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DVD Review: Untamed & Uncut

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Untamed & Uncut is a collection of four episodes from the new show of the same name that launched on Animal Planet. While it’s referred to as a documentary series, I regret to inform you that Untamed & Uncut is kind of like watching the Real Stories Of The Highway Patrol, only with critters instead of drunk and/or cracked-out drivers.

At first, I didn’t seem to object to the show — until I popped the DVD in, that is. For starters, the episode titles reflect very little of the episode material itself. Example: “Double Great White Attack” builds up your adrenaline by promising to deliver raw and uncensored footage of a surfer being attacked by two of the ocean’s most infamous carnivores. Now, while anyone with a little common sense can imagine, this isn’t something that could be filmed up close and personal without staging the entire thing (and who would really want to risk something like that?), so I wasn’t disappointed to see the footage (which filmed from the shore). What I was disappointed with, however, was the fact that the whole “Double Great White Attack” bit occurs briefly somewhere in the middle of an hour-long episode that is padded with other non-related “Animals Gone Wild” segments.

Okay, so far, not all that enthralling for me. But that wasn’t the kicker. Not even the fairly decent CGI animation used to show you what just happened in a more exploitive way could top that. No, for me, the kicker was the painful realization that Untamed & Uncut is not educational material like it claims to be — instead, this series is nothing more than cheap exploitation. How did I find this out? It’s quite hilarious, actually. First off, allow me to give you a bit of personal information here: I work in a radio station. At that radio station, we make a lot of commercials — and one a key ingredient to any commercial (well, sometimes) is an impressive sound effect. Sound effects can be purchased on CD, like this really cheapo three-CD set we have entitled 300 Spectacular Sound Effects, which features some of the lousiest sounds ever pressed on plastic.

Back to the “Double Great White Attack” episode: at the beginning, we are treated to the amazing sight of a man’s head getting caught in the steel-lock jaws of an alligator during a show. Removing the obvious “why would you be so stupid to put your head in an alligator’s mouth” question, you can imagine the hilarity that ensued on my end when, during one of the many “instant replays” of the 15-second footage shown in slow-motion, I could plainly hear the oh-so-cheesy “Man Screaming” clip from 300 Spectacular Sound Effects, disc one (track #55 to be specific).

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the producers of Untamed & Uncut really went all out on that one — approximately $14 to be exact.

I must confess that it’s a bit sad to see a television network like Animal Planet (which is devoted to all creatures great and small) has jumped on the bandwagon of  reality TV programming. They even go for the reality TV announcer feel with the show’s narrator, voiced by former Dutch Schultz portrayer, Bruce Nozick (who has the voice thing down pat and earns a couple of points just for that).

On DVD, Untamed & Uncut looks pretty good. Well, the new stuff produced for the show does, that is — since most of the show is comprised of video footage taken the world over throughout the years, it’s safe to say this is a mixed bag. The episodes are shown in their original 1.33:1 standard television format presentations with English stereo sound accompanying.

Okay, so I realize that you have to keep the ratings up somehow in this day and age, but there are craftier ways to show clips of Man Meets Animal without diving into the Cops formula. Maybe they’ll figure that out before the next season rolls around — or at least spend more than $14 on sound effects CDs.

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.