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Once again, I am embarrassed to be an American

I have really been looking forward to seeing David Attenborough’s latest, Frozen Planet, here in the US. I’ve seen brief snippets of the show on youtube, and like all of these big BBC nature productions, I’m sure it’s stunning. And then I hear that the Discovery Channel has bought the rights! Hooray!

But wait, experience cautions us. Remember when American television replaced Attenborough’s narration with Sigourney Weaver? And <shudder> Oprah Winfrey? And when the Oprah version dropped the references to evolution? What kind of insane butchery would they perpetrate this time around?

Well, the word is out. The Discovery Channel only bought 6 of the 7 episodes. They dropped the seventh because…it talks about global climate change.

Goddamnit.

It’s not just our dimbulbs in government, it’s active collusion by the media to suppress scientific evidence because it might be unpopular with our undereducated booberati. Jerry Coyne suggests that you contact the Discovery Channel’s viewer relations page and express your displeasure. I will not be watching a neutered version of the program on Discovery; instead, I’ll wait until I can pick up the BBC DVDs.

You know what else is annoying about this? My wife and I are having a pleasantly quiet evening at home, and what she’s been doing is watching youtube videos…of David Attenborough. She’s been gushing over these spectacular videos all night long, and I swear, I’m beginning to feel pangs of manly jealousy. At least I get to tell her that the American media has decided that he’s seditious and dangerous.

And that will probably make him even more attractive. I can’t win.

Just to end on a more pleasant note, Mary almost orgasmed over this one. You’ll like it too. Too bad the Discovery Channel thinks you hate reality.

(Also on Sb)

Comments

  1. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    It is becoming increasingly difficult not to conclude that my fellow Americans are just flat stupid. What other conclusion can one come to when they not only dismiss scientific evidence but simply refuse to consider it in the first place?

    Science, if it is considered at all, is merely included for balance against all of the lies that permeate what passes for media in this country. Really, what does it say when the only serious journalism is found on the fucking Comedy Channel?

  2. says

    I heard about this last month and it may be that the problem is already resolved (or that the Discovery Channel has bowed to pressure from rational people). This is the response that the Discovery Channel is sending to those who complain on its viewer-relations site:

    Dear Viewer:

    Thank you for contacting Discovery Channel. We appreciate your
    correspondence and for taking the time to share your thoughts and concerns with us about Frozen Planet.

    Frozen Planet will not be airing on Discovery Channel in the United States until early next year and many programming and scheduling decisions have yet to be made. We do know that the stories, messages and essence of all of the BBC’s seven episodes will be represented throughout the truly landmark series.

    Again, thank you for contacting Discovery Channel.

    Sincerely,

    Viewer Relations
    Discovery Channel

    I remain concerned that “essence of all” may be weasel words, so continued vigilance is indicated.

  3. chrisv says

    The continuing, systematic, structural and intentional dumbing down of America. A well educated citizenry is difficult to govern; better to keep them ignorant.

  4. maleficvtwin says

    I emailed Discovery about Oprah narrating Life or whichever one it was, and I got a very similar response to what zenoferox posted. Then it aired with Oprah narrating. >_<

    I too am tired of my country embarrassing me.

  5. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Oh, of course they’ll air the “essence” of each episode–right after they make it fair and balanced. Fuck, this is a network that airs more shows on psychics than on science.

  6. says

    I was looking forward to this so much until I read about Discovery’s latest in pandering to the stupid and willfully ignorant. I rarely watch Discovery anymore and it’s a real loss.

    I’ll wait until I can pick up the BBC DVDs.

    Yep, same here.

  7. NelC says

    Yeah, that letter wouldn’t fill me with confidence. If they’re going to show all seven episodes, why not just say so, instead of this obfuscating twaddle about “stories, messages, and essence”.

  8. says

    A_Ray:

    Fuck, this is a network that airs more shows on psychics than on science.

    Oh, it’s not just all the haunted this and haunted that, ghosties and possession crap. I recently saw an ad for two new shows: Moonshiners and Mountain Men of Alaska. :sigh:

  9. jimmauch says

    Why can’t America handle David Attenborough? Okay he may not be as polished as Liam Neeson but he does lend a certain honesty. When you see Attenborough express his thrill over seeing the blue whale you know it’s not acting, it’s real.

  10. raven says

    I don’t know why the Discovery channel even cares or anyone else by now.

    Global warming is happening and it will continue to happen. Whether anyone believes it or not. The planetary climate is remarkably insensitive to what people think about it, one way or another.

    And we’ve given up doing anything about it but talk. It’s not even clear we could do anything about it anyway. The political, social, and economic will isn’t there.

    The new buzzward in climatology circles is “adaptation”. That is all we can or will do.

  11. jimmauch says

    Oh yee of little faith. There is rumor that the 7th episode will air. Even with the reintroduced episode I guess they still might turn it into an ice-gate but let’s hope for the best.

