by Michael dEstries
Categories: Film/TV
Tags: .

discovery channel life, eco, oprah

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.

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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  • Rebecca

    Don’t forget, everyone slammed Sigourney Weaver, too. Sounds like they could have saved themselves a lot of time and money.

  • Kim

    I mentioned to a family member that Oprah’s voice was not the right voice for this series, and she thought that it didn’t matter. Reading this blog made me feel justified in what I mentioned. I have nothing against Oprah, per se. But everything she touches doesn’t always turn to gold. There is nothing wrong with David Attenborough’s voice for the US version of LIFE (don’t try to fix what is not broken!), or, if Discovery really felt Americans would connect with a more recognizable voice, they should have chosen someone with a more cultured voice, like Dennis Hysbert, James Earl Jones, Jane Seymour, or even Meryl Streep.

  • Rebecca

    Jane Seymour is English…

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  • Rich Ryfe

    UTTER TRIPE AND VINDICTIVENESS!! We just watched several scenes from Discovery LIFE narrated by Oprah and found them excellent. Her emphasis and elocution was riveting and appropriate to the the video (Cheetah take down an Ostrich and Water Buffalo v Komodo Dragon.) Whatever the complaints we found no such problem. And frankly, if Oprah lightens the mood of this series slightly – BRAVO! Too many of these “struggle for life” documentaries take themselves too seriously.

    We were so impressed with Oprah’s narration we’ve purchased three copies of the Series as gifts! Thanks for letting us know about it!!