Critical Condition: Dynasties

Dynasties | TVNZ 1, 7.00 Sunday

☆☆☆☆ “A lot of scripted dramas don’t have the emotional impact and, yes, dramatic arcs, that are on display in the latest stunning natural history documentary series from the producers of Planet Earth II and the BBC … The five-part series has the same stunning visual panache of Planet Earth II and Blue Planet II, but this time devotes longer periods of time to following families of animals in lavishly constructed dramatic stories that the producers were able to create because they spent so much time with them.” — The Hollywood Reporter.

☆☆☆☆ “The BBC’s newest docuseries is yet another beautiful addition to an already extensive library, but it’s also another species of nature documentary. Narrated by David Attenborough, Dynasties offers viewers an in-depth, heartbreaking look at the challenges and hardships faced by five endangered species — the lion, chimpanzee, tiger, painted wolf and emperor penguin. Each episode tells a powerful story specific to the animal being featured.” — TV Guide.

☆☆☆☆ “Oh good, another David Attenborough series. The critic’s nemesis. If you are reading this in expectation of the longed-for hot Dave takedown, you will be disappointed. It is hard to imagine the DA + BBC formula, which has worked so well for so long, delivering a dud, but it is not impossible. Sadly this new five-parter, Dynasties (BBC1), is not it.” — The Independent.

☆☆☆☆ “I’ve heard people criticise this series’ anthropomorphism and claim that a narrative arc has been imposed on the animals’ experiences. Yes, well, it probably has. But for such wildlife documentaries the BBC has to pay a crew to sit there using expensive equipment for weeks. It has to be packaged in a way that will deliver regular audiences to justify the outlay. I don’t think that’s a huge price to pay.” — The Times.

☆☆☆☆ “By following a single animal group for a full-hour, the new episodes must weave individual dramatic moments together into a larger and coherent whole. This makes for gripping drama … But it also creates a pressure for dramatic integrity that may exaggerate … The result is a series that dumbs down both animal society and our own.” — New Statesman.

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