North America – Discovery Channel
This 7-part series, the next installment of Discovery’s epic nature docs like “Frozen Planet” and “Planet Earth,” was three years in the making—and it shows. The
photography is stunning, as you’d expect, and the visual storytelling complements bold music choices—at times to comedic effect, as is the case with a scarlet-crested jungle bird hopping from side to side to attract a disinterested female (mambo music emanates as the background score). Or Ram Jam’s “Black Betty” playing amidst wild stallions battling each other for the role of pack leader. The doc’s true beauty, though, is in the visuals, which are as varied and rich as North America’s climes.
Back to the Wild – M2 Pictures – Christopher McCandless encounters along his journey “into the wild,” and the real accounts from friends, survival experts, daily diary entries and his own parents are heartbreaking.
Great Barrier Reef – Animal Planet – We see here gorgeous underwater footage of the Great Barrier Reef andlearn how this “marine metropolis” works together to form it. The competitiveness and predator-like qualities of the coral are portrayed with both edgy techno music and a cello score.
Jim Shockley’s The Professionals – The Outdoor Channel – With strong editing and cinematography, this is a highly stylized look at a team of hunters’ passion for their sport as well as their sense of exploration and adventure.
Mankind: The Story of Us – History – This 12-hour event celebrating the history of humans highlights our survival and illustrates how we’re connected.