Breaking the mould of previous "Walking with" offerings, the BBC's Walking with Cavemen sees Professor Robert Winston follow in the footsteps of ancient man in a series that traces the history of humanity from bipedal ape-men (Australopithecus Aphaeresis) to the awakening of the human mind's potential with Homo Erectus. Spread over four fascinating half-hour instalments, Wilson presents an accessible and populist, but still suitably anthropological study on how apes became human and the traits that we inherited from our earliest ancestors. Unlike Dinosaurs and Beasts,... Cavemen combines CGI with actors to portray the characters in the story of man. Initially this seems to make it far less technically impressive than the earlier programmes--memories of Kubrick's 2001 are inevitable--but fortunately the acting is superb and the viewer soon forgets that these are people in monkey suits. The series also makes use of a special effect called "deep time-lapse", which shows in a matter of dramatic seconds the thousands of years of geological changes that sped up our ancestors' evolution. Wilson himself takes part in the action as if he is a modern-day naturalist following lions across the Serengeti rather than creatures long extinct. This approach makes for a more immediate as well as poignant interpretation of history: the result is an enlightening and moving tribute to the human journey. On the DVD: Walking with Cavemen on disc has production interviews with series producer Peter Georgi, executive producer and director Richard Dale, director of animated extras Ben Palmer and actor David Rubin. There are also location interviews, the best of which is two of the actors in full costume explaining the difficulties involved in eating lunch. There are sequences explaining the creation of the digital effects, and the original score can be accessed as an audio-only option. A fact file for each episode and a picture gallery complete the extras package. --Kristen Bowditch [show more]
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