Weird Creatures Is Weird, Wild Fun

Courtesy:  PBS/itv

Courtesy: PBS/itv

Everybody knows the names of Steve Irwin and Jack Hanna.  Now nature lovers can add one more name to the list of famed nature show hosts.  That man’s name is Nick Baker.  This young Brit hosts his own show on Britain’s itv called Weird Creatures with Nick Baker.  One part Wild Kratts and one part Crocodile Hunter, this series is aimed at much the same audiences as those shows.  So the question is what sets this series apart from its contemporaries?  The primary aspect of Weird Creatures with Nick Baker that sets it apart is that host Nick Baker comes across as being much more akin to Ghost Adventures host Zak Bagans than Hanna or Irwin in terms of his personality.  That is likely because of his seemingly young age.  Also worthy of note in this series is that unlike other nature series, episodes aren’t cut even if Baker and company don’t find the creature for which they are searching.  Regardless of whether or not their intended “target” is found, Baker and company still discuss other creatures that are discovered along the way.  So audiences are still introduced to any number of animals throughout each episode.  Lastly, audiences will appreciate from Weird Creatures with Nick Baker the fact that instead of just showing footage of country’s from which given animals originate, he and his crew actually travel to said regions.  The manifest function here is that not only are audiences treated to animals that they had never known about, they also get a glimpse of different regions of the world due to Baker’s globe hopping.  All of these factors and others show why this nature series stands out as one that today’s younger viewers will love to watch.

The first aspect of Weird Creatures with Nick Baker that audiences will appreciate in watching its first season (or “series” as it’s called by the Brits) is that while Baker obviously knows his stuff, he doesn’t try to be like contemporaries Jack Hanna and the late Steve Irwin.  Rather, he has his own “edge” about him so to speak.  He comes across as being looser about everything that he does than Hanna or Irwin.  He just doesn’t come across as being like Hanna or Irwin.  Even in his look, he will appeal more to younger viewers than to those that perhaps grew up watching those that came before him.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either.  That “edge” and younger look mixed in with an obvious love for and full understanding of his subjects could potentially influence younger viewers to take an interest in biology, zoology, and their associated sciences.  And what parent today could argue against their child or children gaining new interest in said subjects and careers? Exactly.  This is merely the starting point for what makes the show’s first season enjoyable.

Host Nick Baker’s peronsality, his look, and his love for and understanding of his subjects is the starting point for what makes the first season of his show enjoyable.  The adventures on which he and his crew embark are another part of what makes this first season enjoyable, too.  Just like Baker himself comes across as being unorthodox to a point, so do the episodes contained in Season One.  So many nature shows typically broadcast on American television feel spit-shined for lack of better wording.  Audiences are left feeling with American nature shows like their hosts magically find their “target “ animals in each episode.  And they seem so proper.  Weird Creatures with Nick Baker is the antithesis of said programs.  Even if Baker and company don’t find the animals for which they are searching, they still present to their viewers other animals that might not have ever been introduced to viewers.  And as in the case of the Pink Fairy Armadillo, this does indeed happen.  They never do find one in the wild.  But they are lucky enough to meet an Argentinian woman that keeps a stuffed Pink Fairy Armadillo in her home.   They almost don’t manage to find a Basking Shark, either in another episode.  But the weather and mother nature cooperate just enough to the point that they finally get to see one up close in said episode’s final minutes.  It’s nice to see this more “raw” feel from a nature show than something more spit shined and broadcast ready.

That Baker and his crew make the best of some difficult situations serves to make his show even more enjoyable when set next to his personality as a host.  There is still one last factor to look at that makes the show work, though.  That last factor is the exotic locales to which Baker and company travel for each episode of the show.  Again, one can’t help but compare Weird Creatures… to the likes of certain other nature based programs past and present in terms of its travel factor.  So many other nature based shows only present file footage of animals in their natural habitats.  And even the creature specific Animal Planet series River Monsters is limited in showing the areas to which its host travels.  This series on the other hand openly displays the regions to which the crew travels.  What they are doing is promoting interest in not only animals but in geography, and other natural sciences.  It does so much without even trying too hard.  And it is the final piece of Season One that makes it complete and complete fun for audiences.  It is available now and can be ordered direct from the PBS online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=19453476&cp=&sr=1&kw=weird+creatures+with+nick+baker&origkw=Weird+Creatures+with+Nick+Baker&parentPage=search.  More information on this series is available online at http://www.facebook.com/Weird.Creatures.With.Nick.Baker. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Pick blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Bagans, Khans’ Electronica Album A Standout Electronica LP

Courtesy:  Zak Bagans Entertainment

Courtesy: Zak Bagans Entertainment

Necrofusion is one of the most interesting releases in the world of electronica today.  The product of the partnership between Ghost Adventures host Zak Bagans and artist Praga Khan has resulted in an album that is as interesting as it is eerie.  The combination of Praga Khan’s music with segments of the Ghost Adventures episodes surprisingly works quite well.  They combine for a release that can’t fully be taken in from a single listen.  One of the most intriguing of this compilation’s songs would have to be ‘Poor Pearl.’  Country artist Bobby Mackey joins in with a little country twang that expertly contrasts the eerie mix of techno and the story of what happened to young Pearl.  According to the story in the song, the young woman was murdered, and her head was used as a sacrifice for a rather nefarious purpose.  Add that story in to the music and Zak’s vocal segments, and listeners are presented with a song that is both scary and enjoyable at the same time.

‘Poor Pearl’ is followed by an equally interesting song in ‘Sing For Me.’ Zak is talking to a spirit in this song who he is trying to get to sing for him.  The spirit does make contact with him, too.  It’s a little bit difficult to make out exactly what the spirit in question is saying to him without any sort of captioning that is done on the show.  But it’s that attempt to make out what the spirit is saying that makes this another of the album’s more interesting songs.  Of course, the musical backing of Praga Khan once again played its own role here.  Khan’s mastery of the craft shows yet again, making for another song that could equal the work of any other electronic artist out there today.

The album peaks at just the right point in ‘Dead Awaiting.’  The mix of heavy guitars, strings and electronics alone make for a song that as with the previously noted pieces stands out.  Add in the vocal segments of Zak asking a spirit about what happens when we die makes this far more than just an eerie track, but a song that is the best of the album.  The song opens very quietly with a guitar and piano.  Listeners then hear Zak asking the spirit in question about what happens after death.  He asks why the spirits come to him.  It’s the tone and delivery of this question combined with the sudden addition of a much heavier guitar part that makes the song that much more powerful.  By contrast, the strings set against the guitars add to the song’s power.  They help to make this the album’s highest point.

Necrofusion boasts far more than just three good songs.  There are far more that fans of electronica and Goth style sounds will appreciate.  For instance, there is the full on hit of ‘Demonator’, the creepy album opener, ‘In My Dungeon’, and ‘Good and Evil’ that listeners will love, too.  Whether for any of these or the album’s other songs, anyone who is a fan of Ghost Adventures or of electronica will find something to cheer about with this album.  It’s available now in stores and online.

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