Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Wtf did I just watch? "Nature," we need to talk.

Back in the day, when I was a wee lass, naught but knee-high to a grasshopper, Sunday nights in the Heineke household meant PBS. At 7:00, there was Nature, and at 8:00, NOVA.

George Page, man among men
Nature was narrated by George Page, a man who was revered in our family as much for his intelligence and heartfelt conservation efforts as for his richly-timbred and deeply manly voice - a voice that commanded respect for the majestic animals it described. Soaring avian species, carnivorous African felines, ancient reptilian beasts unaltered by the ravages of evolutionary time...George Page was a storyteller who captured what so few human eyes had the chance to see for themselves: the splendor of the natural world.

In many ways, it was...well, it was the longest damned hour of television in my young life, for I liked NOVA so much more...

But that's beside the point.

Nowadays, I don't watch much TV, but every now and again, I switch on PBS on Wednesday nights, where Nature and NOVA still coexist. I did so tonight, catching Nature near its start, and I thought, 'Becky...' I thought, 'watch this program, and learn again about the world we live in.' This is what I said to myself.

And I did.

What was on Nature tonight, you dedicated and wholesome readers, was a tale of orphans, a fair choice, because when we think of winning television, I'm sure there's not one among us who doesn't think young, abandoned mammals make for compelling drama.

It was not the concept of the subject matter that led me to dismay, but rather in the execution of it. What I wasn't expecting from my Nature this evening was the overwhelming lack of it.

The orphans in our story were not facing the harshness of the wild, but being nursed to adulthood by well-meaning yet invariably female human beings with exceptional (and often strangely Australian) resources at their disposal. These women named their babies with very human-sounding names ("Hannah," anyone?). They made teary-eyed decisions about the roles of the birth mothers in instances where the mothers survived. They went to veterinarians, where there were shots and check-ups, and holy shit, Nature has turned into Animal Planet.

There are actual human babies, quite a lot of them I'm pretty sure, who aren't half as wanted as the bats and kangaroos who were profiled in this horrifying hour of television. This isn't the Nature that I grew up with, the Nature that stood in between me and whatever mind-bending black hole shit NOVA was going on about. The Nature that was about, well, nature.

This was a fluff piece, a fluff piece that was part of a series, titled (I'm not making this up), "Nature's Miracle Orphans."

Miracle? STOP.

Where have you gone, George Page? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

(Okay, actually, he's dead. But it's the principle of thing.)


  1. I'm just saying, penis barbs.

    1. HA! You know, in hindsight, I do not need to turn on the television to learn about the animal kingdom...