“He’s not the greatest dancer... but at least he’s... staying alive.”
That’s one of the actual lines Paul Rudd says in Tiny World, the new nature documentary/non-fiction story series from Apple TV+.
Here’s another one: “Where there’s a will and some nuts, there’s a way.”
So, unless you like cheesy Dad jokes, this may not line up with your expectation of this series as Apple’s contribution to the fine world of nature programming. An area which is dominated by the quite extraordinary work created by the BBC with Sir David Attenborough.
However, that is my main criticism of this show: expectations. Apple, wanting to get in on this increasingly popular genre, has pitched this along with their other main programming as something of an equal to Sir David’s work. It isn’t. This isn’t a criticism, though. It’s a lovely little show, but for a specific audience.
Tiny World is six episodes long at around 30 minutes each. Each episode focuses on a different area: Savannah, Jungle, Island, Outback, Woodland and Garden. They tend to follow one main creature’s journey through this part of the world, turning off slightly to briefly focus on another animal that our main character comes across.
That’s also the keyword here: brief. Covering 5/6 creatures per episode, it doesn’t have time to focus on the real details of each one. So it avoids explicitly (almost) any negative focus on death or real struggle. It also completely avoids any mention of environmental threat which Sir David’s shows are now increasingly focused on.
It’s almost as if it’s not aimed at people like myself. This is my point.
Tiny World is a wonderful show for kids to watch. Sitting down on their own, or even better, as a young family, this show is perfect for kids aged 2 upwards, to about 11. It doesn't show anything that’s really going to scare or upset them, but it really gives a great perspective on these critters with some lovely, small scale, low to the ground photography. It would have been a fantastic addition to the Kids section on Apple TV.
Paul Rudd is a reasonable narrator but ultimately a strange choice. I’ll happily admit to having a massive man-crush on the man, but this would have been better with someone a bit lighter or, here’s a crazy thought, a woman!
The show isn’t completely devoid of threat; at one point a poor ant get’s eaten by some sand-dwelling bug, but not before a valiant friend tries to save it. A garden bird gets pounced on by the hawk and eaten, but we only see the hawk land on the camera and then afterwards with some feathers in its mouth.
These are rare moments, though. The show is primarily focused on the heroic struggles and frequent victories of these tiny creatures. The photography is up close and personal with occasional flourishes like a shot dropping from the clouds, straight down into a termite mound or some great tracking shots of gliding birds. This means if you’ve got a big TV, you really see the detail in incredible 4K. My kittens were completely hypnotised throughout the whole of one episode!
So if you have young children, sit down with them to watch this show. They’ll be amazed by what they see and will likely pique their interest in the natural world. Then it’s time for Sir David to blow their minds.
Tiny World Season 1 is now available on Apple TV+.