Big Blue Live is essentially a nature documentary broadcast in real-time, and it’s a must-watch. Where else will you possibly see a blue whale, the largest animal on our planet, hunted to near-extinction, make a cameo appearance on live television?
Broadcast from the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, there are two live feeds each evening, one for the east coast and one for the west coast, and they’re broadcast on PBS and stream live, free, on PBS.org starting at 8 p.m. The three-night event continues tonight and concludes tomorrow.
Produced by PBS and the BBC, Big Blue Live alternates between pretaped segments—one showed scientists removing a rope that was caught on and wounding a whale’s tail—and live shots, which alternated between stand-up interviews and shots of wildlife. There was something infectious about the enthusiasm of the hosts, especially Dr. M Sanjayan, that helped the show jump off the screen.
A wondrous live nature documentary
The wildlife was the star, of course, and during the final minutes of Monday’s night’s broadcast, a live shot of the ocean captured a humpback whale breaching, its massive body lifting above the surface of the ocean and slamming down onto the water.
That was the most spectacular thing I’ve seen on live, unscripted television all year. I was hooked and will be back watching Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
Earlier this summer, Fox tried a live TV show that gave away money with horribly misguided stunts, and it was dreadful. Despite making people’s dreams come true, there was no reason to care. This was the exact opposite of that show, and it was infinitely more engaging. Yes, Big Blue Live is an educational series, one that frequently highlights the need for marine conservation and the wonder of these diverse creatures, but it did so via storytelling and extraordinarily powerful images.
Who knows what we’ll see tonight or tomorrow?
Perhaps it’ll be something like happened on Sunday’s BBC broadcast, a presenter became so excited by the sighting of a blue whale—the first time that’s ever happened on live TV—he freaks out, interrupting his guest and startling her.