A thorough and entertaining overview of one of evolution's greatest success stories, the series is loosely structured to follow the development of mammals, beginning with the basics in "A Winning Design," which clarifies what makes a mammal different from reptiles and birds--no, it isn't egg-laying: both the platypus and the echidna are egg-laying mammals; it's their ability to adapt. And it's this adaptability that becomes the crux of the remainder of the series. "Insect Hunters" focuses on mammals who have specifically adapted to eating insects, from the giant anteater and the armored armadillo to bats, which have evolved into complex and effective hunters. "Plant Predators" demonstrates the particular (and often peculiar) adaptations of herbivores, while "Chisellers" is about those mammals who feed primarily on roots and seeds, ranging from tree-dwelling squirrels to opportunistic mice and rats. "Meat Eaters" talks about the evolutionary arms race that exists between predators and prey, and the unique adaptations of both individual and pack hunters. Omnivores are explored in "Opportunists"--mammals like bears and raccoons, whose varied diet allows them to occupy nearly any environment. "Return to the Water" discusses those mammals such as whales, seals, and dolphins that have left behind life on dry land and adapted completely to life in the sea, existing at the top of the food chain. The last three episodes--"Life in the Trees," "Social Climbers," and "Food for Thought"--take the viewer through the development of primates, eventually culminating in that most successful mammal: man. --Robert Burrow
Here are a few reasons why I think people should shell out the money for this set:
- David Attenborough's enthusiasm for his work. Watching him respectfully approach a poor-sighted anteater from downwind or barely able to contain his delight when floating a few meters away from a blue whale, Attenborough's love for the animal world is totally infectious.
- The images are of IMAX quality. This is one of the most visually stunning films I've ever seen.
- The soundtrack is top notch.
- The Buffalo versus the Lions. This brief segment is mentioned in the Amazon reviewer's description - it has all the emotion and energy of the Cavalry Charge in 'The Return of the King.' It literally brought tears to my eyes.
- Swimming Elephants. 'nuff said.
- Kids love it. These films will keep kids (even as young as 2) quiet and totally absorbed in ways that no Blue or Builder Bob video can approach.
- David keeps it light and entertaining. Each segment is short enough (40 minutes) and has plenty of amazing footage and humorous anecdotes so that it is nearly impossible to get bored of it all. Just don't watch more than one per day or you will spoil yourself.
I give this series the highest recommendation. Even if you are not a nature buff (and chances are you will be after seeing this), it is certainly worth bringing into your home.