WINNER: WILD CHINA, TRAVEL CHANNEL
The basis of this six-part series was unorthodox. Western media, tightly restricted by China’s government, normally focuses on problems faced by the densely populated city centers. Often ignored is China’s vast rural landscape, even though it is 80% of the country’s land mass and home to half the population, mostly peasants. This largely unknown region’s wildlife was the focus of Wild China. Gorgeous HD footage revealed a bevy of animal treasures. While the series was balanced (again, unusual with western coverage of China), it concluded that since nature is viewed here largely as a servant of man, wildlife’s survival is precarious. Yet, it also concludes that wildlife can survive, aided by its resilience and some human intervention.
Evolve: Eyes, History: There’s plenty of truth behind the expression "eagle eye." That’s made clear in this fascinating look at evolution, which describes how eyes evolved. While eagles are 100 pounds lighter than humans, their eyes weigh the same as ours. The back of the human eye has 200K light-capturing cells per square millimeter. The eagle’s has 1 million, providing 5 times the image resolution as humans. It also can magnify images to 3 times larger than what we can see. No wonder this bird of prey can spot its next meal from a mile away.
River Monsters, Animal Planet: Think you have a tough job? As host of River Monsters, Jeremy Wade’s daily routine includes facing man-eating fish like bull sharks and piranha. Think this is too gory to attract viewers? Think again. Wade attracted a record 1.3 million viewers for River Monsters’ debut, including 647K in the 25-54 demo, and was Animal Planet’s most-watched premiere ever.