Inside the Animal Mind, TV review: 'Chris Packham's investigation needs more bite'
Ellen E Jones
Ellen is The Independent's TV critic. She writes a daily review of Last Night's TV and a weekly 'Inside TV' column for the i paper, as well as a column on general topics for the main paper most Wednesdays. Ellen is a former Hollywood correspondent and a contributing editor to Little White Lies, she's written on TV, film, lifestyle, travel and politics for publications including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, Esquire and Total Film.
Wednesday 29 January 2014
Most nature documentaries choose to focus on a particular habitat or time of year. Inside the Animal Mind, a new three-part series on BBC2, got to the crux of our fascination with other species by instead attempting to answer a question that will be familiar to all pet owners: just what is going on inside that head?
This opening episode started with the senses which, according to presenter Chris Packham, are "the gateway to the animal mind". To a human, the ability to pinpoint the exact location of a small object hidden under 20 feet of water and a metre of mud, in driving rain and strong winds, would be supernatural. To search and rescue sniffer dog Fern, it's all in a day's work, and all she wanted in return was a chew of an old tennis ball.
This was just the first of the programme's several awe-inspiring moments. In Florida, Packham met a dolphin called Tanner, who, with his eyes completely covered, can use echo location to mimic the movements of a human trainer. In Indiana, he visited some particularly classy wolves who go nuts for a whiff of Chanel No. 5 and, in the Bahamas, swam with hungry sharks, using only magnets – aka shark Kryptonite – as protection.
These moments were spaced a little too widely between the procedural details of Packham's naturalist experiments for the taste of this lay man pet owner, however. We could have done with a sprinkling of Packham's Springwatch Bowie references to hold our attention during the boring bits. "Diamond Dogs", perhaps?
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