Have always been big fan of David Attenborough and always will be. His best documentaries are some of the best ever produced and he deserves his distinction as a national treasure. He is pretty much unbeatable when it comes to nature documentaries and documentaries in general and is something of a hero of mine.
Have not seen anything bad from Attenborough, something that is a rarity, and it is very difficult to pick a favourite among so many jewels. 'The Life of Birds' is still by any standards a masterpiece, in terms of documentaries about birds it's ground-breaking and it's a superb documentary in its own right. It has everything that makes so much of his work so wonderful and deserves everything great that has been said about it.
Dealing this time with meat-eating birds and their methods of hunting, the fourth episode "Meat-Eaters" is never less than wonderful.
First and foremost, "Meat-Eaters" looks wonderful, done in a natural and intimate (a great way of connecting even more with the birds), way, never does it feel static. Its remarkably near-cinematic look makes one forget that it is a series. The editing flows smoothly and coherently and the scenery is gorgeous. Animation is also brought into the mix, not only does it hold up well it also is used sensibly, making an impact without being over-used and never jars.
Nothing to fault the music for, it is never overly grandiose while never being inappropriate or intrusive. There has been the issue with music being intrusive in some documentaries seen recently, Attenborough's work not exempted, but it was not a problem here.
Once again, "Meat-Eaters" does a wonderful job entertaining, educating and transfixing. In terms of the facts there was a very good mix of the known ones and the unknown, written and presented tactfully. It is all well-researched and backed up, speculation and too much storytelling are traps easily fallen into but not fallen into here. Likewise with the different species themselves, with more lesser known ones to me than the previous two episodes, the information presented was illuminating and saw any familiar ones in a different light. Anything involving an animal carcass will stay with anybody forever, but the shrike for me is the most memorable.
Instrumental as to why his output is so popular and why there are so many gems is Attenborough himself. He clearly knows his stuff and knows what to say and how to say it. His very sincere and enthusiastic delivery is understated yet always riveting, never being heavy-handed.
The birds themselves are great to watch, whether vulnerable (the marine iguanas) or predatory (the shrike with its lethally sharp beaks and talons), and their traits are wide ranging, that makes them interesting and rootable without over-humanising them, a good thing. There is a lot of content and a lot is covered, yet it doesn't feel over-stuffed and rushed, easy traps for anything of a short length.
"Meat-Eaters" doesn't ever feel episodic or like a stringing along of sequences, but instead there is a smoothness, cohesion and emotional impact. The traps of over-speculation and fact compromising in favour of telling a story without backing things up are not fallen into.
Concluding, lives up to the high standard of the previous three episodes brilliantly. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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