When I received MADAGASCAR, I thought, “Oh, a nice little light animated film with Chris Rock and Ben Stiller as animals escaping from a zoo.” Then I looked closer at the cover box and saw BBC TV mini series and realized, “ooohhhh, this is really MADAGASCAR.” OK, no worries. I’m a huge fan of the PLANET EARTH series so this should be pretty fascinating, right? While very good in its own right, I quickly realized my expectation bar was set a little too high.
Narrated by David Attenborough, the documentary MADAGASCAR is an amazing wonder, full of unique wild life. As an island separated from Africa many years ago, 80 percent of Madagascar’s bugs, plants and animals cannot be found anywhere else on the planet. It’s like its own little bubble where as the tagline say’s “Evolution ran wild.”
MADAGASCAR is divided into three hour-long episodes spread across two discs: Island of Marvels, Lost Worlds and Land of Heat and Dust. The titles give a little more specificity toward each one section but they all cover plants and animals just on different sides of the island. Some areas are rocky or dense with forest and others get practically zero rain so the trees have formed a bubble looking trunk that stores water. Other interesting creatures are carnivorous flowers, the world’s tiniest lizard and the plethora of strange jumping lemurs that take over most of the short segments. Toward the end of the series there is a section dedicated to the hardships of filming titled, Madagascar Diaries. I rather enjoyed this as it provided insight on the lengths they took to capture their many wonderful moments of wildlife.
My one major complaint would be that danger is never in the same wide shot but rather always edited in giving the impression that the danger is there. These tricks are OK in movies but when the audience is watching a documentary they want to see actual wildlife danger happening, not cutting from here to there. Otherwise we feel lied to. I’m not saying the filmmakers are lying, I’m sure all the information is completely accurate but visually it lacked any true tension.
Obviously MADAGASCAR is one of those educational programs you are either into or not. For the most part you will know ahead of time if you like this sort of thing. I consider myself interested but not a fanatic. However, compared to Disney’s OCEANS or Discovery’s PLANET EARTH, this one doesn’t quite match up. Being that it is a TV series, means it is not meant to be watched in one setting and I can’t stress enough to you how important that is. While MADAGASCAR may be interesting and beautiful to look at, the soothing sound of the wind, rain and trees coupled with Attenborough’s textbook narration may induce long periods of napping.
Video: (1080i High Definition 16:9) A very beautiful looking picture. These sort of nature shows usually look great on Blu-ray but I don’t understand why no 1080p.
Audio: (Dolby Digital Stereo) I’m surprised they went with Dolby Digital, nevertheless the quiet sounds were crystal clear.
Lemurs of Madagascar (38:58): Presented by a very excited Charlotte Uhlenbroek, this follows the struggles of the Lemurs attempt to stay alive as their food supply lessens. They are very friendly so Charlotte is able to get really close following two mothers trying to keep their children alive.
Attenborough and the Giant Egg (58:47): David’s discovery of a mysteriously large egg over fifty years ago and then his research using today’s technology to find out more about the extinct Elephant Bird. For me this was more fascinating than the actual main feature MADAGASCAR because of its specific focus on the subject. However he does follow some more Lemurs and other species.