The Nature of Things Volume 1: Visions of the Future

Canada's patron media saint of environmentalism, David Suzuki, presents a new collection of sustainability themed episodes to inspire or guilt the viewer, depending upon one's disposition. Subtitled Visions of the Future, this two-disc set includes five episodes, two featuring Suzuki's physical presence, on how various industries are utilizing technology and ingenuity in the search for environmental and economic equilibrium. Somewhat of an overview and personal reflection, episode one, "The Suzuki Diaries," follows David and his daughter Surika Suzuki on a trip to Europe to witness some cutting-edge eco tech and forward thinking policies in motion. From bike culture in Copenhagen to the fast trains in Spain and Denmark's amazing windmill fetish put to brilliant practical use, the sheer number of intelligent energy alternatives in use in Europe makes a Canadian want to pelt Parliament with broken bicycle tires and library cards. Suzuki's always been great about shaking our cultural laziness in our media-glazed faces but via some chilling with age he seems to have realized that he's mostly been preaching to the converted, while his passion and fear regarding our culture's interaction with nature were often just raising the self-defensive ire in a generally self-centred public and a form of hopelessness in his children. Surika's personal comments about growing up with the despair bred by her father's sober fear of society's degradation addiction are ultimately more valuable to the piece than her stint as a replacement narrator or guide. She lacks David's comfortably informed charisma, built through specific life experiences spanning 70 years to her 25, but her perspective as a receptor to the message has helped cool her father's occasionally fiery demeanour. The episodes "Supercar" and "Earth Energy" are packed with fascinating info and examples of fresh technology in use and development. "Living City" is a bit of a bland look at city design and development around the country but "Build Green" is an exhilarating examination of architectural achievements in eco-building across Canada, including Randy Bachman's spectacular "rammed-earth" home. Special features include deleted scenes from a couple episodes and an unscripted press conference in Toronto from 2007 on the need for forward thinking environmental policies from the government, sparked by classic Suzuki sense and zeal. (Mongrel Media)