Endlessly fascinating and unbelievably arduous, National Geographic Channel's epic nature documentary Great Migrations premieres tonight at 8pm. Narrated by Alec Baldwin, the first episode of this four-hour series is "Born to Move" and they mean it! The struggles to survive of a selection of very different animals become very real and utterly harrowing.
Until you've seen your child besieged by killer crocodiles -- ask Mrs. Wildebeest how that goes -- or faced hordes of killer ants on your way to the seashore -- Mr. Crab knows all about this one -- you don't understand what an accomplishment it is merely to survive on harsh and unsparing Mother Earth. We like to whine about our lot, but for most of us it's nothing compared to the daily battle for basic existence faced by almost all of the other creatures sharing this big blue marble with us.
The 9pm hour tonight is "Need to Breed" -- ah, Sex! -- but it's no less life-threatening a task. We see the reproductive imperative up close for several species on the Falkland Islands, Costa Rican army ants (yikes), flying foxes from Australia, and Sudanese antelopes. Their romantic struggles make singles bars (do they even exist anymore?) looks tame by comparison.
Great Migrations was over two years in the making, and continues the respected tradition of National Geographic -- in print and on television -- bringing superb natural history to the world. The complete Great Migrations programming experience includes the four hours of the documentary itself -- the other two are "Feast or Famine" and "Race to Survive" which premiere next Sunday night -- plus related specials on the making of the special. "Science of Great Migrations" airs this coming Tuesday 11/9 at 10pm, "Behind the Scenes" airs next Sunday at 10pm (following Great Migrations) and also 11/16 at 10pm. The unique "Rhythm of Life" musical special, artistically showcasing the Great Migrations orchestral score and footage airs on Saturday 11/20 at 8pm.
Kudos to National Geographic for Great Migrations, and let's hope viewers respond appropriately -- by watching and learning something about the world they live in.