There's a lot of great new programming coming in October to Discovery HD Theater.
Don't miss the premiere of the Extended Director's Cut of Discovery Atlas HD: China Revealed this Sunday at 9pm E/P. Followed on the next three Sunday nights with the extended versions of Italy, Brazil and Australia. Also, catch the all-new season of Sunrise Earth: Asia beginning Monday morning, 10/2 at 7am E/P.
Plus, more Discovery HD Theater original documentary specials that you won't see anywhere else! Descriptions below. Enjoy.
Sunday, 10/1 @ 8pm E/P
South Africaâ€™s Hoedspruit Air Force Base is under attack. But itâ€™s not what you think. This high tech ultra-modern military installation isnâ€™t fending off enemy soldiers. Instead, itâ€™s being overrun by wildlife.
The problem began soon after the base was constructed on the border of the magnificent Kruger National Park. The military thought this was a secure, isolated spot free from prying eyes and protected by a vast wilderness. But they didnâ€™t expect Mother Nature to become their number one enemy. Slowly but surely wildlife are working their way under, over and through the perimeter fence that surrounds the base.
Warthogs are a regular feature on the runway -- often at the exact same time as 30 million dollar jets are coming in to land. Bats are colonizing the staff barracks in such numbers that the ceilings collapse from the sheer weight of them. Rats are invading the fuselage of helicopters and other aircraft, chewing up their wiring and electronics and rendering them inoperable. The jet fighters face more animal hazards; vultures and other birds soaring above the runways, using the flat open space below to search for food.
So far the officers in charge of Hoedspruit have relied on an arsenal of conventional military weapons to deter the animals; electrified fences, helicopter gunships to scare off wayward warthogs, heat-sensing scopes to find rats in aircraft engines. They have tried everything, but millions of dollars later, they are raising the white flag. In desperation they have concluded that if they canâ€™t beat Mother Nature they will have to work with her.
Discovery Atlas HD: China Revealed
Sunday, 10/1 @ 9pm E/P
For the first time in its 5,000 year history, the oldest, most populous nation on earth has opened its doors to the rest of the world. In perhaps the greatest sociological shift in human history, 1.2 billion people have been set in pursuit of one simple goal: Get Rich Now. The economies of Feudalism and Communism are out. Capitalism is in. Overnight. Old walls are being torn down, a futuristic landscape of glass and steel is shooting up in its place. China is now home to the greatest frenzy of construction the world has ever seen, consuming 60% of the world's steel and 45% of its concrete every week. But what does this mean for the nation and its people? This isn't some third world backwater.
China is already one of the most accomplished civilizations on earth. Coupling insightful journalism with spectacular and ground-breaking photographic techniques, this film with set out to uncover the roots of the Chinese civilization and culture through the stories of seven people: Vincent Lo, the 'Donald Trump' of China; a 17th century bowman from heart of the Forbidden City and what lain in its place; a migrant worker struggling in a newly industrialized cosmopolitan; a young gymnast who carries the hope of her land into the 2008 Olympics; a porter who's back breaking labor and efforts are only to be overshadowed by the mythical Mount Taishan and thousands of years of history; the policewomen who try to ebb the flow of opium and heroin in and outside of China's borders; a fisherman who may set aside a lifetime of tradition to cater to China's newly booming tourism industry; a railroad worker who spends day and night traversing the Himalayas, surviving treacherous terrain and a constant rebellion in one of China's remotest provinces; and a young monk, training in the Shaolin tradition only to be tempted by the booming film industry in Hong Kong.
This program will bring alive the pressures and possibilities of life in the heart of the greatest nation on earth, in the midst of its greatest transformation. Narrated by James Spader.
Sunrise Earth: Asia
Angkor Temples of Khmer Kings
Monday, 10/2 @ 7am E/P
ANGKOR, CAMBODIA. Dawn breaks on the remains of the sacred temples of Angkor, seat of the Khmer kings and their 12th century empire. The signature towers of Angkor Wat stand in blue silhouette, appearing like closed lotus blossoms alongside the lily pads and floating pollen of a reflecting pool. Nearby, nature's slow dance grasps and supports the mythic walls of the Ta Prohm temple. Giant silk-cotton trees are surrounded by banyan, kapok, and strangler figs. Each embrace -and are embraced- by elaborately carved sandstone figures of celestial dancing girls, called Apsaras. Columns of ants move through the temple, carrying loads far tinier than those once carried by ancient craftsman and laborers. Also visibly alive, solitary Buddhists maintaining a reverent vigilance amidst an ever-changing world. As the sun reaches from dawn to morning, we glimpse the edifice of the neighboring Bayon temple, with its giant carved faces of a king-like Buddha.
