WHEN | WHERE Premieres Saturday at 8 p.m. on Discovery
WHAT IT’S ABOUT This six-parter — each part about 21 minutes — takes a look at the natural world through the gaze of six musicians, linking one of their songs (typically a just-released one) with themes in nature.
This Saturday, Usher narrates a short film on predators, insisting that that “which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” (A new song, “Stronger,” is tracked in parts). Christina Aguilera’s installment — “Don’t Mess With Mama” (Saturday at 8:30) — is about the mothering instinct in nature. Her song, “Light Up the Sky,” is used to highlight the maternal instinct in animals as diverse as the cheetah and mountain goat.
Future artists are: Steven Tyler (July 16), Ellie Goulding (July 16), Long Beach’s Joan Jett (July 23) and Dave Matthews (July 23). Discovery says the series is “presented in association” with the World Wildlife Fund.
MY SAY “Hello World!” is a shotgun marriage of apparent extremes — the nature doc with the pop superstar — and no matter how amiable, well-intentioned, good-hearted and just plain nice some shotgun marriages might actually (or improbably) be, they usually don’t work out. “Hello World!” is not the exception. Too loose, too chatty, too light, it’s also too inconsequential to be taken seriously by fans of either. Want your nature documentary fix? There are whole channels devoted to them (also a good multipart series on BBC America, “The Hunt,” airing this month). Want your Usher (or Matthews, Aguilera et al) fix? The internet, along with its vast, attendant streaming resources, will happily oblige.
Instead, this is for viewers who will witness Usher — in discussing the learned hunting skills of the arctic fox kitten — tossing off this kind of observation: “Welcome to fox U., and there’s one major, ‘Sly.’ Introducing young ‘sly’ and the family stone . . . ” He laughs at his bon mot. You will not. (Goulding’s July 23 outing, on mating, was also screened; sorry, no better).
But here’s the part of the review where a “so what?” seems so plainly in order. It’s summer and that’s where shotgun marriages like this should air. And if one single viewer, who is also an Usher fan, comes to this, and learns that the magnificent Olive Ridley sea turtle is endangered, and then goes on to devote his or her life’s work to preserving endangered species like this one, then Usher can take a bow. This summer trifle will have made a small difference. Who’s to say it won’t?
BOTTOM LINE “Hello World’s!” heart is in the right place. Not much else is.