I've said it in other reviews, but Sir David Attenborough thoroughly deserves his knighthood for what he's done for nature documentaries. He's not some fool running around picking up dangerous animals for kicks, he's not some show-boat doing fake scenes with domesticated animals or posed wild animals- he's the real deal. Granted, he has an enormous team of very talented film makers, coordinators, and biologists/researchers to back him up. But that's entirely sensible, in fact, it's what you'd want from a good documentary. The Life of Mammals continues the BBC series of plants, insects, reptiles, and birds. It's an indepth look at how mammals make their living. It doesn't cover quite the depth that Life of Birds does, which addresses each part of the life of birds (e.g., a show on feeding, a show on flying, a show on mating, etc.). Instead, this series is broken down into types of mammals, with examples from each group. These are:
A WINNING DESIGN - an overview of mammals, with some great footage and info on "primitive" mammals like echidnas or platypuses
INSECT HUNTERS - features insectivores like bats, ant-eaters, pangolins, etc.
PLANT PREDATORS - Sir David's opening lines are clasic, and put into context what really is a war between plants and mammals
CHISELLERS - mostly deals with rodents, the most diverse group of mammals
MEAT EATERS - is what you expect, about carnivores. While flashy, there's still a lot of substance here.
OPPORTUNISTS - this is about omnivores, and it highlights the adaptability of this flexible group of mammals
RETURN TO THE WATER - features sea otters, seals, dolphins, and whales. The segment on blue whales is amazing! Living buildings, blue whales are the largest animals EVER to live on the planet!
LIFE IN THE TREES - deals with arboreal animals, but largely excludes monkeys and apes
SOCIAL CLIMBERS - this is largely about monkeys of different kinds, including the "lesser" apes, gibbons
FOOD FOR THOUGHT - is all about the "great" apes: orang utans, chimps, a tiny bit on gorillas, and perhaps the most successful mammal (so far), humans
Attenborough is just great throughout the series. The scene with him, in the water, surrounded by manatees, is a great illustration of how close he gets to the action (he also gets close to other animals, like feeding Alaskan Grizzlies!). So many times, as in other BBC nature shows, I found myself both laughing and shaking my head at the ingenious solutions nature has arrived at
to solve various adaptive problems. Mammals truly display a dazzling array of adaptations to a huge range of lifestyles and ecological niches.
To cap off this great series, the last two discs each have three behind the scenes features. The last three were kind of so-so, but the first three were amazing. Especially the feature on elephants. The scene of one group of elephants kidnapping a calf, followed by the concerted efforts of the original group to recapture it, were just amazing.
In short, I have NO reservations about recommending this series. Zero. Zilch. Parents, children, adults of any age, educators, researchers, anyone who has a pulse and the curiosity to know more about these animals will love this series!