October 07, 2002
The trials of Attenborough
The BBC have come out with a "David Attenborough Bumper Fun Pack" containing DVDs of some of the great man's relatively recent series -- The Trials of Life, The Life of Birds and Life in the Freezer. Tempting though this is, I can't quite persuade myself to buy it.
The first problem is that the content is wrong. Fine though The Life of Birds and Life in the Freezer are, they lack the comprehensive sweep of the original Life trilogy. Life on Earth, The Living Planet and The Trials of Life individually and collectively deliver an incredible global perspective on natural history. These three are what the BBC should be collecting.
Fine, you say, so go buy Trials on its own and get the others when they come out. Unfortunately, the second problem is that Trials, at least, has been cut almost in half. Three DVDs seemed awfully thin for a 13-part epic, and Amazon confirms that each episode has been cut from 48 to 28 minutes.
Personally, I would pay through the nose for full versions of any of the Life series. I can't imagine I'm alone in this. The generation that grew up with the Life trilogy is now bringing up its own children, and those children are reaching the same age their parents were when that iconic solar flare and portentous theme launched the first episode of Life on Earth. It's hard to imagine when the market will be better primed. The BBC is notoriously bad at recognising its own crown jewels, and it has a lot of classic material to get through, I realise. But surely Attenborough's masterwork should be ahead of The Very Best of Bottom?