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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The chief purpose of the documentary is to educate, so it gives out an extraordinary amount of educational information about all kinds of animals and plants, from kingfisher birds to tarantulas to falling trees and algae. For example, two groups of one species on either side of a river can develop to have slightly different genetics from one another over time. In addition, the Colorado River nurtures 15% of all crops harvested and eaten by people in the United States.
Remember that humans aren’t the only animals who love and depend on rivers. We have lost 80% of all freshwater life around the world because of how much we pollute rivers and in addition divert them for agriculture. Always be mindful of your effect on the larger environment and world around you.
Positive Role Models
Humans have been a major source of calamity for rivers and the ecosystems that surround them all around the world, due to reckless farming techniques and pollution-heavy industrialization.
Violence & Scariness
Several animals are shown eating other animals in HD slow motion capture, with no part of the chomping left to the imagination. One fish chomps at a fly, a mata mata turtle eats a live fish, and several bears are shown in closeup shots catching and ripping apart bloodied salmon bodies, with the fish’s guts and eggs shown clearly before the camera. Storks and otters also eat live fish. There's one heart wrenching moment when a baby bison floats downstream away from his mother in a strong current, but the mother and son are shown reuniting a few minutes later after this. There's no human violence whatsoever.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
There’s a brief discussion of the mating strategies used by asp fish and stickleback fish (for example, the male stickleback is shown puffing his chest out and turning it red in order to attract females). The doc makes a humorous moment out of the occasion by playing flamenco music, and there is nothing graphic about the scenes. There’s no human sex whatsoever.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Rivers Lifeblood is a nature documentary television special about the various ecosystems and animal-plant interactions that are cohered by the flow of rivers around the world. Featuring detailed and colorful footage of otters, bison, dolphins, kingfishers, gorillas, blind spineless eels, gathering snow melt, falling trees, and many more species and phenomena riffing off one another under the baton of the rivers' life-giving momentum, the documentary is superficially engaging at its worst and richly educational at its best. There are several moments of animal violence, such as when a fish is shown suffocating in a low-tide marsh and when predators like bears and storks are shown ripping up and chomping their prey. There's also one heart wrenching moment when a baby bison succumbs to the river's current and floats downstream away from his mother (although the two are shortly reunited). There's also a short discussion of two species of fish's mating strategies. There's no human violence or sex whatsoever.
Is It Any Good?
Rivers Lifeblood runs through a comprehensive set of details about plants and animals whose lives are organized together around the forward movement of rivers around the world. Similar to other nature documentaries, Rivers Lifeblood's quality is utterly dazzling with respect to its video and audio elements. The slow motion and focused sounds of the riverbed make the viewer feel legitimately enmeshed in the river's world. Some particularly astonishing examples of "How did they catch that?" moments are when river floods knock down trees in real time on camera, and also when a tiny fish species is shown and heard gathering pebbles and rocks on the river bottom to bivouac against a swift current.
The one strange part of Rivers Lifeblood compared to other nature documentaries is that it rarely specifies which river it's discussing, or how many rivers around the world share in the phenomena discussed, at any given moment. Because of this, it'll probably come across as unfocused in the eyes of biologist parents or of viewers who want to learn about any one river specifically. And, as is the case with all other nature documentaries, Rivers Lifeblood might be boring to viewers who aren't already interested in biology and related subjects. In the end, however, the documentary works wonders both as a curiosity-igniting summary of general river-related information and as an audiovisual spectacle.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.