‘Penguin Town’ review: Adorable birds play in frothy Netflix docuseries

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Picture narrator Patton Oswalt in his familiar, heartwarming and expressive voice welcoming us to Netflix’s eight-part docuseries “Penguin Town”:

“There are a LOT of penguin movies. Penguins on the ice, penguins in the snow, tons of walking. And then… there are these birds. They boldly go where no penguin has gone before. Meet the endangered African penguins.

That’s right: African penguins. With tiny pink spots around the eyes, a fairly small physique compared to some of the hardiest members of their species, and a distinctive bray that resembles a disturbed donkey, a colony of African penguins return to Simon’s Town, South Africa every year. South, monogamous pairs have long sought to breed again, while young birds search for their life partners – while waddling among humans at the beach, in parking lots and in nearby neighborhoods.

“Penguin Town” is a featherweight documentary on this amazing species, with Oswalt providing light and humorous narration, some penguin pairs get names, bouncy pop music, and graphics straight out of a reality show: ” Six hot months! A wild colony! No rules! ” It’s filled with facts, but they’re still draped in the vanity of the penguins that invade the city, while the ‘giants’, aka humans, are seen mostly from the PPOV (Penguins’ Point of View) and then disappear from the area. series when the pandemic strikes and Simon’s Town unfortunately becomes a ghost town.

As impressive as these penguins are, adults all look alike, so we have to rely on the filmmakers (and narrator Oswalt) to remind us which story we follow from scene to scene. Even though naming pairs of penguins is terribly cutesy, it’s actually an invaluable device as we meet the Bougainvillea, who have been together for years and immediately concentrate in their usual spot under a large bush providing comfort and protection. ; the Courtyards, a couple who have set up camp in a garden of a chic estate, and the Ponceaux, who are new to the field and find the struggle real to find a safe place for their eggs to hatch, especially with the elements, some hostile members of their own colony and the local fauna presenting threats. (Wild animals, including the lynx-like caracal, have been emboldened by the lack of humans in Simon’s Town, and we follow one of these feral cats as she stalks her penguin prey.)

For all its gentleness and upbeat nature, “Penguin Town” does not ignore the realities of life for this endangered species. Young penguin suffers fatal bites from fur seal One of the penguins featured never returns to its original nest. This series is about as far as it goes from one of those documentaries where we see the violence of nature in all its necessary brutality, but in the midst of all the joy and sweetness, we see and hear reminders that the The life of the African penguin is often hard, and it is largely up to this small group of warm and unwavering travelers to keep the species alive. How not to encourage them to have a successful and (re) productive stay in Penguin Town?


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