National Geographic’s ‘Great Migrations’ Gives TV New Movement

by | November 6, 2010 at 12:02 PM | TV News

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The word action is taken to a new level on National Geographic’s ‘Great Migrations,’ a seven-hour spectacular that begins Sunday night, November 7, with what the network calls “four core hours chronicling epic animal migration.” In this series, size does matter. So does scope. And so more than anything does the quality of the photography, which is done with spectacular intimacy and HD clarity.

Shot from land and air, in trees and cliff-blinds, on ice floes and underwater, you’re shown the journeys various species make to ensure their survival. There are zebras in Botswana, translucent jellyfish, elephants in Mali, sperm whales, peregrine falcons, and of course the tiniest plankton. “Great Migrations has thus far been the most ambitious undertaking in National Geographic Channel history,” said Steve Burns, EVP, Content, National Geographic Channel. “We assembled a team of the best wildlife cinematographers in the business and gave them the most advanced technology in existence to capture these incredible stories of survival with life-and-death drama unfolding in every shot.”

As noted in the NY Times, this special falls in line with other photographic epics such Life, Planet Earth, and Blue Planet – and let’s not forget the granddaddy of all, Carl Sagan’s ‘Cosmos‘, which you should view online here for a trip down TV’s gee-whiz history. “In competitive terms, the main and perhaps the only question is, how does it look?,” asks the Times. “Is the photography, done over the course of two and a half years in 20 countries (and involving 420,000 miles of human travel), sufficiently spectacular? At moments, the answer is yes. In the first, second, fourth and fifth episodes of “Great Migrations,” which essentially contain the program’s content, there are images that will stick with you.”

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What shouldn’t be lost, and it isn’t, is that the great struggle for survival among all these species reflects our own, and in all instances, from the littlest plankton to the biggest, strongest human beings, we ought to remember success is fragile, precarious, and dependent on many factors, and life is beautiful, amazing, precious, and finite.

As stated earlier, Great Migrations premieres in the U.S. on Sunday, November 7, 2010 and in 330 million homes, 166 countries and 34 languages, with four core hours chronicling epic animal migration, narrated by two-time Emmy, three-time Golden Globe winner Alec Baldwin. Also note that Xfinity On Demand will have each of the episodes, plus an additional three hours of clips and specials available anytime you want to watch, in addition the magnificent video available on xfinityTV.com.

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Here is how the series unfolds:

Great Migrations: Born to Move
Premieres Sunday, November 7, at 8 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT
For these animals, moving literally means survival. In this hour, witness the dramatic migration of Christmas Island’s red crab, dinner plate-sized creatures that travel en masse from interior forests to mate on the beaches and deliver their young, braving intense battles with ferocious yellow ants; the heartbreaking moment a wildebeest calf falls prey to crocodiles as her mother helplessly watches from the river’s edge, all part of the arduous 300-mile journey the wildebeest make each year across Kenya and Tanzania, with danger lurking at every turn; the monarch butterfly’s annual journey in North America that takes four generations to complete; and the marvel of the sperm whale, who may travel more than a million miles in a lifetime.

Great Migrations: Need to Breed
Premieres Sunday, November 7, at 9 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. PT
The stories of species’ need to reproduce, the obstacles they overcome and the distances they travel to ensure future generations, are awe inspiring. Viewers will witness history as they see, for the first time in nearly 30 years, that the white-eared kob is alive and well in war-torn Sudan and performing a deadly, yet comical-looking mating ritual. This episode also features stunning footage of little red flying foxes soaring across the skies of Australia with their young wrapped in their mothers’ translucent wings; hard-working army ants on the floors of a Costa Rican rain forest, where the females and their brood of 200,000 larvae demand 30,000 prey corpses a day; and remarkable feeding and breeding behaviors of elephant seals, penguins and black-browed albatross in the Falkland Islands – all creatures that must leave the sea and find land to breed.

Great Migrations: Feast or Famine
Premieres Sunday, November 14, at 8 p.m. ET/PT
Witness the fortitude and elegance of Mali elephants as they undertake the longest elephant migration on earth – a vast, 300-mile circle around the heart of landlocked Mali in West Africa. Traversing the southern edge of the Sahara Desert, the only way they can survive is to keep moving across the scorched earth – from water to water, food to food – both in desperately short supply. Great white sharks cover thousands of miles of open ocean each year from Hawaii to northern Mexico to reach an abundant feast 150 miles off the coast of Guadalupe, Mexico, where the waters are teeming with marine life: mola mola, dolphins, rare beaked whales, fur seals and elephant seals. Witness close up the rarely filmed attack on a seal by a great white, shown in incredible detail from above and below the water’s surface. In the Mississippi River Valley, we find a great winged highway humming with traffic as bald eagles, peregrine falcons, ducks, songbirds, geese and pelicans search for food in this avian crossroads between the Gulf of Mexico and Canada or even the Arctic. And witness the incredible, beautiful sight of golden jellyfish of Palau on a race to follow the sun in their daily migration.

Great Migrations: Race to Survive
Premieres Sunday, November 14, at 9 p.m. ET/PT
Every spring in Botswana, hundreds of zebras leave the largest inland delta in the world to make a desperate 150-mile slog into hell – a desert of salt and sand – so their bodies can take in much-needed minerals. Shot by the award-winning filmmaking team of Beverly and Dereck Joubert, the journey is documented as never before. Off the coast of Alaska, we see the heartbreaking struggle of Pacific walrus who have become victims of earth’s changing climate. Traveling hundreds of miles along ice floes to reach their summer foraging ground, they find fewer and smaller floating ice chunks, unable to hold the walrus population that struggles to occupy these insufficient life rafts. In the untamed early days of the American West, the pronghorn antelope were plentiful and moved freely, proud and unconstrained. We watch one small herd of 200 that follows its ancient migration, traveling north in early spring from southern Wyoming, moving to lower elevations to follow the retreating snow line – a tough journey made even more difficult by human encroachment. Forty feet long and weighing up to 20 tons, the mysterious whale shark is the largest fish in the world. We join them as they have migrated to feast on the eggs of spawning fish. And in Borneo, a single, fragrant fig tree provides the impetus for a chaotic chorus of orangutans, red leaf monkeys, macaques and grey gibbons who travel from throughout the jungle to feast before the figs rot and drop to the forest floor.