Review: ‘Nature in the Lion’s Den with Anthony Hopkins’

Narrator: Anthony Hopkins.

Narrator: Anthony Hopkins.

Nature” starts its 13th season with Sir Anthony Hopkins, who fancies a tabby at home, tracking lions in Africa, with Hugh Maynard’s excellent photography catching wily felines as they live their lives. The magnificent lions, in danger of being overfilmed, begin to pall.

An awkward visit with Hopkins at home in London with his housecat segues to his trip to Tanzania, where he hooks up with tracker Frank Silkiluwasha. They head for the Serengeti with members of the Lion Research Project, which seeks to preserve lions.

Hopkins spots his first female lying under a tree; she stares coldly at them and wanders off. After the requisite visit to Masai warriors, the researchers stun a lioness with a dart gun.

But it’s male lions Hopkins wants to see, and the docu moves onto a 12 -mile-wide extinct volcano crater and shows male lions posing nobly as the females lope after zebras and buffalo.

Incidents pile up with Hopkins gently commenting. Worst sight: after a cub is killed one night, his mother and siblings devour him — followed by two cubs tugging at the dead cub’s hide and head.

But there are fairer views of lion behavior and an intriguing shot of the anesthetized female’s fangs when the reseachers spread her mouth. Those teeth are a sight.

Program gracefully films the lions doing what comes naturally.

That’s always a treat, familiar or not, but it’s time to move on to nature’s other creatures. Hopkins, always the gentleman, proves a good companion as he comments on the big cats. He even purrs.

Nature in the Lion's Den with Anthony Hopkins

(Sun.(2), 8-9 p.m., PBS)

Production

Filmed in East Africa by Tigress Prods. (for Meridian) and 13/WNET. Exec producer for Nature, Fred Kaufman; exec producers, Stephen Smallwood, Charles Brand; producer, Jeremy Bradshaw; director, Mike Fox.

Crew

Camera, Hugh Maynard; editor, Charles David; sound, Fraser Barber; music, Nigel Beaham-Powell, Bella Russell.

Cast

Host: George Page.
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