I love nature documentaries. As a kid I loved tuning into PBS to watch Jacques Cousteau’s underwater films, and I carried that over to when I had children of my own. A (failed) attempt to get my kids to only watch “educational” TV did result in us watching a lot of NOVA, and back then Animal Planet actually showed nature documentaries and not just bad reality TV series about “animal cops” and veterinarians. They were interesting.
And then Blue Planet happened and my mind was blown. Since then we still have periodic “Nature Night” at our house where we watch nature shows with our kids. They’re riveted. We are too (though sometimes I can’t help but nod off... I am a dad, so I have to do some dad things).
5 stars: Anything narrated by David Attenborough
Life. Blue Planet. Planet Earth (the non-American version). The Life Of... series. All of these are amazing nature documentaries, and all of them have one thing in common: they’re all narrated by Sir David Attenborough. Attenborough is an international treasure, with a wonderfully expressive British accent and an (apparently) encyclopedic knowledge of the animal kingdom. My kids have grown up watching Attenborough documentaries and I’m pretty sure they consider him their third grandfather. And if a documentary has Uncle David (excuse me, that’s SIR Uncle David to you) attached to it, you KNOW it’s going to be fantastically done.
Mousa Dembele: A gd truck on Sunday. His movement and strength on the ball was one of the reasons why Spurs got a result. Also showed some tricky skills as he slalomed into the box and earned the PK. This was Dembele at his best, and it’s Exhibit A as to why he’s so incredibly important to Spurs’ success.
4.5 stars: PBS Nature
Ab-C-Bb-Eb. That opening four note motif on the french horn is like a clarion call to my soul. PBS’ Nature sets a very high standard for a weekly nature documentary series. The cinematography is always stellar, the production values are high, and the subject matters are widely varied and almost never disappoint. When I’m down in the dumps or just need to forget about the world for a while, I’ll stream an episode of Nature and I’m instantly in a better place.
Christian Eriksen: I don’t care. Eriksen was fantastic on Sunday. The advantage of Spurs’ formation was that he was given a free role, and he took full advantage of it, pinging long balls for players to run onto. Also came close to goals twice. #wellactually Eriksen is good and we’re lucky to have him.
Danny Rose: A really, really nice match from Danny. Excellent on both sides of the ball and I was particularly gratified by his crossing, often a weak point in his game. Effectively neutralized Walcott and Bellerin for much of the match.
4 stars: Grizzly Man
Timothy Treadwell was a man obsessed with bears, and who made it his life’s work to get to know them and understand them. His singular obsession eventually cost him his life as he and his girlfriend were mauled to death in 2003. This documentary, directed by Werner Herzog, about Treadwell’s life and death is poignant, fascinating, and thought-provoking as it explores the intersections between humans and the animal kingdom and how close is too close when it comes to our wild Earthling co-inhabitants. It also features music by Richard Thompson, a fantastic English singer-songwriter.
Victor Wanyama: I was a little worried about Wanyama in the pivot, though having Dembele beside him mitigated his propensity to try and make dumb passes. He was very good at breaking up play yesterday. There was the elbow incident, but I don’t think there was much in that. A solid match.
Jan Vertonghen: Verts continues to shine in Toby’s absence, marshaling an unfamiliar defensive formation well and providing a dependable outlet for passing into the midfield. Saved Spurs’ bacon a couple of times, too.
3 stars: This is the Honey Badger
I don’t care. This video is a cultural touchstone from the early Aughties and I love it to death. (Warning: contains NSFW language.)
Harry Kane: Three stars for our goal-scorer? How’s that fair? Harry had a good game on his return, better than I expected, honestly. He was out there doing Harry Kane things, good things, but you could tell he was rusty, off the pace, and not sharp. He’ll get better, and it’s so good to have him back.
Son Heung-Min: Looked bright and direct early on when paired with Kane in the forward position. Showed glimpses of the Sonny that we saw earlier in the season, but he faded late and got marked out of the game. He’d be much higher up the list if he had maintained the same intensity from the opening ten minutes.
Hugo Lloris: Had one great sweeper-keeper stop at Özil’s feet, was in the right place to get to Giroud’s header. A good game, and thankfully wasn’t called upon to stand on his head to save goals.
Kyle Walker: Walker playing higher up the pitch meant that he had a harder time coming back to defend. That sucked Eric Dier over to the right to help, which opened up spaces in the middle of the pitch that Arsenal tried to exploit. Walker was okay on Sunday, but not great.
Kevin Wimmer: People will say this isn’t harsh enough. Wimmer had a dumb yellow early and conceded the own goal. But otherwise he was ok. Just a stupid, dumb, unlucky day.
2 stars: Marty Stouffer’s Wild America
The 1980s weren’t exactly the high water mark of nature cinematography. As a kid in the ‘80s, mostly what you had to look forward to were the occasional Mutual of Omaha Presents special and “Marty Stouffer’s Wild America.” Marty was an earnest animal lover with a 70s-tastic beard the camera presence of a hunk of limestone and a voice that sounded like someone reading the phone book. Plus he said profound things like “The graceful beauty of wild animals... makes us feel good.” Thanks, Marty!
Eric Dier: Not the best of days from Dier. Playing on the right side of the back three, he was frequently out of position (usually because he was bailing out Walker) and allowed himself to be beaten too often by Arsenal’s attackers. Hurry back Toby, so we can put Dier back in the midfield where he belongs.
Vincent Janssen: He’s trying, guys. But the difference between Janssen and Kane was night and day. I still think he’ll come good and that the pressure of replacing Kane during the injury was tough on him. He looks stuck in his own head.
Kieran Trippier: Who was that masked Frenchman? Came in as a precautionary sub for Walker with ten minutes to go. Had a long enough stint for me to hope that Walker isn’t seriously hurt.
1 star: Animal Face-Off (Discovery Channel & Animal Planet)
In one of the more useless animal “documentaries” that now populate 80% of Animal Planet’s lineup, Animal Face-Off answers those age-old questions of “WHO WUD WIN IN A FITE: HARAMBE OR A LEOPARD” commonly discussed on grade school playgrounds. Only it’s all done in shockingly bad CGI by ostensibly smart adults with degrees and sh*t with arbitrary results and dumb musical cues. All so we can figure out which animal pairings to avoid, presumably in a post-apocalyptic nightmare world where everything is completely aggro and wants to kill you. It’s beyond dumb.
No Tottenham Hotspur players were as bad as Animal Face-Off.