  12. vintro says

    Hmmm, every episode has subtle references to climate change and the evolution of different species. Discoveries editors will be busy. Gosh, I find it amazing that America is being censored in such a way, you poor buggers. What next, TV shows telling people to believe in Gods… There is a way to watch this series now Mr Myers, email me ;) It’s truly a beautiful series. Just when you think you have pretty good idea of what happens in the natural world, up pops something you have never seen before… Wow!

  13. says

    jimmauch:

    Why can’t America handle David Attenborough?

    A lot of Americans can handle him just fine. Hell, I grew up watching Attenborough’s shows on PBS. Of course, that was back when intelligence and learning were still valued. (Hint: long time ago.)

  14. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Raven,
    When supervolcanic eruptions burned vast areas of peat and sent billions of tonnes of CO2 and CH4 into the atmosphere at the beginning of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, it triggered one of the biggest mass extinction events the planet has experienced. Large parts of the oceans became essentially anoxic. Given the current stress the oceans already find themselves under, there is good reason to be concerned about large-scale changes to the atmosphere as well as the oceans. CO2 and temperature are increasing about 10 times as rapidly now as at the onset of the PETM. Good luck adapting to breathing H2S.

  15. janine says

    (Hint: long time ago.)

    For the sake of clarification, this would be before Ronald Reagan was president.

  16. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Caine,
    Anymore, the wife and I don’t even watch TV except for videotapes of “The Big Bang Theory” we get from a friend. We didn’t even bother buying a digital converter box even with the voucher. Broadcast TV is an absolute desert, and Cable just makes it a bigger desert.

    Hell, we can barely stand listening to NPR anymore. Everything’s been dumbed down to the point where even Rick Perry won’t have to knit his brow while listening.

  17. michaelpowers says

    I remember when Discovery, The History channel, etc. first appeared. I was pretty excited about it. They even started out with programming about science and history. Now programs like Frozen Planet are all too rare.

    It appears that they’re targeting an audience that has the same IQ as number of teeth in their heads. When exactly did it become fashionable to be stupid?

  18. says

    Janine:

    For the sake of clarification, this would be before Ronald Reagan was president.

    Oh yes. We were talking about immigrating to OZ when Ronnie Raygun was elected. I wish we had.

  19. Tethys says

    I am heartened by the fact that they got enough complaints to air all seven episodes. Those sea horses are just so cool!

    Anybody know what the bird that morphed into an oval might be?

  20. ronsullivan says

    Tethys, it’s one of the several species of Bird of Paradise.

    I don’t think I’m the only American who’s madly in love with David Attenborough.

  21. timlewellyn says

    michaelpowers says:
    10 December 2011 at 9:03 pm

    “When exactly did it become fashionable to be stupid?”

    Like Janine said:
    “For the sake of clarification, this would be before Ronald Reagan was president.”

    Reagan dumbed it down.
    Bush made it ok to be plain stupid.

  22. AussieMike says

    To all those planning on coming to our fine country, Australia that is, to escape the intellectual void. The parties at my place!

  23. Ragutis says

    I never did understand overdubbing Sir David. FFS, I grew up watching Jacques Cousteau.

    Good to see that they caved to reason. Fucking sad that it took hundreds or thousands of howls and jeers to do the right thing. Used to be one of the few channels I liked. Now, Mythbusters is about the only thing worth watching on it.

  24. says

    Well, I tried to send an angry missive to Discovery Channel, but I would have had to lie to them too much: I haven’t had a TV for eight years or so, because I realized that the big networks were doing just what this thread is complaining about.

    The opinions of those who are in the correct demographics are all that matter to TV networks: One of the first questions on the Discovery Channel “feedback” page was something like:

    Your Age:

    10 or younger
    10 to 18
    18 or older.

    See how they break down their market?

    They don’t give a fuck about science. They see science programming as a commodity, and nothing more.

    I don’t blame them for making smart business decisions, but I do blame them for pretending to be something that they aren’t (ie. an educational resource)

  25. scorpy1 says

    Equally irritating is that they only seem to care to data mine for three young age ranges (< 13, 13-18, 18+) on their viewer relations.

    Old buggers don't matter?

  26. says

    Very shrewd decision on the part of the discovery channel. Not airing the 7th episode might have caused them to lose a significant portion of their viewership; most of whom probably believe evolution. My bet is they were hoping no one would notice their omission.

  27. activemargin says

    I was thoroughly disappointed when I learned of the Oprah overdub. I’m holding out hope that we’ll get the real deal – with 7 episodes – this time around, although I’m not holding my breath.

    There really is no substitute IMO for David Attenborough.

  28. The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says

    What’s the deal with the dubbing of narration, anyway? They think Americans can’t listen to wunna them-there furrin accents? Like Ragutis said, it didn’t hurt Jacques Cousteau any.

    In fact the reverse is the case. The only show like that I ever gave up on because of the narration was something like 18 years ago on PBS or the Discovery Channel—I don’t remember. It was a 4-hour series about dinosaurs, narrated by Barbara Feldon. Now don’t get me wrong, I like Barbara Feldon, or at least I did as a teenager, but 15 minutes of hearing her saying “dinah-SAHRS” over and over again and I had to pack it in. (This was before closed captions, of course.)

