Night on Earth

2020 / Netflix / Plimsoll Productions / Six episodes

Night on Earth reveals the startling activity of the natural world hiding behind the dark curtain of night. From the producer of Plant Earth II, this six-part Netflix series follows nocturnal animals using sophisticated, low-light camera technology as they mate, stalk their prey, and seek refuge in cities, deserts, oceans, and jungles. 

The show’s script, delivered by Emmy–winning actress Samira Wiley, can be distracting and melodramatic at times. Nevertheless, Night on Earth offers a rare perspective for a nature documentary. Scorpions engaged in foreplay glow eerily under ultraviolet light as if trapped in a film negative. A grasshopper mouse, immune to the arachnid’s venom, intrudes. He withstands sting after sting before chomping down and emitting a high-pitched territorial howl. 

One episode focuses on animals who have adapted to nightlife in the city. On Halloween, moose in Anchorage, Alaska, gorge on jack-o’-lanterns. Elephants wait patiently until dark before quietly trudging across streets and train tracks in southern Africa to reach vegetation on the other side of the town that has emerged in the elephants’ age-old path. A leopard pounces on a dog in a building lobby in Mumbai, India. 

The conservation message in Night on Earth is less overt than in other documentaries of its kind. But the series does aim to instill a greater appreciation of the vibrant animal world that rises to life when darkness falls.

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