The BBC's Planet Earth II isn't a remake of the science fiction show of the same name. This is a multinational nature show as only the BBC and the venerable David Attenborough can do it. Your reporter recently interviewed editor/publisher Sam Bellotto of PerihelionSF, the online reboot of an underground science fiction magazine of the '70s - a professional, "pulp-style" magazine free to readers.

First impression

Shots of the rare snow leopard so close-up you can practically feel its breath on your skin. Baby marine iguanas in a life-and-death race to the ocean, pursued by hungry snakes.

Drooling Komodo dragons. Spectacular images like these and more are the hallmark of the new “planet earth ii” nature series broadcast Saturdays on BBC America.

Produced by BBC in cooperation with ZDF, Tencent, and France Televisions, this follow-up series to the successful 2006 series “Planet Earth” incorporates the latest technology, including the use of new camera platforms - such as aerial drones - to obtain some of the most spectacular animal footage I've ever seen. The narration is once again delivered by the familiar, authoritative voice of David Attenborough.

What makes it different?

In addition to the gorgeous photography, what sets “Planet Earth II” apart from many other nature shows is its adherence to a format of almost clinical scientific observation.

As mentioned above, in a scene from the first show in the series, “Islands,” a hatching of Galapagos iguanas ran the gauntlet of racer snakes on their way to the safety of the ocean.

The drama was palpable. Hard to figure out which side to root for. Baby iguanas are cute (well, I think so) and you want to give high fives to the lucky hatchlings that make it to water by the scaly skin of their teeth, so to speak.

But the snakes (also lovable in that reptile sort of way) gotta eat, too. Fortunately, there are lots of baby iguanas, so both species survive.

Planet Earth II the second

In the second episode, ibex native to the Arabian Peninsula, in Israel, are documented as they effortlessly clamber around some of the most precipitous mountains with ease.

One slip and they'd plummet dozens of meters to their death. But these animals are athletic and sure-footed. It doesn't take long for the young ibex to become as agile as the adults. Of course, on the craggy mountain tops there is no water, so the ibex have to descend to the open land below for a drink. There await predators.

The show premiered February 18th on BBC America. The first two episodes were “Islands,” and “Mountains.” BBC America shows always get a repeat so you can still catch them as well as the remaining four scheduled episodes. I'm recording them. Time-shifting the series lets you can skip past the many commercial interruptions that plague television these days. But like the animals it examines, the BBC has got to eat, as well.

(Taken from an interview with Sam Bellotto, editor, puzzle book creator, and science fiction author in his own right but doesn't produce any TV shows.)