    Give me a cultured British accent any day over some American dialect that can’t tell the vowels in “fort” and “fart” apart!

  29. The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says

    The next one will be narrated by Stephen Baldwin as Barney Rubble from Viva Rock Vegas. Trufax!

  30. Chris Booth says

    AussieMike @# 29: Thank you.

    And thanks to PZ for the initial vid.
    (Uh, PZ, that wasn’t an orgasm at the end of the clip, it was an orangutan.)

  31. The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says

    (Uh, PZ, that wasn’t an orgasm at the end of the clip, it was an orangutan.)

    “No, Ma’am—that’s a Roi-Tan: A fine American cigar!”

    (God, I’m old!)

  32. TonyJ says

    Wait until they release them on DVD/Bluray and buy the BBC Attenborough version. That’s what I do.

  33. StevoR says

    Yeah, that’s just ludicrous really. Very sad news. That Frozen Planet series has screend recently in OZ although I must admit I only caught the odd episode of it with being busy intervening.

    FWIW, one of the best, most concise and convincing explanations of the phenmomena that I like to call Human Induced Rapid Global Overheating (HIRGO) a sthe most accurate and straightforward description is here :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9ob9WdbXx0&feature=related

    On youtube by David Attenborough – one of my first and still favourite science documentary presenters.

  34. says

    We can’t have someone who’s not American narrate it! We all know as our parents and government have taught us that we Youessayians are the only ones who know anything!

  35. raven says

    Given the current stress the oceans already find themselves under, there is good reason to be concerned about large-scale changes to the atmosphere as well as the oceans. CO2 and temperature are increasing about 10 times as rapidly now as at the onset of the PETM. Good luck adapting to breathing H2S.

    Did I say there was no reason to be concerned about global warming? No.

    Good luck burning that strawperson up.

    The CO2 level rises projected for the anthropene event we are in, is not projected anywhere near the paleocene/eocene boundary event which IIRC were over 1% CO2.

    Do you see the slightest hint that the global human population is ever going to do one thing to limit CO2 rises?

    What is it and where is it? Post it when you find it because no one else has seen anything.

    All I’ve seen this year is:

    1. A political witchhunt directed by the Tea Party against climate scientists.

    2. The usual death threats that Tea Partiers think passes for intelligent discourse aimed at climate scientists.

    3. Even the talk is dying down. The big issues are high unemployment and our sick economy.

    Good luck finding messengers to shoot and turning your wishes into reality. Have you tried sacrificing a chicken yet?

  36. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    What the hell? It’s already got a narrator. He’s speaking English so they won’t have to hear those nasty foreign languages and read (*shudder*) subtitles.

    With my luck, our TV will buy the Alec Baldwin version instead of the original.

  37. raven says

    The only way anything will happen to limit global warming is if we have a large human die off event. It doesn’t look like humans are capable of acting until there is a major catastrophe.

    So far we have lost one American city, New Orleans to a massive hurricane. It’s hard to ascribe any one weather event to climate change but NO fits right in. There have been a few impressive heat waves in Europe that killed a lot of people. An impressive drought in Texas.

    None of which has made any difference.

    It looks like it will take many millions of people dead at least before we decide to do anything. Given what has happened so far, even that might not change anything.

  38. Dave R says

    So, are you going to update your post? Because your information is over two weeks out of date.

    Also, can you watch stuff on the BBC iplayer outside the UK? Because all episodes are on there.

  39. John Morales says

    Dave R, agreed — it would be proper for PZ to update the post to accommodate the new information (both good and bad).

    Also, being on the internet and in Australia, I can report this (from the BBC’s iPlayer page): Currently BBC iPlayer TV programmes are available to play in the UK only

    (Yes, I suppose one could spoof one’s IP, if one cared to)

  40. says

    In Québec, when the CBC gets hold of a BBC documentary, they change the narrator. But it’s because they have to translate it in French. I don’t see any other valid reasons for replacing Attenborough’s narration. Alec Baldwin? WTF? Does Discovery has such a low opinion of its viewers that it thinks they can’t understand english in a (I must say, fantastic) british accent?

    Yup, buy the BBC’s DVD.

  41. theophontes, Hexanitrohexaazaisowurtzitane Wielding Tardigrade says

    @ PZ

    Also, Alec Baldwin will be narrating it:

    WHYYYYYY?

    Thank GAWD ™ for tender mercies -imagine if it was his brother, Stephen Baldwin.

    {buries head in toilet, pukes}

    Linky – Baldwin vs Dawkins

  42. syggyx says

    Also, Alec Baldwin will be narrating it:

    WHYYYYYY?

    It’s because US is all about streamlining, marketing and packaging. How do you not know this already?

    I’m not in US yet even I know that it’s default operating procedure for companies to think that actors add value to anything in US.

    If they think it will enhance it they will do it. All other considerations are secondary. That’s why that insidious crackpot cunt Oprah narrated stuff before.

  43. raven says

    ARIDS:

    It is becoming increasingly difficult not to conclude that my fellow Americans are just flat stupid.

