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the future is wild, review

Last night, I tuned into Animal Planet to watch the pseudo-documentary "THE FUTURE IS WILD". TFIW rehashes a great deal of imagery from older documentaries (i.e. WALKING WITH DINOSAURS, WHEN DINOSAURS ROAMED AMERICA, LAND OF THE MAMMOTH) often to its disadvantage. Consider the segment with the large Amazonian carakillers, when the data feature comes up. It states that birds are the descendants of dinosaurs which is not wrong, however the "dinosaur" they show is in fact... A PTEROSAUR! A similar error (but not as damaging) occurs when they discuss the giant tortoises. They show a clip of Camarasaurus from WDRA and call it Brachiosaurus. And quite often, instead of creating a new shot, they rehash an old shot and show it again as a mirror image.

The concept of TFIW, is that humans have left the planet and 5,000,000 years later, they send a probe back to Earth to see what new creatures have emerged. My major problem is, what prompted the death of most of the taxa beloved and familiar to us? It seems there are several taxa better fitted to survive than some of those which are suggested to have survived and spawned the new species.

Often, Dixon's creatures are based on something we've seen previously (consider carakillers = phorusrhacids, snowstalkers = wolverines, shagrats = capybaras) or are rather ridiculous in general (torotans, graet blue windrunners, sharkopaths)...

Ex. Carakillers. Considering these flightless birds are hunting something like primates, I'm surprised that they can ever catch them since they scream and display insanely when they have found something. It's fairly obvious that these were loosely modelled after phorusrhacids despite that they are claimed to have descended from caracaras.

My other problem is how definite the script seems to make it sound that these creatures will arise. It isn't like we know what's going to happen or anything, we can make predictions but they are just predictions in the end... I remember a show called the Extinction Files. It was probably one of the best documentaries I have ever seen at any one time. The end suggested, and made sure the audience understood that it was a suggestion, that if humans suddenly disappeared, that rodents, weed-like plants, and insects seemed the most likely conquerors. Out of curiousity, why are rodents often suggested...?

Oh well... I guess that's TV for you...

Nick Gardner

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