'North America' - A Review

I'm a Midwest girl - born and raised in northwest Ohio, I have only traveled west of the great Mississippi twice. And both times were on a plane.

I have never visited the Grand Canyon. Or the Great Plains. I've never been to the Dakotas. I dream about visiting Alaska, but so far it's only a dream. And the only places I've seen in California are Los Angeles and San Diego.

But this past week I had the chance to travel around this incredible country and visit places I have only dreamed about thanks to North America, a 7-part Discovery Channel natural history documentary.

The kids and I sat down to watch the first few episodes, not really knowing what to expect. I hoped it wasn't going to be a "ho-hum" sort of experience where the kids would be bored after five minutes of watching the buffalo roam.

What we saw in the first few minutes was in fact, amazing. The cinematography was breathtaking. You actually felt as if you were soaring over the mountains and the beauty of it all nearly brought me to tears. It was THAT epic.

Of course, it helped that that narrator of the series is Tom Selleck (who is still swoon-worthy in my book) and the music was not your run-of-the-mill documentary music. The theme song for North America is "Army of One" by Bon Jovi (still one of the best bands out there, in my oh-so-humble opinion. And Jon Bon Jovi? Um, yeah. Swoon.)

Throughout the seven episodes the kids and I found ourselves rooting for the survival of  a baby mountain goat braving the rapids (Episode One: Born to Be Wild), feeling sad for the baby turtles who would never make it to the ocean (Episode One: Born to Be Wild), covering our eyes when faced with SPIDERS! (Episode Two: No Place to Hide), laughing out loud as a chipmunk defends his nuts (Episode Three: Learn Young or Die), and watching with a mix of awe and slight terror as we watched a massive shark migration happen off the coast of Florida (Episode Four: The Savage Edge).

And, Olivia is still talking about the adorable and furry Pika (who lives in Labrador) ... because as cute and cuddly as this animal looks, we learned that it stores dead birds in its home and EATS THEIR BRAINS. Yeah, the Pika is pretty much a zombie. The girls found that amusing.

Aside from the Bon Jovi theme song, the music throughout the series was incredible. The filmmakers used Lenny Kravitz's "I Love the Rain" during an intense storm scene shot in the southwest, Dr. John's "Such a Night" for a scene featuring spadefoot frogs mating in a 24-hour period in the Sonoran Desert, Etta James' "At Last" for a hummingbird mating scene, and The Troggs' "Wild Thing" for a scene showing tens of thousands of garter snakes mating. (I admit I had to cover my eyes during this scene because I am terrified of snakes).

Read that paragraph again - you see how many times I mention the word "mating"? Yeah. There was a lot of that going on in this movie - spiders, snakes, horseshoe crabs, frogs, birds. Pick an animal from the series and I'm sure they were mating at some point. The girls (ages 9 and 6) didn't ask many questions about that - and when they did, I simply said "they're making baby animals." So if you're watching this documentary with the kids, be prepared to answer some "birds and the bees" questions.

Over the course of two nights the girls and I had a chance to visit so many amazing, beautiful, and "must see" places thanks to this documentary. I have added so many places to my "travel bucket list" and even promised the kids we'd visit the Grand Canyon someday because they thought it was "really cool."

I absolutely LOVED this documentary and the kids keep asking when they can watch it again. If you're looking for something that is visually stunning, educational, and leaves you wanting to learn more about North America, this is the documentary you need to watch. You won't be disappointed, and it's very likely that you'll find yourself saying "Wow! I had no idea!" many, many times. (If you're looking to purchase the DVD, it's available at the Discovery Channel Store for $24.99).

Disclaimer: I received this DVD to review as part of my participation in the Entertainment New Media Network. No other compensation was provided. All opinions are my own.

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