    Well half of them are. The median IQ is 100, meaning half of them have IQ’s less than that.

    This might be slightly amusing if the ship we are all on wasn’t sinking.

  44. Ariaflame says

    Whatever I think of others narrating unnecessarily, insulting the people paid to do that job in that way is demeaning. Though from what I have been reading I guess I did not expect better from syggyx. Who is still a spleen weasel.

  45. toruokada says

    Came over from ScienceBlogs for the first time, which really goes downhill with their new publishing policy.

    Only created an account to say that I didn’t like the headline. Not that I don’t know this kind of feeling, but it is simply wrong. It is wrong for the same reason it is wrong to be proud of oneself just because one has be born into a certain country, i.e. nationalism. Both feelings are opposite sides of the same coin.

  46. yngvebae says

    Being Norwegian I see no reason to replace Attenborough with some Norwegian narrator. Attenborough is a good reason to learn english just so one can watch the BBC productions with him narrating.

  47. davidrutten says

    Incidentally, the comments below the YouTube video are Dutch are read “**KOOP GEEN GECENSUREERDE DVD’S OF BLU-RAYS BIJ DE EO!!!**”

    Which translates to “DO NOT PURCHASE CENSORED DVD’S OR BLU-RAYS FROM THE EO”. Where EO is the Evangelische Omroep, i.e. the Dutch evangelical broadcaster. I’m starting to see a pattern here…

  48. Marcus Hill says

    No actor reading a script can match Sir David’s narration. He narrates it whilst watching the images (unlike most narration, which is done in a sound studio and added at the right time by an editor), and you can hear the passion he has for the natural world in every word. He is quite rightly regarded as a national treasure.

  49. says

    I’m thinking that it’s a deliberate strategy from the BBC. If Americans hear an accent, they’ll just be reminded that there’s a country out there they haven’t bombed yet and god known what they’ll do.

  50. captainchaos says

    Why does an ad pop up the moment I click on this comment area?!?! PLEASE don’t use pop up ads, they are extremely annoying.

    That out of the way, what I wanted to say is that the annotations on that video show that it was uploaded by a Dutchman, and we have similar problems here with one of our broadcasters, the EO (Evangelical Broadcaster), who have a habit of airing beautiful nature documentaries (to show how beautiful the Lord’s Work is, I suppose), such as those created by David Attenborough, but dubbing them in Dutch and excising all references to evolution and an old Earth, even selling those bowdlerized versions on DVD to their viewers. They have already gotten in trouble with the BBC over it and they take a lot of flack from the general public.

    Even though most of the Dutch people are non religious, there is a very tenacious hard core of religiots, mainly in our own little “bible belt”.

  51. AussieMike says

    I would watch it if PZ narated it! Having said that you would still be a distant second to Attenborough, but even you would agree with that PZ. Attenborough’s voice is part of the hypnotic beauty of his Doco’s.

  52. slc1 says

    For those who are bent out of shape by the substitution of Mr. Baldwin for Mr. Attenborough, be advised that all 7 episodes can be downloaded from numerous file sharing services and BT Torrent.

  53. Ramel says

    It does work both ways, here in the UK a lot of American discovery channel shows like Mythbusters get their narrators replaced with British voice overs. But then, the closest you have to Attenborough standard narration is Morgan Freeman…

  54. Gregory Greenwood says

    I just finished watching Frozen Planet last week (with the original David Attenborough narration, thank Cthulhu), and it is one of my favourite Attenborough nature documentary series (which is saying a lot). I found the final episode* particularly interesting. While I was aware that rising temperatures would lead to icecap melt, and thus an alteration to planetary albedo that would result in more solar energy being absorbed and thus a further increase in temperature, I was somewhat hazy on the actual process by which the icecap was melting.

    This episode explained that the actual primary land-bound Antartic icemass is relatively stable, with summer air temperatures well below freezing point, but the sea temperature is rising and this is causing the coastal ice shelves to melt from below. It is these ice shelves, that are holding back glacier flow, that are the things that are melting and breaking up at such terrifyingly rapid rates, and once they are gone the huge Antartic glaciers will deposit vast quantities of ice into the ocean where it will melt and substantially raise global sea levels, devestating coastal communities world wide and disrupting the chemical balance of the world’s oceans along with severely impacting biodiversity with the potential for extensive extinctions.

    The explanation was clear and easy to follow while avoiding needless over simplification. I can see why the AGW denialists would be very worried about the average citizen watching this program and beginning to question the line that scientific concerns over climate change are all some lefty conspiracy to ruin the economy, and so they went to their old fallback position – censorship.

    As for this sudden change of heart about showing the seventh episode, I think it is too early to declare victory. Zenoferox posted the press release @ 2, and the paragraph;

    Frozen Planet will not be airing on Discovery Channel in the United States until early next year and many programming and scheduling decisions have yet to be made. We do know that the stories, messages and essence of all of the BBC’s seven episodes will be represented throughout the truly landmark series.

