Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Wild Russia

It is time to talk a little bit about Russia, Company. Not English Russia, which is a pretty cool blog, but Wild Russia, which is a new series on Animal Planet.
First of all, let me say that I have been fascinated with Russia, long before I ever even met The Russian. It always seemed to me that it was about as far away from where I lived as one could get, and I was and am always in awe of the sheer size and vastness of it all. Miles and miles of the most extreme geography and topography possible. I loved it. Well, as one could imagine, in a land as vast and varied as is Russia, there is some pretty cool and unique animal life.
So what some people did was they went out there and spent three years in six different regions taking video. And they were persistent because they got some neat stuff. They got animals that were running around in places where people don't generally go. They got some sweet animal battles on small scales back down in the weeds. They got pictures of animals that I have never heard of, like the jungle cat, who mysteriously was not found in the jungle but in a marshy area next to a lake far from any jungle. They got a picture of an Amur leopard in the wild, and an Amur tiger, which was also cool. They were able to follow a mama lynx around to see what she was up to and watched her raise her cubs. Etc, etc. They even went under the water to get some pictures of those super poisonous Japanese puffer fish and some other crazy underwater stuff. And I have only seen two of the six episodes that they supposedly made.
That is all well and good, and there really are some amazing and impressive pictures. But there is one thing that just hasn't sat well with me as I have watched all this amazing footage is how it has been put together. There are two things really that sort of grind at me. The first is that they are totally predictable about how they cut to commercials. I have only watched the show probably four times since it came out and I am up to roughly a 95% success rate when it comes to calling a commercial. They always try to be sort of mysterious and dramatic about it all: "The adult cranes must sift for clams alone, leaving the chicks to endure the heat alone on the salt flats. It's a race for life and death against the harsh Caspian sun." And then BOOM! they are on about me buying a Dodge Ram or something. And the worst part of it all is that they never revisit what they left off at so you get some sort of closure with the story of the cranes or whomever. I just always assume that they all have died.
Worse than that, however, is how they constantly prattle on about how rare the footage they have is. I can understand some animals, like the Amur leopard of which there aren't many in the wild, but they say it about almost every animal that they video. Like ten seconds after they tell me there are 50,000 of the little deer looking things that they are filming running around, they start talking about how they are very rarely photographed. Hmmm...I would imagine that if there are 50,000 of them hopping about someone gets them in the sights of their Kodak from time to time, wouldn't you? It's not so noticeable at first, but the more you watch the more you notice it, until you are ready to scream. I am ready to scream, and maybe throw a shoe through the TV screen, and maybe I will film it. Now THAT is rare footage if you ask me, please excuse the pun.

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