As Anderson Cooper describes it, Bangkok's "infamous" Jatuchak market resembles "many markets scattered throughout Thailand, but behind the bustle are dark secrets. Sellers and shoppers alike are poor, surviving day to day, seemingly unmoved by the fact that a CNN news team has landed in their midst. Cooper means to uncover those "dark secrets," of course. In this case, the focus is the illegal traffic in rare and endangered wildlife and the context is Planet in Peril , a four-hour investigation of the changing global environment. The term "global" works in multiple ways here, marking the broad extent of deleterious effects, as well as the vital interconnectedness of a range of problems. Submitting that most modifications result from human activity, including population growth and unsustainable consumption of resources, crews led by Cooper, Sanjay Gupta, and Animal Planet celebrity Jeff Corwin travel to far corners -- from Southeast Asia to North America to China -- in order to show the connections among pollution, poverty, and wildlife extinction. Cooper and Corwin's Thailand segment features conservationist Steve Galster, cofounder of Wildlife Alliance , who observes the dire truth, that species are becoming extinct at 1, times the natural rate, owing to loss of habitat and poaching. Cooper and Corwin accompany local police as they mount what looks to be a massive raid on illegal activities. The outcome is somewhat anti-climactic. It begins as a typical Cooper-style adventure: he and Corwin ride in trucks with the uniformed officers, their faces forward to the wind, their gazes steadfast and bold.
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Despite the arresting title and imagery, this latest CNN documentary feels more like a showboating travelogue than a sober exploration of environmental issues — creating another opportunity for that new breed of TV hybrid, anchor-adventurer Anderson Cooper, to go play grown-up Jonny Quest an unerring resemblance, by the way , along with Dr. Oh, and by the way, the Arctic Ocean is declining at a record rate that threatens polar bears with extinction, while the rising Pacific sea level risks causing the Carteret Islands to disappear. Just showing up, however, is only half the battle, and in this particular project, CNN appears more preoccupied with positioning its chess pieces for maximum exposure than building toward a winning endgame.
It seems that freed from the hushed, august confines of the Museum of Natural History, Anderson Cooper and Sanjay Gupta revealed details about the trip that didn't make into the lush, sweeping nature shots of the global warming doc, airing on CNN next week. We are not going to pass judgment on which assignment sounds like more fun. We are, however, going to say that Jeff Corwin sounds like one helluva guide. Er, we should clarify that he was a guide in the Brazilian rainforest, not in the Penis Emporium. Oh come now, it was too soon for another Penis Emporium joke, and anyway, this is a serious site. We're above that. US Edition U.
Anderson Cooper isn't the outdoorsy type. Just ask the silver fox anchorman what it was like shooting Planet in Peril , the new four-hour environmental-issues series he did with Animal Planet host Jeff Corwin. The year-old anchor tried to share Corwin's enthusiasm. All kidding aside, one of the topics hit upon in the series is China's impact upon the environment, especially when it comes to illegal poaching of exotic animals.