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Nature in the Company of Wolves

Narrator: Timothy Dalton.

Narrator: Timothy Dalton.

Nature” series kicks off its 14th season with an unscripted look at wolves roaming free in the northern regions of the American continent. A vigorous documentary spotlighting actor-narrator Timothy Dalton learning about the wild canines, docu’s title should be “Dalton in the Company of Wolves.”

Premise is that Dalton accompanies wolf expert L. David Mech on a search for wolf packs Way Up North. With Dalton along to ask questions, Mech explains their lives, their habits and their lore.

The impression is that not even the cameramen are present, but the device of pretending the two men are by themselves in the wilderness soon wears thin.

There are shots of wolves howling to announce their presence to other wolves, chasing prey, gamboling in the snow with their pups — images defined by humans and their views of the beasts. An Eskimo respects them. Midwestern ranchers, located where wolves are being reintroduced and protected by law, are concerned about their stock and pets, but as one woman opines, the mountain lion poses the greater threat (a lion stole a baby last year). Dalton learns that myths about wolves killing people are untrue and that non-rabid animals aren’t a threat to humans.

A singularly arresting moment comes when Dalton and Mech, sitting in vehicles on a desolate Arctic stretch, observe as a wolf family approaches and a pup takes food from Dalton’s fingers. It’s a fine time, but Little Red Riding Hood, peasants being chased across the steppes of yesterday’s Russia, the Big Bad Wolf and the Wolfman still resound in memory; Dalton himself handles the pup’s snacking gingerly.

The strong entry for “Nature” features excellent camera work, editing, a good musical score and Jeremy Bradshaw’s expert direction of his own production.

Nature in the Company of Wolves

(Sun. (3), 8-9 p.m., PBS)

  • Production: Filmed in Alaska, Minnesota, Canada, Arctic Circle, California, Wyoming, Montana by Tigress Prods. for Meridian and WNET/13. Exec producers, Fred Kaufman , Stephen Sandwood, Charles Brand; producer-director, Jeremy Bradshaw.
  • Crew: Camera, Richard Kemp; editor, Andrew Naylor; sound, Alastair Kenneil, Gerard P. Bonnette; music, Nigel Beaham-Powell, Bella Russell.
  • Cast: Host: George Page.
  • Music By: