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Sunday, July 17, 2005

Ape to Man: A Journey Through the History of a Science

The words "human evolution" evoke for many the notion that we, as human beings, are the products of a long, ancient line that extends back into time to an ancestral ape -- and, in a deceptively simplified sense, this may be true. The History Channel's world premier special "Ape to Man" takes this often controversial topic by the horns and relates the basic grist of it by highlighting the salient events, discoveries, and scholars that have defined the science. Through a series of reenactments and interviews, it presents the human drama involved, largely unknown to the general public, and how the concepts of our origins have evolved as new discoveries changed or overturned the generally accepted conventions. The dramatic reenactments make up perhaps 60 percent of the content and are fairly well executed, but the voice-over narration and the interviews steal the show, infusing depth and interpretation to what would otherwise be a mere collection of overly dramatized scenes and characters in not-quite-believable costumes, ape-suits, and make-up reminiscent of the old Planet of the Apes movies. To be sure, the story of human evolution is most likely far more complex than the impression with which one is left after viewing the production; however, it is an entirely watchable piece that sparks an understanding and appreciation for the human adventure, sacrifices, and thought processes that have constituted the search for our origins.

"Ape to Man" premiers on The History Channel on August 7 from 9-11 pm Eastern/Pacific time, 8-10 pm Central.


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