Dolphins: Spy in the Pod, BBC1 - TV review


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The Independent Culture

The second episode of nature documentary Dolphins: Spy in the Pod (BBC1) was like the visual equivalent of one of those "Sounds of the Ocean" CDs that insomniacs use to drift off. Nothing but calm blue seas as far as the eye can see, and the soothing Scots coo of narrator David Tennant. Well, that and the dolphins, of course.

The series uses spy cameras made to look like various sea creatures, aka "spy creatures" (someone obviously had a lot of fun making these), to give us unparalleled insight into the complicated rituals of dolphin society.

In this episode, "Spy Puffer" accompanied a young bottlenose dolphin as he made his first forays away from his mother. It was just as well he had a chaperone, because like all rebellious teens, it wasn't long before the young'un got into trouble, joining a gang (via a frat-house-style initiation ceremony) and getting high on the secretions of a strange fish species.

Tennant's voiceover dutifully applied an anthropomorphic interpretation to every dolphin activity, but still this nature documentary wasn't so much cutesy as it was spectacular. Last night was full of magical underwater moments and caught-on-camera firsts, but the biggest revelation has been the dolphin species' enviable life of leisure. They prefer to keep their intelligent minds constantly occupied, so unlike many animal species, dolphins do a lot of things just for fun. They even go surfing.