PBS // 2012 // 53 Minutes // Rated G
Reviewed by Judge Dawn Hunt // January 17th, 2013
"Relationships are about personalities and them gelling. And it doesn't matter so much what the species is."
Some general warnings before I begin. If you are a die-hard carnivore or are lonely this is not the show for you. Produced by PBS, Animal Odd Couples details stories of cross-species relationships.
I came out of it convinced I'd never be the kind of friend a human deserved, let alone a wounded alpaca with alopecia. Narrated by Toby Leonard Moore (Banshee) these are the stories of unlikely friendships between animals of different species.
There's the cheetah and the puppy, the tortoise and the goose, the goat and the horse, the coyote and the lion, the gibbon and capuchin monkeys, as well as the deer and the dog (two different stories of them in fact). Each of the tales follows roughly the same pattern: introduce the animals, explain how they came to be together, and then sit back and let us watch as they defy the laws of nature.
There are plenty of "aww" moments as most of the cases include footage of the animals as babies. But aside from making you want a pet, the show is designed to make you think. Why do these animals choose to invest in these relationships? In an attempt to answer that, Animal Odd Couples deviates from the straight story-telling to talk about the science of relationships within same species.
That's where the show is the weakest simply because there are no answers forthcoming. Yes, it's nice to know people are working on understanding the relationships of all the mammals they can study, but without answers it edges toward feeling pointless as opposed to a nice bit of science, which I'm sure was its original intention. The show's at its best when it simply allows the camera to follow the animals being profiled, demonstrating the old adage "show don't tell" to its best effect. You can even get away with turning off the volume if you want to.
Animal Odd Couples provides an awe-inspiring look into the world of our fellow mammals. It's going to make you feel like you're not the best friend you could be, but also there's no end to the wonders the natural world can present you with. It's quick, less than an hour, and a guaranteed pick-you-up. It's easy to recommend this little bit of positivity.
The standard def 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation has a deliberately de-saturated palette which works well aside from the shots of Las Vegas. Somehow a lack of color doesn't suit the Sin City. The video quality waffles a bit between home movies and clips shot by pros, but that's the reason for the desaturation. By providing similar color timing across all the clips it unifies them. The audio is simple Dolby 2.0 Stereo, but more than serviceable. As you expect from a nature show the reliance is on pictures, not words.
Bottom line is Animal Odd Couples is revealing and moving. I didn't need the attempt at scientific justifications; what I saw defied explanations. It's simple to recommend this, especially for younger viewers. Discarding outward appearance for what lies within is a message we would all do well to embrace.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 53 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Rated G