An early look at Life: A Komodo dragon hunt



When it comes to nature documentaries the BBC's natural history unit is the best of the best. Over and over again they have produced top-notch programming, and their new multi-part series Life is perhaps the best I have ever seen. The series contains some familiar moments, such as a sengi running down its carefully-groomed pathways, but the bulk of the series consists of vignettes that I have never seen on screen before. One of the most compelling is the story of the slow death of a water buffalo at the jaws of a horde of patient Komodo dragons, a portion of which I have posted above.

I know all this because my lovely wife was able to rig our DVD player to play the Region 2 version of the show (which has been available for some time). It will air in the United States via the Discovery Channel starting on March 21st, but, unfortunately, Discovery tapped the celebrity pseudo-science peddler Oprah Winfrey to do the narration. I think this was a mistake. Oprah's love for "live your best life now" nonsense aside, her narration is terrible. Her voice is not well-suited to the medium and delivery is just awful. My suggestion to you would be to either 1) unlock the ability to play Region 2 DVDs on your player and order the David Attenborough-narrated version available in the UK, or 2) wait for the Region 1 version of the original program. Whichever you decide to do, it will be well worth it. Life is one of the few documentaries that I can throw into the player when I have company over and say "You're not going to believe this..."

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I saw Komodo Dragons on Komodo and Rinca Islands. Scary. Our group almost stepped on one that was stalking a buffalo. Sadly, later that day we heard a young Indonesia was killed by one - the first fatality in something like 30 years. I try to keep up with the research on whether their bite is venomous or simply has a lot of bacteria, but I haven't seen a definitive answer to that question yet...

Will the American dialog eliminate references to evolution? We'll have to wait and see...

(In the past, the US DVD releases are the original British narration, so we can look forward to that, at least!)

Neat! The script talks about the venom, and not the septic effects of the bite. That's pretty cutting edge...

By blueshifter (not verified) on 25 Feb 2010 #permalink

Sir David Attenborough FTW. I just don't understand why there's a need to re-dub the narration for American audiences; here in Singapore I grew up with David Attenborough's, and Kenneth Branagh narrated the Walking With... series. Hearing the American versions is just so strange.

Any idea on the release date for the Region 1 version with Attenborough narrating? Having received the U.S. version of Planet Earth as a gift, I was eventually able to handle Sigourney narrating. But Oprah? No way - I'm waiting for Attenborough.

Well the National Geographic version you link to is blocked for me 'on copyright grounds' - but I did watch the BBC version on TV recently. The hunting of the water buffalo was amazing.

Oprah Winnfrey as a natural history narrator - bizarre.

By Mark Lees (not verified) on 26 Feb 2010 #permalink

Brian...how did your wife rig the DVD? I tried a few years ago to rig mine to play some UK DVDs but was unsuccessful (I even looked up my exact model and followed the instructions but they didn't work). The UK Amazon has Attenborough's Trials of Life on DVD, but North America just has VHS. I do have bit-torrent copies (yes, I feel guilty--I'm ripping off Sir David Attenborough--how craven can I get?) but I want the DVDs to add to my Attenborough collection. He also has a two-parter on climate change available only in the UK/Europe which I also would like to buy if I could get it to play on the DVD player.

By Daniel J. Andrews (not verified) on 28 Feb 2010 #permalink

I'll wait for the blu-ray... hopefully there will be one. The Planet Earth series is fantastic.

Hold on.... say what now? I'm from the UK and have had the box sex of Life for over a year now and the very thought of anyone replacing the soothing tones of Sir David Attenborough with.... Oprah?! It makes me want to cry. Why? Wwwhhhyy??

*box set... not box sex.... completely different concept altogether....

Daniel; Your DVD player may have a secret menu that allows you to make it a Region 0 player (or able to play dvds from anywhere). Check out this site for what you have to do - http://www.videohelp.com/dvdhacks

That is what my wife did using the little $20 dvd player I had purchased about 6 years ago.

Any idea on the release date for the Region 1 version with Attenborough narrating? Having received the U.S. version of Planet Earth as a gift, I was eventually able to handle Sigourney narrating. But Oprah? No way - I'm waiting for Attenborough.