I found many reasons to watch the new National Geographic miniseries Untamed Americas. Since I was asked to cover the premiere of the documentary, National Geographic sent me two DVDs with the 4 episodes that will air on June 10 and 11 on Nat Geo Channels, so I watched the whole show beforehand.
The film features some never-before-seen footage of spectacular wild life along the North and South American continents. The documentary captivates viewers with vivid scenes of life and death.
Some of the highlights: a group of seven grizzly bears feasting on a beached whale, a flock of gloriously pink flamingoes engaged in an elaborate group-mating dance, two puma cubs hunting solo for the first time, and a tiny Ecuadorian bat with a tongue one-and-a-half-time the size of its body pollinating a rare flower.
Miniseries executive producer Karen Bass told me at the premiere that this bat was one of her favorites because “it’s got the water cooler factor: it was only discovered in 2005, and that tongue would be nine feet long if it were on a human!”
The mixture of music, sound effects, and natural animal noises capture and add to the intensity of some of the greatest wildlife spectacles. The effect is powerful, endearing, and emotional.
One example is the scene where male bighorn sheep in the Rockies fight it out for hours to settle on the winner of mating rights. The echoes and reverberations bring out the dramatic 22-mile-per-hour head-on clash, which would kill a human instantly.
Majestic scenes like spinner dolphins leaping in the Fernando de Noronha National Marine Park in Brazil, bright green parakeets flying over volcanoes in Central America, Mobula Rays flapping gracefully off the coast of Baja, Mexico, and jellyfish undulating off the coast of Monterey Bay in California are given an even greater impact with the music.
The show will have you at the edge of your seats cheering for your heroes and booing at the villains. But the rule of the wild is “eat or be eaten,” “kill or get killed.” I completely agreed with the comment Casey Anderson, host of America the Wild on Nat Geo WILD, made after the premiere: “At the beginning you’re rooting for the caribou and by end you’re rooting for the wolf.”
Surprises linger in every episode, like the face-off between a little grasshopper mouse and a giant venomous centipede, more deadly than a scorpion. The winner of this uneven fight will astonish you! Keep watching to find out who will be the snack at the end of a valiant battle between a speedy roadrunner and a rattlesnake whose venom can kill a man.
Check out my story about the premiere of Untamed Americas on the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps website!
Photo: At a remote, inhospitable, salt-filled lake in South America, a flock of rare Andean flamingos engage in an elaborate dance. (Courtesy National Geographic Channels)