Big Cat Diary (2004)

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Released 7-Jun-2007

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Bonus Episode-Bella & Family
Bonus Episode-Cheza & Sala
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 291:57 (Case: 348)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By None Given

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Saba Douglas-Hamilton
Simon King
Jonathan Scott
Case Amaray-Transparent-Dual
RPI ? Music David Poore
Andrew Chastney
Mark Fox

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Big cats have long been a fascinating topic for documentary makers and audiences, both young and old. Most documentaries on the subject or Africa in general include the obligatory big cat hunt & kill scene along with lots of other footage. This show, which has been produced on and off since 1996 for the BBC, focuses only on the big cats themselves and takes a very up-close and personal look at their lives on a day-to-day basis. Originally, the show was hosted by two Kenya-based presenters, Simon King and Jonathan Scott. More recently, they have been joined by Saba Douglas-Hamilton who was born and raised in Kenya. Each of the three presenters take us on their own personal safari in search of big cats on the Masai Mara. Simon focuses on Lions, Jonathan on Cheetahs and Saba on Leopards.

    This two-disc set includes the entire 2004 series and the entire 2005 series. These were actually filmed in Kenya in September 2003 and 2004 respectively. Since these series the BBC have shown the 2006 series and have filmed but not yet shown the 2007 series. When it started in 1996, the show was called Big Cat Diary and was shown on the BBC as one weekly episode. In 2004, they changed the format to one episode per day for five days and retitled the series Big Cat Week. The titles seem to be used interchangeably and this same set has been released in Region 2 as Big Cat Week but is titled Big Cat Diary here. Certainly, the format of the show itself is aimed towards being shown every day and building tension and excitement. This show is absolutely not your standard reserved documentary and goes out of its way to provide drama, ably assisted by the 'kids in a lolly shop' style of the presenters. Occasionally, this lapses into what comes across as contrivance as the presenters seem to beat up what is going on to excite the audience. The animals which are focused on are given names and both the presenters and audience become quite attached to them. They all get into various scrapes and adventures including territorial wars, hunting, protecting their cubs and encounters with other predators.

    Besides the big cats, these two series also feature lots of other wildlife (sometimes as lunch!) including baboons, cobras, crocodiles, gazelles, hyenas, buffalo, warthogs and wildebeest. Additionally, there are many beautiful landscapes which are well shot, showing off the natural beauty of Africa. Simon King is probably the best of the presenters being somewhat less excitable than Jonathan Scott and both a significantly less annoying than Saba whose bare feet we seem to need to have a shot of every few minutes she is on screen. Strangely, Scott's favourite cheetah, Kike seems to have a penchant for relieving herself on his head, through the sunroof of his jeep.

    This is excellent and educational entertainment for the whole family, although it is rated PG for Predatory Animal Violence, so watch out for the really little ones.

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Transfer Quality


    The video quality is very good.

    The feature is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, 16x9 enhanced, which is the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was sharp and clear throughout, with the second series being a little sharper than the first. There was no evidence of low level noise. There was some light grain on some sequences, probably when a long lens was being used with significant zoom.

    The colour was excellent with no issues to report.

    The only artefact was some minor aliasing on jeep grilles but this was very irregular.

    There are subtitles in English for the Hearing Impaired which are clear and easy to read.

    The layer change is not noticeable.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio quality is very good.

    This DVD contains an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync.

    The score of this series is by David Poore and adds appropriate tension. There is also some vocal African music included.   

    The surround speakers added some mild atmosphere when played with Pro Logic II.

    The subwoofer was used regularly to add bass to the music and the various roars and other noises. This is obviously a function of my amp's bass management.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Each disc contains a bonus episode from the Big Cat Diary - Family Histories series.


    The menu included music and allows for scene access and episode selection.

Bella & Family (Disc 1) (28:40)

    A full length episode which was shown on the BBC as a one off special. It is more focused that the main series as it tells the story of the Leopards, specifically a female called Bella and her two cubs from start to end rather than jumping around from story to story. The style is less melodramatic than the main series, although some footage is duplicated. This covers the same time period as the main show does.

Cheza & Sala (Disc 2) (29:05)

    Another full length episode, this time featuring two young lions as they grow towards maturity. It features footage from the second series of the main show along with newer footage.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This series is available in a Region 2 version and is the same as our local release. It is not available in Region 1.


    An exciting and dramatic nature series following the lives of lions, cheetahs and leopards in the Maasai Mara

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    Two extra full length episodes are included as extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Thursday, July 05, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Yamaha YST SW90 subwoofer

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