Hello World!Spring 2017 Television
The Discovery Channel teams up with conservation non-profit The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to celebrate nature with an innovative twist.
These visually stunning 30-minute programs feature animals in their natural habitats, explaining the behaviors and relationships that drive them. The creativity that rockets Hello World! to the next level is that a different musical luminary narrates each episode, and a song from that artist is woven artfully into the narrative. The show open title sequence teases Usher Raymond, Christina Aguilera, Ellie Goulding, Steven Tyler, Joan Jett, and Dave Matthews as voice talent for the series' first episodes.
It's a novel device that, executed poorly, could have fallen flat. As it turns out, Hello World! is both exceptionally well-conceived and exceptionally well-executed. The nature photography and editing in this series set the high water mark of the genre. The program is also interestingly scored, and the quality and creativity of the sound editing cannot be overlooked either, subtly mixing nature's sounds with the artists' music.
Each episode sticks to a chosen theme, such as survival skills, nature's supermoms, behaviors and habitats during a particular season, etc., and even though we never see the talent, we get a strong sense of the person and the personality because the scriptwriting is so well-tailored to each celebrity narrator. Nothing sounds forced or contrived, a feat accomplished by all of the narrators in the series, in fact, because they don't recite facts so much as they tell stories . . . stories of nature and even some glimpses into their own lives.
Two cases in point: The episode titled "Stronger" is tracked by Usher and we see a den of foxes as he talks about how a litter of fox kits learns survival skills: "Welcome to Fox U. And there's only one major here: Sly." In Christina Aguilera's episode, titled "Don't Mess with Mama," the singer reveals, "There are two Christinas: Christina the performer, and Christina the mom. And of the two, mama Christina is the much bigger deal to me" spoken over video of a mother deer nuzzling her newborn fawn. The episode also features a cheetah teaching her puffy little cubs how to hunt and an Alaskan grizzly mom saving three cubs from an avalanche. The episode concludes with an extraordinary nature montage backed by Aguilera's song "Light Up The Sky."
In Usher's episode about survival skills, the song is "Stronger." Animals featured include a lizard with the ability to run on top of water and a small African cat called a caracal that can snatch low-flying fowl right out of the air, thanks to its impressive 10-foot high vertical jump. That episode also shows baby sea turtles making a mad dash for the water as predators come at them from land and air.
Rocker Steven Tyler of Aerosmith fame narrates the episode titled Summer Wild. The script offers clever riffs on favorite summer pastimes (from "yard work" to "block parties" to "hangin' out by the pool") and Tyler delivers them all with good humor and spot-on inflection. We see frolicking prairie dogs, spirited wild stallions, and industrious beavers in that program, which ends with Tyler singing "Red, White & You" over the nature montage.
Each episode of Hello World! ends with a strong message about environmentalism. In the "Stronger" episode, for example, Usher says, "What I'm asking of you on behalf of Mother Nature is a lot: Choose a side. Get involved. Make yourself heard. Don't allow beautiful creatures to disappear from our earth. Because the more of our fellow creatures we find a way to make safe, the stronger all life becomes." Credits are followed with a text-on-screen reminder that "Nature is incredible but it is also under threat," and a WWF web address to learn more.
In a mild cautionary note, parents of young Hello World! watchers should know that some scenes of prey and predators may affect sensitive viewers, and that some song lyrics include cursing - on the tame end of the "swear word" list, for sure. Program information cites Hello World! is for "children of all ages, their parents, music lovers, and nature enthusiasts," and for anyone who recalls the Venn diagrams of mathematics class, that's an unusual overlap of a common set. However, if you fit one or all of those elements, this program is a fresh, stunning, and educational hit.