Review: NatGeo’s ‘Secrets of the Octopus’

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James Cameron’s new NatGeo docuseries is the perfect Earth Day viewing. 

The newest installment of the “Secrets of…” franchise, Secrets of the Octopus dives deep below the surface to explore the lives of these fascinating animals.

Cameron has solidified himself as one of the premier undersea explorers, with his gorgeous cinematography on full display through the three-episode series. But while he serves as the executive producer, National Geographic explorer Dr. Alex Schnell serves as the main on-camera expert, offering commentary and insight into the octopuses.

While the series focuses on many different types of octopuses, Schnell develops a special bond over the course of the show with one octopus she names Scarlet. Scarlet accepts her and lets her into her world, allowing Schnell to observe her hunting, camouflaging herself from prey, and even mating. 

The first episode is all about how octopuses are shapeshifters and how they can manipulate their bodies to project different colors and textures within a fraction of a second, all while being colorblind.

Subsequent episodes take a closer look at their intelligence – showing how they can manipulate shells into shelter, for example – as well as their social interactions, especially in regards to the opposite sex and even other species. Octopuses are mostly thought to be loners, but the show proves this is not always true. 

It is also visually stunning, getting up close and personal with the vibrant octopuses and their surroundings, zeroing in on the details of their bodies, even in low light. Octopuses are said to be aliens on Earth, with three hearts, blue blood, and the ability to squeeze through a space the size of their eyeballs, and the show does a fantastic job of demonstrating how true that is. They’re weird and peculiar, but compelling and engrossing. Viewers are sure to be captivated by their stories as they are taken closer than ever before to these secretive, beautiful animals.

Audiences are in for a further treat through Paul Rudd’s narration, as he adds another layer of connection to the octopuses and is clearly in awe of their cleverness and competence.

Secrets of the Octopus is a riveting, stunning series that is a perfect addition to the “Secrets of…” franchise. Even viewers who may not typically watch nature documentaries will find something engaging within the show and will likely learn secrets they didn’t know before about these captivating animals that even predate the dinosaurs.

Secrets of the Octopus premieres tonight, April 21, on National Geographic and will be available to stream on Hulu and Disney+ on Monday.

Haylee Fisher
Haylee Fisher
Haylee has loved writing since she was 8 years old, when she would sit in front of the TV handwriting (see: doodling) recaps of shows such as The Munsters, Bewitched, and I Dream of Jeannie. She started writing for Nerds and Beyond in September 2023. She previously wrote for Nerd HQ for over five years where she had the honor of interviewing celebrities including author Andy Weir, actor Zachary Levi, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, and many others. When not writing, you can find her reading or binge-watching her favorite shows. Current fandoms include Roswell, New Mexico, and Our Flag Means Death. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @haylee_fisher

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