Viewers who choose to stream an episode of the BBC’s ambitious, Peabody Award-winning documentary miniseries Planet Earth from 2006 probably have a few basic expectations. They’ll see plenty of breathtaking, artfully shot nature footage accompanied by some cogent, incisive commentary, all of it delivered in the plummy tones of narrator David Attenborough. But, at least for a brief window of time, viewers who watched Planet Earth on Netflix got something else: the irreverent, often profane comedy of Master Of None star Aziz Ansari. Through either some weird glitch or a bizarre stealth marketing campaign, the subtitles for the Netflix version of Planet Earth all came from the 2015 comedy special Aziz Ansari: Live At Madison Square Garden. (“Not funny,” raves Filmpudding on IMDB.) The “problem,” alas, has been corrected, but not before Reddit user benmeiri84 posted a shit ton of pictures to prove that it happened.
The internet, though clearly delighted by this anomaly, sensed a comedy conspiracy was afoot here. Aziz’s series and the special are both Netflix productions, the theory goes, so these subtitles must have been added to the Planet Earth episode as a marketing stunt. As of this writing, none of that has been confirmed in any way. What can be confirmed, however, is that the juxtaposition of Aziz’s comedy and a contemplative BBC documentary makes for pure comedy gold.
Mistake or not, this incident may have given Ansari a whole new avenue for his career. Attenborough is 90 years old; he can’t go on narrating BBC documentaries forever. Maybe what nature shows need is a new, considerably less serious approach. Hey, it worked for that honey badger a few years ago.