'Untamed Americas' looks at mystery, majesty of continents

National Geographic Channel's miniseries “Untamed Americas” airs at 8 p.m. Sunday and Monday.
BY JACQUELINE CUTLER Published: June 9, 2012
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Charred trees lay scattered on denuded ridges, looking as if God played pickup sticks. A skinny wolf slinks by and peers over its shoulder to ensure it's traveling solo, making it, yes, the lone wolf.

The roar of water mutes all other sounds, and rounding a corner of ancient boulder, the Undine Falls comes into sight. This one spot alone in Yellowstone National Park could make anyone appreciate Earth, which National Geographic Channel does in its miniseries “Untamed Americas,” airing at 8 p.m. Sunday and Monday.

“So what's not to love? It's continents of extremes,” producer Karen Bass says after spending two days with journalists in Yellowstone. “The good news is you have some fantastic extremes because what you want is the epic extremes these creatures face. You have an epic landscape and intimate stories of survival. My mission was to get the epic and the intimate. The epic is the fantastic habitat, this amazing, gorgeous landscape. And the intimate is how does this creature survive?”

Josh Brolin narrates the segments, featuring exquisite footage of North, Central and South America from Alaska to Patagonia. Divided into “Mountains,” “Deserts,” “Forests” and “Coasts,” the miniseries is full of superlatives. Among them: the longest mountain chain, the Andes; the driest desert, the Atacama; and the largest rain forest, Amazonia.

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