One of the best shows you can watch right now especially if you own a 4K HDR TV is National Geographic’s Welcome to Earth on Disney Plus. The documentary series starring Will Smith contains some of the best footage we’ve seen in the format, and is almost built to test your home theater’s audio and visual capabilities.
Smith and Oscar-nominated director Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan) are executive producers on the show that is a collaboration between National Geographic, Nutopia, and Westbrook Studios.
The first episode titled “The Silent Roar” is sure to hook you in, as Smith and explorer Erik Weihenmayer hike into an active volcano to install special sound-monitoring equipment. The visuals are extraordinary and sharp as can be on a 4k Ultra HD TV. The color depth is also spectacular, and even more realistic with HDR on TVs and screens that support the color spec.
The audio experience in the series is just as impressive. Even though Welcome to Earth is not offered in Dolby Atmos, there are some moments that move effects spatially throughout multiple speaker setups and push the low-frequency sounds from your subwoofer.
Each episode carries a theme that is the main thread. For example, sound is the prevalent topic in Episode 1. Then, there are shorter related stories interwoven into the main story that provide additional context. Smith appears and narrates throughout the episodes along with topic experts and guest explorers navigating different areas of the world.
Welcome to Earth will likely never release to 4k Blu-ray. So, over-the-internet on a 4k TV is the best way to watch the episodes. But Disney Plus does a good job delivering a high bit rate (as seen with other 4k titles on the service), albeit not as high as Ultra HD Blu-ray could provide.d fm
There are other nature documentaries that really specialize in delivering the highest quality video and audio content. Look to BBC-produced shows such as Blue Planet, Our Planet, and Planet Earth (pretty much anything David Attenborough narrates) for the best images of the natural world. But Welcome to Earth is slightly different in its format and presentation of the wonders of life.
Will Smith is like a little kid in elementary school fascinated with one of his favorite teachers. His enthusiasm and excitement about these unknown worlds reflect back into the camera, making the show even more of a delight to watch.
The music soundtrack is also very different from traditional nature docs. Oscar-nominated composer Daniel Pemberton (The Trial of the Chicago 7) provides the score for the series that adds a layer of mystique. At times, without the visuals, you may imagine you’re watching a dramatic feature film.
We’re not going to give away any more of the details of the show because there are some “wow” moments and don’t want to spoil them. But, if you were wondering where the title of the show came from, apparently it was taken from Will Smith’s famous line “Welcome to Earth” from the blockbuster film Independence Day.
Set your TV to natural or cinematic mode (there is really no need to boost the color), make sure that subwoofer is activated, and turn down the lights to experience this show best in your home theater.
If you have thoughts after the first episode, let us know on Twitter.