Wildlife on One

TV review by
Sierra Filucci, Common Sense Media
Wildlife on One TV Poster Image
Enlightening nature show has some intense moments.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Animal behavior is described using (sometimes negative) human cultural references -- for instance, lemurs are called "gangs" when protecting their turf.

Violence & Scariness

Some vicious fighting between animals, including occasional deaths. In one episode, a baby animal dies, and its mother must leave it behind.

Sexy Stuff

Discussion of animals' mating processes, scenes of courting rituals.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this nature series presents animals in their natural habitat, doing what comes naturally -- including fighting, hunting, and mating. Some moments are particularly gripping, such as when a baby animal dies. Because of the show's tendency to personify animals by giving them names and describing their actions with human terminology, the losses can feel particularly painful, which might make it too much for very young viewers.

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What's the story?

British nature series WILDLIFE ON ONE, which has aired off and on since the late 1970s and is narrated by documentary veteran Sir David Attenborough, takes viewers into jungles, forests, and deserts to get them acquainted with some unusual and intriguing animals and their environments. For example, one episode tracks a group of ringtailed lemurs living in Madagascar who are on the lookout to protect their home amid a grove of fruitful tamarind trees.

Is it any good?

Attenborough personifies the animals by giving them names that connect with their characters -- like Jezebel for the feisty female leader of the lemur pack. He describes the group as the Westside Gang, saying they live in a rough neighborhood where they must fight to protect their turf. This method of drawing viewers into the animals' dramas is effective, especially for younger viewers, but can sometimes border on silly.

That said, the footage of the animals is fascinating. Watching the creatures' dramas unfold -- such as when Jezebel's baby falls off her back during a particularly vicious fight -- can be gripping. Viewers will be hard-pressed to remain emotionless during the animals' struggles and hard-fought successes.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the connections between human and animal life. In what ways do animals and people act alike? What can we learn from noticing these similarities? What happens when shows like this give animals people-like personalities? Does it make you care more about the creatures you're seeing? Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

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