Doug Coutts’ TV Preview: David Attenborough’s Rise of Animals

TV Preview: David Attenborough’s Rise of Animals — Triumph of the Vertebrates | TV1, 7.30 Saturday


By Doug Coutts

Attenborough’s back. And I don’t just mean he’s back with another series, but he’s back to doing what he does best – being David Attenborough.

In recent series, he’s been letting the effects get in the way of the story, a case of we’ve got the latest computer animation system and we’re going to use it. Facts have been sidelined for the sake of fractals and information has been thin on the ground, most often because some 3D artistsimpressionosaurus has needed the space.

Not any more. Rise of Animals is core business as usual as Attenborough looks at what a difference having a backbone makes. Fossils of the very first vertebrate have been found in China, there is further fossilised evidence of early fishy footsteps in the mountains of Poland and then, how about the jaw they found on an island between Canada and Greenland?

If you’re the sort of person who sides with Ken Ham and thinks everything kicked off over a week 6,000 years ago, then this show is not for you. According to that devil’s spawn Attenborough, spines starting growing around 500 million years earlier, and we haven’t looked back since. Although we could if we wanted to, because an articulated neck was also quite an early development.

Spines led to better movement through water, and also enabled the development of limbs, which meant being able to get about on land… and on it goes. Eventually all this evolution resulted in us, which looks like bringing an end to the whole messy affair. Unless you’re a creationist in which case there’s always hope.

The all-new vintage Attenborough is an anorak’s delight. Think of all the facts you’ll learn and how interesting you’ll be at dinner parties. Even just describing how good it all looks in HD will have your audience enthralled. Give it a go.

What other critics said:

“Attenborough’s legacy is already one of the most assured and noble in television history. And shows like this explain why: even now, he isn’t content to coast and remains relentlessly determined to shed light, bring knowledge, vanquish ignorance. To inform, educate and entertain. Lord Reith would be proud.” — Time Out.

“Any presenter could turn a huge, complex subject like this into something dull; it takes a highly evolved form of TV genius to make it thrilling.” — The Telegraph.

“Is there anything left to say about the natural world that Attenborough hasn’t covered in his innumerable previous series? The answer turned out to be a resounding yes.” — The Observer.

Doug Coutts has had a career in and around television for close to 40 years. He spent 13 years as a floor manager at Avalon Studios before going freelance and never earning as much again. His writing has spanned TV genres — from Shortland Street dialoguery and quiz shows to documentaries and comedy — while a lengthy stint as TV reviewer in the Auckland Star earned him two mentions in Metro magazine’s Hot List and an angry letter from Jon Gadsby. You can read more of Doug (the satirist) at: Weakly Whirled News.
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