One of the most entertaining shows on television (in my humble opinion), "The Jeff Corwin Experience" has been one of cable network Animal Planet's great successes. Often compared to the late Steve "Crocodile Hunter" Irwin, Corwin's show is similar in the way that he ventures around the world to search for animals and educate the audience while still having fun.
The two hosts though, are often somewhat different. Corwin is less in-your-face, but his subtle humor (see one instance where he is sneaking up on a cute animal in Tazmania, with tree branch in hand, only to drop it a moment later and joke, "only kidding."), ridiculously funny "conversations" (chatting with a Monkey in Nepal) with the animals he meets and occasional pop culture references often result in many moments throughout each hour-long (well, about 50 minutes) experience that are laugh-out-loud hilarious.
Although the show has gotten better and better as it's gone on, even these early episodes are still highly entertaining. Corwin also often has some fascinating facts to communicate with his audience both about the species that he is currently focusing on, as well as their environment. We also often get an interesting look at different cultures, such as the fascinating journey into Nepal.
The series also benefits from terrific technical credits, with solid cinematography and score. While the series visits major cities and research facilities in most episodes, the production also manages to smoothly make its way into the deep wildnerness with surprising ease. It's difficult to pick a favorite episode, as they are all honestly quite excellent, managing to be both wildly entertaining and incredibly informative. Corwin carries the series wonderfully, with his unpredictability and terrific sense of humor.
Episode #1 — Florida: Exploring Pascua de Florida
Jeff's journey starts north of Florida where he swims with manatees and then visits with a local musician, J. J. Gray. He also comes face-to-face with a gigantic snail, has several exciting snake encounters and finds a 15-foot male alligator named Superman.
Episode #2 — Guyana: Land of the Giants
Jeff Corwin explores the Guyana Shield, the dense rainforest that thousands of "giants" call home in Guyana. He discovers the largest toad found in South America, the largest freshwater turtle and the largest creature equipped with a giant tongue.
Episode #3 — California: The Wild One
Jeff travels to California off the coast of Santa Cruz to explore sea otters and the great white shark. Jeff then hunts for rattlesnakes, the BigHorn sheep and the desert tortoise when he explores the Mojave Desert.
Episode #4 — Costa Rica: The Arribiatta
Jeff Corwin explores a secluded beach in Costa Rica hoping to witness thousands of sea turtles that come ashore to lay their eggs. Jeff encounters a troop of Capuchin monkeys, a venomous bushmaster serpent, a silky anteater, dolphins, whales and frogs.
Episode #5 — Brazil: The Amazon Goin' Bananas
Jeff has finally made it to the most impressive river system in the world — the Amazon. Jeff has come to encounter the exotic and beautiful creatures of the basin, but he also plans to visit many of his colleagues who have made their life's work studying these unique creatures. Oh, and along the way he'll be partaking of a very exotic Brazilian cuisine, otherwise known as bananas.
Episode #6 — Australia: Out of Balance Down Under
In this episode, Jeff visits the island continent of Australia, known for its unique creatures which are found nowhere else on earth. Unfortunately, when humans settled this land, they began to displace the wildlife, taking their natural habitat for farm animals. Jeff concentrates on finding these endangered species that are fighting to make a comeback as a result of unique conservation efforts.
Episode #7 — Tasmania: Sympathy for the Devil Journey from limestone caves to the port capital of Hobart to experience the bizarre wildlife paradise of Tasmania. Jeff encounters egg-laying mammals, an ancient spider, kangaroos, venomous snakes and the notorious Tasmanian devil.
Episode #8 — Zanzibar: Dr. Corwin I Presume
Follow in the footsteps of explorer Stanley Livingstone to unlock the exotic secrets of the animals of Zanzibar. From the 30-pound coconut crab to the tiny suni gazelle and rare giant tortoises, these seldom-seen species thrive in a remote and mysterious land.
Episode #9 — Tanzania: Bodies in Motion
Home to a massive wildebeest migration and the trail of predators that follow, this land is in constant motion. Witness a rarely seen event as a cheetah takes down prey for her cubs. Also, take a wake-up call from an Egyptian cobra in the wilds of Tanzania.
Episode #10 — India
Jeff will seek out India's big cats, have a run-in with a nasty cobra, and be introduced to a rare soft-shell turtle. Jeff will also meet some fascinating people and encounter other animals, such as the spotted deer and Langur monkeys, that make any visit to India a rich experience.
Episode #11 — Nepal: Journey to Shangri-La
Jeff's journey takes him from the foothills of the Himalayas at the Indian border, through the heart of Nepal in the majestic and historic Kathmandu valley. He encounters some of the most rare and majestic animals in the world.
Episode #12 — Morocco: A Time Machine of Sand
Morocco holds its secrets closely and Jeff tries to uncover them. He is led to the not so friendly horned viper, the secretive "fish of the sand" and the legendary predator that killed Cleopatra — the Cobra.
Episode #13 — Spain: Americano Loco
Spain is teeming with wildlife the casual visitor would not expect to find in Europe. Jeff discovers all the fascinating creatures in Spain's wetlands, forests and sand dunes, from chameleons and kestrels to deadly serpents and Moorish geckos.
VIDEO: This episodes of "JCE" are presented in the show's original 1.33:1 full-frame broadcast ratio. The quality here actually seems very slightly better than the image quality of the Animal Planet broadcasts that I've seen on digital cable. Sharpness and detail are first-rate, making for a crisp, clean picture that offers very pleasing fine detail. Edge enhancement and pixelation aren't seen, but a little bit of shimmering is present here and there. Colors are rich, well-saturated and vivid.
SOUND: The stereo soundtrack is quite nice, with good ambience and clear dialogue.
EXTRAS: Sadly, nothing. It also must be mentioned that while the packaging is environmentally friendly, it's also flimsy; there's no plastic holders - the discs sit in cardboard sleeves within the fold-out casing
Final Thoughts: Deeply entertaining and richly informative, "The Jeff Corwin Experience" is a terrific series that offers a lot of repeat viewing value. The DVD set could have been better (while the packaging is environmentally friendly, it's flimsy - also, no extras), but the content is still more than worthy of a recommendation.