Natural Curiosities: Review


Natural Curiosities, Eden 29 January 2013 8PM.

If TV has more than enough of anything it’s not detectives, reality shows, talent contests or soaps, it’s bloody nature programs.

They’ve been going on since the dawn of television; you would’ve thought the powers that be could come up with something better by now. I don’t mean science programmes either, there are way too many of those as well.
How many times do we have to watch these things?

Yeah, yeah monkeys are ‘fascinating,’ as are birds and insects and bacteria, but do we really need to have so many programmes dedicated to them?

Every time science makes some new discovery about the mating patterns of the Kinkajou or a new camera comes out we have to endure another series of documentaries.

What makes this even worse is that so many of them are fronted by David Attenborough.

David Attenborough first appeared on our screens in 1954 and from then until now he has traipsed around the world, sticking his nose into the biology, hunting patterns and reproductive cycles of animals, birds and lizards of all shapes and size.

Eden, could have made a change in their new Attenborough Series ‘Natural Curiosities’ a five-parter looking at the weirder results of evolution but instead chose to go with the established model.

His whispering voice and unobtrusive manner are so old fashioned and boring, would it hurt him that much to liven things up? Some glitz and sparkle would add glamour and help break up the tediousness and a bit of Holly Willoughby style cleavage wouldn’t go amiss either.

Maybe involve the public, we could all vote for the weirdest animal and the winner would receive its own series or get more funding for conservation.

Audiences want distraction and escape these days; Attenborough and his followers need to recognize this and start reflecting the wants of modern viewers.

I am of course talking absolute rubbish but it’s so hard to write about David Attenborough and say anything new. He makes perfect programmes and has done for as long as I have watched them and ‘Natural Curiosities’ is no different.
Like everything Attenborough produces, ‘Natural Curiosities’ is fascinating and delightful. Each half hour episode focusses on two quirks of nature and examines the mechanics of their biology in detail.

The opener looked at the Chameleon and the Giraffe, and as you would expect; it was just brilliant.

First up was the Chameleon. We learnt all about the complex biology behind the shifty lizard’s freakish tongue and how it manages to change colour and blend with its environment.

The Giraffe segment obviously focused on the impressive length of its neck. Which much to my surprise is, when you factor in the relationship between neck and leg length, actually very short compared to other beasts.

All of this is wrapped up like the usual Attenborough package. Charismatic and insightful, DA brings subjects alive with his infectious and joyous enthusiasm punctuated with stunning photography.

There is nothing new about the format and its Reithian commitment to educate and probity but these shows and others of its nature stand out as beacons of quality and intelligence in these days of disposable trash TV and long may they continue.