    (Emphasis added)

    Sounds to me like a standard press release platitude. They leave themsleves a lot of leeway there. Who decides what is a sufficient ‘representation’ of the ‘essence’ of the series? The very fact that they have decided to re-record the perfectly good UK narration with Alec Baldwin strikes me as simply an excuse to pull the series’ teeth and excise any references to evolution or climate change that might ruffle feathers among the anti-intellectual god botherers and corporate shills that seem to afflict the American media so badly.

    On the subject of controvercial television programs, did Richard Dawkins The Root of all Evil (not his preferred title) ever get released over there? It raised quite a bit of whining among religious apologists even over here, so I would imagine that its subject matter would have proven somewhat incendiary in the US.

    —————————————————————–

    * You know, the one the climate change deniers are so desperate to cut or at least ‘edit’.

  55. says

    I personally hate dubbing myself, but it seems that American TV producers think that American audiences don’t like actors and narrators speaking in a non-American accent, the token Brit in some TV shows excepted.

    AFAIK, most British TV series have not been aired as is in the US, but rather adapted into American copies of those shows…

  56. Brother Ogvorbis, OM . . . Really? says

    Global warming is happening and it will continue to happen. Whether anyone believes it or not.

    But the Heartland Institute disagrees. And they must be honest — they are from the Heartland!

    The planetary climate is remarkably insensitive to what people think about it, one way or another.

    But a significant portion of the American electorate votes for people who think that politics shapes reality. Or gods. Or tax cuts. Something like that.

    =======

    Baldwin? They’ve been out of the locomotive business for years. I’ll wait for the English language version on DVD.

  57. lactosefermenter says

    @#1

    Americans aren’t stupid. They’re just the victims of a propaganda machine that would’ve given Goebbels a stiffy.

  58. StevoR says

    @61. flapjack : 11 December 2011 at 4:20 am

    Thanks – that’s a classic. Love that Team Amercia movie & song!

    ***

    Incidentally David Attenborough has been speaking out onthe HIRGO issue more and that’sbeen getting reported on SBS world new sAustalia and on the BBC world news – see :

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/search/news/david_attenborough

    PS. Latest news on the Durban Climate conference is here :

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-16124670

    in case anyone’s interested – via the BBC world news again.

  59. NelC says

    What do they do with Attenborough’s direct-to-camera pieces? Do they cut those or leave them in? Some of the finest scenes are when he’s speaking to camera; who can forget the bit with the gorillas in Life?

  60. dbumrob says

    Wow! What a line of comments! The DC Viewer Relations page is as un-user friendly as it can get. I reposted this piece as well.

  61. peterh says

    “Do they really think that the idiotic evolution and climate change deniers … are going to want to watch a nature documentary?”

    Of course they’re going to watch. As a kid, didn’t you try to sneak bits of “forbidden fruit” (sex, liquor, smutty stories, etc.)? Some never get away from that. And how else are they to know what windmills they must tilt against next?

    As for having “an American accent,” (whatever that may be) in place of a British (they have a broader range of accents than we), I would nominate Morgan Freeman. I feel his narration of March of the Penguins is one of the finest in the history of the language.

  62. submoron says

    For those of you with Blu Ray players, Amazon UK have the discs at £25 and says that they are region free.

  63. says

    Although I like Alec Baldwin, I can’t even begin to guess why they’d dub him over Attenborough. I’ll be ordering the BBC edition and not bothering with whatever propagandized version the Discovery Channel ends up showing or partially showing.

    Thanks for posting that video – it’s a keeper.

  64. louis14 says

    First off, I’ve just finished watching the whole series, and I really recommend everyone watch it – it’s real Magic of Reality stuff. And if you grab it nefariously from some internet source – make sure you watch it in as high definition as you can, and on a bigger screen than your computer monitor. It’ll be worth it.

    PZ said, “the Oprah version dropped the references to evolution”

    Can anyone point me to a source for this? I knew they did the re-voicing, but didn’t realise they had edited out references to evolution. If that’s true, it makes you suspect all the more that they’re going to doctor the ‘On Thin Ice’ episode of Frozen Planet.

  65. ericpaulsen says

    So they cut out the bits about global warming? I guess that they really don’t want to teach the controversy.

  66. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The BBC shows are about 55 minutes, and when the episodes are aired on Discovery Channel, they will probably be only 40-43 minutes depending on the number of commercials sold. Expect heavy handed editing.

  67. says

    louis14

    I don’t have confirmation of editing of the Oprah version, but I had read that one of the reasons Discovery gave for not wanting to air the final episode was that a major portion of it was Attenborough on camera, and it’s where he makes some of his most salient points regarding the effect climate change will have on all life on the planet. Since Discovery is dubbing the series, they’d need to cut major portions of the last episode where Attenborough is speaking on camera anyway.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2061663/Frozen-Planet-Climate-change-episode-wont-shown-US.html

  68. louis14 says

    @boskerbonzer

    I’ve just watched that last episode, and it’s true, there is quite a bit more of him on camera than in the rest of the series.

    The episode actually does very little proselytising, and limits itself mostly to describing the changes that have already been observed and measured and those that are currently being investigated. There’s no mention of anything like anthropogenic climate change that I noticed. It is mild fare indeed.

