‘Nature: Bears’ Largely Successful In Its Presentation Of The World’s Different Species Of Bears

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution/WNET

PBS’ popular wildlife series Nature has, over the years, brought audiences countless hours of educational and entertaining content about animals and ecosystems from around the world.  From the plains of Africa to the waters of the Great Barrier Reef to the highest peaks of the Andes, the series has done so much for audiences.  Now with a mutated flu running rampant around the globe and causing so much unnecessary fear, panic and closures, the program is needed more than ever.  That is because even zoos, where people might otherwise be able to be exposed to many of those animals and ecosystems, are among the many places closed as a result of that unnecessary fear and panic.  So where else to be exposed to nature and wildlife in general than in PBS’ long-running series?  In one of its most recently released episodes, Bears, the program takes a look at the different species of bears that roam the world.  The surprising revelations about the different species form a strong foundation for the program.  It will be discussed shortly.  While that engaging content does a lot to help this episode of Nature, it should be noted that there is one negative to the whole.  That one negative is once again, is the preachy message about conservation pushed into the program’s final minutes.  This is not the first time that this has happened with an episode of Nature, and is something that needs to stop.  It will be addressed a little later.  Getting back to the positive, the program’s collective pacing and transitions round out its most important elements.  They work with the episode’s content and makes it well worth watching even despite the unnecessary preaching pushed into the episode’s final moments.  Keeping that in mind, Nature: Bears proves to be another overall positive episode of Nature.

Nature: Bears, one of the latest releases from PBS’ popular wildlife series Nature, is a welcome presentation for audiences everywhere in a time when panic and fear over COVID-19 has caused so much unnecessary closure nationwide.  It serves to expose audiences to a variety of bears that they otherwise might not have been exposed to at the zoos and other wildlife facilities that are now closed.  That introduction to the different species forms the program’s foundation.  Audiences are introduced to familiar bear species, such as black bears, grizzly bears and polar bears over the roughly hour-long episode as well as perhaps less familiar species, such as the sloth bear and the spectacled bear.  Not only are viewers introduced to all of those species of bears, but they are also introduced to the things that make each bear unique.  For instance, viewers learn that the polar bear’s sense of smell is 20 times stronger than that of a bloodhound, and that it can smell its prey as deep as three feet beneath the ice.  Also of interest in the program is the revelation that the sloth bear is able to avoid the pain of solder termites’ pincers when it breaks down termite colonies because of the construction of the bear’s mouth.  In regard to the grizzly bears, viewers learn that they learn through what is essentially modeling.  The cubs learn how to hunt for fish, for instance, by watching their mother.  That is very similar throughout the animal kingdom.  On another note, audiences also learn in watching the program that bears scratch their backs on trees, not because their backs itch, but because of territorial marking.  So, as funny as it is to watch, it actually serves a key purpose in the lives of bears.  All of this is just a snapshot of everything that is discussed throughout the course of Bears.  When it is considered along with the content that was note addressed here, the whole of the program’s main feature proves to be worthwhile presentation for audiences of all ages.  Even when the discussions on bears mating and hunting come up, the content is largely edited, so viewers don’t have to worry about covering their children’s eyes or fast forwarding at any point.  To that end, it makes the program that much more accessible for viewers.  All things considered, the content featured in Nature: Bears builds a strong foundation for this program.  Of course for all of the positives presented through the DVD’s content, it is difficult to ignore its one negative element, the unnecessary preaching about conservation at the program’s end.

As Nature: Bears nears its end, narrator Olga Merediz begins reading lines that make statements about the danger that many bears are in, such as the polar bear because of global warming.  At another point prior, she reads a message about how deforestation endangered panda bears in Asia.  Yes, we know global warming is a problem.  There is no denying it.  There is also no denying that deforestation globally is a problem.  However, being that the rest of the program did so much to educate and entertain, having that element to close out was not necessary.  It ruins an otherwise enjoyable program because of its preachy nature.  Please do not misunderstand the statement being made here.  There is no doubt that global warming should be addressed.  There is no doubt that the deforestation that nearly wiped out the panda bears is still very much of concern.  However, as important as they are, there is a time and place for everything, and a program that is otherwise presented solely as an educational piece does not need to include preachy messages about environmentalism at any point.  That should be saved for another time and perhaps another episode of Nature that is dedicated entirely to the issue facing the planet. For an episode that is supposed to focus on animals, that preachiness should not be there.  This is not the first time that this has happened in an episode of Nature, and likely isn’t the last either.  Hopefully though, the people at PBS will take this into consideration for future episodes of Nature.  Now as much of a detriment as that preachiness is to this episode of Nature, it doesn’t make the program unwatchable.  The collective pacing and transitions that are used throughout the program make the primary content even more engaging.

The pacing and transitions that are used throughout the course of Nature: Bears is so important because it is these elements that keep the program flowing from start to end.  Considering the number of species of bear featured throughout the program and what makes each species unique from one another, there is clearly a lot of content presented.  Just enough time was given to each species and its abilities and adaptations from one to the next.  As each species’ focus gives way to focus on other species around the world, the transitions are seamless.  Audiences are never left behind and are never left feeling like the transitions are stark.  Everything is fluid throughout the program.  That fluidity and the steady pacing ensures that audiences will be largely, if not fully, engaged in this episode of Nature from start to end.  When this is taken into account with the power of the program’s content, that certainty of engagement and entertainment is strengthened even more.  That is even despite the one issue of the unnecessary environmentalist message pushed so hard in the program’s final moments.  Keeping that in mind, Nature: Bears proves itself another largely positive episode of what is one of PBS’ most notable series.

Nature: Bears, released on DVD Jan. 28, is another largely positive presentation from PBS’ long-running wildlife series.  It takes viewers around the world, profiling various species of bear and their unique adaptations and abilities.  Along the way, its pacing and transitions do a lot to make even more certain that viewers will remain engaged and entertained.  Even with the unnecessary environmentalist preaching at the episode’s end, those positives still make the program largely a positive presentation.  It is available now.  More information on this and other episodes of Nature is available online now at:




Website: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PBSNature

Twitter: http://twitter.com/PBSNature




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