NGC’s “Untamed Americas” takes a walk on the wild side

By Jacqueline Cutler

People rarely have the chance to see the bigger picture of where they live. We identify with neighborhoods, towns, counties, states and country, but how often do we think of how that geography connects to the greater world?

National Geographic Channel gives us that chance in a four-hour, two-night special, Untamed Americas, airing June 10-11.

Josh Brolin is just right as the narrator of the four segments, which feature exquisite footage of North, Central and South America. Divided into episodes “Mountains,” “Deserts,” “Coasts” and “Forests,” the HD miniseries — simulcast on Nat Geo Wild and Nat Geo Mundo — has the sort of secrets nature unveils when camera crews spend two years in the wild.

Black bears that just awoke from hibernating go after elk calves. An equatorial bat —which, though only 2 and a half inches long, has a tongue measuring 3 and a half inches (making it the longest tongue relative to body length of any mammal) — is the scene-stealer in “Mountains.” (Ah, poor Gene Simmons, bested by a bat pollinating a rare flower.)

In “Deserts,” footage of wild mustangs running the Great Basin Desert is arresting. The scene reveals precise detail, showing scars on the horses and a fight for acceptance into a herd.

Another scene from this episode lingers: A mouse howls at the moon like a coyote. It sounds like something from a cartoon, but a grasshopper mouse in the Sonoran Desert efficiently slays a scorpion, feeds her babies, then bays at the moon. “A wolf in mouse clothes,” Brolin says.

Besides wildlife being wild life, the majesty of mountains, the harshness of deserts, the density of forests and the unpredictability of the coasts all come alive in this special. And it reminds us that we don’t just live in a place with a zip code, but in a much greater world.

Untamed Americas: “Mountains” premieres June 10 at 9pm ET; Untamed Americas: “Deserts” premieres June 10 at 10pm ET; Untamed Americas: “Coasts” premieres June 11 at 9pm ET; and Untamed Americas: “Forests” premieres June 11 at 10pm ET, on National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo Wild and Nat Geo Mundo.


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