    @ Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    It may be that they won’t be showing the ‘Freeze Frame’ section at the end of each episode – which is a ‘making of’ section that describes particular problems the production crews overcame to get the shots for that program. It’s usually about 10 minutes long.

  69. HaggisForBrains says

    Having watched it here in the UK, the whole series is just amazing. I totally agree that David Attenborough’s commentary is irreplaceable, but let’s not forget the truly fantastic photography. If you can, make sure you see the “Freeze Frame” ten minute add-ons at the end of each episode, which go some way to explaining the incredible photography, and indeed the incredible risks, undertaken by the teams of photographers.

    The Climate Change section is illuminating without going into possible causes. Nonetheless you cannot doubt Global Warming once you have seen the “before and after” shots of glaciers retreating.

  70. Pteryxx says

    re Nerd of Redhead:

    The BBC shows are about 55 minutes, and when the episodes are aired on Discovery Channel, they will probably be only 40-43 minutes depending on the number of commercials sold.

    True dat… Discovery is also in charge of BBCA, apparently, and I’ve noticed chunks of Doctor Who episodes have gone missing. Mostly because fans discuss the importance of shots and lines that I don’t get to see except via bootleg. (And because I was looking forward to Amy Pond refusing to look away. “Nope.” Darn you American advertising…)

    louis14:

    It may be that they won’t be showing the ‘Freeze Frame’ section at the end of each episode – which is a ‘making of’ section that describes particular problems the production crews overcame to get the shots for that program. It’s usually about 10 minutes long.

    For what it’s worth, when I’ve seen “Planet Earth” on DSC or Animal Planet a few years back, it did include a ‘making of’ section for each episode, but it was less than five minutes long. Wiki says those were originally ten minute segments.

    They also compress the end credits into a small-text, sped-up stream alongside the channel’s Next Show advertising… particularly annoying with classic movies and fanbase shows. Do any of you non-US viewers still get to see normal end credits these days?

  71. David Marjanović says

    When supervolcanic eruptions burned vast areas of peat and sent billions of tonnes of CO2 and CH4 into the atmosphere at the beginning of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, it triggered one of the biggest mass extinction events the planet has experienced. Large parts of the oceans became essentially anoxic.

    Meh. Oceanic Anoxic Events happened several times in the Cretaceous. The PETM was only one of the 20 biggest mass extinctions of the last half billion years. Hardly anything died out in shallow waters or on land.

    But!

    All those events happened in a greenhouse world when there already wasn’t any ice on the poles. To get us up to that kind of heat from our present state, to transform the whole world into a tropical paradise, would be utter horror.

    I don’t think it’ll get that far, because Peak Oil will come too soon. It’s not very probable that we’ll trigger any gigantic methane clathrate discharge till then. So, I think we’ll only have to evacuate Bangladesh.

    Only.

    “When exactly did it become fashionable to be stupid?”

    It’s called fascism.

    Actually, that’s… true.

    […] I didn’t like the headline. Not that I don’t know this kind of feeling, but it is simply wrong. It is wrong for the same reason it is wrong to be proud of oneself just because one has be born into a certain country, i.e. nationalism. Both feelings are opposite sides of the same coin.

    Seconded.

    Do any of you non-US viewers still get to see normal end credits these days?

    Oh yes, even on private channels most of the time.

  72. Pteryxx says

    Do any of you non-US viewers still get to see normal end credits these days?

    Oh yes, even on private channels most of the time.

    Dammit. Of all the offenses my native country’s arrogant money-lust has perpetrated against the public, they had to take away OUR END CREDITS! Us fans WANT the real-time reminder of exactly what writers and bit players and segment producers participated in the episode we just watched. And to pay homage to the production crews during the afterglow of the closing theme. That’s WHY there are credits in the first place, so these folks get recognition for their work! ARRRRGH *shreds hapless pillow*

  73. says

    The note I sent Discovery,

    “I just read a dailymail article that distressed me:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2061663/Frozen-Planet-Climate-change-episode-wont-shown-US.html

    It claims that you purchased only 6 of the 7 episodes of frozen planet for broadcast in the US.

    If this is true it is a blow to the integrity of the Discovery Channel. Please set me straight and tell me that this article is wrong. I would like to believe you are not pandering to anti-intellectuals on your channel devoted to “discovering.””

  74. Dave R says

    It isn’t true, or no longer is, as has been pointed in the comments. It would be really nice if PZ could change his blog entry to that end so that people don’t send the Discovery Channel messages over nothing.

  75. says

    How the heck do you even protest to Discovery? Their “programming” option only allows you to pick their existing, now airing, shows, and complain about those, not their programming in general (not that I looked through every single possible sub category, but none of the others seem to fit). I suppose you could get a laugh by calling their “ethics” hotlines, or something, but they seriously don’t seem to want to hear from people stating flat out, “Your shows are all mostly useless garbage now, and you are compounding that by imagining we don’t want to hear the people that originally narrated some of the ones that are not, unless you pay some non-scientist super-star to babble the ‘essentially original meaning’.”

