‘Nature: Big Bend — The Wild Frontier of Texas’ Continues To Show Why ‘Nature’ Is One Of PBS’ Prime Series

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

Big Bend National Park is one of the most stunning locations within North America’s national parks system.  Covering more than 1,200 square miles in Texas and Mexico, the park features geological structures that date back eons.  It is also home to countless animal species on two and four legs.  The park faced great peril in 2020 due to now former President Donald Trump’s attempts to have a border wall built on the land.  Thankfully, outcry from officials in the region and Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election prevented the delicate park — which was established in 1944 – from being upset by those plans. PBS took audiences on a powerful trip through the park in February in a then new episode of its long-running, hit wildlife series, Nature titled Big Bend: The Wild Frontier of Texas.  The episode was released on DVD last month through PBS’ home distribution arm, PBS Distribution.  For those who have yet to watch this episode of Nature, it is another welcome edition to the show’s already extensive body.  A big part of what makes this episode so engaging and entertaining is its central story.  It will be discussed shortly.  While the story itself is so engaging and entertaining, the cinematography leaves just a little bit to be desired.  That is not to say that the cinematography is a failure.  There is much to like here, but at the same time, it does have a bit of a shortcoming.  It will be discussed a little later.   Considering the impact of the noted content, the DVD’s average price point proves just as important to note as the content.  It will be discussed later,   too.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of this episode of Nature.  All things considered, they make Nature: Big BendThe Wild Frontier of Texas more proof of why Nature remains one of PBS’ most respected and beloved shows.

PBS’ long-running wildlife series Nature is and has been for a long time, one of the network’s most respected and revered shows.  Big BendThe Wild Frontier of Texas is yet another example of why the series has its noted positive reputation.  That is proven in part through its story.  The nearly hour-long story takes viewers on a cinematic journey through the park, which is one part of North America’s extensive national parks system.  It follows just some of the animal life that calls the park home over the course of a year, starting and ending with a black bear’s journey into the park.  Along the way, the story presents other life, such as an acorn woodpecker (Yes that is really the bird’s name), hummingbirds, bighorn sheep, and various lizard species.  The story, narrated by famed actor Thomas Haden Church (Spiderman 3, Sideways, Wings), also takes time to note the human impact on the park and its wildlife, as well as how the land on which it sits once belonged solely to the people of Mexico.  The discussion is a bit of a digression from the central story, but is still a necessary aspect of the overall story.  That is because as is noted, the land actually crosses international borders between Texas and Mexico, meaning the land still belongs at least partially to Mexico.  Getting back on topic, it should be noted that there is some footage of the bighorn sheep (and one of the lizard species) mating.  So some parental discretion is advised even here.  Overall, the story is relatively simple, and in turn, simple to follow.  That simplicity in itself and the equally simple topic makes for plenty of engagement and entertainment.  It is just one part of what makes this episode enjoyable.  The episode’s cinematography does its own share to impress viewers, too.

The cinematography exhibited throughout Big BendThe Wild Frontier of Texas is for the most part, impressive.  The rich colors of the expansive desert landscape, with all of its towering rocky structures, its river ecosystem, and all of its other aspects are so enthralling in themselves.  Watching thunderstorms make their way across the park, lightning and all, makes for its own powerful statement through the cinematography.  At the same time, the way in which the cameras capture a Pallid Bat (which is all white) capturing its prey under the cover of darkness is its own engaging visual, too.  On a similar note, the visual of a large bird of prey coasting through the air, the rich colors of the rocks in the distance behind the bird, is yet another powerful visual.  Between these visuals and so many others, the episode’s cinematography offers much for audiences to appreciate.

At the same time that the cinematography offers so much engagement and entertainment, it also poses one problem.  The problem in question comes from what feels like an overuse of slow motion videography.  There is a high usage of high-speed frame rates in the scenes involving the region’s winged creatures.  Those scenes are not the only ones in which the high frame rate approach is used, though.  The scenes in which the bighorn sheep are competing during mating season also see a lot of high frame rate usage.  This even happens as viewers watch raindrops from the noted thunderstorms fall on lizards that crawl along the park’s dusty ground.  It is one thing to adjust the cameras’ frame rates here and there.  Using this approach as much as was done in this episode though, came across as a bit of overkill, and in turn detracted significantly from the overall viewing experience.  Even with this in mind, it is not enough to ruin the episode, even though it cannot be ignored.  Taking all of this into account with the episode’s story, that collective content makes the average price point for its DVD presentation its own positive.

The average price point of Nature: Big BendThe Wild Frontier of Texas is $20.99.  That price was reached by averaging prices at Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Books-A-Million, and PBS’ online store.  The listings at PBS, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, and Books-A-Million are the most expensive, with each listing the DVD at $24.99 while all of the other retailers list the DVD well below the noted average, at $17.99.  Considering that the majority of the major retailers list this episode at less than $20, viewers will definitely call this a positive.  That is especially considering, again, the story and its accessibility, and its overall enjoyable cinematography.  All things considered, the average price point for the episode’s DVD presentation, its cinematography and story make this new offering yet more proof of what makes Nature one of PBS’ most respected and revered shows.

NatureBig BendThe Wild Frontier of Texas is a largely engaging and entertaining episode of PBS’ long-running wildlife series.  The episode’s story is simple, straight forward, and as a result accessible for any viewer.  What’s more, save for a couple of moments requiring some viewer discretion, it is a presentation that audiences of all ages will enjoy.  The cinematography that is exhibited throughout the nearly hour-long episode is impressive in its own right, too.  That is even with what feels like an over use of high speed lens work.  Keeping all of this in mind, the average price point for the episode’s DVD presentation proves to be its own positive.  Its average price point is $20.99, but most major retailers list it for far less than that price.  That means it will not break any viewer’s budget.  Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the episode in its new home release.  All things considered, they make the episode another welcome entry in what is one of PBS’ prime series.  Nature: Big BendThe Wild  Frontier of Texas is available now.

More information on this and other episodes of Naure is available online at:

Websitehttps://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/PBSNature

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/PBSNature

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