Top positive review
3 people found this helpful
A live action documentary.
on 29 October 2016
I like Nigel Marven, I really do. I think he is the brunt of too many unfair and unkind remarks. In a world where David Attenborough has become the leading figure in nature documentaries it has become very hard for anyone to compete with him in terms of knowledge, professionalism and sincerity. We are spoiled in the UK with his huge array of wildlife programmes to the point that we see him as a national treaure, whereas the Americans brush him aside and redub his shows with sensationalised scripts read by glib celebrities, such is their pretentious nature.
Having seen Nigel in a number of programmes now, from "Walking with Dinosaurs" specials to various "Adventure" shows, I quickly warmed to him. His manner is more casual than that of David Attenborough but he is informative. I'd go far as to say that he reminds me of Attenborough in his youth during "Zoo Quest". A lot of Attenborough's more recent shows are the result of specifically targeted filming, selective editing and a polished narration. Nigel Marven tends to "go with the flow" and deliver his lines spontaneously, just as David did in the 1950s during his adventures round the world for London Zoo. Nigel has worked closely with David, and it shows, though Nigel in no way tries to emulate him and is very much his own, both confident and bold when it comes to handling live creatures, including those which can be harmful, like snakes and scorpions.
To me, Nigel is a man who doesn't want to grow up, and who can blame him, he has a great job that he loves. Even Attenborough seldom comes across as a 90-year-old bloke when he's handling rare or beautiful creatures and clearly loving it.
"Untamed China" is a chance to see Nigel Marven presenting wildlife in their real habitats, without any acting against green screen to CGI targets and looking a bit daft that we've previously seen in his dinosaur-themed titles. Just as Attenborough used to do in his "Zoo Quest" days, Marven picks up random species as he wanders through areas of China to tell us a bit about them off the top of his head. Anything else we need to know has been narrated.
The filming is very good, not the patiently-filmed epic HD shots you'd expect from BBC Earth, but by a crew recording everything whilst on the move and standing clear whenever Nigel decides to pick up a venomous cobra! As much as I love Attenborough's documentaries, I also like those which feel like an expedition with random findings. The BBC produced a number of expedition shows with George McGavin and a team several years ago, which were exceptionally good. "Untamed China" only features Nigel, although his goal is to show us previously unfilmed regions of China without any conservation agenda. I would like to see him host or co-host a couple of other BBC nature shows instead of just featuring in "Dinosaurs".