Journey to Planet Earth TV Poster Image

Journey to Planet Earth



Earnest environmental docu doesn't pull punches.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The show's intent is to educate viewers about important topics related to the environment and the world's people. People are shown working on innovative solutions to the world's problems. Takes a mildly patronizing tone toward the needy.

Violence & scariness

Scenes of poverty, enormous amounts of trash, discussion of famine and drought.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable

Some brand names are visible in footage of urban areas, but it's definitely not intentional product placement.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this PBS documentary series explores global issues related to the environment and the world's peoples. Topics can be alarming, like "Will we have enough food and water to feed the world's growing population?" And some of the data shared -- such as the fact that 25 square miles of Louisiana coastline disappear each year due to the consequences of global warming -- can be chilling. Footage of houses being swept away in floods and young children scavenging for food in the trash might disturb some kid viewers. That said, the show does make an effort to include positive news and optimistic pronouncements along with the dire ones.

User reviews

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

JOURNEY TO PLANET EARTH takes an interdisciplinary approach to exploring issues like global warming, toxic pollution, economic disparities, and population explosions (sometimes making its points by using frankly scary images and facts). Narrated by Matt Damon, each episode travels around the world to places like Zimbabwe and Chicago, drawing connections between conditions in both developed and developing countries and shows how certain issues affect everyone -- regardless of geographic location or economic status. That said, the target audience is obviously westerners, who might not feel a connection to starving families affected by drought in Africa, but who might empathize with a Texan farmer who watches as his grapefruit trees are ripped out of the ground because there's not enough water to irrigate them. Interviews with experts from think tanks, non-profit organizations, and universities and a few well-chosen regular folks buttress gorgeous footage of the land and its people. Damon's clear, slow narration helps create segues between topics, as do specific questions and phrases written on the screen.

Is it any good?


While all of the topics the series tackles are of immense importance, Journey to Planet Earth suffers from a touch of melodrama and a slightly patronizing tone when talking about people in developing countries. As one episode ends, Damon speaks over the image of a giraffe grazing: "In the end, what we want is for first light to still reveal the rich tapestry of the natural world" -- the screen then shows the smiling face of a young African boy -- "and every child born into poverty to share the same dreams we in the west so often take for granted."

Teens and tweens interested in environmental issues, animals, farming, and poverty (and Matt Damon) will find plenty of educational material backed by beautiful footage. But parents may want to caution younger viewers against taking a patronizing attitude toward people in developing countries and emphasize the steps these people have taken to improve their own condition.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about activism. What makes someone an activist? What is the media's role in spreading messages related to specific causes? What point(s) is this series trying to make? What do you think producers want the show to accomplish? What issue or issues do you feel strongly about? What got you interested in that topic -- TV, a celebrity, a movie, hearing people talk about it? How can you make a difference in that area?

TV details

Premiere date:April 6, 1999
Cast:Matt Damon
Topics:Science and nature, Wild animals
TV rating:TV-G

This review of Journey to Planet Earth was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Family Media Agreement