from. Thus, the pterosaur flaps off towards the rising sun and a seemingly bright future. Unaware of what’s going to happen in a million years, but that’s another story. Thus ends Prehistoric Planet.

Prehistoric Planet: The Good

Watch it for the baby T-rexes. They are that cute.

I’ll start with the best thing about Prehistoric Planet: the CGI. My god, it’s gorgeous. It’s the best CGI I’ve ever seen for any show, let alone for dinosaur documentaries. Only Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV beats it in terms of CGI quality, and that film was on another level. Seriously, the CGI in this documentary is so good that you have trouble telling it apart from the real-life footage.

Speaking of which, I do like how they mixed the really good CGI in with real-life nature footage. The effect is like the old Walking with Dinosaurs documentary. The real-life nature footage really immerses you into this prehistoric planet. You actually feel like you’re watching footage of the planet from 66 million years ago taken by a time-traveling cameraperson.

The icing on this prehistoric cake is the dinosaurs themselves. The short character dramas the dinosaurs are playing out add even more depth to the documentary, while also further immersing you into their world. Again, this reminds me of the 1999 Walking with Dinosaurs documentary, which did the same thing. In short, Prehistoric Planet took the things that made Walking with Dinosaurs great and made them even better. I cannot give this dinosaur documentary higher praise.

Prehistoric Planet: The Bad

"Prehistoric Planet" screenshot showing the male Carnotaurus standing there with his tiny blue arms, waiting for the female to judge him.
The only one who thought this was bad was that female Carnotaurus.

The only bad thing I have to say about Prehistoric Planet is how short it was. 5 episodes at around 45 minutes each seems decently long, but the time flies quickly. Too quickly. Soon, the show will have ended, and you’re wondering what to do next in life. You’ve watched the best dinosaur documentary in decades, and there’s nothing else that compares now. All you can do is wait, and hope Apple TV+ makes a sequel. Honestly, this show deserves it.

Source: Apple TV+