Sunrise Earth: Asia
Li River Cormorants
Tuesday, 10/3 @ 7am E/P
LI RIVER, XINGPING, CHINA. In the last hour of darkness we witness a 2,000 year old working partnership between fishermen and their fish-catching birds, the great cormorants. Dots of light bob at the end of slender bamboo rafts, attracting carp and other fish for the trained diving birds to capture and disgorge into the waiting basket. Again and again, the birds disappear, only to return. Fishermen stand in the middle, waiting patiently. They are dressed in traditional capes, woven with palm fronds. The golden sun ascends and then bursts behind a towering karst peak, one of many with names like Wave Crag, White Horse Cliff, and Five Tigers Catch a Goat Hill. We've plunged into the middle of a vast Chinese landscape painting. In this vision, the human being is small indeed.
Sunrise Earth: Asia
PingAn Rice Paddies
Wednesday, 10/4 @ 7am E/P
PING AN, CHINA. Here we notice the morning activities of the Dragon's Backbone, a stunning sixty-six square kilometers of crop terraces hand-cultivated by 800 farmers and snaking up over a thousand feet of vertical altitude. These are marks of the Zhuang people, one of four minority groups in this part of China. For 700 years they've reached down to the earth every morning; planting and harvesting rice, wheat, and corn. Other participants sharing the bounty of this red dawn are a colorful range of frogs, spiders, and birds. Rice feeds a majority of the people on the planet. On this morning, one of the places that produces this amazing grain comes alive.
Sunrise Earth: Asia
Buddhists of Wat Svay
Thursday, 10/5 @ 7am E/P
SIEM REAP, CHINA. Every culture has its own connection to the natural world at dawn. In Siem Reap, Cambodia, the chants of monks echo from within a Theravada Buddhist monastery, called a â€œwat.â€ These chants help start the day by focusing the monksâ€™ attention. Potential distractions are many. Unlike the cloistered monastic retreats of the west, the Wat Svay compound is at the community hub, at its central cross-road. Yet despite busy human activity, the peaceful influence and presence of the natural world remains near for the focused mind. A vibrant pigeon roost is found on the pagodaâ€™s rooftop, amidst ornamental carvings that depict serpent figures called â€œnagas,â€ protectors from the earth. School children wander among the votive â€œstupas,â€ maintaining the grounds. And as the monks honor their lineage of spiritual teachers, a spectacular rainbow reveals itself high over the temple. One last little known factâ€¦a rainbow at sunrise will always have a steeper arc than any rainbow that happens near mid-day.
Sunrise Earth: Asia
Elephant Trunk Park
Friday, 10/6 @ 7am E/P
GUILIN, CHINA. Daily morning exercises by Chinaâ€™s mature citizens are a traditional method of easing lifeâ€™s aches and pains. The practice is derivative of Tai Chi, a regiment started in China over 800 years ago. On this morning, they are happening in a public park called Elephant Trunk, within Guilin, a city in southern China with a population of 1.34 million. The Li River flows by. Birds sing. A man casts his fishing line from a rock. Another invisible line reaches high to an overhead kite, as it catches the first gentle breezes of a new day. Kites first appeared in China over 3,000 years ago, made of silk and bamboo.
Emperor of the Seas: The Voyages of Zheng He
Columbus Day -- Monday, 10/9 @ 9pm E/P
Some 87 years before Christopher Columbus landed in America, a Muslim eunuch Admiral Zheng He led a fleet of 30,000 sailors in 300 ships on a voyage half way around the world. Over a period of 28 years, Zheng He visited more than 40 countries spanning from his homeport of Nanjing, China all the way to Mogadishu in Southern Africa.
Along the way, he brought news from Ming Dynasty China and exchanged treasures of silks and porcelain for extraordinary artifacts, even bringing back the first giraffe China had ever seen. Zheng He, known as a marauding conqueror who brought Sultans to their knees and a shrewd and savvy trader who opened up major trade routes claims to be the greatest explorer in history.
This program, timed to coincide with the 600th anniversary of Zheng He's first voyage, will tell the compelling story of this unique Admiral and recreate his voyages across Asia, the Middle East and Africa against the backdrop of China's rich Ming Dynasty court and the brilliance of China's maritime inventions.
Franklin's Lost Expedition
Columbus Day -- Monday, 10/9 @ 10pm E/P
In May 1845, British explorer Sir John Franklin, along with two ships and 134 crew, set out on an expedition to map a route to Asia through the Arctic -- the fabled North West Passage. Three months later, the ships and crew disappeared without a trace.
Provoking one of the greatest manhunts in history, over fifty expeditions in three different centuries have tried and failed to discover what happened to Franklin and his crew. Over the years tantilizing scraps of evidence have been uncovered; corpses, possessions and even the ship's food have all been found and analysed -- but each time the evidence has proved inconclusive.
Visually stunning and filmed by Emmy Award Winning director Peter Bate, Franklin's Lost Expedition brilliantly recounts this fascinating mystery that forever changed the course of British Imperial history.
