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Martin Clune's Wild Life

Acorn Media // Unrated // September 30, 2014
List Price: $39.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Neil Lumbard | posted October 9, 2014 | E-mail the Author
Martin Clunes's Wild Life DVD Review

Martin Clues offers audiences a exciting and well documented exploration of animals through an interesting nature-based program filled with variety and splendor.  Released by educational label Athena on DVD in a full set, the program entitled Martin Clunes's Wild Life is one that seeks to both entertain and enlighten audience with good, solid research on the animal kingdom. It also is designed as a series to showcase beautiful camerawork of these wondrous animals.

The program is both hosted and narrated by Martin Clunes (TV's Doc Martin). This set seeks to expand the mind on topics such as the relationship between man and dogs, the role of horses within the workforce of humans, the living habitat of the Manta Ray's within the Maldives, Madagascar's lemur population and the efforts being made today to conserve them, and the concluding exploration focuses in on the lives of lions living in Kenya. In each of these fun documentary pieces, Clunes explores the actual territories and locations of the native animals, interviews experts on the subjects, explores everything from wild populations to more domestic relations between humankind and the beloved animals being documented.

Clunes is a self-professed animal fan who cares deeply about his own pets, who are a huge part of his family -- his pets are so important to him and it clearly shows through on this educational program. He has several dogs and two horses and as such seems to have picked the topic of dogs and horses as being the fore-front explored on this set of episodes. The two-part exploration that covers man's long-running connection to dog's as "man's best friend" is especially fascinating. In this documentary entitled "A Man and His Dogs", Clunes explores the biological connection and evolution between dogs from wolves:  the species from which dogs were eventually born and are descendants from.

 It was fascinating to discover that the DNA of a wolf is 99% identical to that of your average dog. That DNA link is so close that there is very little genetically separating the two. And yet dogs are domesticated to be with humans on a normal basis, whereas wolves typically live in packs in the wild and are considered as fiercely independent from other species -- but always close together in their packs. As Clunes points out, wolves are able to kill for food whenever necessary. By comparison, our dogs tend to like bags of dry food and canned meats. There certainly is a big difference there.

Clunes makes this part of the set especially interesting as he is quick to add his own thoughts on his dogs and how he ponders this mysterious connection. He is also open to exploring genetic links between the two species and the history of the domestication of dogs while also being confident enough to visit a wolf trainer who saved a pack of cub wolves and raised them as family. Yet when it comes time to feed, the wolves still eat as a pack, killing a deer with a ferocity that clearly differentiated the lives of wolves from those of cuddly doggy friends.

Clunes wants to look into this mystery -- and ask why when considering history's domestication of dogs and the various in-breeding that has led to both some of the world's most beautiful pups, and also some of the most medically challenged -- as man's own involvement in breeding has led to a variety of medical issues afflicting dogs. He goes into an expert veterinarian's hospital where he partakes in witnessing an important surgery (and in one rather amusing moment he mistakenly diagnoses a lab x-ray when the vet is trying to explain it to him -- showing that despite immense talent in performing a doctor on television, he's just a really good actor most of the time).

Throughout this documentary series, Clunes manages to make things exciting and educational. In being both the host and narrator he provides a good grounding element to the production. He has an immensely relaxed voice that is perfectly suited for voice-over and his general demeanor is so quietly easygoing, engaged, and charming that audiences will find it easy to enjoy the series and it's fine pacing. It also doesn't hurt that his affections for animals shine through and make him a better matched host for this type of program. With good writing that is quite informative on the topics, well-paced editing, and a stylistic approach that showcases the beautiful landscapes and environments of the animals while Clune's offers interesting tidbits as the host, Martin Clunes's Wild Life is a family-friendly and notable educational program that should be perfectly suited to entertaining the family while proficiently educating at the same time. This makes it an easy program to recommend to those interested in wildlife documentaries and nature programs.

The DVD:


The DVD release of Martin Clunes's Wild Life is of an exceptionally high quality for the format. The image is quite clean, smooth, and beautiful. As a standard definition presentation, it still is something that manages to impress with good detail and clarity. The colors are well produced. Overall, Athena has done a wonderful job with this modern looking release which isn't a set suffering from any serious compression artifacts and which is generally impressive. The set preserves the original television broadcast aspect ratio of 1.78:1 widescreen.


The Dolby Digital stereo audio presentation is clean sounding with easy to understand dialogue. There is nothing fancy at all about it but it does get the job done well and fans won't walk away feeling disappointed. While it's a standard track that doesn't offer a lot of interestingly handled speaker separation the clarity and the ambiance of the presentation is perfectly suitable for this documentary series: ultimately offering up complementary audio to the fine visual presentation. 

English SDH subtitles (for the deaf and hard of hearing) are provided.



On disc photo galleries related to the episodes included on the set are included. There is also a 12 page viewer guide booklet with has select mini articles on famous celebrities and their pets, and it includes some notes relevant to the topics covered in this set (domestication of dogs, famous horses, and information on the biodiversity of Madagascar).

Final Thoughts:

Martin Clunes's Wild Life is a surprisingly inventive and fascinating documentary series with the beloved actor from Doc Martin providing great details about the subjects he explores related to animals and the natural wildlife of the world. The two-part segment on Dogs and how humans have become connected with them was amazing, and provided a lot of information had never expected to learn on the subject. With beautiful cinematography and a charming host, this is a worthy and educational program worth seeking out.

Athena has also done a good job in bringing the show to DVD with a superior PQ presentation. Fans of nature programs are strongly encouraged to check out this fun show.

Highly Recommended.

Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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Highly Recommended

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