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Thirteen’s Animal Magnetism

Friday, April 4th, 2008
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Thirteen blogger: Hugh Siegel, Communications

There was something primal about the press we’ve been seeing the past week or so. Something feral. The scent of wildlife is in the air–mixed with newsprint, electronic and otherwise.

All the excitement over Great Performances: Peter & the Wolf certainly rustled the leaves of the media forest. The Academy Award-winning animated interpretation of Prokofiev’s classic fantasy had the critics on the prowl for suitable accolades.

“There’s no denying the imagination, dark beauty and sheer artistry of Suzie Templeton’s stop-motion animation, or the modern-day touches and twists that make this old tale seem new,” –Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“As much charm as most recent animated movies boast–clever in-jokes for adults, frenetic pacing, star-powered voice casts, it’s refreshing to watch a film in which all that is stripped away, letting animation and story take the fore. Peter & The Wolf does just that,” –TV Guide

“scores a true coup for family viewing,” — Chicago Daily Herald

Thanks to Nature, the real jungle would tangle with that darkest of metaphorical jungles–politics–at least in the eyes of critic Ellen Gray. Writing in the Philadelphia Daily News, Gray found Nature’s What Females Want and Males Will Do to be a primer on the confessional soap opera that American politics can often be:

“A man stands in front of a podium, expressing regret, somewhat vaguely, for letting down his family and his constituents.

By his side, a woman, often dressed in pale blue, looks on with a pained expression. Who knows what she’s thinking?

Like the rest of us, she’s only human. Maybe she’ll forgive him, maybe she won’t.

Maybe she’ll run for president.

If she were a Gelada baboon, however, chances are that big lug would never have sex again. Instead, he’d spend his declining years doing the baboon equivalent of housework and caring for another male’s offspring. Assuming she and the other females didn’t just chase him off a cliff.

That, at least, is the message I’m tempted to take from Nature’s What Females Want and Males Will Do, a two-part presentation of PBS’ Nature premiering Sunday (4/6/08) that suggests females are often in charge when it comes to sex.”

In addition to teaching us about political animals, as Ms. Gray postulates, the program also has a lot of worthwhile information about real ones.

Of course it was another Nature program that caused the loudest buzz this week. Nature’s acclaimed documentary The Silence of the Bees, a look into the decline of the world’s honeybee population, was awarded a George Foster Peabody Award, the most prestigious honor in the world of television.

Wild stuff, man.

-H.S.