Saw the 'Wildlife' specials as a big fan of the national treasure that is David Attenborough. As much as he may dislike the term it is a perfect way to sum him up, with his best works being documentary masterpieces and masterpieces in general.
As of now, fourteen episodes for 'Wildlife Specials' here are listed. There are actually twenty two, the others listed as one-offs. Eighteen of these up to 2008 were narrated/presented by Attenborough, the others ('Polar Bear: Spy on the Ice', 'Penguins: Spy in the Huddle', 'Swarm: Nature's Incredible Invasion', and 'Dolphins: Spy in the Pod')up to 2014 by David Tennant. All are must sees, have a preference for Attenborough's work here (being more familiar with his work and being a big fan of it) but Tennant's contributions are very well done too.
As has been indicated, 'Wildlife Specials' is highly recommended for nature lovers, documentary lovers and those who love Attenborough, also a good way of being introduced to Tennant's narrative work. It is very diverse/varied, looks great and shows a great deal of technological advancement in the camera work.
First and foremost, 'Wildlife Specials' looks amazing. It is gorgeously filmed, done in a completely fluid and natural, sometimes intimate (a great way of connecting even more with the animals), way and never looking static. In fact much of it is remarkably cinematic with some of the shots, with the use of infared in for example the leopard episode and bouldercam in for example the lion one) being unique for a documentary series, making one forget that it is a series. The editing is always succinct and smooth and the scenery of all the continents is pure magic.
The music score fits very well, never overly grandiose while never being inappropriate.
'Wildlife Specials' fascinates, teaches, moves, entertains and transfixes. In terms of the facts there was a very good mix of the known ones and the unknown, some facts being familiar to us while also dealing with very complex and very much relevant issues with tact.
Narration by Attenborough helps significantly. He clearly knows his stuff and knows what to say and how to say it. He delivers it with his usual richness, soft-spoken enthusiasm and sincerity, never talking down to the viewer and keeping them riveted and wanting to know more. Tennant brings all those qualities as well, and sounds just as at awe of the material and that he cared for it.
It's not just visually beautiful and informative. The animals are wide in personality, prey and predator alike, are remarkably diverse in range, ranging from eagles, polar bears, penguins, serpents, tigers, bears, gorillas, elephants, wildebeest, wolves, dolphins, killer whales, crocodiles, leopards and sharks. It also displays a wide range of emotions and found myself really caring for everything that was shown to us on screen. The conflict has genuine tension and suspense, there is some fun and a lot of emotionally powerful moments done with a lot of tear-jerking pathos. Found myself really caring for what we're told.
Each episode doesn't feel like an episodic stringing of scenes, but instead like the best nature documentaries each feels like their own story and journey, with real, complex emotions and conflicts.
Overall, really wonderful and quite special. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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