We were pretty irritated at the news that Discovery Channel, which bought the BBC's spectacular Frozen Planet documentary for airing in the U.S., would not be showing the series' final climate change episode. Turns out we should have instead been irritated that they're dissing Sir David "So Cool Penguins Nest In Me" Attenborough. Discovery says it's not removing the program's climate change content, but it is recutting the footage into fewer episodes without Sir David's dulcet tones.
Discovery said as much to Treehugger, which is owned by Discovery Communications but says that didn't affect its story:
As it turns out, creating different versions of these shows for audiences in different countries is commonplace. The deals behind these co-productions are complicated, but, simply put, the BBC and Discovery Channel share footage — as well as the stories and messages that go with that footage — but always edit their own versions, including using different narrators.
… Regarding the much-discussed seventh episode airing on the BBC, Discovery Channel says that there are a lot of programing decisions still to be made, but divulged that even if the footage is cut to be six episodes, as planned in the US, the essence of the BBC's seven episodes will be represented throughout the US version of the series. In other words, the reality of climate change will be present throughout the entire series.
It remains to be seen what "present throughout the series" really means — the recut hasn't been done yet, and Discovery hasn't chosen an U.S. narrator. But it at least sounds like it's pretty commonplace for a series that's seven episodes in one country to end up as six in another, especially if they're nixing everything where Attenborough talks to the camera out of some kind of super-misguided notion that a man who could remain calm about prehensile whale penises wouldn't be able to explain climate change to Americans.
- Digging Beneath the Surface of Frozen Planet, Treehugger