“I just point at things,”
May 7, 2016 1:29 PM   Subscribe

Every Episode of David Attenborough’s Life Series, Ranked [The Atlantic] This Sunday, Sir David Attenborough, naturalist, maker of wildlife documentaries, snuggler of gorillas, wielder of That Voice, keeper of the blue shirt, and Most Trusted Man in Britain, turns 90. To mark the occasion, and celebrate his unbeatable oeuvre, I re-watched all 79 episodes of his Life Collection, and ranked them from worst to best—or, really, from least great to greatest.
posted by Fizz (18 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Ed Yong, like David Attenborough, is a treasure.
posted by ChuraChura at 1:32 PM on May 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

Found another cool article via the link ChuraChura shared: Can You Tell What Animal David Attenborough Is Talking About? [National Geographic]
posted by Fizz at 1:34 PM on May 7, 2016

Holy hell, that quiz is hard.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 1:40 PM on May 7, 2016

David McDavidface?
posted by hwestiii at 1:43 PM on May 7, 2016 [5 favorites]

In case anybody else is wondering, the one with the gorillas is only number 2. The Trials of Life Episode 10: Talking to Strangers must be really something.
And about another of my favourite Attenborough encounters, a shocking revelation:
"...about the lyrebird, he says, “in an attempt to out-sing his rivals, incorporates other songs that he hears in the forest.” But this was a captive lyrebird, which did not hear those songs in a forest. And, to date, there are no examples of wild lyrebirds mimicking man-made equipment."
posted by Flashman at 1:55 PM on May 7, 2016

So it was a liarbird?
posted by megafauna at 2:09 PM on May 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

He's shown us more of life than anyone. I have to walk for ten minutes before I can take my shoes off and feel grass between my toes. This is the case for so many people that live in cities. He brought the wonder of nature into our homes.

So many times I've been awestruck by the revelations. The title of this post “I just point at things,” is as understated as David is himself. I could mention a dozen favourites that he's pointed at. Let's have one I just made up.

'This frog, which isn't really a frog but a toad, licks it's eyes to to cover it with a sugary syrup. And here come the bees. What this poor frog doesn't know, is the bees carry a mite, that will lay their eggs in it's gut. They only do so to male frogs, which swiftly die after mating, and provide nourishment to their young. How do they tell the difference between the sexes? Only they, and the female frogs, know'

Check out his new documentary about the great barrier reef.

please 2016, I know he's 90 but not him.
posted by adept256 at 2:19 PM on May 7, 2016 [8 favorites]

I fell in love with David Attenborough back when the Planet Earth series was released. My ex-gf and I would come home from university and watch episodes for hours. His soothing voice, and all kinds of random knowledge that helped us win big at trivia nights or whenever we were watching Jeopardy.

Happy Birthday David!
posted by Fizz at 2:22 PM on May 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

A Netflix search for Attenborough (in the US) shows the following titles available to stream.
posted by blueberry at 3:00 PM on May 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

There's so much knowledge contained in these series, and one thing I love is that they're all so easily rewatchable. You see/learn something new with each viewing.
posted by Fizz at 3:07 PM on May 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

As a side-effect of the bingewatch, David Attenborough bingo!
posted by cheshyre at 3:08 PM on May 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

The moment from all of Attenborough's documentaries that my daughter gets most excited about: "I can see its tail just under my boat here. And it’s coming up. It’s coming up! There! The blue whale!" The joy and triumph and wonder in his voice and face are infectious, and "boo way-uh!!" is one of the first things my daughter said along with someone on a screen.
posted by clawsoon at 4:56 PM on May 7, 2016 [5 favorites]

The bit she gets excited about. The way that the energy changes from the near-whisper walk-through of the whale's internals to the ecstatic on-the-boat shot of Attenborough and the whale is a big part of what makes it exciting.
posted by clawsoon at 5:02 PM on May 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

One of my own favourite disturbing bits.
posted by clawsoon at 5:12 PM on May 7, 2016

Attenborough didn't write planet earth. It, like blue planet and Africa and frozen planet are productions he was simply hired to narrate - and it shows in my opinion, lacking the depth and context that characterises his work in favour of spectacle and disconnected moments without a broader sense of an ecosystem and its evolution (frozen planet is better in this respect).

Those later docs are fantastic technical show reels, but so piecemeal and shallow compared to Attenborough's own work. They don't really educate, imho, except in a factoid sense. Certainly not compared to his stuff.
posted by smoke at 6:17 PM on May 7, 2016 [5 favorites]

I'm ecstatic to see life in cold blood and life in the undergrowth get due props though, they at easy to overlook. Life of birds is often overrated I think.
posted by smoke at 6:24 PM on May 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

It took me years to realize my favorite Attenborough documentary doesn't exist. It's the fictional one in Peter Greenaway's "A Zed and Two Naughts" which the widowed brothers compulsively rewatch as they're processing their grief. I went through tons of Attenborough trying to figure out which series the clips were from. It turns out they're entirely invented for the movie. (It's really Attenborough narrating, though.)

Anyway, long story short, David Attenborough over a Michael Nyman soundtrack is where it's at.
posted by phooky at 8:31 PM on May 7, 2016 [4 favorites]

The day I met Attenborough.
posted by sneebler at 6:25 AM on May 9, 2016

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