‘Earth: A New Wild’ is enchanting series on human interaction with nature

Earth: A New Wild is now available on DVD and Blu-ray — Cover art courtesy of PBS
Earth: A New Wild is now available on DVD and Blu-ray — Cover art courtesy of PBS

The new PBS program Earth: A New Wild, hosted by Dr. M. Sanjayan, is an exquisite testimony to the enduring influence of sound conservation in an ever-expanding world. Rather than only looking at nature and wild animals, the series, which recently aired the final episode of the first season, focuses on human interaction with the wilds of planet Earth. There are amazing shots of panda bears and soaring eagles, but they are presented alongside images of humans struggling and sometimes succeeding to coexist near these wonders.

Sanjayan proves to be an adept, humorous and natural host for this natural programming. He couples thoughtful comments with understandable lessons in science and conservation. His personality is always welcoming and never takes the spotlight from the amazing gifts the camera is able to capture. Having seen three episodes of the five-episode inaugural season, it becomes quite clear why he was tapped for the job. He’s comfortable and inquisitive, a person willing to share his expertise with the audience.

The first episode focuses on “Home” and prominently features the conservation of panda bears. The footage, much like the rest of the series, is beautifully shot, rivaling some of the best imagery from Planet Earth, which may be the standard bearer of nature TV programming. The second episode looks at the “Plains” and has some awesome footage of Africa and its panoply of wild animals. The third episode focuses on “Forests,” spending much time in the “Intangible Zone” of the Amazon in Ecuador. There’s also an interesting segment on Canada’s forests and how herrings help the ecosystem. The final two parts are on “Oceans” and “Water.”

Sanjayan presents several theories throughout the series, some of them prospective and some of them already quite successful. There could be some quibbling among conservationists on whether the efficacy of the ideas is as positive as they are presented, but at its heart, Earth: A New Wild feels real and devoid of an agenda. It’s on the side of survival and sustainability.

In some ways, the series takes the approach that dreaming a world without human-animal interaction is foolish. So, now that everything/everyone lives close to one another, how can scientists and environmentalists make this work? The various methods that the world’s communities employ are educational and instructive.

Earth: A New Wild joins the great historic reputation of public programming. It’s a series worthy of repeated viewings and one that will bring the natural world to the living room of those willing to open their eyes to the possibilities of positive outcomes.

By John Soltes / Publisher / John@HollywoodSoapbox.com

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John Soltes

John Soltes is an award-winning journalist. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Earth Island Journal, The Hollywood Reporter, New Jersey Monthly and at Time.com, among other publications. E-mail him at john@hollywoodsoapbox.com

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