After the success of Blue Planet II, the BBC nature documentary crew return for Big Cats. Split across 3 parts, Big Cats follows the lives and secrets of various large and small cat species around the world. From small Bobcats in the endless barren grasslands to the secretive Indian Tiger deep in the heart of lush jungles, there’s a vast array of locations and cat species covered across the three episodes. At times the pacing feels exhausting as the focus jumps sporadically between different species through the episodes but a good amount of informative and entertaining shots and narration make this better than most nature documentaries out there, even if it doesn’t reach the same lofty heights achieved by other BBC efforts in this category.
The first couple of episodes tackle the lives and secret worlds of various cat species. Establishing, slow motion shots of each animal break up the action whilst narrator Bertie Carvell educates on various facts and behaviour of each species. The format is very similar to other nature documentaries produced by the BBC but with so much crammed into three episodes, the pacing inevitably suffers and feels a little too quick. There’s a few recycled shots too and although they’re cleverly placed in the three episodes to minimise its impact, some of the more avid watchers will notice this.
The third episode breaks the conventional way the other two episodes are filmed by introducing a more informative structure dominated by interviews with expert minds around the world. Whether it be proving Lions are the smartest cat species or establishing how a cheetah hunts for its prey if speed isn’t the dominant factor, this episode is informative and surprising in equal doses. Despite the fascinating way this episode is delivered, it also stands out as a stark contrast to how the other two episodes are presented.
Big Cats might not be the best nature documentary the BBC have produced but it’s still a solid slice of informative entertainment. It borrows the structure and layout seen in the Attenborough documentaries, at least for the first 2 episodes, to explore the various different cat species to decent effect. At times it almost feels a little rushed and some species including the lynx and puma are reduced to cameo appearances when perhaps a dedicated episode or 20 minutes to each species might have given more structure to the series and improve the pacing.. Still, despite all this Big Cats is an entertaining mini series that whets the appetite for those interested in nature documentaries. It’s still better than a lot of other nature shows in this category and if there’s one thing you can rely on for the BBC to get right, its this. Big Cats proves that fact once again with an entertaining, albeit slightly flawed, documentary about cats.