We know people are less than thrilled about Oprah’s narration for the US version of Discovery’s LIFE series, but if Amazon’s pre-order page is to be believed, she’s more of a bust than we ever imagined. Are we looking at perhaps the worst choice ever for a celebrity nature narrator?
If you follow the site, you’re no doubt aware that the original BBC version of LIFE (released late last fall) was narrated by naturalist David Attenborough; a favorite voice in the documentary scene. As they did with Planet Earth, Discovery decided to drop Attenborough for the US version in favor of a celebrity narrator. Last time, Sigourney Weaver, to wide praise, won the job. This time, they probably thought they had a no-brainer with Oprah.
“This is atrocious,” begins one reviewer on Amazon. “I’m watching “Life” on Discovery channel right now, with Oprah narrating. Some of the reviewers said that the script was re-written for her, and I can believe it. I can’t believe Attenborough saying lines like ‘hunting crab seals is toooo much work!’ Oprah narrates this thing as if she were reading a bedtime story to little kids and comes off as snarky and condescending. In the opening segment, she’s discussing a fox chasing an ibex kid and it’s basically like ‘heeeere comes the fox! UH OH!!'”
“Simply put, Oprah is an awful narrator. There’s something about her that’s just, well, condescending. You’d have to watch the series on Discovery (and I don’t recommend that), to see what I’m talking about.”
At it goes on and on. For over 75 other one-star reviews. That’s just not bad. That’s an unmitigated disaster.
Thankfully, the Attenborough-narrated version of LIFE will also be released simultaneously June 1st. Needless to say, the positive reviews on that pre-order page dwarf the American version.