Posted in: Disc Reviews by Athena on August 19th, 2008
Can animals actually talk to humans? Can we understand each other enough to consider it communication? Heck. You don’t need to watch some show on television to answer that question. I can do it for you right here and now. I’m Athena. I’m Gino’s 13 year old Siberian Husky, and Gino’s letting me communicate with you so that I can tell you what I thought about When Animals Talk. I’m here to tell you that we can talk pretty good. We also understand a lot of your human words as well. My favorite are words like Belly Rub, and Want. If you have a dog of your own, you already know how to communicate. And that spells T R E A T. I don’t know so much about other kinds of animals so I watched this DVD that Gino got, and here’s what I thought:
In 1967 Rex Harrison played the child-friendly Dr. John Dolittle. Now, I wasn’t around then, but I’ve heard some people singing that song, If I Could Talk To The Animals. Well, Jane Goodall thinks you can, or at least that we can talk to you. Goodall, I’m sure you know, is quite famous for her decades of research in Africa with a tribe of chimps. I don’t think there are any huskies there, so she had to find the next best thing, I guess. She integrated herself into the tribe and studied the animals from the inside. Her work has been acclaimed and at times criticized. Whatever you may think of her methods, there isn’t any doubt she knows a thing or two about animals, at least chimps. So, when Animal Planet went looking for someone to host a special on communicating with animals, she was a natural choice. Why they didn’t ask me, I have no idea. Maybe they haven’t read the reviews I’ve written for Gino and you guys yet.
The special examines many different kinds of animals but concentrates on those you humans think you know best, your pets. There are some rather exotic animals in the show as well. The most important thing that you need to know is that there is a Siberian husky, but he was in jail, something I know a little bit about myself. Let’s not talk about that right now. There are some really strange humans in this show. Some of them are a little crazy, if you ask me. There’s a lady who thinks that her pet bird can read her mind from a distance. Now I know where that term birdbrain came from. There’s even this mad scientist who conducts experiments to test something called remote viewing. I always thought that was when Gino watches television and keeps changing the channel all the time. There’s a story about dogs who can be trained to smell cancer. I told you we were smart. You see rats who are trained to locate land mines, and they don’t even blow themselves up. Another story teaches us that elephants communicate with sounds too low for humans to hear. I can hear them, though. Gino says that’s because I’m a sub woofer. My favorite stories included: The dog who found a lot of the victims after 9/11 at ground zero. Dogs can be very brave, you know. Reading With Rover helps kids to learn to read by giving them a dog to keep them company. Finally there’s Project Pooch that hooks up teenage prison inmates with dogs that don’t have any homes to go to. It looks like both get something out of this one and guess what? One of the pooches is named Zeke, and he’s the best looking dog in the yard, and that spells H U S K Y.
The bottom line is that some of this stuff is fun to watch. Other parts are pretty scary. It’s not the animals that make me nervous, it’s some of these humans. There’s even a guy who plays harmonica for killer whales. Jane Goodall says the whales want to experience him. Yeah, like I want to experience my Purina. The DVD is a good thing to sit and watch with your own pet. I’m sure your buddy will like some of the parts like I did. Just don’t let him see the scary people. You can cover their eyes for that part. Not me, though. I’m brave.
When Animals Talk is presented in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The video presentation is pretty much what you should expect from a recently filmed documentary. Colors are good and bright. The image is always sharp. Black levels are only average but there really aren’t many dark images to contend with here. It’s likely very comparable to the original HD broadcast.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 track does exactly what it is intended to do and that’s deliver the dialog. This is strictly talking heads, and animals.
Gino didn’t let me watch this thing when it hit Animal Planet, so it was nice of him to bring it home so that I can watch it over and over again, but only the good parts. I bet you can guess which ones they were. Don’t take this stuff too seriously, because some of it is a little out there. Gino kept asking when Mulder or Scully were going to show up, whatever that means. Mostly this is the kind of thing you want to watch with your family. Gino calls it quality time. It’s like giving your kids a belly rub. I would tell you more, but I’m trying to communicate something to Gino right now. Let’s see if he can figure it out. “You have to have patience, you know.”