by Michael dEstries
Categories: Film/TV.
Photo: Discovery

discovery life

The Discovery Channel launched its epic new nature series LIFE tonight — and response has been positive to the incredible visuals, but mixed on the narration. Just like with Planet Earth, Discovery replaced the original BBC narration by UK naturalist David Attenborough with a celebrity stateside. Last time, it was Sigourney Weaver, and for LIFE, it’s Oprah Winfrey.

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About Michael dEstries

Michael has been blogging since 2005 on issues such as sustainability, renewable energy, philanthropy, and healthy living. He regularly contributes to a slew of publications, as well as consulting with companies looking to make an impact using the web and social media. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his family on an apple farm.

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  • Michele

    That was Oprah? My husband and I both thought it was Hoda Kotb.

    • NuffSaid

      She was terrible, it was like I was having flashbacks to a 4th grade story time session. Should have turned it off and read the closed caption.

      • robb

        I SAID THE EXACT SAME THING! O is for “over-rated”

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  • John M

    Oprah unlike such notable narrators as Morgan Freeman and James Earl Jones was pathetic with her octapuses and highly enunciated pronouncements. As above, it was a painful trip to listen to a self impressed librarian in the 4th or 5th grade. Champagne visuals and cabbage noises.

  • Dgrede

    i didnt like her!!! once and while i could only hear her saying vajayjay!!!

  • The Darker side of Light

    I missed the first episode but 10mins into the second episode, which was the first one for me …I changed the channel. How can ANYBODY think that oprah can narrate ANYTHING. I am really disappointed discovery sold out the integrity of this HD nature series just because Okra wanted to do it. So if Discovery says no…then what??? Oprah buys them out and fires everybody?? Come on!!

    I….. like everyone else in the known universe, loved Planet Earth. You got HD set up with BluRay and you wanted to “awe” your friends/family …Planet Earth is what you put in! I so waited for this new series… The second I saw it was narrated by that …I asked myself “why”???????? I mean look at the super low amount of stars this got by so many people . Why?? is the series bad…nope! It’s because this was supposed to be done for the fans and the people of these HD nature series, they/we are the ones who spend the money to buy it and millions watching raise the advertising dollars so Discovery can make some cash. But the scores are low because no one can say no to that heffer cow oprah and many just don’t like it solely for that reason.

    Only Oprah-natics would think shes actually doing a good job. Anybody with half a brain and a 2nd grade education will instantly see the difference between Planet Earths narration and this one. She’s horrid! I will still buy it, but it will be the BBC version for sure!! At least over there … integrity still means something.

  • tikia

    I am loving the visuals but not the narration. Oprah’s voice is too flat & lack’s enthusiasm & authority. But I’m still watching it since it is such a good series. The GOOD NEWS is that the BBC version with David Attenborough narrating will be shown on BBC America starting Easter Sunday – April 4th at 6pm EDT/5pm CDT. So no need to wait for the DVD/Blu-ray of David Attenborough. You just need to have BBC America :)

  • moss


  • Melissa

    I love Oprah but not for narrating… I miss Sigourney Weaver!!!

  • Daniel

    Discovery blew it! The producers domonstrated clear lack of wisdom in choosing Ms Winfrey to narrate this promising HD chronicle.
    The remainder of their careers will likely be stained by this dissaster. That’s a shame.

  • Austin

    Sigourney simply kicks Oprah’s ass at narrating. A downgrade of this sort is intolerable. Oprah literary has audible difficulty at times with certain words. yuck

  • Patrick Caple

    I’m glad I’m not the only one that thinks the series was ruined by Oprah’s narration. Sigourney Weaver was ok, but I much prefer a man’s voice for narration. There are so many excellent male narrators out there…..WHY..?..WHY..?. WHY..?

  • Henry

    I agree. I waiting for ever to watch this and to hear that voice narrating ruined the whole thing for me. so sad………

  • Ken Harasty

    I did not care for Oprah’s narration. My thought was that she sounded like she was talking to a group of young students and that she needed to talk down to their level!

    Also, I suspect that they thought it was a great coup to “get” her to agree to do this, but I bet it would have worked better to have an experienced biologist or at least a trained actor provide the narration.

    Finally, I wish they would have hired someone who could use the money!

    It just didn’t work for me and it distracted from the entire series.

  • Shawn

    Visually this series is better than even planet earth. The photography is simply outstanding!! I don’t blame Oprah for wanting to narrate this as any of us would love to do so. This is Discovery’s fault for allowing a bellow average narration job to be done. I have to disagree with some of what was said above. I feel these shows are far more than just eye candy for the HD fanatics. Aren’t these series: planet earth, blue planet, life, etc., a mass effort to get people to care and be involved in the green movement? To make people realize how wonderful this world is, and that the very air we breath could be in jeopardy if life on earth isn’t protected. With that, I feel that Oprah may appeal to a large group of people, some of which, maybe haven’t been as previously involved. That being said, I’m more than happy to listen to some sub par narration if it means more people are now caring for the greater cause. Food for thought……

  • Jackson

    If it aint broke, don’t fix it. Lucky for you Americans you can still get a great narration with the original and best British version. Narrated by David Attenborough, and man with 50+ years of experience and a degree in Natural Sciences.

  • Marko

    Ruined it. Video is awesome, information is awesome, but it was ANNOYING to listen to. Highly dissapointed.

  • Ryan Barton

    I had to watch the series on mute with subtitles. Can’t stand Oprah’s voice. As a matter of fact, I never realized how much I can’t stand Oprah until I watched this show. I kept expecting her to say “Now check under your seat to see of there is a prize under there.”. Stick with daytime talk shows and book clubs Oprah.

  • julie

    Colossal mistake by Discovery Channel.
    Attenborough’s decades and decades in the industry are invaluable and needed to be in the American version. What a waste of funds to have Oprah dub it!

  • LV

    OW’s narration stepped all over the visual content and lacked the mellifluous tone, tenor and meter of Sigourney Weaver. Oprah’s narration was over-acted like a middle-school drama student understudy.

  • JCassidy

    I am so pi$$ed that it was Oprah, I love shows like life and planet earth. But i coudnt get past about 10 min of the first episode. She sucks!!!! I didnt want to have story time with Oprah. I wanted to enjoy the beauty of the world that i could never see in person, not feel like i was back in 1st grade. W@hat a disapointment. :-(

  • Aija

    OPRAH WAS A HORRIBLE NARRATOR!!!! Its really taking a chance making a celebrity a narrator, and an even bigger risk leaving it to a woman (I’m a woman myself). Sigorney Weaver did an amazing job with Planet Earth and talk like an intelligent adult. During LIFE I felt like i was watching story time in an elementary school class room. When discovery heard a snippet of her, they should have nixed it then before it got to the public.
    I loved Planet Earth and bought my blue-ray player for the sole purpose of watch it (both versions mind you!) i was so psyched when i heard about this documentary. I don’t think i have ever been so disappointed.
    I hope there is a David Attenborough version.

    Oprah can’t narrate to save her LIFE (lol). I felt like an idiot listening to her narration to a 5yr old.!

  • Glenn

    Why would Discovery feel the need to have anyone else narrate? You have Attenborough, do you think ANYONE (let alone a second rate actress turned talk show shill like Oprah) is going to be better? Do yourself a favour and order the BBC version from Amazon.

  • marne’

    I don’t understand what the big deal is. The personal attacks are so unnec.