    I have to agree with one of the other people here, if Mythbusters wasn’t on there, I don’t think there is a damn thing on the channel I would watch anymore.

  76. fifilamour says

    At the risk of repeating what someone has already said upthread, I’d suspect that any pressure not to air a program about global warming has more to do with the corporations that advertise on Discovery than the actual audience.

  77. davidcortesi says

    Well, you can unbunch your drawers on this issue at least. The word that Discovery would air all ep’s went out days ago, was posted on Reddit multiple times 5 and 3 days ago. Here’s a link to the Columbia Journalism Review which itself includes a link to Discovery’s announcement (cited above I believe).

  78. Crudely Wrott says

    That David Attenborough video went a long way towards ameliorating the funk I was wallowing in after making my comment on the Vague and Blurry Mind thread.

    Thanks, Professor.

  79. hissatsu says

    For those of you with Blu Ray players, Amazon UK have the discs at £25 and says that they are region free.

    While UK BBC Blu-rays are indeed region free, most of them (or at least most of their nature programs) still won’t play on the vast majority of US players. They’re encoded as 1080i50 video, which very few US TVs or players support. Luckily, my player converts it to video my TV supports, so my copy is on its way.

  80. peterh says

    The BBC 5-disc set can be had on eBay from a seller with 100% positive feedback; these have the Attenborough narration. There are several of the 4-disc Blue-Ray set which also have the Attenborough narration.

    To maintain “diversity” in your documentary collection, there are advance sales on the Answers in Genesis series “Created Cosmos.” Blue-ray only, it seems. (Stock “expected” 12/19.)

  81. Weed Monkey says

    I’m lucky enough that our national broadcasting service, YLE (which is quite faithfully modelled after BBC), broadcasts the best science documentaries they can find as soon as they can afford them. Unfortunately, that takes some time. So tomorrow I’ll be watching the first episode of First Life at 19:00 (EET) while simultaneously (and illegally) downloading the sixth episode of Frozen Planet.

  82. crissakentavr says

    The age ranges are at the split of American Law. You have under 13 – they’re not allowed to record any information of people aged 13 or younger. Under 18 is a minor, and they’re only allowed limited commercial interactions.

    It has nothing to do with demographics and everything to do with legalese.

    As it is, I was never able to load their customer interaction form aside from the age and name blurb – not in Safari, not in Opera, not in Chrome.

  83. crissakentavr says

    Can anyone point me to a source for this? I knew they did the re-voicing, but didn’t realise they had edited out references to evolution. If that’s true, it makes you suspect all the more that they’re going to doctor the ‘On Thin Ice’ episode of Frozen Planet.

    It’s hard to say, but they did make the references at a much lower intellectual level. Their detail of information was much lower, like it was aimed at preschoolers instead of school kids. I’ve watched the comparison audio. While Oprah’s cadence is nice, the information is just… Badly explained.

  84. says

    Watching the 7th episode now and we really are missing out. It’s not the “best” way to get it but I found it on the torrent websites. It’s the only way I can feed my British television addiction while living in the US.

  85. Weed Monkey says

    I’m actually curious: how and why does BBC make the international versions of their documentaries? I watched the original BBC How the Earth Made Us only a couple of weeks before it was broadcast on Finnish TV, and there was a remarkable difference. In the original Dr. Iain Stewart was visible and narrating in front of the camera almost all the time, and in the version broadcast in Finnish TV he was nowhere to be seen – nor his narration to be heard. Yet these two versions were as long to the minute at least, and as far as I can recall carried the same information, almost word to word.

  86. markitaa says

    Who decided that you needed to be coddled? Discovery Channel U.S. or its sponsors? That reminds me of how hard it was to get sponsors for any museum exhibit to do with Darwin.

    P.S. I’m baaack! This last try at registering actually succeeded. —Markita Lynda AKA Monado

  87. markitaa says

    Once the Arctic sea ice goes (and it gets thinner every year), the ocean will warm the land and the permafrost will melt more quickly than it’s already doing and release more carbon dioxide in the form of currently frozen peat moss, which will accelerate global warming. The signs are there in ordinary documentaries if you watch for them. I watched one about the old and new ways of life in Greenland (a Danish territory). One of the new ways was working a lead mine which forty years ago was covered with 25 metres of ice. Ta-dah!

  88. orsonzedd says

    I sent this to them. I was just venting, honestly, but I was pretty pissed at them for a lot of stuff, and so I feel justified.

    “So you assholes have neutered so many BBC science shows that now you think you can get away with not talking about Climate science because it might offend idiots? Screw you. You people are to science and reason what Star Wars Prequel Trilogy is to Cinema, flash and no substance. Your idea of science is some bastardized concept of discovery rather than the methodology used to get there, and the most scientific thing about you ninnies is that you employ the Mythbusters.

    Seriously, if it weren’t for them, I’d never watch your drek. I mean, if I wanted watered down, factless commentary on reality, the 24 hour news channels are ten channels up, I don’t really have to sit and watch your shit. So I’ll be buying the BBC version of this show and the David Attenborough version of Wonderful World.

