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First Life with David Attenborough
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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this fascinating documentary takes viewers on a whirlwind tour of billions of years’ worth of evolution, introducing them to creatures that emerged during turning points in the anthropological history of the planet and drawing connections between them and modern life. In other words, the host presents as fact what some might believe to be contestable scientific claims of the origins of human life. Controversy aside, the show is a stunning collection of scientific data, fossil evidence, and recent theories made possible by state-of-the-art CGI, which is used throughout the documentary. It’s a worthwhile tour for families, but it’s best appreciated by teens who can process the weighty scientific topics.
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What's the story?
In FIRST LIFE WITH DAVID ATTENBOROUGH, renowned natural scientist Sir David Attenborough takes viewers on a stunning journey across the globe as he explores the origins of modern life. Traversing the continents to visit some of the world’s most revealing fossil beds, Attenborough meets with local anthropology and biology experts to create a picture of life as it evolved from single-celled bacteria to complex predatory land-dwellers -- and eventually to the incredible diversity we know today.
Is it any good?
Attenborough’s journey is one of truly epic proportions, both on a geographical and on a historical scale. His extensive travels around the world to gather data and witness evidence for himself remind viewers of the grand scope of evolution -- that each of us descended from microscopic organisms and are a mere part of a process that’s billions of years old. The concepts are mind-boggling, but Attenborough masterfully condenses a lifetime of knowledge into this fascinating, surprisingly comprehensible documentary.
Genius host aside, the show’s best feature is its use of state-of-the-art CGI, which breathes life into the very fossils Attenborough and the other experts have unearthed. Thanks to these lifelike scenes of prehistoric existence, viewers get a real sense of the atmosphere at pivotal points in the planet’s history. All of this makes for superb family viewing, but the subject matter is meant for viewers who can grasp the concepts themselves -- namely teens -- since younger kids won’t have the patience for the lengthy scientific lectures.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about evolution. Do you believe the scientific claims about the origins of human life? What compelling evidence exists to support it? Does any evidence that you know of debunk it? Do you think it will ever be proven or disproven for certain? What amount of evidence would be needed for that to happen?
Did this documentary change your views on conservation or scientific research? Much of the fossilized evidence scientists collect comes at the expense of ancient rock formations. Is this a good trade-off? How are limits on research established? Who calls the shots about when preserving nature takes precedence? How far do you think they should go?
Do you think the media serves an educational purpose? How much of what you see on TV could be considered educational? What other shows have you seen that teach you something? Can TV ever be used as a teaching tool? If so, how?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.