Dueling smart-alecs

By Mir
April 12, 2010

We have been recording Life on the DVR and then watching it as a family on weekends, as time allows, and everyone has really been enjoying it. What’s not to like about slow-motion views of really long, slimy tongues shooting out to grab bugs, for example? Or watching a bullfrog dig a connective waterway so that the tadpoles stranded in a puddle can get back to the pond?

Much like Planet Earth, Life has stunning visuals, fascinating tidbits about the animal kingdom, and even gets a pass as being educational. Unlike Planet Earth, however, Life is narrated by Oprah Winfrey. Now, I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve watched Oprah, which—to me, anyway—makes the children’s pop-culture-by-osmosis comments even funnier.

So we’d just watched a pack (herd? flock?) of komodo dragons take down and devour a water buffalo, and Oprah solemnly intoned, “This is one family that’s absolutely single-minded,” or something like that.

“Next time, on Oprah!” Chickadee immediately chimed in, getting the coming-attractions inflection just right.

As Otto and I chuckled at her, Monkey threw his arms into the air.

“YOU’RE ALL WINNERS!” he exclaimed.

We lost it. Maybe it was just because he even knew that was the next logical follow-on, or maybe it was because we’d just watched a water buffalo being stripped to the bone and that didn’t seem, well, all that winner-ful. Either way, I feel comfortable declaring our viewings of Life pretty awesome entertainment.


  1. Leandra

    You know, I hate to say it, but it kind of bothered me that the voice was Oprah. Her voice is just TOO recognizable. Like Chickie and Monkey, I kept expecting her to say “YOU get an antelope, and YOU get an antelope and YOU get an antelope!”

    But, the rest of the series has been dazzling. And not quite as much of a downer as Planet Earth was. Sure, there’ve been some animals eaten, but I didn’t have to watch a polar bear starve to death. when that little baby elephant got stuck in the mud in Life, I told my husband that I was going to go beat somebody up if it didn’t get out. (Spoiler alert: she did!)

  2. Niki

    As long as the antelope doesn’t get a free t-shirt bra.

  3. Jenn

    I agree that Oprah’s voice just doesn’t fit with the wild animal narration. Something about it doesn’t work for me and I can’t say exactly what.

  4. hokgardner

    As gorgeous as the show is, I can’t bring myself to watch for more than 15 minutes because of Oprah. Everytime she says something very deep and serious, I turn to my husband and say, “Listen to her, being all Oprah and sh*t.”

    And since I’m not allowed to curse in front of the kids, that cuts my viewing time short.

  5. dad

    Family entertainment: survival of the fitest? No holds barred carniverous wonderment in hi-def.

    You know, if they ever make a TV show about your family, it is not going to be like “Leave it to Beaver.” You my dear are no June Cleaver and Monkey is definitely more clever than the beav.

  6. elz

    You get a bug, and you get a bug, and you get a bug. My husband only watches Life with the sound turned off as a silent protest to the Oprah-fication of our lives. He’s a joy, I tell you.

  7. laura

    I love those moments when the family unit is clearly defined! You definitely all belong together, you all have the same funny bones.

  8. ramblin red

    Seriously….it’s uncanny how much your children resemble mine, because we had some similar experiences as we watched Life, also DVR’d, between my two smart alecs.

  9. Alicia

    I’ve come to see that I have raised a 5 y/o realist thanks to Life.

    When admonished for blocking the screen in his excitement, he told my husband, “Dad, it’s okay. You know it will get caught and eaten”.

    And, no, he did not cry over bambi’s mom.

  10. shhhh

    I’m watching the British version — can’t remember the man’s name, but things are so much more interesting with a lovely British accent providing the commentary. Changing the voice over is one of my pet peeves — we all speak English, why did they have to redo the voice over for the American audience?

  11. Katie in MA

    BWA HA HA! Now that? That right there? Is why we don’t devour our young. :)

  12. Beverly

    shhhh, his name is David Attenborough. If I remember correctly they replaced his voice also on the Planet Earth series shown in USA. Sigourney Weaver narrated that one.

    I have watched many shows on PBS in years past that were narrated by David Attenborough and I have always liked his voice.

    Even though I am recording the Life series, I will probably wait until it comes out on DVD in June with David’s narration and buy and watch it then.

  13. Birchsprite

    I cannot believe that they replace David attenborough in the american version. That is truly awful. David attenborough is a genius. He is a natural history God over here. Just watch it on DVD. Seriously it will be worth it.

  14. Little Bird

    My boyfriend refuses to watch the show because of Oprah. I have to say I preferred Sigourney’s voice to Oprah’s. Your kids had the right idea though, and now I will be unable to watch the show without thinking “YOU’RE A WINNER!” Maybe the boyfriend will get a kick out of that…

  15. Pam

    They took off David Attenborough and gave you Oprah?!!! I don’t believe it! That’s sacrilege, it really is. He is The Voice of natural history, he’s classic, he’s wonderful, unique, irreplaceable. You’ve been cheated, poor things. Do yourselves a favour and rent the DVD with his voice-over – you won’t regret it.

  16. Megan

    I don’t know who I have to bribe to get the Attenborough version but I’m doing it. He’s been the voice of nature to me for…well, ever!

  17. Tracy

    I would love to watch that show..what channel? Seriously, I greq up watching Wild Kingdom…I just loved that show.

  18. Tracy

    ok..I don’t know what “greq” is..but I “grew” up watching it. ;D

  19. jean

    It is an amazing series. I was just watching it today and thought that it should be shown in every classroom. It was informative and not just dull facts. Seriously, what kid wouldn’t love at least one of the scenes (the hummingbirds to the vultures). I just didn’t like that Oprah was the commentor. It was so hard to listen to her voice and not think of her rather then the series itself.

  20. Little Bird

    Tracy, the show airs on the Discovery Channel. I think the series is complete now, but they’ll be showing re-runs for the next three months or so.

  21. Tirzah

    Ha! That’s funny! My kids love watching Life too, I can’t believe the amazing things that some of these animals can do! I didn’t mind hearing Oprah narrate, then again I grew up watching her show. lol

  22. Heidi

    I’m with hokgardner… I TiVoed every episode, but deleted them all when I realized I couldn’t watch it due to Oprah’s voice. Strange but true.

  23. mamaspeak

    We are watching it via DVR as well. But NOT letting our kids watch it. Not because they don’t understand the cycle of life thing; my 6yo has requested to watch a lamb get slaughtered at a friend’s lamb farm. She’s not weird, just curious. We’re going to opt for a birth instead. No my kids really are little scientists, (Daddy actually is a scientist in real life, so I’m sure that’s some of it.) but THE QUESTIONS!!! No, I’m not letting them watch it right now because there are enough questions about life, death, etc… without providing the fodder from the series for them. Mommy needs a break.

  24. Brigitte

    Hmm, I’d say the water buffalo wasn’t a winner! ;-)

    Even in America, I think it’s odd that they replace David Attenborough’s narration, he IS the natural voice for all nature specials. Except the undersea ones, for those they really need to resurrect Jacques Cousteau.

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