‘Spy in the Snow’ review: Winter wonderland

Spy in the Snow

Run time: 46 minutes

In the land of ice and snow as the sea otters gambol in Alaska there is one otter gazing unblinkingly at its peers. As the camera zooms in on the unblinking eye, you realise it is a spy creature — a camera hidden in a robot otter.

Narrated by Scottish actor David Tennant, Spy in the Snow features cameras disguised as animals and objects observing animals in their natural habitat. Following in the footsteps of 2013’s Penguins: Spy in the Huddle and 2017’s Spy in the Wild, Spy in the Snow follows sea otters in Alaska, Bennett’s wallabies in Tasmania, emperor penguins in the Antartic and polar bears in the Arctic.

A Spy Otter in the snow, in Alaska.

The sea otter mum teaching her pup life skills from swimming while adroitly avoiding the swooping eagle and whale sharks looking to catch the vulnerable pup, to using a rock as an anvil to break open clam, under the watchful gaze of otter cam, is heart-warming. The sea otters courtship rituals are followed by the spy bald eagle.

The penguin cam watches emperor penguins tobogganing in the slippery snow when it gets difficult to walk. Tennant tells us the parenting hormone is found in higher concentration in emperor penguins and for that reason they cross 50 miles of sea to feed their chicks. When the time comes for the chicks to go to the sea, they have to fend off a giant petrel. They have help from Adélie penguins who drive off the petrel and push the chicks into the sea.

A Spy Tobogganing Penguin with emperor penguins in background, in Antarctica.

A Spy Tobogganing Penguin with emperor penguins in background, in Antarctica.
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Apart from the penguin cam there is also snow ball cam with self righting lens and an egg cam. The blizzard cam that can trundle quickly at 40 mph gets the attention of the polar bears. The curious mother polar bear sniffs at the cam, moves it about and finally gets an angle she is happy with and we have perhaps the only polar bear home movie directed by a polar bear! There is also a section of polar bears socialising by play fighting and a female polar bear flirting with her mate.

A colony of Bennett’s wallabees has a spy in their midst — spy wallabee. Being accepted is important for any spy, as Tennant comments only what does one do when spy wallabee is being courted by a young male? And then there is the bear nosed wombat whose courtship includes biting the female’s backside.

Nature documentaries are always fun and this one has a light hearted playfulness that is irresistible.

Spy in the Snow premieres on October 13 at 9 p.m. on Sony BBC Earth.


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