LIFE is the new eleven part documentary currently airing on the Discovery Channel. The American version is narrated by Oprah Winfrey and it is absolutely stunning. Gorgeous, beautiful, and brilliant, it’s a bounty of previously unseen events and behaviors and the quality of the images makes even the familiar feel new. But LIFE is only a glimpse.
The first episodes of the program have been broken into Classes (amphibian, mammal, etc.) and while this provides coherence, it has little in the way of interconnectedness. Most nature show segments are separated by ecosystem which allows you to see how everything in that ecosystem is affected by everything else, ie the circle of life. The problem with the way LIFE is doing things is that we’re forced to follow a Class regardless of their habitat. We’re constantly moving. So, while we get to see how a mudskipper oxygenates his young, we don’t see any of what he does outside of the one or two events they’ve chosen to show us.
I don’t really want to pick on the show because the visual quality and the ambition are unmatched, and if I have to sacrifice some consistency to get never before seen progress and adaptations, I’ll settle for it. I’ll just say that five episodes in I’m not getting enough. You’re going to have to come up with a 30 part program of 2 hour shows in order to cover everything, which would not be for everybody. Sixty hours would be too much, which is fine, but I’m not totally satisfied with LIFE because it over-promised. Don’t title a program FISH and then show me fourteen fish. I’ve had more than fourteen fish on my plate. At one time. So, this program shouldn’t be called LIFE so much as LIVES, but beggars can’t be choosers. I’ll take whatever I can get. Oooh, especially in HD. Man. HD is good.