    You’re lucky there’s a History channel to make you look slightly better by comparison, but I can’t help but think about how low your programing has come. Chunking pumpkins isn’t a scientific idea. The knowledge that people watch your channels and think that this is what science is really disturbs me on some level.”

  89. Marcus Hill says

    Weed Monkey @101: The BBC makes a decend chunk of change from selling programming overseas. It’s easier to sell a documentary series if you edit out any on screen appearances of the original narrator, since this allows foreign language dubbing to be done transparently.

    Unfortunately for Attenborough fans, this is easier to do on his recent work, as he has succumbed to his advancing years and decided to limit his field time, mostly narrating off screen. He clearly did a couple of trips to the poles to film pieces to camera for the first episode of Frozen Planet, which are easy to edit out. In his earlier series, he was on screen with the wildlife a lot (for instance, in the example with the gorillas mentioned upthread).

  90. woodsong says

    I sent them my opinion (before I read in the comments that they are getting all 7, and having Alec Baldwin narrate–oh, well…):

    I’m disappointed to hear that your network has purchased the rights to only the first 6 of the 7 parts to “Frozen Planet”. I’d like to see the whole series. After all, if I sit down to read a novel or research paper, I want to read the whole thing, not find that the last chapter or conclusions section has been stripped out! I’d also like to mention a previous disappointment with one of your shows. I greatly enjoyed the series “Life of Mammals”, although I found the choice of Oprah Winfrey as narrator disconcerting. While she is an engaging speaker, she’s not known for being a naturalist. When I found out, after the fact, that the show had been recorded by David Attenborough, I was disappointed and baffled by the substitution. Why was the narration of an engaging naturalist stripped out, and replaced with someone with minimal credibility on the topic at hand? While I have nothing against Winfrey, when it comes to nature programs, I would much prefer to hear Attenborough’s original version.

    Maybe if enough viewers complain about the narration substitutes, they might consider airing the originals?

    Thinking about it further, I should have double-checked the “Life of Mammals” reference–I went on memory, and now, with a little checking online, I’m thinking it was the “Life” doco I should have referenced! Oops. Oh, well. I think my point stands, regardless.

  91. mycosect says

    Speaking of climate change, anyone see http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/shock-as-retreat-of-arctic-sea-ice-releases-deadly-greenhouse-gas-6276134.html ?
    Scientists are seeing that methane is starting to be released over by Russia on the East Siberian Arctic Shelf-they’re seeing plumes up to and over a thousand maters in diameter, and densely packed. As methane is a greenhouse gas, the released methane contributes to further temperature increase-what triggered the gas’s release in the first place and might lead to greater rate of release and further damage to the environment as time goes on.

  92. stefanslopa says

    PZ, there is a internet group which captures tv documentaries all over the world, and puts them online to download. You can find the whole series, downloadable by any torrent software here: (free registration required)
    http://forums.mvgroup.org/index.php?showtopic=42393

    In the end of the post you can find the links, so you can have all of them, with sir david Attenborough’s voice and in HD quality.

  93. Kaintukee Bob says

    I sent a message expressing my disappointment, and got this response today:

    Dear Viewer:

    Thank you for contacting Discovery Channel. We appreciate your
    correspondence and for taking the time to share your thoughts and concerns
    with us about Frozen Planet.

    We are pleased to inform you Frozen Planet will premiere as a seven-part
    series on Discovery Channel in the United States on Sunday, March 18 at 8PM
    ET/PT. Despite speculation to the contrary, Discovery Channel had not
    announced any decision related to the scheduling of a specific episode of
    the BBC/Discovery Channel co-production prior to December 6, 2011 (
    http://dsc.discovery.com/show-news/discovery-channel-announces-march-18-premiere-date-for-frozen-planet.html
    ).

    We hope you will join us next March, as Frozen Planet provides the ultimate
    portrait of our earth’s poles in all their majestic power and beauty.

    Again, thank you for contacting Discovery Channel.

    Sincerely,

    Viewer Relations
    Discovery Channel

    Their message to me doesn’t mention any cutting or re-editing, but I’m not sure I trust it.

  94. woodsong says

    Kaintukee Bob, I got exactly the same form-letter response.

    While the letter clearly says that they’re showing all 7 episodes, which the linked announcement agrees with, the announcement also names Alec Baldwin as narrator, and mentions “the series’ seventh episode, hosted on camera by British naturalist David Attenborough”. This sounds to me like they’re going to have Baldwin narrate everything except for Attenborough’s on-camera face time in the last episode.

    Growl. I think I’ll be finding a downloadable original to watch.

  95. lyra says

    I am also a huge fan of Attenborough and, living in Germany, have to buy the original DVDs if I want to hear him narrating. So I checked amazon (both .uk and .de) and I have the habit to check out the negative comments. And it seems that the DVD/Blue Ray-Versions from the BBC contain only episodes 1 to 6 and not the 7th one about clima change! This just as a hint to those who eagerly wait for the BBC DVDs! I haven’t purchased them yet myself …