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'The Magical Land of Oz' (PBS)
(DVD / PG / 2019 / PBS)

Overview: 'The Magical Land of Oz' is a continent-wide series ranging from the land's highest snow peaks to the depths of the frigid and wild southern seas.

The series both entertains and deepens our understanding of how the natural world is made up of not just unique species, but distinct individuals, whose lives are far from predictable.

DVD Verdict: Within this 165 minute delve into the magical land of Oz across Australia, we watch as the dawn rises and the marsupials go to bed - except for the ones that don't - because there are exceptions to every rule in this land of ancient wonders, big skies and jeweled seas!

Magic does not have rules, as we all know by now, and furthermore here in Oz, it has splendid dragons, saltwater monsters and dancing spiders, amongst a bevy of other wondrous creatures.

Ergo 'The Magical Land of Oz' (which I have to fully admit I initially thought was a documentary about the landscape inhabited by those characters from a film back in the day!) offers a blue chip, continent-wide series ranging from the land's highest snow peaks to the depths of the frigid and wild southern seas; from its last populations of wild numbats to its largest diorama of giant cuttlefish.

It's a land of diverse beauty, that delights and surprises. Indeed, the series both entertains and deepens our understanding of how the natural world is made up of not just unique species, but distinct individuals, whose lives are far from predictable.

Narrated by Barry Humphries (he of the infamous Dame Edna persona), 'The Magical Land of Oz' is broken up into three episodes: Ocean, Land, and Human Shift.

The first two are standard nature shows. It's beautifully filmed and narrated excellently by Humphries (complete with his usually dollops of gravitas, of course).

The third one was the most interesting for me. It shows how nature evolves in different ways in the cities and the man-made world is forcing nature to adapt.

The trick of the third episode seems to be that it starts as cute happy fish out of water stories and turns into something with a more serious environment bent.

It tries to stay with happier side by finishing with a success. It's not just beautiful, but also an episode to make one think. That's the mark of a good nature show.

So, using the latest camera technology, we capture animal populations only recently discovered and behaviors not associated with species we thought we knew well.

We meet animal characters so enigmatic, most Australians are unaware they share not just their island continent - but their own suburban backyards.

What also gets revealed are the ongoing challenges these animals must navigate in a land of extremes, and extreme human-induced change. Indeed, to do this, the screen is filled (at times) with color, dance, acrobatics, music, mating and murder - all performed by the animals which make Australia a truly magical land! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.PBS.org





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