Discovery Atlas HD: Italy Revealed
Sunday, 10/8 @ 9pm E/P
Italy is a place of spectacular contrasts: a land stretching from the snow-capped peaks of the Alps to the sun-baked semi-desert of Sicily. It's a nation with a 2,000-year history that only became united in its present form a century ago. Italy is a country torn between its ancient Catholic traditions and the breathtaking pace of change that marks the 21st century. This documentary special takes the viewer on a journey through the heart of Italy. Over the course of one year, the program follows the lives and loves, trials and tribulations, and hopes and dreams of 8 individuals exemplifying what it means to be Italian.
Italy is a nation that captivates the senses from the simple pleasures of its food to the enchanting music of its great composers. But Italy is above all renowned for its devotion to the cult of visual beauty. It is no mistake that Italians treasure La Bella Figura - the beauty of appearance - above all else. From the olive groves of Tuscany to the ancient wonders of Rome and the volcanic furnace of Mt. Vesuvius to the floating beauty of Venice, Italy teases the eye. Spanning the length and breadth of Italy, this film combines stunning location footage, not just of its famous monuments, but also of its hidden jewels. The latest computer graphics will propel the viewer on a magic carpet ride through the Italian landscape, while personal insights into the real lives of Italians will unravel the stereotypes and reveal the hidden secrets of what makes the nation tick.
The very root of the program is a journey through an Italian year, a year that is shaped by constant celebrations and festivals. Using carefully crafted time-lapse footage, the film will display Italian life within the natural cycle of the seasons while the individual storylines unravel the lives of ordinary Italians. Narrated by Isabella Rosselini.
Discovery Atlas HD: Brazil Revealed
Sunday, 10/15 @ 9pm E/P
Brazil is a vibrant and exhilarating nation. Equal in size to mainland USA, it is not only the largest country in South America but also the most diverse in terms of geography, population and culture. It is home to steaming jungles and dry steppes, pristine beaches and lofty mountain peaks. It sends satellites into space yet, in the remote Amazon jungle, native tribes still practice Stone Age traditions. These contradictions are somehow united by a common language-Portuguese, a common religion-Catholicism, and a common dream-sometime, somehow, Brazil will be a great nation. Brazil will be a new, vibrant country with the most diverse ethnic mix on the planet.
This is the ultimate guide to one of the most fascinating countries in the world. Using the latest HD camera technology coupled with movie-caliber cinematography and effects, this two hour special captures the very essence of Brazil through the eyes of its people. It will explore the roles that history, geography, culture, religion and the natural environment have played in shaping this unique nation.
In the middle, the people. Despite often enormous social and economic difficulties, the Brazilians are a remarkably happy people. Spontaneous, enthusiastic and high spirited, they tend to live for the here and now. These are the stories of nine such Brazilians. Brazilians with nine different backgrounds, nine different lives but who all sum up the essence of this huge country and epitomize its people's natural habit of "seizing the moment." Narrated by Sela Ward.
HD Traveler: Berlin (Part 1 of 2)
Tuesday, October 17 @ 10pm E/P
Discovery Atlas HD: Australia Revealed
Sunday, 10/22 @ 9pm E/P
It's the only country that is a continent. It spans over 4 million sqaure miles with over 22,000 miles of coastline. It's one the driest places on the planet yet faces some of the most extreme weather man has ever faced. And it's become home to over 20 million people-surviving in one of the most vast but absolutely amazing lands ever seen. Australians themselves are defined by the very land they call home. They are survivors, deeply rooted to the land that offers them so much and so little.
Step into the world's oldest culture, drive the world's biggest trucks, join a cattle round-up on the world's largest ranch, vie with thousands in a lifesaving competition, dig for gold and opals and explore the cultural pursuits of cane toad racing and beach bar-b-q's. It's a challenging country with spirited stories of survival, success and more than a hint of humor. Atlas Australia is an epic adventure with intimate insight into this big, bold and tenacious country. Narrated by Russell Crowe.
HD Traveler: Berlin (Part 2 of 2)
Tuesday, October 24 @ 10pm E/P
The True Legend of the Eiffel Tower
Sunday, October 29 @ 9pm E/P
The Eiffel Tower was erected to last no longer than the world's fair it was built for. But how was it built, and by whom? How did it become the most visited building in the world?
The year is 1884. We are in the workshops of engineer Gustave Eiffel. There is already talk of the 1889 World's Fair and celebrations to mark the centenary of the French Revolution. Eiffel, now internationally renowned, is determined to have his work as the premier architect of the new France stand out once again. The idea comes from one of his partners; if they were to turn their firm's most recent bridge design skyward, they would have a giant tower the likes of which no one could have dreamed.
The Eiffel Tower was the runaway hit of the 1889 World's Fair, but the true genius of its creator lay in the fact that he also made the tower a focal point for scientific experimentation, aviation testing, and most notably, for telecommunications research - to which the tower ultimately owes its survival.
This exhaustively researched docudrama by Simon Brook and Pascal Laine ingeniously blends historic and rare archive footage, factual accounts, and both live and detailed CGI reconstructions to bring to life the historic design and execution of one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world.